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DE QUINCEY'S COLLECTED WRITINGS 

VOL. VII 
HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 



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CONTENTS OF VOL. VII 



PAOB 

Editor's Preface ...... 1 

The Casuistry of Roman Meals . .11 

The Pagan Oracles . ... 44 

The Essenes — 

Part I. The Tradition from Josephus , . 101 

,, II. Of Josephus GENERALLY . . . 126 

„ III. The Essenes historically . . .149 

Postscript ...... 169 

Secret Societies ...... 173 

Supplement on the Essenes .... 230 

Postscript ...... 247 

Greece under the Romans ..... 250 

The Revolution of Greece. .... 279 

Supplement on the Suliotes . . .319 

Modern Greece ...... 331 

I — Revolt of the Tartars : or, Flight of the Kalmuck 
Khan and his People from the Russian Terri- 
tories TO THE Frontiers of China . . . 868 

Appended Editorial Note .... 422 
Ceylon . . .427 



1981 



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EDITOR'S PREFACE 

This volume continues the series of De Quincey's papers 
specially entitled to the name of Historioal Esbatb and 
Resbabohes. The difference from the last volume is that, 
while in the papers placed first in this volume we are still 
in what is called Ancient History, we shoot suddenly in 
the others into Modem History, and chiefly into Recent 
Modem History. Eight of the nine papers are from Blade- 
wood^s Magasdne; and the dates, &c^ are appended to the 
papers individually. One is from Taii^s Magaavne. 

In The Gaeuistry of Roman Meals De Quincey propounds, 
and maintains most amusingly, a discovery or paradox of his 
own, to the effect that there was no recognised meal in the 
Roman day corresponding to our modem " breakfast," but 
only a hasty morning munch of a bit of bread or a few raisins 
by the side of a wall or anywhere else in the open air, and 
that this uncomfortable habit, or defect of habit, might be 
traced into important consequences and ramifications through 
Roman social life. In The Pag<m Oracles he set himself to 
combat the poetical tradition, so memorably enshrined in 
a passage in Rabelais, and also in Milton's <*Ode on the 
Nativity," — to neither of which, however, does he specially 
refer, — that at the coming of Christ the Pagan Oracles 
suddenly ceased, their gods and all their machinery of priests 
and priestesses havii^ been struck dumb at once by the 
advent of the real and supreme Divinity. He maintains 
that this tradition was originally a fiction or pious fraud of 
the Early Christian Fathers, incredible a priorif and confuted 
by facts abundantly proving not only that the Oracles did 

VOL. VII B 



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2 EDITOR'S PREFACE 

not suddenly cease at the time alleged, but that the struggle 
between the paraphernalia of Paganism and the power of 
Christianity was a long and arduous affair indeed, protracted 
through several centuries. In the course of this learned 
argument, conducted though it is with the most passionate 
sympathy with the Christian side and detestation of the 
Pagan, he takes occasion to say what good he honestly can 
on behalf of the Oracles themselves and their social fimctions, 
and to reprobate yrith due scorn the vulgar modem hypothesis 
which would resolve all things of the sort into mere old 
priestcraft and imposture. In The Essmes De Quincey is 
within a favourite ring-fence of his own devising. From the 
days of his bookish privacy at Qrasmere before he began 
regular authorship, — for he informs us that the paper, or the 
first draft of it^ had been written as early as 1821, — this had 
been pre-eminently his pet historical subject. He had con- 
vinced himself, it seems, that the so-called Hebrew sect of the 
Essenes, described by the Jewish historian Josephus as a 
school of Hebrew mystics, distinct from both the Pharisees 
and the Sadducees, and banded together by peculiar spiritual 
beliefs and a peculiarly strict and lofty morality, was either 
a pure fabrication of Josephus to discredit Christianity by 
robbing it of all claim to originality, or was nothing else 
than Christianity itself, imperfectly described by Josephus 
after he had become a renegade from it, and for the same 
insidious purpose of making it out to have been, in any case, 
but a native mushroom from the Hebrew soiL This is the 
thesis of the Blddcwood article on the Essenes published in 
1840 ; and how strongly it possessed De Quincey appears 
from his recurring to it in his paper entitled Secr^ SocieUes, 
published in 1847 in Tait^s Magaams, In that paper, indeed, 
he ranges about a little among Secret Societies generally, but 
only to revert with his full strength to the Essenes as the most 
interesting Secret Society of all, repeat the views of his 
Blachvood article on that subject with some modifications, 
and come down again most unmercifully with his hammer on 
poor Josephus. Nay, not content with his re-treatment of 
this subject in the text of his Tait paper, nor with the pungent 
paragraphs on the same subject of Essenism which he had 
inserted in his General Preface of 1853 to the then com- 



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EDITOR'S PREFACE 8 

mencing issue of his Oollected Writings (see cmte, Vol. I., 
pp. 10-12), he could not refrain, when he republished the 
Tadt paper in 1857, from annexing to it a Supplement, and 
then a Postscript, of reiterated exposition of his theory of 
Essenism and reiterated punishment of Josephus. In Oreee€ 
wnder the Bomaru, however, the subject is changed. Save that 
in parts of the preceding paper on Secret Societies there is 
something of modem reference, it is in this paper that the 
volume makes its transition from Ancient to Modem History. 
Not that it brings us very far out of classical antiquity; for it 
stops among the early Byzantine Qreeks, whose military and 
political merits, and the worth of whose contributions to 
European civilisation, De Quincey seeks to defend against 
what he regards as a too easy consensus of western deprecia- 
tion. After that paper there is a leap of many centuries ; 
but we have only to remember the Biographical Sketches of 
Charlemagne and Joan of Arc in a previous volume for proof 
that this gap in the chronology of our present volume implies 
no corresponding gap in De Quincey's historical knowledge. 
When he resumes, we are again among the Qreeks, but now 
among the very recent Qreeks. In The BevoMion of Greece 
and the Supplement on the SuliateB there is a narrative of the 
beginnings of the revolt of the Qreeks from the tyranny of 
their Turkish oppressors, vrith some striking passages from 
what are now the obscurities of the story of the War for 
Greek Independence, all written in the most unexceptionable 
spirit of PhUhellenism. Modem Greece is one of the pleasantest 
little papers imaginable, — a humorous blending of the reported 
disagreeables of tourist experience in the modem land ydth 
recollections of its classic age. Of the long paper which follows, 
entitled BevoU of the Tartovn ; or. Flight of the Kalmuck Khan 
amd his People from ihe Riusian TerrUoriee to the Frontiers of 
China, what shall we say ? What else than that, under the 
guise of an account of a tremendous actual march of a Tartar 
horde across some thousands of miles of the face of Asia, so 
late as the year 1771, for the purpose of transferring them- 
selves from the allegiance of Russia to that of China, it is 
one of De Quincey's most memorable literary feats ? Finally, 
there is the paper entitled Ceylon, referring to events so near 
to our own times, and of such distinctly British interest, that 



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4 EDITOR'S PREFACE 

De Quincey in treating them passes from the historiographer 
into the eritic of British politics, and stands up, a little in- 
carnation of the fighting spirit of John Boll, waving the 
British flag. 

The various papers thus gathered together in the present 
volume appeared in De Quincey's own Collective Edition of 
his Writings, it is to be remembered, not thus continuously, 
but scattered through different volumes. They straggle there, 
indeed, through no fewer than eight separate volumes, one 
paper here and another there, amid papers of utterly dissimilar 
kinds, just as De Quincey found convenient at the time. 
One little difficulty caused, in this as in other volumes, by 
the necessity and duty of re-assorting the papers on a more 
permanent principle, arises from the fact that De Quincey, 
in the Prefaces which he prefixed to most of the volumes of 
his edition, sometimes offered parting remarks on one or more 
of the papers that chanced to be contained in the particular 
volume he was passing through his hands. As every scrap 
that De Quincey wrote in connexion with his papers ought 
to be preserved, all the matter of these Prefaces has, of course, 
to be retained in the present edition. The method for doing 
so, almost to perfect completeness in every instance, is, how- 
ever, very simple. As, in almost every instance in which 
De Quincey took the pains to insert a parting notice of 
any one of his papers in his Preface to the volume contain- 
ing that paper, such notice is really an addendum, assuming 
that the paper has been read and needs some comment, 
notices of the kind may be treated accordingly, and appended 
as " Postscripts " to the papers to which they severally belong. 
This is the method, — ^really fer more convenient for the 
reader than De Quince/s own, — adopted for the present 
edition : e.g. in the cases of Homer cmd the Homeridcej (HcerOy 
and The GcBsa/re in our preceding volume, and of The Easeries 
and Secret Societies in this. Once or twice, however, the 
method does not quite suffice. For example, in Vol. VIII of 
De Quince/s own edition, published in 1858, — ^in which 
volume are contained two of the papers reproduced in this 
present volume, viz. The Pagan Orades and Greece tmder the 
Boma/nSy — the parting notice of these two papers is of both 
together, so that it cannot be split into two ; and, moreover, 



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EDITOR'S PREFACE 6 

the same Preface contaiiis a paragraph not at all concerning 
any of the included papers indiyidually, but in the nature of 
a general apology for the papers in the Collective Edition 
as a whole, whether in that volume, or in preceding volumes, 
or in the volumes that were to follow. De Quincey, in fact^ 
as five years had elapsed since the appearance of Vol I of his 
Collective Edition, thought that the time had come when he 
might again address to ti^e public some words of apology for 
his writings generally, in repetition or continuation of the 
more elaborate apology he had offered in his Qeneral Pre&ce 
in that opening volume of the series. What De Quincey thus 
thought suitable about the mid-point of his own Collective 
Edition has its proper place, if anywhere, about the mid-point 
of this ; and, accordingly, that nothing of De Quincey's may 
be lost, here the reader has the only two scrape from the 
Preface to his VoL VIII that cannot be provided for other- 
wise : — 

Db Quinobt'b Afoloot for Magazins Writing : — "These 
" papers, which first of all took their station in the periodical 
" journals of this country, which were secondly transplanted 
" into the literature of the American United States, and are 
'' now for the third time published at home in a new form 
'^ with many emendations, may be supposed to have suffered 
" by errors of hurry and inadvertence, from their original 
" adaptation to a service very nearly contemporaneous. It 
*' was natural that they should do so. But my own experi- 
*' ence, in common with that of many other writers, has taught 
" me that the disadvantages of hurry are not without their 
" compensations. Performers on the organ, so far from 
" finding their own impromptu displays to fall below their 
« more careful and premeditated efforts, on the contrary, 
*^ have oftentimes deep reason to mourn over the escape of 
" inspirations born from the momentary fervours of impro- 
" visation, but fugitive and irrevocable as the pulses in their 
" own flying fingers. Something analogous there is in the 
'^ effects of tiiat inexorable summons which forces a man to 
^' write against time, when racing along to intercept the final 
" closing of a weekly or monthly journal. It is certain, 
" howsoever it may be explained psychologically, that the 



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6 EDITOR'S PREFACE 

'* fierce compression of mental activities which takes place in 
*^ such a struggle, though painful and exhausting, has the 
'^ effect of suddenly unlocking cells in the brain, and reveal- 
" ing evanescent gleams of original feeling, or startling 
" suggestions of novel truth, that would not have obeyed a 
'^ less fervent magnetism. Pain^ and conflicts with sufferings 
" are ministrations of development to the human intellect, 
** even in the youngest in&nts, much more frequent than 
" is commonly observed. 

^'Note, — I have elsewhere observed, as a fact which ought 
" to have a powerful interest for psychologists, that on the 
" morning next after a severe paroxysm of 'griping' pains 
" every infant manifests a striking advance, a bound forwards 
"per saUvm^ in its apprehensiveness, and generally in its 
" intellectual development" 

Db Quinoet*s Postscript to "The Pagan Oraolbs" 
AND TO " Grbbob UNDER THE EoMANS '* I — " In the paper on 
" Oracles and in the paper on Greece under the Romans 
" there occur two suggestions which will be pronounced by 
*' many possibly in a high degree paradoxical But in any 
'* bad sense (however erroneous a sense) neither of these 
*' suggestions is paradoxical. To the Delphic Oracle, as 
" amongst the Greeks, — to the Byzantine Empire, as a 
*' great barrier standing through eight centuries, breaking 
^^ and sustaining the assaults of Mahometanism, else too 
" strong on that quarter for infemt Christendom in the West, 
'* — I have assigned majestic functions. So far as the 
** ordinary current of history is not confluent with my view, 
" so far the reader will see cause, perhaps, to remodel his 
" opinion, and to amend his appreciation of two mighty 
" organs working through ages on behalf of human progress, 
^' and only not historically acknowledged because not truly 
" understood." 

By the last extract we are reminded of that characteristic 
of all or most of De Quince/s Historical Essays and Re- 
searches on which he himself laid stress, and which was 
implied in his definition of the term " Essays." They, or 
most of them, are not mere narratives, or digests of informa- 



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EDITOR'S PREFACE 7 

tion, but contain, more or less, some novelty of opinion, 
some doctrine in contradiction or in advance of existing 
beliefs,— of such a startling nature sometimes that it will pass 
for what, in common parlance, is called a paradox, De 
Quincey, who objected strongly to this common use of the 
word ^ paradox " as a synonym for something outrageously 
incredible, and wanted to restore the name to its proper 
signification as meaning only something beyond present belief, 
but which, nevertheless, may turn out to be true, conceded 
in the above notice that Ids Pagan Oracles and his Greece 
under (hie Bomane contained each a '*x>aradox" in the more 
innocent sense, and briefly re-expressed the two paradoxes 
for the reader's better recollection of them. But some of the 
companion papers in the present volume are paradoxical 
in a much higher degree, — ^most notably The Oaeuistry of 
Roman Meals, and the two essays on the Essenes, entitled 
respectively The Essenes and Secret Societies, As it is not our 
business to review the doctrinal substance of the several 
essays in order to a judgment whether the paradoxes are 
paradoxes in the best sense, — ^viz. valid, though unexpected, 
advances on former beliefs, — we will only say that De 
Quincey seems to us, in most of the essays under notice, to 
have very &irly made out his case, and that^ where he may 
not have done so to the full extent^ one must at least admire 
his learning and ingenuity, and thank him for real and useful 
instruction. In no essay does he leave a question exactly as 
he found it^ or without some suggestions that will remain 
in the minds of his readers as a ferment for future thought 
The most dubious of all his historical speculations, however, 
is undoubtedly that about the Essenes. Though he stuck to 
it most manfully, he himself seems to have had his doubts 
about it at last ; and recent scholarship, I understand, will 
not accept his conclusions on this subject In a recent article 
on the Essenes, which I can hardly be wrong in attributing to 
the late Immanuel Deutsch, while it is admitted that the whole 
question of the Essenes, their name, their origin, their tenets, 
and their history, is still involved in obscurity, it is main- 
tained that something of this obscurity is owing to trust 
hitherto merely in the notices of the Essenes that have come 
down in Josephus, Philo, Pliny, and the Christian Fathers, to 



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8 EDITOR'S PREFACE 

the neglect of lights that may be derived from the Hebrew 
Talmudical writinga According to the version of the 
stoiy as thence corrected, there uoas a real Hebrew sect of 
" Essenes, Nazirs, or Baptists,'* an oflEshoot from the Phari- 
sees, and describable as very advanced or latitudinarian 
Pharisees, with ethical doctrines and practices so mnch re- 
sembling those of Christianity that it was not wonderful W 
some ancient sceptics maintained that John the Baptist and 
Christ himself sprang from their ranks, and who, after sub- 
sisting for a time as a religious colony of Separatists near the 
Dead Sea, broke into two divisions, one of which lapsed back 
among the Pharisees, while the other, calling themselves 
TherapeutSB, merged conclusively among the Christians. If 
this is the true theory, then De Quincey was somewhat astray 
in his facts, and was not justified, at all events, in the 
extreme severity of his castigations of Josephus. It may be 
observed, however, that his speculation is in some points so 
reconcilable with the newer theory as to seem like a pre- 
monition of it or groping towards it^ and that the mere fact 
that he threw a bombshell of reasoned suspicions into the 
orthodox tradition respecting the Essenes did credit alike to 
his acuteness and his courage. 

A word or two on De Quince/s authorities for his splendid 
sketch called The Revolt of the TaHa/rs : — One authority was a 
famous Chinese state-paper purporting to have been com- 
posed by the Chinese Emperor Kien Long himself (1735- 
1796), of which a French translation, with the title Monu- 
ment de la Transmigration dee Tourgowths dee Bords de la 
Met Gaspienne dcme VErnpire de la Chine, had been published 
in 1776 by the French Jesuit missionaries of Pekin, in the 
first volume of their great collection of M^moires concemant 
lee Chinois, The account there given of so remarkable an 
event of recent Asiatic history as the migration from Russia 
to China of a whole population of Tartars had so much 
interested Gibbon that he refers to it in that chapter of his 
great work in which he describes the ancient Scythians. 
De Quincey had fastened on the same document as supplying 
him with an admirable theme for literary treatment Explain- 
ing this some time ago, while editing his Re/ooU of the Tartars 
for a set of Selections from his Writings, I had to add that 



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EDITOR'S PREFACE 9 

there was much in the paper which he could not have 
derived from that original, and that, therefore, unless he 
invented a great deal, he must have had other authorities at 
hand. I failed at the time to discover what these other 
authorities were, — De Quinoey having had a habit of secretive- 
nesB in such matters ; but since then an incidental reference 
of bis own, in his Homer and the Hommda (see amUf VoL YI, 
p. 88), has given me the due. The author from whom he 
chiefly drew such of his materiaLs as were not supplied by 
the i^nch edition of Eien Long's narrative, was, it appears 
from that reference, the German traveller Benjamin Beiig- 
mann, wbose Nomadische Stretfereien wUer dm Kalmiikm m 
den Jahren 1802 und 1803 came forth from a Riga press, 
in four parts or volumes, in 1804-5. The book consists of a 
series of letters written by Bergmann from different places 
during his residence among the Tartars, with interjected 
essays or dissertations of an independent kind on subjects 
relating to the Tartars, — one of these occupying 106 pages, 
and entitled Versuch awr GesdMUe der Kalmukenfluckt wm 
der Wolga (<< Essay on the History of the Flight of the Kal- 
mucks from the Volga"). A French translation of the 
Letters, with this particular Essay included, appeared in 
1825 under the title Voyage de Benjamin Bergmamm, ekez le$ 
Kalmuks : TradwU de VAllemamd par M, MoriSy Merribre de la 
8ae4^ AsiaJtique, Both works are now very scarce ; but, 
having seen copies of both (the only copies, I think, in 
Edinburgh, and possibly the very copies which De Quincey 
used), I have no doubt left that it was Bergmann's Essay of 
1804 that supplied De Quincey with the facts, names, and 
hints he needed for filling up that outline-sketch of the 
history of the great Tartar Transmigration of 1771 which 
was already accessible for him in the Narrative of the 
Chinese Emperor Eien Long, and in other Chinese State 
Papers, as these had been published in translation in 1776 
by the French Jesuit missionaries. At the same time, no 
doubt is left that he passed the composite material freely and 
boldly through his own imagination, on the principle that 
here was a theme of such unusual literary capabilities that 
it was a pity it should be left in the pages of ordinary 
historiographic summary or record, inasmuch as it would 



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10 BDITOR*S PREFACE 

be most effectively treated, even for the purposes of real 
history, if thrown into the form of an epic or romance. 
Accordingly, he takes liberties with his authorities, deviating 
from them now and then, and even once or twice intro- 
ducing incidents not reconcilable with either of them, if 
not irreconcilable also with historical and geographical 
possibility. Hence one may doubt sometimes whether 
what one is reading is to be regarded as history or as 
invention. On that point I can but repeat words I have 
already used : — " As it is, we are bound to be thankful In 
^' quest of a literary theme, De Quincey was arrested some- 
^ how by that extraordinary transmigration of a Kalmuck 
" horde across the face of Asia in 1771 which had also 
*' struck Gibbon ; he inserted his hands into the vague chaos 
'' of Asiatic inconceivability enshrouding the transaction ; 
** and he tore out the connected and tolerably conceivable 
** story which we now read. There is no such vivid version 
" of any such historical episode in all Qibbon, and possibly 
*' nothing truer essentially, after all, to the substance of the 
^* facts as they actually happened." D. M. 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS i 

Qbeat misconceptions have always prevailed abont the 
Roman dvwMr, Dinner (oma^ was the only meal which 
the Romans as a nation took. It was no accident, but 
arose out of their whole fecial economy. This I shall 
endeavour to show by ronning through the history of a 
Roman day. BidenJUm dieere verum ^Ud vetatf And the 
course of this review will expose one or two important 
truths in ancient political economy, which have been too 
much overlooked. 

With the lark it was that the Roman rose. Not that the 
earliest lark rises so early in Latium as the earliest lark in 
England — that is, during summer ; but then, on the other 
hand, neither does it ever rise so late. The Roman citizen 
was stirring with the dawn — which, allowing for the shorter 
longest-day and longer shortest-day of Rome, you may call 
about four in summer, about seven in winter. Why did he 
do this? Because he went to bed at a very early hour. 
But why did he do that ? By backing in this way, we shall 
surely back into the very well of truth : always, where it is 
possible, let us have the powrquoi of the pawrguoi. The 
Roman went to bed early for two remarkable reasons. 1st, 
because in Rome, built for a martial destiny, every habit of 
life had reference to the usuries of war. Every citizen, if he 

1 Published first in ELackwoodPa Magtxzine for December 1889, 
under the title ** Dinner : Real and Reputed " ; reprinted by De 
Quincey in 1864, in Vol. Ill of his Collected Writings, under the 
present title, and with only the slightest verbal changes, such as the 
substitution of " I " and " my " for * * we " and " our " when he speaks 
in his own person. — M. 



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12 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

were not a mere proletarian animal kept at the public cost 
with a view to his proles or offspring, held himself a soldier- 
elect : the more noble he was, the more was his liability to 
military service ; in shorty all Bome, and at all times, was 
consciously "in procinct"^ Now, it was a principle of 
ancient warfare that evory hour of daylight had a triple 
worth, as valued against hours of darkness. That was one 
reason — a reason suggested by the understanding. But 
there was a second reason, far more remarkable ; and this 
was a reason suggested by a blind necessity. It is an im- 
portant fact that this planet on which we live, this little 
industrious earth of ours, has developed her wealth by slow 
stages of increase. She was fai from being the rich little 
globe in Ceesar^s days that Bhs, is at present The earth in 
our days is incalculably richer, «s a whole, than in the time 
of Charlemagne ; and at that time she was richer, by many 
a million of acres, than in the era of Augustus. In that 
Augustan era we descry a clear belt of cultivation, averaging 
perhaps six hundred miles in depth, running in a ring-fence 
about the Mediterranean. This belt, and no more, was in 
decent cultivation. Beyond that belt, there was only a wild 
Indian cultivation ; generally not so much. At present, 
what a difference ! We have that very belt, but much 
richer, all things considered, cequcUis CBqucmdiSy than in the 
Roman era, and much beside. The reader must not look to 
single cases, as that of Egypt or other parts of Africa, but 
take the whole collectively. On that scheme of valuation, 
we have the old Roman belt, the circum- Mediterranean 
girdle, not much tarnished, and we have all the rest of 
Europe to boot Such being the case, the Earth, being (as a 
whole) in that Pagan era so incomparably poorer, could not 
in the Pagan era support the expense of maintaining great 
empires in cold latitudes. Her purse would not reach that 
cost Wherever she undertook in those early ages to rear 
man in great abundance, it must be where nature would 
consent to work in partnership with herself; where wa/mvth 

^ ** In precinct " : — Milton's translation somewhere in the "Para- 
dise Lost" of the technical phrase "in proclnctu." [The phrase, 
often quoted by De Qoincey from Milton, occurs in Par, Lost^ vi. 
198.— M.] 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEAI^ 18 

was to be had for nothing ; where clothes were not so entirely 
indispensable but that a ragged fellow might still keep 
himself warm ; where slight ^Uer might serve ; and where 
the soil, if not absolutely richer in reversionary wealth, was 
more easily cultured. Nature, in those days of infancy, 
must come forward liberally, and take a number of shares in 
every new joint-stock concern, before it could move. Man, 
therefore, went to bed early in those ages, simply because 
his worthy mother earth could not afford him candles. She, 
good old lady (or good young lady, for geologists know not ^ 
whether she is in that stage of her progress which corresponds 
to grey hairs, or to infancy, or to '^ a certain age'*)— she, 
good lady, would certainly haye shuddered to hear any of 
her nations asking for candles. ** Candles, indeed 1 " she 
would have said ; *^ who evet^. heard of such a thing ? and 
with so much excellent daylight running to waste, as I have 
provided gratis I What will the wretches want next ? ** 

The daylight furnished gratis was certainly '* undeniable " 
in its quality, and quite sufficient for all purposes that were 
honest Seneca, even in his own luxurious period, called those 
men " Itudfugce,'* and by other ugly names, who lived chiefly by 
candle-light None but rich and luxurious men, — nay, even 
amongst these, none but idlers, — did live or could live by 
candle-light An immense majority of men in Rome never 
lighted a candle, unless sometimes in the early dawn. And 
this custom of Rome was the custom also of all nations that 
lived round the great lake of the Mediterranean. In Athens, 
Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, everywhere, the ancients went 
to bed, like good boys, from seven to nine o'clock.^ The 

^ '* Oeologista know not" : — In man, the sixtieth part of six 
thousand years is a very venerable age. But, as to the planet, as to 
our little earth, instead of argaing dotage, six thousand years may 
have scarcely carried her beyond babyhood. Some people think she 
is cntting her first teeth ; some think her in her teens. But, serionsly, 
it is a very interesting problem. Do the sixty centnries of our earth 
imply youth, maturity, or dotage ? 

3 « Merywhere the ancients loent to bed, like good hoysj from seven 
to nine o^dock " : — ^As I am perfectly serious, I must beg the reader 
who fancies any joke in all this to consider what an immense differ- 
ence it must have made to the Earth, considered as a steward of her 
own resources, whether great nations, in a period when their resources 
were so feebly developed, did, or did not, for many centuries, require 



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14 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Turks, and other people who have succeeded to the stations 
and the habits of the ancients, do so at this day. 

The Roman, therefore, who saw no joke in sitting round 
a table in the dark, went off to bed as the darkness began. 
Everybody did so. Old Numa Pompilius himself was 
obliged to trundle off in the dusk. Tarquinius might be a 
very superb fellow ; but I doubt whether he ever saw a 
farthing rushlight And, though it may be thought that 
plots and conspiracies would flourish in such a city of darkness, 
it is to be considered that the conspirators themselves had no 
more candles than honest men : both parties were in the dark. 

Being up, then, and stirring not long after the lark, what 
mischief did the Roman go about first ? Now-a-days he 
would have taken a pipe or a cigar. But, alas for the 
ignorance of the poor heathy creatures I they had neither 
one nor the other. In this point, I must tax our mother 
Earth with being really too stingy. In the case of the 
candles I approve of her parsimony. Much mischief is 
brewed by candle-light But it was coming it too strong 
to allow no tobacco. Many a wild feUow in Rome, your 
Gracchi, SyUas, Catilines, would not have played " h — and 
Tommy " in the way they did" if they could have soothed 
their angry stomachs with a cigar : a pipe has intercepted 
many an evil scheme. But the thing is past helping now. 
At Rome you must do as " they does *' at Rome. So, after 
shaving (supposing the age of the Barbati to be past), what 
is the first business that our Roman will undertake ? Forty 
to one he is a poor man, bom to look upwards to his fellow- 
men, and not to look down upon anybody but slaves. He 
goes, therefore, to the palace of some grandee, some top- 
sawyer of the senatorian order. This great man, for all his 
greatness, has turned out even sooner than himself. For he 

candles ; and, I may add, fire. The five heads of human expenditure 
are— 1, Food; 2, Shelter; 8, Clothing; 4, Fuel; 5. Light All 
were pitched on a lower scale in the Pagan era ; and the two last 
were almost banished from ancient housekeeping. What a great 
relief this must have been to our good mother the Earth ! who at 
/irst was obliged to request of her children that they would settle 
round the Mediterranean. She could not even afford them water, 
unless they would come and fetch it themselves out of a common tank 
or cistern. 



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THE CASUISTRY OF BOlftAN MEAIB 16 

also has had no candles and no cigars ; and he well knows that, 
before the sun looks into his portals, all his halls will be 
overflowing and bozzing with the matin susurrus of courtiers 
— the " mane salutantes." ^ It is as much as his popularity 
is worth to absent himself or to keep people waiting. But 
surely, the reader may think, this poor man he might keep 
waiting. No, he might not ; for, though poor, being a 
citizen, the man is a gentleman. That was the^ consequence 
of keeping shiye& Wherever there is a class of slaves, he 
that enjoys the jus suffragii (no matter how poor) ib a gentle- 
man. Tlie true Latin word for a gentleman is tngenuus^ — a 
freeman and the son of a freeman. 

Yet even here there were diBtinctions. Under the 
Emperors, the' courtiers were divided into two classes : with 
respect to the superior dass, it was said of the sovereign — 
that he iaw them (" videbat ") ; with respect to the other — 
that he was seen (^^videbatwr"). Even Plutarch mentions it 
as a common boast in his times, 'qfias eiScy 6 /Scurikev^ — 
OoBsar is inihe habit of seeing me ; or, as a common plea for 
evading a suit, €tc/>ovs 6/>^ /iaXAov — I am sorry to say he is 
more inclined to look upon others. And this usage derived 
itself (mark that well 1) from the Republican era. The aulic 
spirit was propagated by the Empire, but from a Republican 
root 

Having paid his court, you will suppose that our friend 
comes home to breakfast Not at all : no such discovery 
as *' breakfast " had then been made : breakfast was not 
invented for many centuries after that. I have always 
admired, and always shall admire, as the very best of all 
human stories, Charles Lamb's account of roast-pork, and its 
traditional origin in China. Ching Ping, it seems, had suf- 
fered his father's house to be burned down : the outhouses 
were burned along with the house ; and in one of these the 

^ " The fnane aaltUarUes " i — ^There can be no doubt that the Uvees 
of modem princes and ministera have been inherited from this ancient 
nsage of Rome : one which belonged to Rome Republican, as well as 
Rome Imperial. The fiction in our modem practice is that we wait 
upon the levers or rising of the prince. In France, at one era, this 
fiction was realised : the courtiers did really attend the king's dressing. 
And, as to the queen, even up to the Revolution, Marie Antoinette 
gave audience at her toilette. 



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16 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

pigs, by accident, were roasted to a tarn. Memorable were 
the results for all future China and future civilisation. 
Ping, who (like all China beside) had hitherto eaten his pig 
raw, now for the first time tasted it in a state of torrefaction. 
Of course he made his peace with his father by a part (tradi- 
tion says a 1^) of the new dish. The father was so astounded 
with the discovery that he burned his house down once 
a-year for the sake of coming at an annual banquet of roast 
pig. A curious prying sort of fellow, one Chang Pang, got 
to know of this. He also burned down a house with a pig 
in it, and had his eyes opened. The secret was ill kept ; 
the discovery spread ; many great conversions were made ; 
houses were blazing in every part of the Celestial Empire. 
The insurance offices took the matter up. One Chong Pong, 
detected in the very act of shutting up a pig in his drawing- 
room, and then firing a train, was indicted on a chai^ of 
arson. The chief justice of Peking, on that occasion, re- 
quested an officer of the court to hand him up a piece of the 
roast pig, the corpus delicti : pure curiosity it was, liberal 
curiosity, that led him to taste ; but within two days after, 
it was observed, says Lamb, that his lordship's town-house 
was on fire. In ^ort^ all China apostatised to the new 
faith ; and it was not until some centuries had passed that a 
man of prodigious genius arose — ^viz. Chung Pung — who 
established the second era in the history of roast pig by 
showing that it could be had without burning down a house. 

No such genius had yet arisen in Rome. Breakfast was 
not suspected. No prophecy, no type of break&st, had been 
published. In fact, it took as much time and research to 
arrive at that great discovery as at the Copemican system. 
True it is, reader, that you have heard of such a word as 
jentaculvm ; and your dictionary translates that old heathen 
word by the Christian word breakfaat But dictionaries are 
duU deceivers. Between jentacidum and breaJ^agt the dilfer- 
ences are as wide as between a horse-chestnut and a chestnut 
horse,— differences in the time wheuy in the place whercj in 
the Ttumner how, but pre-eminently in the tJwng which, 

Galen is a good authority upon such a subject, since, 
if (like other Pagans) he ate no breakfast himself, in some 
sense he may be called the cause of breakfast to other 



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^^HE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS 17 

men, by treating of those things which could safely be taken 
upon an empty stomach. As to the time, he (like many 
other authors) says, ircpi rpvniv^ ij {jo fMKportpov) irtpi, 
rerafynjv, about the third, or at farthest about the fourth 
hour: and so exact is he that he assumes the day to lie 
exactly between six and six o'clock, and to be divided into 
thirteen equal portions. So the time will be a few minutes 
before nine, or a few minutes before ten, in the forenoon. 
That seems fair enough. But it is not time in respect to its 
location that W€ are concerned with, so much as time in 
respect to its duration. Now, heaps of authorities take it for 
granted that you are not to sit down — you are to stand ; 
and, as to the place, that any place will do^^any comer of 
the Forum," says Gkden, " any comer that you fancy '' ; 
which is like referring a man for his ialU-^HThcmger to West- 
minster Hall or Fleet Street Augustus, in a letter still 
surviving, tells us that he jentahat, or took his jenUicvlum^ 
in his carriage : sometimes in a wheel carriage (in esiedo), 
sometimes in a litter or palanquin (in lectica). This careless 
and disorderly way as to time and place, and other circum- 
stances of haste, sufficiently indicate the quality of the meal 
you are to expect. Already you are " sagacious of your 
quarry from so &xJ' Not that we would presume, excellent 
reader, to liken you to death, or to insinuate that you are a 
" grim feature." But would it not make a saint " grim " to 
hear of such preparations for the morning meal ? And then 
to hear of such consummations as pcmis siccus, dry bread ; or (if 
the learned reader thinks it will taste better in Greek) a/oros 
^poi ! And what may this word dry happen to mean ? 
'* Does it mean stale f " says Salmasius. ^< Shall we suppose,'' 
says he, in querulous words, ^^moUi et recenti opponi" that 
it is placed in antithesis to soft and new bread, what English 
sailors call ^' soft Umvnvy " ? and from that antithesis conclude 
it to be *' dwrvm et non recens coctum, eoque sicdorem " ? hard 
and stale, and in that proportion more arid ? Not quite so 
bad as that, we hope. Or again — ^^siccum pro biscocto, ut 
hodie vocam/asy sumemus ?*'^ By hodie Salmasius means 

^ **0r cLgain, * siccumpro Hscocto, ut hodie vocamus, sumemua T " : — 
It ia odd enough that a scholar so complete as Salmasius, whom nothing 
ever escapes, should have overlooked so obvious an alternative as that 

VOL. VII 



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18 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

amongst his countrymen of France, where Usoocttis is ver- 
batim reproduced in the word 6m (twice) cuit (baked) ; whence 
our own biscudt. Biscuit might do very well, could we be 
sure that it was cabin biscuit : but Sahnasius argues that in 
this case he takes it to mean '* bucedlattim, qui est pants 
nauticfm " ; that is, the ship company's biscuit, broken with 
a sledge-hammer. In Qreek, for the benefit again of the 
learned reader, it is termed BiTvpos, indicating that it has 
passed twice under the action of fire. 

" Well," you say, ** no matter if it had passed through the 
fires of Moloch ; only let us have this biscuit, such as it is." 
In good faith, then, fasting reader, you are not likely to see 
much more than you hcwe seen. It is a very Barmecide 
feast, we do assure you — ^this same " jentaculum " ; at which 
abstinence and patience are much more exercised than the 
teeth : faith and hope are the chief graces cultivated, together 
with that species of the m(ignificum which is founded on the 
ignotvm. Even this biscuit was allowed in the most limited 
quantities ; for which reason it is that the Qreeks called this 
apology for a meal by the name of /Sovkkut/jloSj a word formed 
(as many words were in the Post-Augustan ages) from a Latin 
word — viz. buccea^ a mouthful ; not literally such, but so 
much as a polished man could allow himself to put into his 
mouth at once. " We took a mouthful,** says Sir William 
Waller, the Parliamentary General — " took a mouthful ; paid 
our reckoning ; mounted ; and were off." But there Sir 
William means, by his plausible " mouthful," something very 
much beyond either nine or nineteen ordinary quantities of 
that denomination, whereas the Roman '* jentaculum " was 
literally such ; and, accordingly, one of the varieties under 
which the ancient vocabularies express this model of evanescent 
quantities is gustatio, a mere tasting ; and again, it is called 
by another variety gustv^, a mere taste (whence comes the 
old French word gotister, for a refection or luncheon, and 
then, by the usual suppression of the ^ gouter). Speaking of 
his uncle, Pliny the Younger says, ** Post solem plerumque 
" lavabatur : deinde gustabat ; dormiebat minimum ; mox, 
** quasi alio die, studebat in coenss tempus " : " After taking 

of siccua in the sense of being without opsonium, — Seottice, without 
** kitchen." 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS 19 

*' the air, generally speaking, he bathed ; after that he broke 
'' his fast on a morsel of biscuit, and took a very slight siesta: 
" which done, as if awaking to a new day, he set in regularly 
'^ to his studies, and pursued them to dinner-time." Oiutabat 
here meant that nondescript meal which arose at Rome when 
jentaciUum and prandium were fused into one, and that only 
a taste or mouthful of biscuit, as we shall show farther on. 

Possibly, however, most excellent reader, like some 
epicurean traveller, who, in crossing the Alps, finds himself 
weather-bound at St Bernard's on Ash -Wednesday, you 
surmise a remedy : you descry some opening from " the 
loopholes of a retreat " through which a few delicacies might 
be insinuated to spread verdure on this arid wilderness of 
biscuit. Casuistry can do much. A dead hand at casuistry 
has often proved more than a match for Lent with all his 
quarantines. But sorry I am to say that, in this case, no 
relief is hinted at in any ancient author. A grape or two 
(not a bunch of grapes), a raisin or two, a date, an olive — 
these are the whole amount of relief^ which the chancery of 
the Roman kitchen granted in such cases. All things here 
hang together, and prove each other, — the time, the place, 
the mode, the thing. Well might man eat standing, or eat 
in public, such a trifle as this. Go home, indeed, to such a 
breakfast ! You would as soon think of ordering a cloth to 
be laid in order to eat a peach, or of asking a Mend to join 
you in an orange. No man in his senses makes ^'two bites 
of a cherry." So let us pass on to the other stages of the day. 
Only, in taking leave of this morning's stage, throw your 
eyes back with me. Christian reader, upon this truly heathen 
meal, fit for idolatrous dogs like your Qreeks and your 
Romans ; survey, through the vista of ages, that thrice- 
accursed biscuit, with half a fig, perhaps, by way of garnish, 
and a huge hammer by its side, to secure the certainty of 
mastication by previous comminution. Then turn your eyes 

* " The whole amount o/reli^*' : — From which it appears how 
grossly Locke (see his ''Education") was deceived in fancying that 
Augustus practised any remarkable abstinence in taking only a bit of 
bread and a raisin or two by way of luncheon. Augustus did no more 
than most people did ; secondly, he abstained only upon principles of 
luxury with a view to dinner ; and, thirdly, for this dinner he never 
waited longer than up to four o'clock. 



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20 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

to a Christian breakfast — ^hot rolls, eggs, coffee, beef; but 
down, down, rebellious visions : we need say no more ! You, 
read^, like myseK, will breathe a malediction on the Classical 
era, and thank your stars for making you a Romanticist 
Every morning I thank mine for keeping me back from the 
Augustan age, and reserving me to a period in which break- 
fast had been already invented. In the words of Ovid, I 
say: — 

*' Prisca juvent alios : ego me nunc deniqne natum 
Gratnlor. Hsec setas moribus apta mels." 

Our Mend, the Roman cit, has therefore thus far, in his 
progress through life, obtained no breakfast, if he ever con- 
templated an idea so frantic. But it occurs to you, my 
faithful reader, that perhaps he will not edways be thus 
unhappy. I could bring waggon-loads of sentiments, Greek 
as well as Roman, which prove, more clearly than the most 
eminent pike-staff, that, as the wheel of fortune revolves, 
simply out of the fact that it has carried a man downwards, 
it must subsequently carry him upwards, no matter what 
dislike that wheel, or any of its spokes, may bear to that 
man : " non, si male nunc sit, et olim sic erit *^ : and that) if 
a man, through the madness of his nation, misses coffee 
and hot rolls at nine, he may easily run into a leg of mutton 
at twelve. True it is he may do so : truth is commendable : 
and I will not deny that a man may sometimes, by losing a 
breakfast, gain a dinner. Such things have been in various 
ages, and will be again, but not at Rome. There were reasons 
against it We have heard of men who consider life under 
the idea of a wilderness — dry as a " remainder biscuit after 
a voyage " — and who consider a day under the idea of a little 
life. Life is the macrocosm, or world at large : day is the 
microcosm, or world in miniature. Consequently, if life is a 
wilderness, then day, as a little life, is a little wilderness. 
And this wilderness can be safely traversed only by having 
relays of fountains, or stages for refreshment Such stages, 
they conceive, are found in the several meals which Providence 
has stationed at due intervals through the day, whenever the 
perverseness of man does not break the chain, or derange the 
order of succession. 

These are the anchors by which man rides in that billowy 



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THE CASUISTRY OP ROMAN MEALS 21 

ocean between morning and night The first anchor--- viz. 
breakfast — having given way in Borne, the more need there 
is that he should pull up by the second ; and that is often 
reputed to be dinner. And, as your dictionary, good reader, 
translxited IrtaiffcuA by that vain word j^fnUkc:ulwm,y so doubtless 
it will translate d.in'Mr by that stUl vainer word j^rondiunk 
Sincerely I hope that your own dinner on this day, and 
through all time coming, may have a better root in fact and 
substance than this most visionary of all baseless things — 
the Roman yraikdivm ; of which I shall presently show you 
that the most approved translation is moofuAtne. 

Reader, I am anything but jesting here. In the very 
spirit of serious truth, I assure you that the delusion about 
^' jentaculum '' is even exceeded by this other delusion about 
" prandiuuL" Salmasius himself, for whom a natural pre- 
judice of place and time partially obscured the truth, admits, 
however, that framdvwm, was a meal which the ancients rarely 
took ; his very words are — " rofro prancUhant veterea.** Now, 
judge for yourself of the good sense which is shown in 
translating by the word dirmer, which must of necessity mean 
the chief meal, a Roman word which represents a fancy meal, 
a meal of caprice, a meal which few people took. At this 
moment, what is the single point of agreement between the 
noon meal of the English labourer and the evening meal of 
the English gentleman? What is the single circumstance 
common to both which causes us to denominate them by the 
common name of dinner ? It is that in both we recognise 
the principul meal of the day, the meal upon which is thrown 
the onus of the day's support In everything else they are 
as wide asunder as the poles ; but they agree in this one 
point of their function. Is it credible, now, that, to represent 
such a meal amongst ourselves, we select a Roman word so 
notoriously expressing a mere shadow, a pure apology, that 
very few people ever tasted it — nobody sat down to it — ^not 
many washed their hands after it, and gradually the very 
name of it became interchangeable with another name, 
implying the slightest possible act of tentative tasting or 
sipping? ^^Post lavationem wm mensa prandiwm^^* says 
Seneca, ^^fod quod non «tm< lavomda marvus " ; that is^ " After 
bathing, I take a prcmddwm without sitting down to table. 



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22 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

and such a 'pramdvum as brings after itself no need of wasliing 
the hands." No ; moonshine as little soils the hands as it 
oppresses the stomach. 

Reader ! I, as well as Pliny, had an uncle, an East Indian 
uncle : doubtless you have such an unde ; everybody has an 
Indian uncle. GenersHy such a person is " rather yellow, 
rather yellow " (to quote Canning versus Lord Durham) ; that 
is the chief fault with his physics ; but, as to his morals, he 
is universally a man of princely aspirations and habits. He 
is not lilways so orientcJly rich as he is reputed ; but he is 
always orientally munificent Gall upon him at any hour 
from two to five, he insists on your taking tiffin^ and such a 
tiffin ! The English corresponding term is luncheon : but 
how meagre a shadow is the European meal to its glowing 
Asiatic cousin 1 Still, gloriously as tiffin shines, does any- 
body imagine that it is a vicarious dinner, or ever^ meant to 
be the substitute and hcfum tenens of dinner ? Wait till 
eight, and you will have your eyes opened on that subject 
So of the Roman prcmdium : had it been as luxurious as it 
was simple, still it was always viewed as something meant 
only to stay the stomach, as a prologue to something beyond. 
The prcmdium was far enough from giving the feeblest idea 
even of the English luncheon ; yet it stood in the same 
relation to the Roman day. Now to Englishm^ra that meal 
scarcely exists, and, were it not for women, whose delicacy 
of organisation does not allow them to fast so long as men, 
would probably be abolished. It is singular in this, as in 
other points, how nearly England and ancient Rome approxi- 
mate. We all know how hard it is to tempt a man generally 
into spoiling his appetite by eating before dinner. The same 
dislike of violating what they called the integrity of the 
appetite (inUgram famem) existed in Rome. Integer means 
what is vntact^ unviolated by toucL Cicero, when protesting 
against spoiling his appetite for dinner by tasting anything 
beforehand, says integram famem ad comam afferam : 1 intend 
bringing to dinner an appetite untampered with. Nay, so 
much stress did the Romans lay on maintaining this primitive 
state of the appetite undisturbed that any prelusions with 
either jentaculwn or prandiwn were said, by a very strong 
phrase indeed, poUuere famem — to pollute the sanctity of 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS 28 

the appetite. The appetite was regarded as a holy vestal 
flame, soaring upwards towards dinner throughout the day : 
if undehauched, it tended to its natural consummation in 
ccena : expiring like a phoenix, to rise again out of its own 
ashes. On this theory, to which language had acconunodated 
itself, the two prelusive meals of nine or ten o'clock a.]l and 
of one P.U., so far from heing ratified by the public sense, 
and adopted into the economy of the day, were regarded 
gloomily as gross irregularities, enormities, debauchers of the 
natural instinct ; and, in so far as they thwarted that instinct, 
lessened it, or depraved it^ were almost uniformly held to be 
fdll of pollution, and, finally, to profane a sacr^ motion of 
nature. Such was the language. 

But we guess what is passing in the reader's mind. He 
thinks tha^ all this proves the prandium to have been a meal 
of little account, and in very many cases absolutely un- 
known. But still he thinks all this might happen to the 
English dinner : that also might be neglected ; supper might 
be generally preferred ; and, nevertheless, dinner would be 
as truly entitled to the name of dinner as before. Many a 
student neglects his dinner ; enthusiasm in any pursuit must 
often have extinguished appetite for all of us. Many a time 
and oft did this happen to Sir Isaac Newton. Evidence is 
on record that such a deponent at .eight o'clock a.m. found 
Sir Isaac with one stocking on, one off: at two, said deponent 
called him to dinner. Being interrogated whether Sir Isaac 
had pulled on the mimu stocking, or gartered the phu stock- 
ing, witness replied that he had not Being asked if Sir 
Isaac came to dinner, replied that he did not. Being again 
asked, " At sunset, did you look in. on Sir Isaac ? " witness 
replied, " I did." And now, upon your conscience, sir, by 
the virtue of your oath, in what state were the stockings ? " 
Ans, — ^* In gtcUu quo ante hdhtmj* It seems Sir Isaac had 
fought through that whole battle of a long day, so trying a 
campaign to many people — he had traversed that whole 
sandy Zaarah, without calling, or needing to call, at one of 
those fountains, stages, or mandones,^ by which (according 
to our former explanation) Providence has relieved the con- 

^ " Maimones " \— The halts of the Roman legions, the stationary 
places of repose which divided the marches, were so called. 



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24 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tinuity of arid soil which else disfigures that long dreary 
level. This happens to all ; but was dinner not dinner, and 
did supper become dinner, because Sir Isaac Newton ate 
nothing at the first, and threw the whole day's support upon 
the last ? No, you will say, a rule is not defeated by one 
casual deviation, nor by one person's constant deviation. 
Everybody else was stiU dining at two, though Sir Isaac 
might not ; and Sir Isaac himself on most days no more 
deferred his dinner beyond two than he sat in public with 
one stocking off. But what if everybody, Sir Isaac included, 
had deferred his substantial meal until nighty and taken a 
slight refection only at two ? The question put does really 
represent the very case which has happened with us in 
England. In 1700 a large part of London took a meal at 
two F.M., and another at seven or eight pji. At present, a 
large part of London is still doing the very same thing, 
taking one meal at two, and another at seven or eight But 
the names are entirely changed : the two o'clock meal used 
to be called ddnnery whereas at present it is called luncheon ; 
the seven o'clock meal used to be called supper, whereas at 
present it is called dinner ; and in both cases the difference 
is anything but verbal : it expresses a translation of that 
main meal on which the day's support rested from mid-day 
to evening. 

Upon reviewing the idea of dinner, we soon perceive 
that time has little or no connexion with it : since, both in 
England and France, dinner has travelled, like the hand of a 
clock, through every hour between ten am. and ten p.m. We 
have a list, well attested, of every successive hour between 
these limits having been the known established hour for the 
royal dinner-table within the last three hundred and fifty 
years. Time, therefore, vanishes from the problem ; it is a 
quantity regularly exterminated. The true elements of die 
idea are evidently these : — 1. That dinner is that meal, no 
matter when taken, which is the principal meal, m, the meal 
on which the day's support is thrown. 2. That it is there- 
fore the meal of hospitality. 3. That it is the meal (with 
reference to both Nos. 1 and 2) in which animed food pre- 
dominates. 4. That it is that meal which, upon a necessity 
arising for the abolition of all 6t^ one, would naturally offer 



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THE CASUISTRY OP ROMAN MEAIB 26 

itself as that one. Apply these four tests to prandiwn : — How 
could that meal prandiwn answer to the fint test^ as ths day's 
supporty which few people touched ? How could that meal 
pra^vum answer to the second test, as the meal qf hospUdUty, 
at which nohody sat down ? How could that mesd pran- 
diwn answer to the third test^ as the meal of animal food, 
which consisted exclusively and notoriously of bread ? Or 
answer to the fourth test, as the privileged meal entitled to 
twnme the ahoHtion of the rest, which was itself abolished at 
all times in practice ? 

Tried, therefore, by every test, prandiwn vanishes. But 
I have something further to communicate about this same 
prandiwn. 

1. It came to pass, by a very natural association of feel- 
ing, that pranddfwm and jentaeiUwTij in the latter centuries of 
Borne, were generally confounded. This result was inevit- 
able. Both professed the same basis. Both came in the 
morning. Both were fictions. Hence they melted and col- 
lapsed into each other. 

The fact speaks for itsel£ The modem break&st and 
luncheon never could have been confounded ; but who would 
be at the pains of distinguishing two shadows? In a 
gambling-house of that class where you are at liberty to sit 
down to a splendid banquet, anxiety probably prevents your 
sitting down at all ; but, if you do, the same cause prevents 
you noticing what you eat So of the two peeudo meals of 
Bome : they came in the very midst of the Boman business 
— ^viz. from nine a.m. to two p.m. Nobody could give his 
mind to them, had they been of better quidity. There lay 
one cause of their vagueness — viz. in their position. Another 
cause was — the common basis of both. Bread was so notori- 
ously the predominating ** feature ^ in each of these prelusive 
banquets that all foreigners at Bome, who communicated 
with Bomans through the Greek language, knew both the 
one and the other by the name of dproa-iTos, or the bread 
repagt. Originally, this name had been restricted to the 
earlier meal. But a distinction without a difference could 
not sustain itself; and both alike disguised their emptiness 
under this pompous quadrisyllable. All words are suspicious, 
there is an odour of fraud about them, which — ^being con- 



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26 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

cemed with common things — are so base as to stretch out 
to four syllables. What does an honest word want with 
more than two ? In the identity of substance, therefore, lay 
a second ground of confusion. And then, thirdly, even as 
to the time, which had ever been the sole real distinction, 
there arose from accident a tendency to converge. For it 
happened that, while some had jerUaculwm but no prandiwmy 
others had prancUvm but no jentactdv/m ; a third party had 
both ; a fourth party, by much the lai^est, had neither. 
Out of which four varieties (who would think that a non- 
entity could cut up into so many somethings ?) arose a fifth 
party of compromisers, who, because they could not afford a 
r^ular coma, and yet were hospitably disposed, fused the 
two ideas into one ; and so, because the usued time for the 
idea of a breakfast was nine to ten, and for the idea of a 
luncheon twelve to one, compromised the rival pretensions 
by what diplomatists call a meaeo termine ; bisecting the time 
at eleven, and melting the two ideas into one. But, by thus 
merging the separate times of each, they abolished the sole real 
difference that had ever divided them. Losing that, they lost alL 
Perhaps, as two negatives make one affirmative, it may be 
thought that two layers of moonshine might coalesce into one 
pancake, and two Barmecide banquets might be the square 
root of one poached egg. Of that the company were the best 
judges. But, probably, as a rump and dozen, in our land of 
wagers, is construed with a very liberal latitude as to the 
materials, so Martial's invitation, " to take bread with him 
at eleven," might be understood by the (twctoi (the know- 
ing ones) as significant of something better than dproa-iros. 
Otherwise, in good truth, " moonshine and turn-out " at eleven 
A.M. would be even worse than " tea and turn-out ** at eight F.M., 
— ^which the " fervida juventus *' of Young England so loudly 
deprecates. But, however that might be, in this converge- 
ment of the several frontiers, and the confusion that ensued, 
one cannot wonder that, whilst the two bladders collapsed into 
one idea, they actually expanded into four names — ^two Latin 
and two Greek, gudtLS and gustatio, yevcris and y€va-fM — which 
aU alike express the merely tentative or exploratory act of a 
priBgvataior or professional " taster " in a king's household : 
what, if applied to a fluid, we should denominate sipping. 



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THE CASUISTRY OP ROMAN MEALS 27 

At last, by so many steps all in one direction, things had 
come to such a pass — ^the two prelusive meals of the Roman 
morning, each for itself separately yague from the beginning, 
had so communicated and interfused their seyeral and joint 
vaguenesses — that at last no man knew or cared to know 
what any other man included in his idea of either ; how 
much or how little. And you might as well have hunted in 
the woods of Ethiopia for Prester John, or fixed the parish 
of the Everlasting Jew,^ as have attempted to say what 
"jentaculum" certainly uww, or what "prandium" certainly 
was not Only one thing was clear, that neither was any- 
thing that people cared for. They were both empty shadows ; 
but, shadows as they were, we find from Cicero that they 
had a power of polluting and profaning better things than 
themselves. 

We presume that no rational man will henceforth look 
for "dinner" — ^that great idea according to Dr. Johnson — 
that sacred idea according to Cicero — ^in a bag of moonshine 
on one side, or a bag of pollution on the other. Prcmdiwn, 
so far from being what our foolish dictionaries pretend — 
dinner itself — ^never in its palmiest days was more or other 
than a miserable attempt at being lunchMn. It was a conatvs, 
what physiologists call a nimis, a struggle in a very ambitious 
spark, or mntiUa, to kindle into a fire. This fmu< went on 
for some centuries, but finally evaporated in smoke. If 
pra/tMum had worked out its ambition, had " the great stream 
of tendency " accompli^ed all its purposes, prcmdium never 
could have been more than a very indifferent luncheon. But 
now, 

2. I have to offer another fact, ruinous to our dictionaries 
on another ground. Various circumstances have disguised 
the truth, but a truth it is, that " prandium," in its very 
origin and mctmdlmUiy never was a meal known to the Roman 
euiina. In that court it was never recognised except as an 
alien. It had no original domicile in the city of Rome. It 

^ ** The EverUaUng Jew " : — The (German name for what we English 
call the Wandering Jew. The German imagination has been most 
stmck by the duration of the man's life, and his unhappy sanctity 
from death : the English, by the nnrestingness of the man's life, his 
incapacity of repose. 



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28 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

was a vox castrensis^ a word and an idea purely martial, 
and pointing to martial necessities. Amongst the new ideas 
proclaimed to the recruit this was one — " Look for no * coBnay 
no regular dinner, with us. Resign these unwarlike notions. 
It is true that even war has its respites ; in these it would 
be possible to have our Roman coena with all its equipage of 
ministrations. But luxury untunes the mind for doing and 
suffering. Let us voluntarily renounce it; that, when a 
necessity of renouncing it arrives, we may not feel it among 
the hardships of war. From the day when you enter the 
gates of the camp, reconcile yourself, tiro, to a new feushion 
of meal, — ^to what in camp dialect we call prandivm," This 
" prandium,'* this essentially military meal, was taken stand- 
ing, by way of symbolising the necessity of being always 
ready for the enemy. Hence the posture in which it was 
taken at Rome, the very counter-pole to the luxurious posture 
of dinner. A writer of the third century, — ^a period from 
which the Romans naturally looked back upon everything 
connected with their own early habits with much the same 
kind of interest as we extend to our Alfred (separated from 
us, as Romulus from them, by just a thousand years), — in 
speaking of prandivm^ says, ^' Quod dictum est parandivm, 
ab eo quod milites ad bellum paret," Isidorus again says, 
"Proprie apud veteres prandium vocatum faisse omnem 
militum cibum ante pugnam " : i,e. " that, properly speaking, 
amongst our ancestors every military meal taken before battle 
was termed prcmdivm," According to Isidore, the proposition 
is reciprocating ; viz. that, as every prcmdivm was a military 
meal, so every military meal was called prandium. But, in 
fact, the reason of that is apparent Whether in the camp 
or the city, the early Romans had probably but one meal in 
a day. That is true of many a man amongst ourselves by 
choice ; it is true also, to our knowledge, of some horse 
regiments in our service, and may be of all. This meal was 
called ccena or dinner in the city — prcmdium in camps. In 
the city it would sdways be tending to one fixed hour. In 
the camp innumerable accidents of war would make it very 
uncertain. On this account it would be an established rule 
to celebrate the daily meal at noon, if nothing hindered ; not 
that a later hour would not have been preferred, had the 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS 29 

choice been free ; but it was better to have a certainty at a 
bad hour than by waiting for a better hour ' to make it an 
uncertainty. For it was a camp proverb — PranmSf paratus ; 
armed with this daily meal, the soldier is ready for service. 
It was not, however, that all meals, as Isidore imagined, were 
indiscriminately called pranditmij but that the one sole meal 
of the day, by accidents of war, might, and did, revolve 
through all hours of the day. 

The first introduction of this military meal into Rome 
itself would be through the honourable pedantry of old 
centurions, &C., delighting (like the Commodore Trunnions 
of our navy) to keep up in peaceful life some image or 
memorial of their past experience, so wild, so full of peril, 
excitement, and romance, as Roman warfare must have been 
in those ages. Many non-military people for health's sake, 
many as an excuse for eating early, many by way of interpos- 
ing some refreshment between the stages of forensic business, 
would adopt this hurried and informal meal Many would 
wish to see their sons adopting such a meal, as a training for 
foreign service in particular, and for temperance in general 
It would also be maintained by a solemn and very interesting 
commemoration of this camp repast in Rome. 

This commemoration, because it has been greatly mis- 
understood by Salmasius (whose error arose from not marking 
the true point of a particidar antithesis), and still more 
because it is a distinct confirmation of all I have said as to 
the military nature of prandiumy I shall detach from the 
series of my illustrations, by placing it in a separate para- 
graph. 

On a set day the officers of the army were invited by 
Caesar to a banquet ; it was a circumstance expressly noticed 
in the invitation, that the banquet was not a " coena," but a 
"prandium." What did that imply? Why, that all the 
guests must present themselves in full military accoutrement ; 
whereas, observes the historian, had it been a ccmay the officers 
would have unbelted their swords ; for, he adds, even in 
Caesar's presence the officers are allowed to lay aside their 
swords. The word prandivm, in short, converted the palace 
into the imperial tent; and Caesar was no longer a civil 
emperor and princeps sencUus, but became a commander-in- 



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30 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

chief amongst a council of Ids staff, all belted and plumed, 
and in full military fig. 

On this principle we come to understand why it is that, 
whenever the Latin poet speaks of an army as taking food, 
the word used is always promdem and 'pramus^ and, when 
the word used is jpramdens^ then always it is an army that is 
concerned. Thus Juvenal in a well-known passage : — 

** Credimns altos 
Desiccasse amnes, epotaque flumina, Medo 
Prandente "— 

that rivers were drunk up, when the Mede (i.e. the Median 
army under Xerxes) took his daily meal : prandente, observe, 
not ccenamte : you might as well talk of an army taking tea 
and buttered toast as taking coena. Nor is that word ever 
applied to armies. It is true that the converse is not so 
rigorously observed ; nor ought it, from the explanations 
already given. Though no soldier dined (eoenahat), yet the 
citizen sometimes adopted the camp usage, and took a prcmdivm. 
But generally the poets use the word merely to mark the 
time of day. In that most humorous appeal of Persius, 
"Cur quis non prandeat, hoc est?" — is this a suflficient 
reason • for losing one's prcmdvu/m ? — he was obliged to say 
prandivmy because no exhibitions ever could cause a man to 
lose his ccenokf since none were displayed at a time of day 
when nobody in Rome would have attended. Just as, in 
alluding to a parliamentary speech notoriously clelivered at 
midnight, an English satirist might have said. Is this a speech 
to furnish an argument for leaving one's bed ? — ^not as what 
stood foremost in his regard, but as the only thing that could 
be lost at that time of night 

On this principle also — viz. by going back to the military 
origin of prandium — ^we gain the interpretation of sdl the 
peculiarities attached to it : viz. — 1, its early hour ; 2, its 
being taken in a standing posture ; 3, in the open air ; 4, 
the humble quality of its materials — bread and biscuit (the 
main articles of military fare). In all these circumstances of 
the meal, we read, most legibly written, the exotic (or non- 
civic) character of the meal, and its martial character. 

Thus I have brought down our Roman friend to noon- 



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THE CASUISTRY OP ROMAN MEALS 81 

day, or even one hour later than noon, and to this moment 
the poor man has had nothing to eat. For, supposing him 
to be not imprarutu, and supposing him jenUuse beside, yet 
it is evident (I hope) that neitJier one nor the other means 
more than what it was often called — viz. jSovkkkt/uos, or, in 
plain English, a mouthfuL How long do we intend to keep 
him waiting ? Reader, he will dine at three, or (supposing 
dinner put off to the latest) at four. Dinner was never 
known to be later than the tenth hour at Rome, — ^which in 
summer would be past five, but for a fax greater proportion 
of days would be near four, in Rome. And so entirely was 
a Roman the creature of ceremonial usage that a national 
mourning would probably have been celebrated, and the 
"sad augurs" would have been called in to expiate the 
prodigy, had the general dinner lingered beyond four. 

But, meantime, what has our friend been about since 
perhaps six or seven in the morning ? After paying his little 
homage to his peOromu, in what way has he fought with the 
great enemy Time since then ? Why, reader, this illustrates 
one of the most interesting features in the Roman character. 
The Roman was the idlest of men. ^' Man and boy," he was 
*'an idler in the land.*' He called himself and his pals 
^ rerum dominos, gentemque togatam ** — " the gentry that wore 
the toga" Yes, a pretty set of gentry they were, and a pretty 
affair that " toga " waa Just figure to yourself reader, the 
picture of a hard-working man, with homy hands, like our 
hedgers, ditchers, porters, &c., setting to work on the high- 
road *in that vast sweeping toga, filling with a strong gale 
like the mainsail of a frigate. Conceive the roars with which 
this magnificent figure would be received into the bosom of 
a modem poorhouse detachment sent out to attack the stones 
on some line of road, or a fatigue party of dustmen sent upon 
secret service. Had there been nothing left as a memorial 
of the Romans but that one relic — ^their immeasurable toga ^ 

^ ** Immeasurable toga": — It is very true that in the time of 
Augnstus the toga had disappeared amongst the lowest plebs ; and 
greatly Augustus was shocked at that spectacle. It is a very curious 
fact in itself, especially as expounding the main cause of the Civil 
Wars. Mere poverty, and the absence of bribery from Rome whilst 
all popular competition for offices drooped, can alone explain this 
remarkable revolution of dress. 



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32 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHBS 

— I should have known that they were bom and bred to 
idleness. In fact, except in war, the Roman never did any- 
thing at all but sun himself. Ut se a/pricaret was the final 
cause of peace in his opinion ; in literal truth, that he might 
make an apricot of himsell The public rations at all times 
supported the poorest inhabitant of Rome, if he were a 
citizen. Hence it was that Hadrian was so astonished with 
the spectacle of Alexandria, ^'civitas opuUnUtyfcBeundOy in qua 
nemo vioat otiasus," Here first he saw the spectacle of a vast 
city, second only to Rome, where every man had something 
to do ; " podag^'od quod agcmt hahent ; habent coed quod fadomi \ 
ne chiragrid " (those with gout in the fingers) '' apud eos otiod 
vivwnty No poor rates levied upon the rest of the world for 
the benefit of their own paupers were there distributed gratis. 
The prodigious spectacle (such it seemed to Hadrian) was 
exhibited in Alexandria, of all men earning their bread in 
the sweat of their brow. In Rome only (and at one time in 
some of the Grecian states) it was the very meaning of dtinen 
that he should vote and be idle. Precisely those were the 
two things which the Roman, the foBX Bomuli, had to do — 
viz. sometimes to vote, and always to be idle. 

In these circumstances, where the whole sum of life's duties 
amounted to voting, all the business a man could have was 
to attend the public assemblies, electioneering or factious. 
These, and any judicial trial (public or private) that might 
happen to interest him, for the persons concerned or for 
the questions at stake, amused him through the morning ; 
that is, from eight till one. He might also extract some 
diversion from the columncB, or pillars of certain porticoes to 
which they pasted advertisements. These affiches must have 
been numerous ; for all the girls in Rome who lost a trinket, 
or a pet bird, or a lap-dog, took this mode of angling in the 
great ocean of the public for the missing articles. 

But all this time I take for granted that there were no 
shows in a course of exhibition, either the dreadful ones of 
the amphitheatre, or the bloodless ones of the circus. If 
there were, then that became the business of all Romans ; 
and it was a business which would have occupied him from 
daylight until the light began to fail. Here we see another 
efi^ect from the scarcity of artificial light amongst the ancients. 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS 88 

These magnificent shows went on by day-light. Bat how 
incomparably more gorgeous would have been the splendour 
by lamp-light ! What a gigantic conception I Two hundred 
and fifty thousand human faces all revealed under one blaze 
of lamp-light ! Lord Bacon saw the mighty advantage of 
candle-light for the pomps and glories of this world. But 
the poverty of the earth was the original cause that the Pagan 
shows proceeded by day. Not that the masters of the world, 
who rained Arabian odours and perfumed waters of the most 
costly description from a thousand fountains, simply to cool 
the summer heats, would, in the latter centuries of Roman 
civilisation, have regarded the expense of light Cedar and 
other odorous woods burning upon vast altars, together with 
every variety of fragrant torch, would have created light 
enough to shed a new day stretching over to the distant 
Adriatic But precedents derived from early ages of poverty, 
ancient traditions, overruled the practical usage. 

However, as there may happen to be no public spectacles, 
and the courts of political meetings (if not closed altogether 
by superstition) would at any rate be closed in the ordinary 
course by twelve or one o'clock, nothing remains for him to 
do, before returning home, except perhaps to attend the 
pakBstra, or some public recitation of a poem written by a 
friend, but in any case to attend the public baths. For these 
the time varied; and many people have thought it tyrannical 
in some of the Csesars that they imposed restraints on the 
time open for the baths. Some, for instance, would not 
sufifer them to open at all before two ; and in any case, if 
you were later than four or five in summer, you would have 
to pay a fine which most effectually cleaned out the baths of 
all raff, since it was a sum that John Quires could not have 
produced to save his life. But it should be considered that 
the Emperor was the steward of the public resources for 
maintaining the baths in fuel, oil, attendance, repairs. And 
certain it is that during the long peace of the first Csesars, 
and after the anrwna/ria provisio (that great pledge of popu- 
larity to a Roman prince) had been increased by the com 
tribute from the Nile, the Roman population took a vast 
expansion ahead. The subsequent increase of baths, whilst 
no old ones were neglected, proves that decisively. And, as 

VOL. vn D 



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34 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

citizensliip expanded by means of the easy terms on whicli 
it could be had, so did the bathers multiply. The popula- 
tion of Rome, in the century after Augustus, was far greater 
than during that era ; and this, still acting as a vortex to 
the rest of the world, may have been one great motive with 
Constantine for translating the capital eastwards, — in reality, 
for breaking up one monster capital into two of more manage- 
able dimensions. Two o'clock was sometimes the earliest 
hour at which the public baths were opened. But in 
Martial's time a man could go without blushing (scdva fronte) 
at eleven ; though even then two o'clock was the meridian 
hour for the great uproar of splashing, and swimming, and 
" larking," in the endless baths of endless Rome. 

And now, at last, bathing finished, and the exercises of 
the palcBstra, at half-past two, or three, our friend finds his 
way home — not again to leave it for that day. He is now a 
new man, — refreshed, oiled with perfumes, his dust washed 
off by hot water, and ready for enjoyment. These were the 
things that determined the time for dinner. Had there been 
no other proof that ccena was the Roman dinner, this is an 
ample one. Now first the Roman was fit for dinner, in a 
condition of luxurious ease ; business over — that day's load 
of anxiety laid aside — his cuUcUy as he delighted to talk, 
cleansed and polished — ^nothing more to do or to think of 
until the next morning : he might now go and dine, and get 
drunk with a safe conscience. Besides, if he does not get 
dinner now, when will he get it ? For most demonstrably 
he has taken nothing yet which comes near in value to that 
basin of soup which many of ourselves take at the Roman 
hour of bathing. No ; we have kept our man fasting as yet. 
It is to be hoped that something is coming at last. 

Yes, something is coming ; dinner is coming, the great 
meal of " ccma" the meal sacred to hospitality and genial 
pleasure comes now to fill up the rest of the day, until light 
fails altogether. 

Many people are of opinion that the Romans only under- 
stood what the capabilities of dinner were. It is certain 
that they were the first great people that discovered the true 
secret and meaning of dinner, the great office which it fulfils, 
and which we in England are now so generally acting on. 



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THE GASUISTBT OF ROMAN MEAIB 36 

Barbarous nations — and none were, in that respect, more 
barbarous than our own ancestors — made this capital blunder : 
the brutes, if you asked them what was the use of dinner, 
what it was meant for, stared at you, and replied — as a horse 
would reply, if you put the same question about his pro- 
vender — ^that it was to give him strength for finishing his 
work ! Therefore, if you point your telescope back to an- 
tiquity about twelve or one o'clock of the daytime, you will 
descry our most worthy ancestors all eating for their very 
lives, eating as dogs eat — ^viz. in bodily fear that some other 
dog will come and take their dinner away. What swelling 
of the veins in the temples (see BoswelVs natural history of 
Dr. Johnson at dinner) ! what intense and rapid deglutition ! 
what odious clatter of knives and plates ! what silence of the 
human voice 1 what gravity ! what fury in the libidinous 
eyes with which they contemplate the dishes ! Positively it 
was an indecent spectacle to see Dr. Johnson at dinner. But, 
above all, what maniacal haste and hurry, as if the fiend were 
waiting with red-hot pincers to lay hold of the hindermost ! 
Oh, reader, do you recognise in this abominable picture 
your respected ancestors and ours ? Excuse me for saying 
" What monsters I " I have a right to call my own ancestors 
monsters ; and, if so, I must have the same right over yours. 
For Southey has shown plainly in the " Doctor *' that, every 
man having four grand-parents in the second stage of ascent, 
consequently (since each of those four will have had four 
grand-parents) sixteen in the third stage, consequently sixty- 
four in the fourth, consequently two hundred and fifty-six in 
the fifth, and so on, it follows that, long before you get to 
the Conquest, every man and woman then living in England 
will be wanted to make up the sum of my separate ancestors : 
consequently you must take your ancestors out of the very ^ 
same fand, or (if you are too proud for that) you must go 
without ancestora So that, your ancestors being clearly 
mine, I have a right in law to call the whole "kit" of them 
monsters. Quod erat demongtraridtm,. Really, and upon my 
honour, it makes one, for the moment^ ashamed of one's 
descent ; one would wish to disinherit one*s-self backwards, 
and (as Sheridan says in the ** Rivals ") to " cut the con- 
nexion." Wordsworth has an admirable picture in '* Peter 



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86 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Bell " ^ of ** a snug party in a parlour " removed into liiribus 
pairum for their offences in the flesh : — 

'* Crammed, just as they on earth w.ere crammed ; 
Some sipping punch, some sipping tea ; 
But, as yon hy their faces see. 
All sUmt and aU d d." 

How well does that one word dlent describe those venerable 
ancestral dinners — " AU silent ! " Contrast this infernal 
silence of voice, and fury of eye, with the " risiis amabiliSy* 
the festivity, the social Mndness, the music, the wine, the 
^dulds vnsama," of a Roman ^^ccena" I mentioned four 
tests for determining what meal is, and what is not, dinner : 
. we may now add a fifth — ^viz. the spirit of festal joy and 
elegant enjoyment, of anxiety laid aside, and of honourable 
social pleasure put on like a marriage garment 

And what caused the difference between our ancestors and 
the Romans ? Simply this — ^the error of interposing dinner 
in the middle of business, thus courting all the breezes of 
angry feeling that may happen to blow from the business yet 
to come, instead of finishing, absolutely closing, the account 
with this world's troubles before you sit down. That un- 
happy interpolation ruined alL IHnner was an ugly little 
parenthesis between two still uglier clauses of a teetotally 
ugly sentence. Whereas, with us, their enlightened posterity, 
to whom they have the honour to be ancestors, dinner is a 
great reaction. There lies rMf conception of the matter. It 
grew out of the very excess of the evil. When business was 
moderate, dinner was allowed to divide and bisect it. When 
it swelled into that vast strife and agony, as one may call it, 
that boils along the tortured streets of modem London or 
other capitals, men began to see the necessity of an adequate 
counterforce to push against this overwhelming torrent, and 
thus maintain the equilibrium. Were it not for the soft 
relief of a six o'clock dinner, the gentle demeanour succeed- 
ing to the boisterous hubbub of the day, the soft glowing 
lights, the wine, the intellectual conversation, life in London 
is now come to such a pass that in two years all nerves would 
sink before it But for this periodic reaction, the modem 

1 In the earliest editions, bnt not in the later. — M. 



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THE CASUISTRY OF ROMAN MEALS 87 

business whicli draws so cruelly on the brain, and so little 
on the hands, would overthrow that organ in all but those of 
coarse organisation. Dinner it is — ^meaning by dinner the 
whole complexity of attendant circumstances — which saves 
the modem brain-working man from going mad. 

This revolution as to dinner was the greatest in virtue 
and value ever accomplished. In &ct, those are always the 
most operative revolutions which are brought about tlux>ugh 
social or domestic changes. A nation must be barbarous, 
neither could it have much intellectual business, which dined 
in the morning. They could not be at ease in the morning. 
So much nvust be granted: every day has its separate 
quantwrriy its dose of anxiety, that could not be digested so 
soon as noon. No man will say it. He, therefore, who 
dined at noon showed himself willing to sit down squalid as 
he was, with his dress unchanged, his cares not washed off. 
And what foUows from that ? Why, that to him, to such a 
canine or cynical specimen of the genus hovno, dinner existed 
only as a physical event, a mere animal relief, a purely carnal 
enjoyment. For in what, I demand, did this fleshly creature 
differ from the carrion crow, or the kite, or the vulture, or 
the cormorant ? A French judge, in an action upon a wager, 
laid it down as law that man only had a Ixmche, all other 
animals a gv£ule : only with regard to the horse, in considera- 
tion of his beauty, nobility, use, and in honour of the respect 
with which man regarded him, by the courtesy of Christendom 
he might be allowed to have a houchcy and his reproach of 
brutality, if not taken away, might thus be hidden. But, 
surely, of the rabid animal who is caught dining at noonday, 
the Jumfio ferus who affronts the meridian sun, like Thyestes 
and Atreus, by his inhuman meals, we are, by parity of 
reason, entitled to say that he has a " maw " (so has Milton's 
Death), but nothing resembling a stomach. And to this vile 
man a philosopher would say — "Go away, sir, and come 
back to me two or three centuries hence, when you have 
learned to be a reasonable creature, and to make that physico- 
intellectual thing out of dinner which it was meant to be, 
and is capable of becoming." In Henry VII's time the 
Court dined at eleven in the forenoon. But even that hour 
was considered so shockingly late in the French Court that 



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88 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

Lotus XII actually had his grey hairs brought down with 
sorrow to the grave by changing his regular hour of half-past 
nine for eleven, in gallantry to his young English bride.^ 
He fell a victim to late hours in the forenoon. In Crom- 
well's time they dined at one p.m. One century and a-half 
had carried them on by two hours. Doubtless, old cooks and 
scullions wondered what the world would come to next 
Our French neighbours were in the same predicament. But 
they far surpassed us in veneration for the meaL They ac- 
tually dated from it. Dinner constituted the great era of 
the day. Voupres dmer is almost the sole date which you find 
in Cardinal De Betz's memoirs of the Fr<md/6, Dinner was 
their Hegira — dinner was their line in traversing the ocean 
of day : they crossed the equator when they dined. Our 
English Revolution came next; it made some little difference, 
I have heard people say, in Church and State ; I daresay it 
did; like enough, but its great effects were perceived in 
dinner. People now dined at two. So dined Addison for 
his last thirty years ; so, through his entire life, dined Pope, 
whose birth was coeval with the Revolution. Precisely as 
the Rebellion of 1745 arose did people (but, observe, very 
great people) advance to four p.m. Philosophers, who watch 
the " semina rerum,*' and the first symptoms of change, had 
perceived this alteration singing in the upper air like a com- 
ing storm some little time before. About the year 1740, 
Pope complains of Lady Suffolk's dining so late as four. 
Young people may bear those things, he observed : but, as to 
himself, now turned of fifty, if such doings went on, if Lady 
Suffolk would adopt such strange hours, he must really absent 
himself from Marble HilL Lady Suffolk had a right to 

^ ** His yov/ng English bride " : — ^The case of an old man, or one re- 
puted old, marrying a very girlish wife is always too much for the 
gravity of history ; and, rather than lose the joke, the historian pru- 
dently disguises the age, — which, after all, in this case was not above 
fifty-four. And the very persons who insist on the late dinner as the 
proximate cause of death elsewhere insinuate something more plausible, 
but not so decorously expressed. It is odd that this amiable prince, so 
memorable as having been a martyr to late dining at eleven a.m., was 
the same person who is so equally memorable for the noble, almost the 
sublime, answer about a King of France not remembering the wrongs 
of a Duke of Orleans. 



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THE CASUISTBl? OF BOMAN MBAIB 89 

please herself; he himself loved her. Bat, if she would 
persist, all which remaiiied for a decayed poet waa respect- 
fully to cat his stick, and retire. Whether Pope ever pat 
ap with foor o'clock dinners again, I have vainly sought to 
fathom. Some things advance continuously, like a flood or 
a fire, which always make an end of A, eat and digest it, 
before they go on to R Other things advance per ioUwm : 
they do not silently cancer their way onwards, but lie as 
still as a snake after they have made some notable conquest, 
— then, when unobserved, they make themselves up "for 
mischief " and take a flying bound onwards. Thus advanced 
dinner, and by these fits got into the territory of evening. 
And ever, as it made a motion onwards, it found the nation 
more civilised (else the change could not have been effected), 
and co-operated in raising them to a still higher civilisation. 
The next relay on that line of road, the next repeating frigate, 
is Cowper in his poem on "Conversation," He speaks of 
four o'clock as still the elegant hour for dinner — the hour 
for the lautiores aud the lepidi homines. Now, this might be 
written about 1780, or a little earlier ; perhaps, therefore, 
just one generation after Pope's Lady Suffolk. But then 
Cowper was living amougst the rural gentry, not in high life; 
yet, again, Cowper was nearly connected by blood with the 
eminent Whig house of Cowper, and acknowledged as a kins- 
man. About twenty-five years after this we may take 
Oxford as a good exponent of the national advance. As a 
magnificent body of " foundations," endowed by kings, nursed 
by queens, and resorted to by the flower of the national youth, 
Oxford ought to be elegant and even splendid in her habits. 
Yet, on the other hand, as a grave seat of learning, and feel- 
ing the weight of her position in the commonwealth, she is 
slow to move : she is inert as she should be, having the func- 
tions of resistance assigned to her against the popular instinct 
(surely active enough) of movement Now, in Oxford, about 
1804-6, there was a general move in the dinner hour. Those 
colleges who dined at three, of which there were still several, 
now began to dine at four : those who had dined at four 
now translated their hour to five. These continued good 
general hours till about Waterloo. After, that era, six, 
which had been somewhat of a gala hour, was promoted to 



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40 HISaX)RIOAL ESSAYS AND RBSEAEOHES 

the fixed station of dinner-time in ordinary ; and there per- 
haps it will rest through centuries. For a more festal dinner, 
seven, eighty nine, ten, have all been in requisition since then; 
but I am not aware of any man's habitually dining later than 
ten pjf ., except in that classical case, recorded by Mr. Joseph 
Miller, of an Irishman who must have dined much later than 
ten, because his servant protested, when others were enforcing 
the dignity of their masters by the lateness of their dinner 
hours, that his master invariably dined " to-morrow." 

Were the Romans not as barbarous as our own ance^rs 
at one. time ? Most certainly they were. In their primitive 
ages they took their coma at noon ^ : Uiat was before they had 
laid aside their barbarism, before they shaved : it was during 
their barbarism, and in consequence of their barbarism, that 
they timed their coma thus unseasonably. And this is made 
evident by the fact that, so long as they erred in the hour, they 
erred in the attending circumstances. At this period they 
had no music at dinner, no festal graces, and no reposing 
upon sofas. They sat bolt upright in chairs, and were as grave 
as our ancestors, as rabid, as libidinous in ogling the dishes, 
and doubtless as furiously in haste. 

With us the revolution has been equally complex. We 
do not, indeed, adopt the luxurious attitude of semi-recum- 
bency ; our climate makes that less requisite ; and, more- 
over, the Romans had no knives and forks, — which could 
scarcely be used in that recumbent posture ; they ate with 

^ " Took their coma at noon " : — And, by the way, in order to show 
how little coena had to do with any evening hour (though, in any age 
but that of our fathers, four in the afternoon would never have been 
thought an evening hour), the Koman gourmands and bons vivants 
continued through the very last ages of Rome to take their coena, when 
more than usually sumptuous, at noon. This, indeed, all people did 
occasionally, just as we sometimes give a dinner even now so early as 
four P.M. under the name of a breakfast. Those who took their coena 
as early as this were said de die coenare — to begin dining from high 
day. That line in Horace — " Ut jugulent homines, surgunt de node 
latrones " — does not mean that the robbers rise when others are going 
to bed, viz. at nightfall, but at midnight. For, says one of the three 
best scholars of this earth, de die, de node, mean from that hour which 
was most fully, most intensely day or night — viz. the centre, the 
meridian. This one fact is surely a clencher as to the question whether 
cflsna meant dinner or supper. 



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THE CASUISTRT OF ROMAN IfEALS 41 

their fingers from dishes already cut up — ^whence the peculiar 
force of Seneca's ^'post quod non sunt lavandee manus." 
But, exactly in proportion as our dinner has advanced 
towards evening, have we and has that advanced in circum- 
stances of elegance, of taste, of intellectual value. This by 
itself would be much. Infinite would be the gain for any 
people that it had ceased to be brutal, animal, fleshly ; ceased 
to regard the chief meal of the day as a ministration only to 
an animal necessity; that they had raised it to a higher 
of&ce ; associated it with social and humanising feelings, with 
manners, with graces moral and intellectual : moral in the 
self-restraint ; intellectual in the fact, notorious to all men, 
that the chief arenas for the ea>sy display of intellectual power 
are at our dinner tables. But dinner has now even a greater 
function than this : as the fervour of our day's business 
increases, dinner is continually more needed in its office of a 
great recuiion, I repeat that, at this moment, but for the 
daily relief of dinner, the brain of all men who mix in the 
strife of capitals would be unhinged and thrown off its 
centre. 

If we should suppose the case of a nation taking three 
equidistant meals, all of the same material and the same 
quantity — all milk, for instance, all bread, or all rice — it would 
be impossible for Thomas Aquinas himself to say which was or 
was not dinner. The case would be that of the Boman cmcUe 
which dropped from the skies: to prevent its ever being 
stolen, the priests made eleven facsimiles of it, in order that a 
thie^ seeing the hopelessness of distinguishing the true one, 
might let all alone. And the result was that, in the next 
generation, nobody could point to the true one. But our 
dinner, the Boman ccena, is distinguished from the rest by far 
more than the hour ; it is distinguished by great functions, 
and by still greater capacities. It is already most beneficial ; 
if it saves (as I say it does) the nation from madness, it may 
become more so. 

In saying this, I point to the lighter graces of music, and 
conversation more varied^ by which the Eoman coma was 
chiefly distinguished from our dinner. I am far from agree- 
ing with Mr. Croly that the Boman meal was more " intel- 
lectual" than ours. On the contrary, ours is the more 



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42 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

intellectual by much ; we have far greater knowledge, far greater 
means for making it such. In fact, the fault of our meal is that 
it is too intellectual ; of too severe a character ; too political ; too 
much tending, in many hands, to disquisition. Reciprocation 
of question and answer, variety of topics, shifting of topics, 
are points not sufficiently cultivated. In all else I assent to 
the following passage from Mr. Croly's eloquent SalcUhid : — 
^* If an ancient Roman could start from his slumber into the 
" midst of European life, he must look with scorn on its 
^^ absence of grace, elegance, and feuicy. But it is in its fes- 
" tivity, and most of all in its banquets, that he would feel 
" the incurable barbarism of the Qothic blood. Contrasted 
^' with the fine displays that made the table of the Roman 
*' noble a picture, and threw over the indulgence of appetite 
^^ the colours of the imagination, with what eyes must he 
<< contemplate the tasteless and commonplace dress, the 
" coarse attendants, the meagre ornament, the want of mirth, 
'* music, and intellectual interest — ^the whole heavy machinery 
** that converts the feast into the mere drudgery of devouring ! " 
Thus far the reader knows akeady that I dissent violently ; 
and by looking back he will see a picture of our ancestors at 
dinner in which they rehearse the very part in relation to 
ourselves that Mr. Croly supposes all moderns to rehearse in 
relation to the Romans ; but in the rest of the beautiful descrip- 
tion, — the positive, though not the comparative partj — ^we 
must all concur : — " The guests before me were fifty or sixty 
" splendidly dressed men " [they were in fact Titus and his 
staff, then occupied with the siege of Jerusalem] ** attended by 
'< a crowd of domestics, attired with scarcely less splendour ; 
^ for no man thought of coming to the banquet in the robes 
" of ordinary life. The embroidered couches, themselves 
^* striking objects, allowed the ease of position at once de- 
" lightful in the relaxing climates of the south, and capable 
" of combining with every grace of the human figure. At a 
" slight distance, the table loaded with plate glittering under 
" a profusion of lamps, and surrounded by couches thus 
" covered by rich draperies, was like a central source of light 
" radiating in broad shafts of every brilliant hue. The 
^' wealth of the patricians, and their intercourse with the 
^^ Greeks, made them masters of the first performances of 



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THE CASUISTRY OF BOMAN MEALS 48 

^ the arts. Copies of the most famous statues, and groups 
" of sculpture in the precious metals, trophies of victories, 
" models of temples, were mingled with vases of flowers and 
*^ lighted perfumes. Finally, covering and closing all, was a 
*' vast scarlet canopy, which combined the groups beneath to 
" the eye, and threw the whole into the form that a painter 
" would love." 

Mr. Croly then goes on to insist on the intellectual em- 
bellishments of the Roman dinner, their variety, their grace, 
their adaptation to a festive purpose. The truth is, our 
English imagination, more profound than the Roman, is also 
more gloomy, less gay, less riante. That accounts for our 
want of the gorgeous triclinvwm^ with its scarlet draperies, 
and for many other differences both to the eye and to the 
understanding. But both we and the Romans agree in the 
main point: we both discovered the true purpose which 
dinner might serve — 1, to throw the grace of intdlectual en- 
joyment over an animal necessity ; 2, to relieve and to meet 
by a benign antagonism the toil of brain incident to high 
forms of social life. 

My object has been to point the eye to this fact : to show 
uses imperfectly suspected in a recurring accident of life ; to 
show a steady tendency to that consummation, by holding 
up, as in a mirror, a series of changes corresponding to our 
own series, with regard to the same chief meal^ silently going 
on in a great people of antiquity. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES i 

It is remarkable — and, without a previous explanation, it 
might seem paradoxical to say it — that oftentimes under a 
continual accession of light important subjects grow more 
and more enigmatical In times when nothing was explained, 
the student, torpid as his teacher, saw nothing which called 
for explanation : all appeared one monotonous blank. But 
no sooner had an early twilight begun to solicit the creative 
faculties of the eye than many dusky objects, with outlines 
imperfectly defined, began to converge the eye, and to 
strengthen the nascent interest of the spectator. It is true 
that light, in its final plenitude, is calculated to disperse all 
darkness. But this effect belongs to its consummation. In 
its earlier and struggUng states, light does but reveal dark- 
ness. It makes the darkness palpable and " visible.'' ^ Of 
which we may see a sensible illustration in a gloomy glass- 
house, where the sullen lustre from the furnace does but 
mass and accumulate the thick darkness in the rear upon 
which the moving figures are relieved. Or we may see an 
intellectual illustration in the mind of the savage, on whose 

^ From Blackwood! 8 Magazine for March 1842 : reprinted in greater 
part by De Qaincey in 1868 in the eighth volume of his Collected 
Writings, but with omissions, and with additions both to the text 
and in footnotes. — M. 

' Accordingly, some five-and-thirty years ago I attempted to show 
that Milton's famous expression in the ** Paradise Lost," '* No light, 
hut rather darkness visible,'* was not (as critics imagined) a gigantic 
audacity, but a simple trait of description, faithful to the literal reali- 
ties of a phenomenon (sullen light intermingled with massy darkness) 
which MUton had noticed with closer attention than the mob of care- 
less observera. Equivalent to this is Milton's own expression, ** Teach 
light to counterfeit a gloom,'* in " II Penseroso." 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 45 

blank surface there exists no doubt or perplexity at all, none 
of the pains connected with half-knowledge ; he is conscious 
of no darkness, simply because for Ivim there exists no visual 
ray of speculation, no vestige of prelusive light. 

Similar, and continually more similar, has been the con- 
dition of Ancient History. Once yielding a mere barren 
crop of facts and dates, slowly it has been kindling of late 
years into life and deep interest under superior treatment. 
And hitherto, as the light has advanced, pari pas^u have the 
masses of darkness strengthened. Every question solved has 
been the parent of three new questions unmasked. And the 
power of breathing life into dry bones has but seemed to 
multiply the skeletons and lifeless remains ; for the very 
natural reason — that these dry bones formerly (whilst viewed 
as incapable of revivification) had seemed less numerous, 
because everywhere confounded to the eye with stocks and 
stones, so long as there was no motive of hope for marking 
the distinction between them. 

Ajnongst all the illustrations which might illuminate this 
truth, none is so instructive as the large question of Pagan 
Oraoles. Every part, indeed, of the Pagan religion — the 
course, geographically or ethnographically, of its traditions, 
the vast labyrinth of its mythology, the deductions of its con- 
tradictory genealogies, the disputed meaning of its many 
secret ^' mysteries " (rcXcrai, symbolic rites or initiations), all 
these have been submitted of late years to the scrutiny of 
glasses more powerful, applied under more combined arrange- 
ments, and directed according to new principles more com- 
prehensively framed. I cannot in sincerity affirm, always 
with immediate advantage. But, even where the individual 
effort may have been a failure as regarded the immediate 
object, rarely indeed has it happened that much indirect 
illumination did not result — which, afterwards entering into 
combination with other scattered currents of light, has issued 
in discoveries of value ; although, perhaps, any one contribu- 
tion, taken separately, had been, and would have remained, 
inoperative. Much has been accomplished, chiefly of late 
years, and, confining our view to Ajicient History, almost 
exclusively amongst the Germans — by the Savignys, the 
Niebuhrs^ the Ottfried Muellers. And, if that much has left 



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46 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

stdll more to do, it has also brought the means of working 
upon a scale of accelerated speed 

The books now existing upon the Ancient Oracles — above 
all, upon the Greek Oracles — amount to a small library. 
The &cts have been collected from all quarters, examined, 
sifted, winnowed Theories have been raised upon these 
facts under every angle of aspect ; and yet, after all, I pro- 
fess myself dissatisfied Amongst much that is sagacious, I 
feel, and I resent with disgust, a taint of feOsehood diffused 
over these recent speculations &om vulgar and even counter- 
feit incredulity : the one gross vice of Qerman philosophy, 
not less determinate or less misleading than that vice which 
heretofore, through many centuries, had impoverished this 
subject, and had sealed up its discussion under the anile 
superstition of the Ecclesiastical Fathers. 

These Fathers, both Greek and Latin, had the ill fortune 
to be extravagantly esteemed by the Church of Rome; 
whence, under a natural reaction, they were systematically 
depreciated by the great leaders of the Protestant Reforma- 
tion. And yet hardly in a corresponding degree. For there 
was, after all, even among the Reformers, a deep-seated pre- 
judice in behalf of all that was " primitive " in Christianity ; 
under which term, by some confusion of ideas, the Patristic 
Literature benefited. Primitive Christianity was reasonably 
venerated, and on this argument — ^that for the first three 
centuries it was more demonstrably sincere. I do not think 
so much of that sincerity which affix)nted the fear of persecu- 
tion ; because, after all, the searching persecutions were rare 
and intermitting, and not perhaps, in any case, so fiery as 
they have been represented. I think more of that gentle 
but insidious persecution which lay in the solicitations of 
besieging friends, and more still of the continual temptations 
which haunted the irresolute Christian in the fascinations of 
the public amusements. The theatre, the circus, and, far 
beyond both, the cruel amphitheatre, constituted, for the 
ancient world, a passionate enjoyment, that by many authors, 
and especially through one period of time, is described as 
going to the verge of frenzy. And we, in modem times, are 
far too little aware in what degree these great carnivals, 
together with another attraction of great cities, the pomps 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 47 

and festiyals of the Pagan worship, broke the monotony of 
domestic life, which, for the old world, was even more 
oppressive than it is for us. In all principal cities, so as to 
be within the reach of almost all provincial inhabitants, 
there was a hippodrome, often uniting the functions of the 
circus and the amphitheatre ; and there was a theatre. 
From all such pleasures the Christian was sternly excluded 
by his very profession of fEuth. From the festivals 
of the Pagan religion his exclusion was even more abso- 
lute; against them he was a sworn militant protester 
from the hour of his baptism. And, when these modes 
of pleasurable relaxation had been subtracted from ancient 
life, what could remain? Even less, perhaps, than most 
readers have been led to consider, because the ancients had 
no such power of extensive locomotion, of refreshment for 
their wearied minds by travelling and change of scene, as we 
children of modem civilisation. No ships had then been 
fitted up for passengers, nor public carriages established, nor 
roads opened extensively, nor hotels so much as imagined 
hypothetically ; because the relation of ^ci/ia ^ or the obliga- 
tion to reciprocal hospitality, and partially the Roman 
relation of patron and client, had stifled the first motions of 
enterprise in any such direction : in fact, no man travelled 
but the soldier and the man of political authority. Conse- 
quently, in sacrificing public amusements, the Christians 
sacrificed aU pleasure whatsoever that was not rigorously 
domestic ; whilst, in facing the contingencies of persecutions 
that might arise under the rapid succession of changing 

1 '^Relation of Xenia" :— A citizen of Rome, if likely to travel, 
established correspondents all over the Mediterranean; of conrse, 
therefore, at so splendid a city as Corinth. After thcU, the Corinthian 
correspondent, when drawn by business of any kind to Rome, went 
thither without anxiety — relying upon his privilege ; and, upon pro- 
ducing his tesserctj or ticket of identification, he was immediately 
admitted to all the rights of hospitality ; foremost amongst which 
ranked the advantage of good counsel against the risk of collision with 
the laws or usages of a strange city, and the further advantage of 
powerful aid in the case of having already incurred that risk. In- 
versely, the Roman enjoyed a parity of protection and hospitable 
entertainment on going to Corinth. And not un&equently this reci- 
procal tie descended through several generations. The distant house- 
holds drew upon each other cU sight. 



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48 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Emperors, they faced a perpetual cmadety more trying to the 
fortitude than any fixed and measurable evlL Here, cer- 
tainly, we have a guarantee for the deep faithfulness of early 
Christians, such as never can exist for more mixed bodies of 
professors, subject to less searching trials. 

Better the Primitive Christians were perhaps (not indi- 
vidually better, but better on the total body) ; yet they were 
not in any intellectual sense wiser. Unquestionably the elder 
Christians participated in the local follies, prejudices, super- 
stitions, of their several provinces and cities, except where 
any of these happened to be too conspicuously at war with 
the spirit of love or the spirit of purity which exhaled at 
every point from the Christian fedth ; and, in all intellectual 
features, as were the Christians generally, such were the 
Fathers. Amongst the Qreek Fathers, one might be unusu- 
ally learned, as Clement of Alexandria ; and another might 
be reputed unusually eloquent, as Gregory Nazianzen, or 
Basil Amongst the Latin Fathers, one might be a man of 
admirable genius, as far beyond the poor, vaunted Rousseau 
in the impassioned grandeur of his thoughts as he was in 
truth and purity of heart, — I speak of St. Augustine (more 
briefly known as St Austin), — and many might be distin- 
guished by various literary merits. But could these advan- 
tages anticipate a higher civilisation ? Most unquestionably 
some of the Fathers were the ^lite of their own age, but not 
in advance of their age. They, like all their contemporaries, 
were besieged by errors, ancient, inveterate, traditional; and, 
accidentally, from one cause special to themselves, they were 
not merely liable t9 error, but usually prone to error. This 
cause lay in the 'polemic form which so often they found a 
necessity, or a convenience, or a temptation, for assuming, as 
teachers or defenders of the truth. 

He who reveals a body of awful truth to a candid and 
willing auditory is content with the grand simplicities of 
truth in the quality of his proofs. And truth,- where it 
happens to be of a high order, is generally its own witness 
to all who approach it in the spirit of child-like docility. 
But far different is the position of that teacher who addresses 
an audience composed in various proportions of sceptical 
inquirers, obstinate opponents, and malignant scoffers. Less 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 49 

than an Apostle is unequal to the suppression of all human 
reactions incident to wounded sensibilities. Scorn is too 
naturally met by retorted scorn; malignity in the Pagan, 
which characterised all the known cases of signal opposition 
to Christianity, could not but hurry many good men into a 
vindictive pursuit of victory. (Generally, where truth is 
communicated polemically (that is, not as it exists in its own 
inner simplicity, but as it exists in external relation to error), 
the temptation is excessive to use those arguments which 
will tell at the moment upon the crowd of bystanders, by 
preference to those which will approve themselves ultimately 
to enlightened disciples. Hence it is that^ like the pro- 
fessional Rhetoricians of Athens, not seldom the Christian 
Fathers, when urgently pressed by an antagonist equally 
mendacious and ignorant, could not resist the human instinct 
for employing arguments such as would baffle and confound 
the unprincipled opponent, rather than such as would satisfy 
the earnest inquirer. If a man denied himself all specious 
arguments, and all artifices of dialectic subtlety, he must 
renounce the hopes of a present triumph ; for the light of 
absolute truth on moral or on spiritual themes is too dazzling 
to be sustained by the diseased optics of those habituated to 
darkness. And hence I explain not only the many gross 
delusions of the Fathers, their sophisms, their errors of fact 
and chronology, their attempts to build great truths upon 
fantastic etymologies, or upon popular conceits in science 
that have long since exploded, but also their occasional 
unchristian tempers. To contend with an unprincipled and 
malicious liar, such as Julian the Apostate, — in its original 
sense the first deliberate miscrecmt or conmoua misbeliever, — 
offered a dreadful snare to any man's charity. And he must 
be a furious bigot who will justify the rancorous lampoons 
of Gregory Nazianzen against his sovereign.^ Am I, then, 
angry on behalf of Julian ? So far as ^ was interested, not 
for a moment would I have suspended the descending scourge. 

^ " Lampoons " : — Too literally lampoons ; for, as those meant 
personal invectivel affixed to lamp-posts, where they could be read by 
everybody, so Gregory of Nazianzum himself entitled each of severid 
successive libels on the Emperor Julian by the name of stylites, or 
libel affixed to a pillar of a public portico. 

VOL. VII B 



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50 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

Cut him to the bone, I should have exclaimed at the time \ 
Lay the knout into every " raw " that can be found 1 For I 
am of opinion that Julian's duplicity is not yet adequately 
understood. But what was right as regarded the clsdms of 
the criminal was not right as regarded the duties of his 
opponent Even in this mischievous renegade, trampling 
with his ourang-outang hoofs the holiest of truths, a Christ- 
ian bishop ought still to have respected his Emperor, 
through the brief period in which he was such, and to have 
commiserated his benighted brother, however wilfully astray, 
and however hatefully seeking to quench that light for other 
men which, for his own misgiving heart (as might perhaps 
be demonstrated), he never did succeed in quenching. I do 
not wish to enlarge upon a theme both copious and easy. 
But here, and everywhere, speaking of the Fathers as a body, 
I charge them with antichristian practices of a twofold order : 
sometimes as supporting their great cause in a spirit alien to 
its own, retorting in a temper not less uncharitable than that 
of their opponents ; sometimes, again, as adopting arguments 
that are unchristian in their ultimate grounds ; resting upon 
errors the refutation of errors, upon superstitions the over- 
throw of superstitions, and drawing upon the armouries of 
darkness for weapons that^ to be durable, ought to have been 
of celestial temper. Alternately, in short, the Fathers tres- 
pass against those affections which furnish to Christianity its 
moving powers, and against those truths which furnish to 
Christianity its guiding lighta Indeed, Milton's memorable 
attempt to characterise the Fathers as a body, contemptuous 
as it is, can hardly be challenged as overcharged.^ 

Never in any instance were these aberrations of the 
Fathers more vividly exemplified than in their theories upon 
the Pagan Oracles. On behalf of Gk)d they were determined 
to be wiser than Gk>d, and, in demonstration of scriptural 
power, to advance doctrines which the Scriptures had no- 
where warranted. At this point, however, I shall take a 
short course, and, to use a vulgar phrase, shall endeavour to 
** kill two birds with one stone." 

It happens that the earliest book in our modem European 
Literature which has subsequently obtained a station of 
^ See ante, VoL II. p. 147, footnote.— M. 



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THE PAGAN 0RA0LE3 51 

authority on the subject of the Ancient Oracles applied 
itself entirely to the erroneous theory of the Fathers. This 
is the celebrated ^ Antonii V<m Dale De Eihmcorum Oraculis 
Dissertationes" which was published at Amsterdam at least 
as early as the year 1682, — that is, one hundred and seventy- 
six years ago.^ And upon the same subject there has been 
no subsequent book which maintains an equal rank. Van 
Dale might have treated his theme simply with a view to 
the investigation of the truth, as some recent inquirers have 
preferred doing ; and, in that case, the Fathers would have 
been noticed only as incidental occasions might arise to bring 
forward their opinions, true or false. But to this author the 
errors of the Fathers seemed capital, — worthy, in fact, of 
forming his principal object ; and, knowing their great 
authority in the Papal Church, he anticipated, in the plan 
of attaching his own views to the false views of the Fathers, 
an opening to a double patronage — that of the Protestants, 
in the first place, as interested in all doctrines seeming to be 
anti- papal, that of the Sceptics, in the second place, as 
interested in the exposure of whatever had once commanded, 
but subsequently lost, the superstitious reverence of man- 
kind. On this policy, he determined to treat the subject 
polemically. He fastened, therefore, upon the Fathers with 
a deadly achamementy that evidently meant to leave no arrears 
of work for any succeeding assailant ; and it must be acknow- 
ledged that, simply in relation to this purpose of hostility, 
his work is triumphant. So much was not difficult to accom- 
plish ; for barely to enunciate the leading doctrine of the 
Fathers is, in the ear of any chronologist, to overthrow it. 
But, though successful enough in its functions of destruction, 
on the other hand, as an afl&rmative or reconstructive work, 
the long treatise of Van Dale is most unsatisfactory. It 
leaves us with a hollow sound ringing in the ear, of malicious 
laughter from gnomes and imps grinning over the weaknesses 
of man — ^his paralytic facility in believing, his fraudulent 
villainy in abusing this facility — ^but in no point accounting 
for those real effects of diffusive social benefits from the 

1 Anthony Van Dale, Dutch physician, b. 1638, d. 1708. There 
was an English translation, or version, of his book in 1688, nnder the 
title History of Oracles aiid the Cheais of Pa/gan Priests, — M. 



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52 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABCHES 

Oracle machinery whicli must arrest the attention of candid 
students amidst some opposite monuments of incorrigible 
credulity or of elaborate imposture. 

As a book, however, belonging to that small cycle (not 
numbering, perhaps, on all subjects, above three score) which 
may be said to have moulded and controlled the public 
opinion of Europe through the last five generations, already 
for itself the work of Van Dale merits a special attention. 
It is confessedly the clasdad book — ^the original fundus for 
the arguments and facts — applicable to this question ; and 
an accident has greatly strengthened its authority. Fon- 
tenelle, the most fashionable of European authors at the 
opening of the eighteenth century, writing in a language at 
that time even more predominant than at present, did in 
effect employ all his advantages to propagate and popularise 
the views of Van Dale.^ Scepticism naturally courts the 
patronage of France ; and in effect that same remark which 
a learned Belgian (Van Brouwer) has found frequent occasion 
to make upon single sections of Fontenelle's work may be 
fairly extended into a representative account of the whole — 
" Von trotwe les mivnes arguments chez FontenellSy mats d4gag4s 
des hnguewrs du savamJt Van Dale, et escpmn^ a/vec plus 
cP^^anceJ* This rifa4ximsnto did not injure the original 
work in reputation : it caused Van Dale to be less read, but 
to be more esteemed ; since a man confessedly distinguished 
for his powers of composition had not thought it beneath his 
ambition to adopt and to remodel Van Dale's theory. This 
important position of Van Dale with regard to the effectual 
creed of Europe — so that, whether he were read directly, or 
were slighted for a more fashionable expounder, equally in 
either case it was his doctrines which prevailed — must always 
confer a circumstantial value upon the original dissertations 
** De Ethnicorwnb OraciUis" 

This original work of Van Dale is a book of considerable 
extent. But, in spite of its length, it divides substantially 
into two great chapters, and no more, which coincide, in 
fact, with the two separate dissertations. The first of these 
dissertations, occupying one hundred and eighty-one pages, 

^ Fontenelle, 1657-1757. Of his work on Oracles there was an 
English translatioii in 1750. — M. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 58 

inquires into the failure and extinction of the Oracles, — 
when they fedled, and uhy, or under what circumstances. The 
second of these dissertations inquires into the machinery and 
resources of the Oracles during the time of their prosperity. 

In the first dissertation, the object is to expose the folly 
and gross ignorance of the Fathers, who insisted on represent- 
ing the history of the case roundly in this shape — as though 
all had prospered with the Oracles up to the nativity of 
Christ, but that, after his crucifixion, and simultaneously 
with the first promulgation of Christianity, all Oracles had 
suddenly drooped, or, to tie up their language to the rigour 
of their theory, had suddenly expired. All this Van Dale 
peremptorily denies ; and, in these days it is scarcely requi- 
site to add, triumphantly denies : the whole hypothesis of the 
Fathers having literally not a leg to stand upon, and being, 
in fact) the most audacious defiance to historical records that 
perhaps the annals of human folly present.^ 

In the second dissertation, Van Dale combats the other 
notion of the Fathers — that, during their prosperous ages, 
the Oracles had moved by an agency of evil spirits. He, on 
the contrary, contends that^ from the first hour to the last of 
their long domination over the minds and practice of the 
Pagan world, they had moved by no agencies whatever but 
those of human fraud, intrigue, collusion, applied to human 
blindness, credulity, and superstition. 

We shall say a word or two upon each question. 

As to the first, — namely, when it was that the Oracles fell 
into decay and silence, — thanks to the headlong rashness of 
the Fathers, Van Dale's assault cannot be refased or evaded. 
In reality, the evidence against them is too flagrant and 
hyperbolical. If we were to quote from Juvenal " Delphis 
et Oracula cessant," in that case the Fathers challenge it as 
an argument on their side, for that Juvenal described a state 
of things immediately posterior to Christianity. Yet even 

^ From this point to the paragraph in p. 62 beginning " Oracles, 
take them at the very worst " is a reinsertion into the text of matter 
in the original EUtchoood article of March 1842 which does not appear 
in De Quincey's reprint of it in 1858. The omission must have been 
accidental and unintended, for the omitted paragraphs are not only 
important in themselves, but are essential to the coherence and com- 
pleteness of the paper. — M. 



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54 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

here the word cessdnt points to a distinction of cases which 
already in itself is fatal to their doctrine. By cessami Jnvenal 
means evidently what we, in these days, should mean in 
saying of a ship in action that her fire was slackening. This 
powerful poet, therefore, wiser so far than the Christian 
Fathers, distinguishes two separate cases : first, the state of 
torpor and languishing which might be (and in feu^t was) the 
predicament of many &mous Oracles through centuries not 
fewer than five, six, or even eight ; secondly, the state of 
absolute dismantling and utter extinction which, even before 
his time, had confounded individual Oracles of the inferior 
class, not from changes affecting religion, whether true 
or false, but from political revolutions. Here, therefore, 
lies the first blunder of the Fathers, — that they confound 
with total death the long drooping which befell many great 
Oracles from languor in the popular sympathies under 
changes hereafter to be noticed; and, consequently, from 
revenues and machinery continually decaying. That the 
Delphic Oracle itself — of all oracles the most illustrious — had 
not expired, but simply slumbered for centuries, the Fathers 
might have convinced themselves by innumerable passages 
in authors contemporary with themselves ; and that it was 
continually throwing out fitful gleams of its ancient power 
when any very great man (suppose a Caesar) thought fit to 
stimulate its latent vitality is notorious from such cases as that 
of Hadrian. He, in his earlier days, whilst yet only dream- 
ing of the purple, had not found the Oracle superannuated or 
palsied. On the contrary, he found it but too clear-sighted ; 
and it was no contempt in him, but too ghastly a fear and 
jealousy, which laboured to seal up the grander ministrations 
of the Oracle for the future. What the Pythia had foreshown 
to himself she might foreshow to others ; and, when tempted 
by the same princely bribes, she might authorize and kindle 
the same aspiring views in other great officers. Thus, in the 
new condition of the Roman power, there was a perpetual 
peril lest an oracle, so potent as that of Delphi, should 
absolutely create rebellions by first suggesting hopes to men in 
high commands. Even as it was, all treasonable assumptions 
of the purple, for many generations, commenced in the hopes 
inspired by auguries, prophecies, or sortileges. And, had 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 55 

the great Delphic Oracle, consecrated to men's feelings by 
hoary superstition and privileged by secrecy, come forward to 
countersign such hopes, many more would have been the 
wrecks of ambition, and even bloodier would have been the 
blood-polluted line of the imperial successions. Prudence, 
therefore, it was, and state policy, not the power of 
Christianity, which gave the final shock (of the original shock 
we shall speak elsewhere) to the grander functions of the 
Delphic Oracle. But, in the meantime, the humbler and 
more domestic offices of this oracle, though naturally making 
no noise at a distance, seem long to have survived its state 
relations. And, apart from the sort of galvanism notoriously 
applied by Hadrian, surely the Fathers could not have seen 
Plutarch's account of its condition already a century later 
than our Saviour's nativity. The Pythian priestess, as we 
gather from hdm, had by that time become a less select and 
dignified personage ; she was no longer a princess in the land 
— ^a change which was proximately due to the impoverished 
income of the temple ; but she was still in existence, still 
held in respect, still trained, though at inferior cost, to her 
difficult and showy ministrations. And the whole establish- 
ment of the Delphic god, if necessarily contracted from that 
scale which had been suitable when great kings and common- 
wealths were constant suitors within the gates of Delphi, 
still clung (like the Venice of modem centuries) to her old 
ancestral honours, and kept up that decent household of 
ministers which corresponded to the altered ministrations of 
her temple. In fact, the evidences on behalf of Delphi, as a 
princely house that had indeed partaken in the decaying 
fortunes of Greece, but naturally was all the prouder from 
the irritating contrast of • her great remembrances, are so 
plentifully dispersed through books that the Fathers must 
have been willingly duped. That in some way they vjere 
duped is too notorious from the facts, and might be suspected 
even from their own occasional language. Take, as one 
instance amongst the whole hamwn/y of similar expressions, 
this short passage from Eusebius : ot *EAAryv€s 6fw\oyovvT€s 
iKXeXoLirevat avriov ra xprjcrTrjpia : the Greeks admitting 
that their Oracles have failed — (there is, however, a disingen- 
uous vagueness in the very word eKXeXoiirevai) — ov8' dXXore 



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66 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

iroT€ €( ai<avos — and when ? why, at no other criflis through 
the total range of their existence rj Kara rovs XP^^^^ ''^ 
€vayy€\.LKi]s St&zo-KaAtas — than precisely at the epoch of the 
evangelical dispensation, etc. Eusebius was a man of too 
extensive reading to be entirely satisfied with the Christian 
representations upon this point And in such indeterminate 
phrases as Kara rov^ XP^^^"^ (which might mean indifferently 
the entire three centuries then accomplished from the first 
promulgation of Christianity, or specifically that narrow 
punctual limit of the earliest promulgation) it is easy to trace 
an ambidextrous artifice of compromise between what would 
satisfy his own brethren, on the one hand, and what^ on the 
other hand, he could hope to defend against the assaults of 
learned Pagans. 

In particular instances it is but candid to acknowledge 
that the Fathers may have been piisled by the remarkable 
tendencies to error amongst the ancients from their want of 
public journals, combined with territorial grandeur of empire. 
The greatest possible defect of harmony arises naturally in 
this way amongst ancient authors locally remote from each 
other, but more especially in the post -christian periods, 
when reporting any aspects of change, or any results from a 
revolution variable and advancing under the vast varieties of 
the Roman Empire. Having no newspapers to effect a level 
amongst the inequalities and anomalies of their public 
experience in regard to the Christian revolution, when 
collected from innumerable tribes so widely differing as to 
civilization, knowledge, superstition, &c., hence it happened 
that one writer could report with truth a change as having 
occurred within periods of ten to sixty years which for some 
other province would demand a circuit of six hundred. For 
example, in Asia Minor, all the way from the sea-coast to 
the Euphrates, towns were scattered having a dense population 
of Jews. Sometimes these were the most malignant opponents 
of Christianity ; that is, wherever they happened to rest in 
the letter of their peculiar religion. But, on the other hand, 
where there happened to be a majority (or, if not numerically 
a majority, yet influentially an overbalance) in that section 
of the Jews who were docile children of their own preparatory 
faith and discipline, no bigots, and looking anxiously for the 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 57 

fulfilment of their prophecies (an expectation at that time 
generally diffosed), — under those circumstances the Jews 
were such ready converts as to account naturally for sudden 
local transitions which in other circumstances or places 
might not have \feeii credible. 

This single consideration may serve to explain the 
apparent contradictions, the irreconcilable discrepancies, 
between the statements of contemporary Christian bishops 
locally at a vast distance from each other, or (which is even 
more important) reporting from commimities occupying 
different stages of civilization. There was no harmonizing 
organ of interpretation, in Christian or in Pagan newspapers, 
to bridge over the chasms that divided different provinces. 
A devout Jew, already possessed by the purest idea of the 
Supreme Bein^ stood on the very threshold of conversion : 
he might, by one hour's conversation with an apostle, be 
transfigured into an enlightened Christian ; whereas a Pagan 
could seldom in one generation pass beyond the infirmity of 
his novitiate. His heart and affections, his will and the 
habits of his imderstanding, were too deeply diseased to be 
suddenly transmuted. And hence arises a phenomenon 
which has too languidly arrested the notice of historians : 
viz. that already, and for centuries before the time of 
Constantine, wherever the Jews had been thickly sown as 
colonists, the most potent body of Christian zeal stood ready 
to kindle under the first impulse of encouragement from the 
state ; whilst in the great capitals of Bome and Alexandria, 
where the Jews were hated and neutralized politically by 
Pagan forces, not for a hundred years later than Constantine 
durst the whole power of the government lay hands on the 
Pagan machinery, except with timid precautions, and by 
graduations so remarkably adjusted to the circumstances that 
sometimes they wear the shape of compromises with idolatry. 
We must know the ground, the quality of the population, 
concerned in any particular report of the Fathers, before we 
can judge of its probabilities. Under local advantages, 
insulated cases of Oracles suddenly silenced, of temples and 
their idol- worship overthrown, as by a rupture of new-bom 
zeal, were not less certain to arise as rare accidents from rare 
privileges, or from rare coincidences of unanimity in the 



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58 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

leaders of the place, than on the other hand they were 
certain not to arise in that unconditional universality pre- 
tended by the Fathers. Wheresoever Paganism was inter- 
woven with the whole moral being of a people, as it was in 
Egypt, or with the political tenure and hopes of a people, as 
it was in Rome, there a long struggle was inevitable before 
the revolution could be effected. Briefly, as agauist the 
Fathers, we find a sufficient refutation in what followed 
Christianity. If, at a period five, or even six, hundred years 
after the birth of Christ, you find people still consulting the 
local Oracles of Egypt in places sheltered from the point- 
blank range of the state artillery, — there is an end, once and 
forever, to the delusive superstition that, merely by its silent 
presence in the world, Christianity must instantaneously 
come into fierce activity as a reagency of destruction to all 
forms of idolatrous error. That argument is multiplied 
beyond all power of calculation ; and to have missed it is 
the most eminent instance of wilful blindness which the 
records of human folly can furnish. But there is another 
refutation, lying in an opposite direction, which presses the 
Fathers even more urgently in the rear than this presses 
them in front Any author posterior to Christianity who 
should point to the decay of Oracles they would claim on 
their own side. But what would they have said to Cicero, 
— by what resource of despair woidd they have parried his 
authority, — when insisting (as many times he does insist) forty 
and even fifty years before the birth of Christ on the languish- 
ing condition of the Delphic Oracle ? What evasion could they 
imagine here ? How could that languor be due to Christianity 
which far anticipated the very birth of Christianity ? For, 
as to Cicero, who did not "far anticipate the birth of 
Christianity," we allege Jmn rather because his work De 
Divmatione is so readily accessible, and because his testimony 
on any subject is so full of weighty than because other and 
much older authorities cannot be produced to the same 
effect. The Oracles of Greece had lost their vigour and their 
palmy pride full two centuries before the Christian Era. 
Historical records show this a posteriori, whatever were the 
cause ; and the cause, which wo will state hereafter, shows it 
a priori, apart from the records. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 69 

Surely, therefore, Van Dale needed not to have pressed 
his victoTj over the helpless Fathers so unrelentingly, and, 
after the first ten pages, by cases and proofs that are quite 
needless and ex ahundanti. Simply the survival of any one 
distinguished Oracle upwards of four centuries after Christ — 
that is sufficient But, if with this fact we combine the 
other fact, that all the principal Oracles had already begun 
to languish more than two centuries before Christianity, there 
can be no opening for a whisper of dissent upon any real 
question between Van Dale and his opponents : viz. both as 
to the possibility of Christianity coexisting with such forms 
of error, and the possibility that Oracles should be overthrown 
by merely Pagan or internal changes. The less plausible, 
however, that we find this error of the Fathers, the more 
curiosity we naturally feel about the source of that error ; 
and the more so because Van Dale never turns his eyes in 
that direction. 

This source lay (to speak the simple truth) in abject 
superstition. The Fathers conceived of the enmity between 
Christianity and Paganism as though it resembled that be- 
tween certain chemical poisons and the Venetian wine-glass ; 
which (according to the belief ^ of three centuries back) no 
sooner received any poisonous fluid than immediately it 
shivered into crystal splinters. They thought to honour 
Christianity by imaging it as some exotic animal of more 
powerful breed, such as we English have witnessed in a 
domestic case, coming into instant collision with the native 
race, and exterminating it everywhere upon the first conflict 
In this conceit they substituted a foul fiction of their own, 
fashioned on the very model of Pagan fictions, for the un- 
varying analogy of the divine procedure. Christianity, as the 
last and consummate of revelations, had the high destination 
of working out its victory through what was greatest in a 

^ Which belief we can see no reason for rejecting so snmmarily as 
is nsnally done in modem times. It would be absurd, indeed, to sup- 
pose a kind of glass qualified to expose all poisons indifferently, 
considering the vast range of their chemical differences. But, surely, 
as against that one poison then familiarly used for domestic murders, 
a chemical reagency might have been devised in the quality of the 
glass. At least, there is no prirna fade absurdity in such a supposi- 
tion. 



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60 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

man — through his reason, his will, his affections. But, to 
satisfy the Fathers, it must operate like a drug, like sym- 
pathetic powders, like an amulet, or like a conjurer's charm. 
Precisely the monkish effect of a Bible when hurled at an 
evil spirit — ^not the true rational effect of that profound 
oracle read, studied, and laid to heart — ^was that which the 
Fathers ascribed to the mere proclamation of Christianity, 
when first piercing the atmosphere circumjacent to any 
oracle ; and, in fa^t, to their gross appreciations Christian 
truth was like the scavenger bird in Eastern climates, or the 
stork in Holland, which signalizes its presence by devouring 
all the native brood of vermin, or nuisances, as fast as they 
reproduce themselves under local distemperatures of climate 
or soil 

It is interesting to pursue the same ignoble superstition, 
— which, in fact, under Bomish hands, soon crept like a 
parasitical plant over Christianity itself until it had nearly 
strangled its natural vigour, — ^back into times far preceding 
that of the Fathers. Spite of all that coidd be wrought by 
Heaven, for the purpose of continually confounding the local 
vestiges of popular reverence which might have gathered 
round stocks and stones, so obstinate is the hankering after 
this mode of superstition in man that his heart returns to it 
with an elastic recoil as often as the openings are restored. 
Agreeably to this infatuation, the Temple of the true Gk)d — 
even its awful adytum, the Holy of Holies, or the places 
where the Ark of the Covenant had rested in its migrations 
— all were conceived to have an eternal and a self-vindicating 
sanctity. So thought man : but Qod himself, though to 
man's folly pledged to the vindication of his own sanctities, 
thought far otherwise ; as we know by numerous profana- 
tions of aU holy places in Judea, triumphantly carried 
through, and avenged by no plausible judgments. To speak 
only of the latter temple, three men are memorable as having 
polluted its holiest recesses : Antiochus Epiphanes, Pompey 
about a century later, and Titus pretty nearly by the same 
exact interval later than Pompey. Upon which of these 
three did any judgment descend ? Attempts have been made 
to impress that colouring of the sequel in two of these cases, 
indeed, — ^but without effect upon cmy man's mind. Possibly 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 61 

in the case of Antiochus, who eeems to have moved under a 
burning hatred not so much of the insurgent Jews as of the 
true faith which prompted their resistance, there is some 
colourable argument for viewing him in his miserable death 
as a monument of divine wrath. But the two others had no 
such malignant spirit ; they were tolerant, and even merci- 
ful ; were authorized instruments for executing the purpose^ 
of Providence ; and no calamity in the Kfe of either can be 
reasonably traced to his dealings with Palestine. Yet, if 
Christianity coidd not brook for an instant the mere coexist- 
ence of a Pagan oracle, how came it that the Author of 
Christianity had thus brooked (nay, by many signs of co- 
operation, had promoted) that ultimate desecration which 
planted *' the abomination of desolation " as a victorious crest 
of Paganism upon his own solitary altar ? The institution of 
the Sabbath, again — what part of the Mosaic economy could 
it more plausibly have been expected that God should vindi- 
cate by some memorable interference, since of all the Jewish 
institutions it was that one which only and which frequently 
became the occasion of wholesale butchery to the pious (how- 
ever erring) Jews ? The scruple of the Jews to fight, or even 
to resist an assassin, on the Sabbath, was not the less pious 
in its motive because erroneous in principle ; yet no miracle 
interfered to save them from the consequences of their in- 
fatuation. And this seemed the more remarkable in the case 
of their war with Antiochus, because that (if any that history 
has recorded) was a holy war. But, after one tragical 
experience, which cost the lives of a thousand martyrs, the 
Maccabees — quite as much on a level with their scrupulous 
brethren in piety as they were superior in good sense — 
began to reflect that they had no shadow of a warrant from 
Scripture for counting upon any miraculous aid ; that the 
whole expectation, from first to last, had been human and 
presumptuous ; and that the obligation of fighting valiantly 
against idolatrous compliances was, at all events, paramount 
to the obligation of the Sabbath. In one hour, after un 
yoking themselves from this monstrous millstone of their own 
forging about their own necks, the cause rose buoyantly aloft 
as upon wings of victory ; and, as their very earliest reward 
— as the first fruits from thus disabusing their minds of 



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62 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

windy presumptions — ^they found the very case itself melting 
away which had furnished the scruple ; since their cowardly 
enemies, now finding that they would fight on all days alike, 
had no longer any motive for attacking them on the Sabbath ; 
besides that their own astonishing victories henceforward 
secured to them often the choice of the day not less than of 
the ground. 

But, without lingering on these outworks of the true 
religion, nsunely, 1st, the Temple of Jerusalem; 2dly, the 
Sabbath, — ^both of which the divine wisdom often saw fit to 
lay prostrate before the presumption of idolatrous assaults, on 
principles utterly irreconcilable with the Oracle doctrine of 
the Fathers, — there is a still more flagrant argument against 
the Fathers, which it is perfectly confouuding to find both 
them and their confuter overlooking. It is this : — 

Oracles, take them at the very worst, were tio otherwise 
hostile to Christianity than as a branch, or (mathematically 
speaking) dkfwnction of Paganism. If, for instance, the Delphic 
establishment were hateful (as sometimes no doubt it was) to 
the holy spirit of truth which burned in an apostle, v^ was 
it hateful ? Not primarily in its special character of Oracle, 
but in its universal character of Pagan temple ; not as an 
authentic distributor of counsels adapted to the infinite situa- 
tions of its clients — often very wise counsels ; but as being 
ultimately engrafted on the stem of idolatrous religion — as 
deriving, in the last resort, their sanctions from Pagan deities, 
and, therefore, as sharing constractively in all the pollutions 
of that tainted source. Now, therefore, if Christianity, 
according to the fancy of the Fathers, could not tolerate the 
co-presence of so much evil as resided in the Oracle super- 
stition — that is, in the derivative, in the secondary, in the 
not unfrequently neutralised or even redundantly com- 
pensated, mode of error — ^then, a fortiori^ Christianity could 
not have tolerated for an hour the parent superstition, the 
larger evil, the fontal error, which diseased the very organ 
of vision — ^which not merely distorted a few objects on the 
road, but spread darkness over the road itself. Yet what is 
the £&ct ? So far from any mysterious repulsion exiernaUy 
between idolatrous errors and Christianity, as though the two 
schemes of belief could no more co-exist in the same society 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 63 

than two queen-bees in a hive — as though elementary nature 
herself recoiled from the abominable concv/rsius — do but open 
a child's epitome of History, and you find it to have required 
four entire centuries before the destroyer's hammer and crow- 
bar began to ring loudly against the temples of idolatrous 
worship ; and not before five, nay, locally, six or even seven, 
centuries, had elapsed, could the better angel of mankind 
have sung gratulations announcing that the great strife was 
over — ^that man was inoculated with the truth, or have 
adopted the impressive language of a Latin Father, that '^ the 
" owls were to be heard in every village hooting from the 
" dismantled fanes of heathenism, or the gaunt wolf disturb- 
" ing the sleep of peasants as he yeUed in winter from the 
^ cold, dilapidated altars." Even this victorious consumma- 
tion was true only for the southern world of civilisation. 
The forests of Qermany, though pierced already to the south 
in the third and fourth centuries by the torch of missionaries 
— ^though already at that time illuminated by the immortal 
Gothic version of the New Testament proceeding from 
Ulphilas, and still surviving — sheltered through ages in the 
north and east vast tribes of idolaters, some awaiting the 
baptism of Charlemagne in the eighth century and the ninth, 
others actually resuming a fierce countenance of heathenism 
for the martial zeal of crusading knights in the thirteenth 
and fourteenth. The history of Constantine has grossly mis- 
led the world. It was very early in the fourth century (313 
A.D.) that Constantine found himself strong enough to take 
his earliest steps for raising Christianity to a privileged 
station ; which station was not merely an effect and monu- 
ment of its progress, but a further cause of progress. In this 
latter light, as a power advancing and moving, but politically 
still militant, Christianity required exactly one other century 
to carry out and accomplish even its eastern triumph. Dating 
from the era of the very inaugurating and merely local acts 
of Constantine, we shiJl be sufficiently accurate in saying 
that the corresponding period in the fifth century (namely, 
from about 404 to 420 a.d.) first witnessed those uproars of 
ruin in Egypt and Alexandria — ^fire racing along the old 
carious timbers, battering-rams thundering against the ancient 
walls of the horrid temples — which rang so searchingly in 



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64 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

the ears of Zosimus,^ extorting, at every blow, a howl of 
Pagan sympathy from that bad and most howling of anti- 
christian slanderers. So far from the fact being, according 
to the general prepossession, as though Constantine had found 
himself able to destroy Paganism, and to replace it by Christi- 
anity, on the contrary, it was both because he happened to 
be far too weak, in fact, for such a mighty revolution, and 
because he knew his own weakness, that he fixed his new 
capital, as a preliminary caution, upon the Propontis. 

There were other motives to this change,^ and particularly 
(as I have attempted to show in a separate dissertation) 
motives of high political economy, suggested by the relative 
conditions of land and agriculture in Thrace and Asia Minor 
by comparison with decaying Italy ; but a paramount motive, 
I am satisfied, and the earliest motive, was the incurable 
Pagan bigotry of Borne. Paganism for Rome, it ought to 
have been remembered by historians, was a mere necessity of 
her Pagan origin. Paganism was the fatal dowry of Borne 
from her inauguration ; not only she had once received a 
retaining fee on behalf of Paganism in the mysterious Ancile 
(or supernatural shield) supposed to have fallen from heaven, 
but she actually preserved this bribe amongst her rarest 
jewels. She possessed a palladium, such a national amulet 
or talisman as many Grecian or Asiatic cities had once 
possessed — ^a faJtal guarantee to the prosperity of the state. 
Even the Sibylline Books, whatever ravages they might be 
supposed by the intelligent to have sustained in a lapse of 
centuries, were popularly believed, in the latest period of the 
Western Empire, to exist as so many characters of supremacy. 
Jupiter himself in Borne had put on a peculiar Boman 
physiognomy, which associated him with the destinies of 

^ Zosimus, Greek historian, circa a.d. 400. — M. 

a The reader will find me here treading in the footsteps of a former 
essay. As the repetition is brief, and not at all in the same 
words, and occurring at different periods of time, I have seen 
no reason to cancel it. A kind interpreter of the case will rather 
regard it as an argument of my sincerity and self-consistency. The 
real subject for wonder, as perhaps such an interpreter may be 
disposed to think, is that in such hurried essays, the Press always 
frotting at my irregularities, I did not oftener need to make similar 
apologies. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 66 

the gigantic state. Above all, the solemn angary of the 
Twelve Yultnres, so memorably passed downwards from the 
days of Eomulos, through generations as yet uncertain of the 
event, and therefore chronologically incapable of participa- 
tion in any &aud — an augury always explained as promising 
twelve centuries of supremacy to Rome, from the year 748 
down to 452 A.D.— co-operated with the endless other Pagan 
superstitions in anchoring the whole Pantheon to the Oapitol 
and' Mount Palatine. So long as Rome had a worldly hope 
surviving, it was impossible for her to forget the Vestal 
Virgins, the College of Augurs, or the indispensable office 
and the ind^eadble privileges of the Pontifex MaaamuSy which 
(and, though Cardinal Baronius, in his great work,^ for many 
years sought to fight off the evidences for that fact, yet 
afterwards partially he confessed his error) actually availed 
— ^historically and medcUUcaUy can be demonstrated to have 
availed — for the temptation of Christian Cffisars into collusive 
adulteries with heathenism. Here, for instance, came an 
emperor that timidly recorded his scruples — ^feebly protested, 
but gave way at once as to an ugly necessity. There came 
another, more deeply religious, or constitutionally more bold, 
who fought long and strenuously against the compromise. 
** What ! should he, the delegate of Qod, and the standard- 
bearer of the true religion, proclaim himself officially head 
of the false ? No ; that was too much for his conscience.'' 
But the fatal meshes of prescription, of superstitions ancient 
and gloomy, gathered around him ; he heard that he was no 
perfect Csesar without this office : and eventually the very 
same reason which had obliged Augustus not to suppress, but 
himself to assume, the tribunitian office — namely, that it was 
a popular mode of leaving democratic organs untouched 
whilst he neutralised their democratic functions by absorbing 
them into his own — availed to overthrow all Christian 
scruples of conscience, even in the most Christian of the 
CsBsars. Many years after Constantine, the pious Theodosius 
found himseK literally compelled to become a Pagan pontiff. 
A bon mot ^ circulating amongst the people warned him that, 

^ OardiDal Csesar Baronins (1538-1607), author of Ecclesiastical 
Awnals. — M. 

* "Abon mot" : — This was built «n the accident that a certain man 
VOL. VII P 



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66 HISTOBICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

if he left the cycle of imperial powers incomplete, if he 
suffered the galvanic battery to remain imperfect in its circuit 
of links, pretty soon he would tempt treason to show its 
head, and would even for the present find but an imperfect 
obedience. Reluctantly, therefore, the Emperor gave way : 
and perhaps soothed his fretting conscience by offering to 
Heaven, as a penitential litany, that same excuse which 
Naaman the Syrian offered to the prophet Elijah as a reason 
for a private personal dispensation. Hardly more possible 
it was that a camel should go through the eye of a needle 
than that a Boman Senator should forswear those inveterate 
superstitions with which his own system of patrician rank 
and privilege had been riveted for better and worse. As 
soon would the Venetian Senator, the gloomy '* magnifico " 
of St Mark, have consented to renounce the annual wedding 
of his Republic with the Adriatic as the Roman noble, 
whether senator, or senator elect, or of senatorial descent, 
would have dissevered his own solitary stem from the great 
forest of his ancestral order ; and this he must have done by 
doubting the legend of Jupiter Stator, or by withdrawing his 
allegiance from Jupiter Gapitolinus. The Roman People 
universally became agitated towards the opening of the fifth 
century after Christ, when their own twelfth century was draw- 
ing near to its completion. Rome had now reached the very 
condition of Dr. Faustus : having, like him, received a known 
term of prosperity from some dark power ; but doomed, like 
hdm, to hear the i-evolving hours, one after one, tolling 
solemnly the summons to judgment, as they exhausted the 
waning minutes of that fatal day marked down in the con- 
tract The more profound was the faith of Rome in the 
flight of the Twelve Vultures, once so glorious, now so sad, 
an augury, the deeper was the depression as the last hour 
drew near that had been so mysteriously prefigured. The 

whose proper name was Maxinvus stood in notorious circumstances of 
rivalship to the Emperor (Theodosius) : and the bitterness of the jest 
took this turn — ^that, if the Emperor should persist in declining the 
office of Pontifex Maaimus or Supreme PontiflF, in that case "erit 
Pontifez Maximus/' Maximus (the secret aspirant) shall be oni 
Pontifex — Le, shall be our Emperor. So the words sounded to those 
in the secret ((rwerourt), whilst to others they seemed to have no 
meaning at all. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 67 

reckoning, indeed, of chronology was slightly uncertain. 
The Varronian account varied from others. But these were 
trivial differences, and might tell as easily against them as 
for them, and did but strengthen the universal agitation. 
Alaric, in the opening of the fifth century (about 410) — 
AttUa, near the middle (445) — already seemed prelusive 
earthquakes running before the final earthquake. And 
Christianity, during this era of public alarm, was so far from 
assuming a more winning aspect to Boman eyes, as a religion 
promising to survive their own, that already, under that 
character of reversionary triumph, this gracious religion 
seemed, by no fault of its own, a public insult, and this 
meek religion a clamorous defiance ; pretty much as a king 
sees with scowling eyes, when revealed to him in some 
glass of Cornelius Agrippa, the phantom procession of that 
mysterious house which is destined to supplant his own. 

Now, from tlus condition of feeling at Rome, it is appar- 
ent not only as a fact that Constantine did not overthrow 
Ps^anism, but as a possibility that he could not have over- 
thrown it In the fierce conflict he would probably have been 
overthrown himself ; and, even for so much as he did accom- 
plish, it was well that he attempted it at a distance from 
Rome. So profoundly, therefore, are the Fathers in error that, 
instead of that instant victory which they ascribe to Christi- 
anity, even Constantine's revolution was slow and merely 
local. Nearly five centuries, in fact, it cost, and not three, 
to Christianise even the entire Mediterranean Empire of 
Rome ; and the premature effort of Constantine ought to be 
regarded as a mere fluctus decwmanvs^ in the continuous 

^ " Fluctus decumamu ** : — Connected with this term, once so well 
understood, bnt now (like all things human) hurrying into oblivion, 
there was amongst the ancients a fancifiQ superstition, or, until it is 
proved such, let us call it courteously a popular creed that wanted the 
seal and imprimatur of science. Has the reader himself any creed 
whatsoever, or even opinion, as to loaves t Stars, we all know, are of 
many colours, and of many sizes — crimson, green, azure, orange, and (I 
believe, but am not certain) violet. As to size, they range all the way 
from those grandees up and down the sky, apparently plenipotentiaries 
of the heavens, or (in the Titanic language of ^schylus) \afiirpoi 
dwaiTTai — blazing potentates — all the way down to such as count only 
amongst the secrets of the telescope, telescopic stars, as imperfectly 
revealed to the children of man as those children are revealed to them. 



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68 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

advance of the new religion — one of those ambitious billows 
which sometimes run far ahead of their 'fellows in a tide 
steadily gaining ground, but which inevitably recede in the 
next moment, marking only the strength of that tendency 

The graduation of stars runs down a Jacob's ladder. Can there be 
any parallel graduation amongst the billows of old Ocean? The 
ancients — and perhaps it famishes not the least conspicuous amongst 
the many evidences attesting their defect of power to observe accurately 
enough to meet the purposes of natural philosophy — fancied that there 
was ; and, supposing them for the moment right as to the main 
principle — -viz. of a secret law moulding the waves in obedience to 
some geometric pressure, and expressing itself in some recurrent relation 
to arithmetic intervals — they must yet have been negligent in excess 
not to have investigated the relations of the vulgar waves : those, I 
mean, which apparently escaped the control of the ocean looms. What 
the ancients held was simply this — that every tenth wave was conspicu- 
ously larger than the other nine. But in what respect larger ? In 
height was it, or generally in bulk ? Did the favoured wave distribute 
its superiority of size through the three dimensions of space (conse- 
quently the three dimensions of that which fills space) — an arrangement 
which would greatly disturb the apparent (though not the real) 
advantage on the scale of comparison between the tenth wave and the 
other nine ? or did this privileged tenth wave accumulate its entire 
advantage upon the one dimension of altitude ? Next, as to the nine 
subordinate waves, defrauded of their fair proportions by unjust 
novercal nature, were they all equally defrauded, or was a bias towards 
favouritism manifested here also ? And, if unequally endowed, did 
•this inequality proceed graduatim and continuously, or discontinu- 
ously ? And, if continuously, how did the scale move upwards ? Was 
it by a geometrical progression through a series of multiples, or arith- 
metically through a series of constant increments ? Aiid the tenth 
wave — ^a thing which I was nearly forgetting to demand — being always 
superior in the scale, was it always equally superior ? And, if not, if 
the superiority were liable to disturbances, did these disturbances 
follow any known law ? or was this law suspected of leaning towards 
the well-known Cambridge problem — Given the captain's name, and 
the price of his knee-buckles, to determine the latitude of the ship ? 

This question about the tenth wave, together with others sent down 
to us from elder days — ^such, in particular, as that which respects the 
venom of {the toad — had interested equally myself, the poorest of 
naturalists, and the late Professor Wilson [written in 1858, four years 
after Wilson's death. — M.], among the very best. We both admired, 
in the highest degree, the impassioned eloquence of Sir Thomas Browne 
in those works which allowed of eloquence, as in his " Religio Medici " 
and his " Urn-Burial " ; but in his works of pure erudition he, the 
corrector of traditional follies (as in his ** Vulgar Errors "), sometimes 
needs correction himself. We had, in Westmoreland, learned experi- 
mentally that Shakspere is right in describing the toad as venomous. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 69 

which sooner or later is destined to fill the whole capacity of 
the shore. 

To have proved, therefore, were it even open to proof, 
that Christianity had been fatal in the way of a magical 

VenomoTis it is, to the small extent of diluted nitric acid in burning 
and discolouring the skin, when irritated — or more probably when 
greatly alarmed. Several brute creatures, cats in particular, when 
driven into a frenzy of fear, have been supposed to fall into a self- 
generated hydrophobia, witii full power to inflict it. But grieved 
should we have been if we had imagined that the full establishment of 
this persecution-bom venom would ever suggest an argument of pallia- 
tion to the cruel persecutors of this most inoflfensive creature. Aggres- 
sive tendencies it has none : not offended, it will never offend. But 
the decuman toave was a more elaborate case. We had heard little 
else than scoffs at the Greek races who had countenanced such a belief. 
GrcBcia mendax, in the brief ezsibilation from the stage by the stem 
Roman of all Greek testimony whatsoever, had been the answer of the 
incredulous. Yet this reference had the effect of suggesting a question 
favourable to the ancients : might not the phenomenon, in Hibernian 
phrase, be "thrue/or them " t The tides in the Mediterranean are, I 
believe, everywhere in an under-key as compared with those of our 
angry Atlantic : in the Euripus, or narrow frith between Euboea 
(Negropont) and the mainland, there are, by report, none at all. And, 
having confessedly one great difference, why not another ? Professor 
Wilson, therefore, and myself had imposed it upon ourselves as a duty 
to investigate this problem. Of all companions that a man could have 
had, with the world stretched out before him to choose from, in any 
chase after a natural phenomenon, for any purpose, whether of sceptical • 
inquiry or of verification, none was equal to Professor Wilson. He 
had used his youthful (I may say schoolboy) opportunities indefati- 
gably : he had won all his knowledge, so varied and so accurate, by 
direct experience, troubling himself little about books,^ which in his 

1 I ought in all gratitude to make an emphatic exception for " Bewick's 
Quadrapeds," a book to which myself, in common with my brothers and 
sisters, had been more deeply indebted than to any score of books beside in 
that department of knowledge. But, after all, it was the matchless vignettes 
of Bewick himself— 

" And the skill which he learned on the banks of the Tyne "— 

that gave such golden value to this book : for the printed text, though I dare- 
say respectable, did not leave a profound impression upon any one of us. The 
" Birds," in which some of the vignettes struck me as even more beautifal, 
came to us, however, at a less impressible period. And the " Fables " we never 
heard of whilst children. Our experience of this delightful artist, on whom 
rest the benedictions of childhood for ever, was gathered in the years 1794 
(when Bobespierre might have figured for the Royal Tiger of Bengal), 1795, and 
1796. Since then, two entire generations of the human race, with its annual 
harvests of children, have pursued their flight over the disk of Time. I have 
elsewhere mentioned "Gulliver" as one of those books which command a 
mixed audience where children and grown-up men are seen Jostling each other : 
to this list must be added "Buuyan," the "Arabian Nights,^ "Bobinson 



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70 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

charm to the Oracles of the world, would have proved nothing 
but a perplexing inconsistency, so long as the Fathers were 
obliged to confess that Paganism itself, as a gross total, as 
the parent superstition (sure to reproduce Oracles faster than 

earlier days had as yet benefited by no reform (though even then on 
the brink of it). Professor Wilson has himself most powerfully dis- 
crimiaated (see Christopher in his "Aviary," Cant, i.) the two orders 
of naturalists : those sdf-formed amongst the fields and forests, on the 
one hand — on the other, the dry sapless students of books in a closet 
or a museum. To the former class belonged pre-eminently White of 
Selbome, Waterton, Audubon, Charles Bonaparte, and those whom 
Professor Wilson himself indicated as "the two Wilsons,'* meaning 
probably his own younger brother, James Wilson, and the American 
Wilson. But we ought now to speak of " the three Wilsons '* : for the 
Professor himself, in so far as his other studies had left him time to 
pursue this science, was the most yiyid, life-like, and realising describer 
of brute animals, especially birds and fishes. He was not the measurer 
of proportions in fins and beaks, but the circumstantiator of habits 
and variable resources under variable difficulties. Perhaps, in earlier 
days, Swammerdam shoidd be added to this meritorious catalogue. 
Of htm it was said that, for every one year passed in human society, 
he had passed three in a ditch amongst frogs. At the time I speak of 
our own inquiries concerned a sublimer object 1 ^ But, sublime as it 
might be, that formed no attraction to the feelings — morbid, it may be 
thought, but pathetically morbid — of Professor Wilson. The year of 
which I speak was (to the best of my recollection) 1826. Conse- 
quently, I had already known him most intimately for 17 years ; 
and year by year, as regards the latter seven, there had been growing 
upon him a deadly recoil of feeling from the sea-shore — as presenting 
that peculiar gathering of sights and sounds which more than any 
other awoke phantom resurrections to his own mind of his youthful 
gifts and physical energies, now annually decaying. We made two 
separate visits, if not three, to the sea-shore (ue, the shore of the Firth 
near Edinburgh), one perhaps in the year already mentioned, and a 
second some seven years later. One or other of these was to no greater 

Orusoe," and '* Bewick." Publishers, it seems to me, should pay some regard 
to this fact in the characteristic embellishments, &c., adapted separate^ to 
the two different audiences. 

1 Not so sublime, however, as at first it may be fancied. Oharles Lamb 
explained the cause of this when accounting for some person's disappointment 
on his first introduction to the sea. This person had vaguely prefigured the 
case to himself, as though the total object would present itself in all its 
tumultuous extent. Not that, upon a moment's reflection, he could have 
expected such a spectacle ; but irrefiectively he had allowed himself to antici- 
pate, if not such a spectacle, yet an impresaUm answerable in grandeur to such 
a spectacle. Meantmie, all that he saw, or should reasonably have hoped to 
see, was a beggarly section, a fraction, or the whole concern ; and, even for that 
fraction, the very station of dry land, from which he viewed it, reminded him 
that the ocean was anything but boundless. The ocean pretended to hem in 
mighty continents ; but the naked truth ¥ras that they hemmed in him. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 71 

they could be extinguiflhed), had been suffered to exist for 
many centuries concurrently with Christianity, and had 
finally been overthrown by tjie simple majesty of truth that 
courts the light, as matched against falsehood that shuns it, 
that fears it, and that hates it 

distance than the sands of Portobello ; but on that occasion, unfortu- 
nately, we met the Yeomanry (of Mid-Lothian, I think), who with 
some difficulty executed a charge on the very insufficient area of sand 
exposed at Portobello. This accident did not improve the spirits of 
Professor Wilson, who was reminded too keenly of the years 1806 and 
1810, when he had himself figured most conspicuously in the ranks, 
first of the Oxford, subsequently of the Kendal, Volunteers — on both 
occasions in the light company ; for his powers as an athlete turned 
altogether upon agility, not upon strength. No man was a better 
judge upon questions of bodily prowess ; and no man, at least no 
gentleman, was better acquainted with the records of the Fancy, as 
delivered by Mr. Pierce Bgan, an amateur of first-rate ability. As to 
mere strength, though always disposed to speak disparagingly of his 
own powers, he was right, I believe, in undervaluing his own preten- 
sions to the power of hard hitting. What had been sometimes said 
of Spring, though champion of England for some years, he has often 
assured me was true of himself — viz. that ''he could not make a dint 
in a pound of butter." But in agility, as manifested in running, 
leaping, and dancing, he was the Pelides of his time. One striking 
proof of his supreme excellence as a leaper is implied in this anecdote : 
— When he was about 20 (Anno 1805), he had started from Oxford at 
midnight for Moulsey Hurst (50 miles distant, I believe), where some 
great event was to come off. After this was decided, Wilson, at the 
request of several friends on the ground, favoured the amateurs with a 
specimen of his leaping. The crack leaper of the day — I rather think 
Richmond, a black — witnessed this performance ; and, upon hearing 
the circumstances under which it had been executed — viz. the severe 
pedestrian effort and the night's want of sleep— declined to undertake 
a contest upon any terms. That advantage upon which Lady Hester 
Stanhope idly nursed a secret vanity as peculiar to herself and the 
Bedouins — viz. an instep so highly arched that a rat might have run 
under her foot — formed one in the system of muscular machinery by 
which nature had equipped him for unapproachable excellence in one 
mode 6i gymnastics. Barely to see him even walk round a table was 
a pure delight to an eye at all learned in the fluencies of motion. 
Burke's expression upon the visionary grace of Marie Antoinette — ^that 
she hardly seemed to touch the earth — was realised, and became 
suddenly apprehensible to the sense, in him. And through this same 
structure of foot it was, and the extraordinary strength of his tendon 
AehilliSf that he danced with ease and elegance so perfect. Yet he 
had never received one hour's instruction. 

I fear that this preliminary account of my partner in the research 
may prove disproportioned ; for the total result was small and purely 



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72 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABCHES 

As applied, therefore, to the first problem in the whole 
question upon Oracles — JVhen, cmd tmder what circvmgtances, 
did they cease? — the ^ Dissertalio" of Van Dale, and the 

negatiye. In the latter trial we waited and watched from an early 
stage of a spring tide ; but the answer was none. We began by watch 
ing for a wave that should seem conspicuously larger than its fellows, 
and then counted onwards to the 10th, the 20th, the 30th, and so on 
to the 100th dated from that. But we never could detect any over- 
ruling principle involving itself in the successive swells ; and the wind 
continually disturbed any tendency that we had fancied to a recurrent 
law. Southey's brother Tom, a lieutenant in the navy, whom I had 
once asked for his opinion upon the question, laughed, and said that 
such a notion must have come firom the log of the ship Argo, — ^thus 
raising the Professor, who really had a good deal of nautical skill, and 
my ignorant self, that had none at all, to the rank of Argonauts. We, 
however, fancying that the phenomenon might possibly belong to tide- 
less waters, subsequently tried the English lakes, some of which throw 
up very respectable waves when they rise into angry moods. The 
Cumberland lakes of Bassenthwaite and Derwentwater fell to my 
share: Windermere, Coniston, and Ulleswater, to Professor Wilson. 
But the issue of all was emptiness and aerial mockeries ; as if the lady 
of the secret depths — Undina, or some Grecian Naiad, 

" Or Lady of the Lake,* 
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance " — 

had been playing with our credulity. False, however, as it may be, 
this image of the tenth wave furnished the ancients with a strong 
rhetorical expression for any possible excess in any mode ot evil. A 
fiery heat of persecution, a threatening advance of exterminating war, 
a sudden and simultaneous rush of calamities (as upon Athens in the 
Peloponnesian War), was termed A/lucttLS decumanus of evil. Perhaps 
I have too lightly 3rlelded to the temptation of connecting a personal 
interest with my imperfect report of an attempt to investigate the 
thing, or attempt at least to ascertain whether the supposed " thing " 
had any real root except in the fanciful creeds of Pagan naturalists. 
Now let us retreat fh>m this digression into the high-road of the 
discussion upon Obaoles. 

1 " Lady qf the Lake " :— Such was the earliest expression of Wordsworth's 
heavenly image— perhaps the loveliest that poetry can show. By altering the . 
word Uuee to mere, he greatly deteriorated the effect : as he partly perceived 
himself. Why then had he done it? Simply because amongjst the. dramatic 
writers of Shakspere's era the phrase Lady of %\e Lake had received a slans 
meaning, like Bona Bdba and other disreputable designations for that trail 
sisterhood. But this meaning (never at any time popularly difftised) had 
vanished for two entire centuries. So weak was William Wordsworth's reason 
for this, as for many another tampering with his own text His first thoughts 
were almost invariably best Indeed it is very notioeable that William 
Wordsworth, in earlier life the most obstinate of recusants as regarded the 
arrogant mandates of criticism (and in general rightly so), became, towards the 
close of his life, most injudiciously indulgent to capricious otijectors. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 73 

Histoire des '* Orades " by Fontenelle, are irresistible ; though 
not written in a proper spirit of gravity, nor making use of 
that indispensable argument which I have myself derived 
from the analogy of all scriptural cases in parallel circum- 
stances. 

But the case is far otherwise as concerns the second 
problem — How cmd by what machinery did the Orades^ in the 
days of their prosperityy conduct their elaborate fMnigtrations ? 
To this problem no justice at all is done by the school of Van 
Dale. A spirit of mockery and banter is ill applied to 
questions that at any time have been centres of fear, and 
hope, and mysterious awe, to long trains of human genera- 
tions. And the coarse assumption of systematic fraud in the 
Oracles is neither satisfactory to the understanding, as failing 
to meet many important aspects of the case, nor is it at all 
countenanced by the kind of evidences that have been hitherto 
alleged. The Fathers had taken the course — vulgar and 
superstitious — of explaining everything sagacious, everything 
true, everything that by possibility could seem to argue 
prophetic functions in the greater Oracles, as the product 
indeed of inspiration, but of inspiration emanating from an 
Evil Spirit This hypothesis of a diabolic inspiration is 
rejected by the school of Van Dale. Both the power of at 
all looking into the future, and the fancied source of that 
power, are dismissed as contemptible chimeras. Upon the 
first of these dark pretensions I shall have occasion to speak 
at another point. Upon the other I agree with Van Dale. 
Yet, even here, the spirit of triumphant ridicule, applied to 
questions not wholly within the competence of human re- 
sources, is displeasing in grave discussions : grave they are 
by necessity of their relations, howsoever momentarily 
disfigured by levity, and the unseasonable grimaces of self- 
sufficient '^ philosophy." This temper of mind is already 
advertised from the first to the observing reader of Van 
Dale by the character of his engraved frontispiece. Men are 
there exhibited in the act of juggling, and still more odiously 
as exulting over their juggleries by gestures of the basest 
collusion, such as protruding the tongue, inflating one cheek 
by means of the tougue, grinning, and winking obliquely. 
These vilenesses are so ignoble that for his own sake a man 



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74 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

of honour (whether as a writer or a reader) shrinks from 
dealing with any case to which they do really adhere ; such 
a case belongs to the province of police courts, not of litera- 
ture. But, in the ancient apparatus of the Oracles, although 
frauds and espionage did certainly form an occasional resource, 
the artifices employed were rarely illiberal in their mode, 
and frequently ennobled by their motive. As to the mode, 
the Oracles had fortunately no temptation to descend into 
any tricks that could look like 'Hhimble-rigging " ; and, as 
to the motive, it will be seen that this could never be dis- 
sociated from some regard to public or patriotic objects in 
the first place, — to which if any secondary interest were 
occasionally attached, thcU could rarely descend so low as 
even to an ordinary purpose of gossiping curiosity, but 
never to a mercenary purpose of fraud. My views, however, 
on this phasis of the question will speedily speak for them- 
selves. 

Meantime, pausing for one moment to glance at the 
hypothesis of the Fathers, I confess myself to be scandalised 
by its unnecessary plunge into the ignoble. Many sincere 
Christian believers have doubted altogether of any evil 
spirits as existences warranted by Scripture, — that is, as 
beings whose privunple was evil (" evil, be thou my good ") ; 
others, again, believing in the possibility that spiritual beings 
had been (in ways unintelligible to us) seduced from their 
state of perfection by temptations analogous to those which 
had seduced man, acquiesced in the notion of spirits tainted 
with evil, but not therefore (any more than man himself) 
essentially or causelessly malignant. Now, it is well known, 
and, amongst others, Eichhom (Einlevtung in das alte Testa- 
ment) has noticed the fact, — which will be obvious, on a little 
reflection, to any even unlearned student of the Scriptures 
who can throw his memory back through a real familiarity 
with those records, — that the Jews derived their obstinate 
notions of fiends and demoniacal possessions (as accounting 
even for bodily affections) entirely from their Chaldean 
captivity. Not before that great event in Jewish history, 
and, therefore, in consequence of that great event, were the 
Jews inoculated with this Babylonian, Persian, and Median 
superstition. If Eichhom and others are right> it follows 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 76 

that the elder Scriptures, as they ascend more and more 
into the purer atmosphere of untainted Hebrew creeds, 
ought to exjbibit an increasing freedom from all these 
modes of demoniacal agency. And accordingly so we find 
it Messengers of Qod are often concerned in the early 
records of Moses ; but it is not until we come down to 
Post-Mosaical records — Job, for example (though that book 
is doubtful as to its chronology), and the Chronicles of the 
Jewish Kings (whether Jvdaic or IvradibisK) — ^that we first 
find any allusion to malignant spirits. As against Eichhom, 
however, though readily conceding that the agency is not 
often recognised, I would beg leave to notice that there is a 
threefold agency of evil, relatively to man, ascribed to certain 
spirits in the elder Scriptures : viz., 1, of misleading (as in 
the case of the Israelitish king seduced into a fatal battle by 
a falsehood originating with a spiritual being) ; 2, of tempta- 
tion; 3, of calumnious accusaJtion directed against absent 
parties. It is not absolutely an untenable hypothesis that 
these functions of malignity to man, as at first sight they 
appear, may be in fact reconcilable with the general character 
of a being not malignant, and not evil in any sense, but 
simply obedient to superior commands : for none of us 
supposes, of course, that a "destroying angeP' must be an 
evil spirit, though sometimes appearing in a dreadful relation 
of hostility to all parties (as in the case of the chastising 
angel who checked his wrath at the threshing-floor of 
Araunah). In commemoration of that merciful intervention 
from heaven, this threshing-floor was subsequently purchased 
by the national treasury, and solemnly appropriated to the 
use of the First Temple, for which it furnished the foundation 
area. The Temple itself, therefore, built by Solomon 1000 
years before Christ, became a monumental record of that 
suspended wrath which uttered its departing thunders over 
the homestead of Araunah. But surely the Holy Temple 
would not have been suffered to commemorate any act of an 
impure spirit Waiving, however, all these speculations, one 
thing is apparent, that the negative allowance, the toleration 
granted to these later Jewish modes of belief by our Saviour, 
can no more be urged as arguing any positive sanction to 
such existences (to devnona in the bad sense) than his toleration 



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76 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

of Jewish errors and conceits in questions of science. Once 
for all, it was no purpose of his mission to expose errors in 
matters of pure curiosity, and in speculations not moral, but 
exclusively intellectual. 

To leave the Patristic Literature, and to state my own 
views on the final question argued by Van Dale — "What 
was the essential machinery by which the Oracles moved ? *' 
— I shall inquire, subdividingly, 

1. What was the relation of the Oracles (and I would 
wish to be understood as speaking particularly of the Delphic 
Oracle) to the religious credulity of Greece 1 

2. What was the relation of that same Oracle to the 
absolute truth ? 

3. What was its relation to the public welfare of Greece ? 
Into this trisection I shall decompose the coarse unity of 

the question presented by Van Dale and his Vandals, as 
though the one sole ^' issue" that could be sent down for 
trial before a jury were the probabilities of fraud and gross 
swindling. It is not with the deceptions or collusions of 
the Oracles, as mere matters of fact, that we in this age are 
primarily concerned, but with those deceptions as they affected 
the contemporary people of Greece. It is important to know 
whether the general faith of Greece in the mysterious pre- 
tensions of Oracles were unsettled or disturbed by the several 
agencies at work that naturally tended to rouse suspicion : 
such, for instance, as these four which follow : — 1, eminent 
instances of scepticism with regard to the assumed prophetic 
vision of any Oracle, from time to time circulating through 
Greece in the shape of bom mots; or, 2, — which silently 
amounted to the same virtual expression of distrust — refusals 
(often more speciously wearing the name of neglects) to consult 
the proper Oracle on some hazardous enterprise of general 
notoriety and interest ; 3, cases of direct failure in the event 
as understood to have been predicted by the Oracle, not 
unfrequently accompanied by tragical catastrophes to the 
parties misled by this erroneous construction of the Oracle ; 
4, (which is, perhaps, the climax of the exposures possible 
under the superstitions of Paganism) a public detection of 
known oracular temples doing business on a considerable 
scale as accomplices with felons. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 77 

Modem appraisers of the oracalar establishments are too 
commonly in aU moral senses anachronists. I hear it alleged 
with some plausibility against Southe/s portrait of Don 
Roderick, though otherwise conceived in a spirit proper for 
bringing out the whole sentiment of his pathetic situation,^ 
that the King is too Protestant, and too evangelical after the 
model of 1 800, in his modes of penitential piety. The poet, 
in short, reflected back, upon one who was too certain in the 
eighth century to have been the victim of dark popish super- 
stitions, his own pure and enlightened faith. But the 
anachronistic spirit in which modern sceptics react upon the 
Pagan Oracles is not so elevating as the English poet's. 
Southey reflected his own superiority upon the Gothic 
Prince of Spain. But the sceptics reflect their own vulgar 
habits of mechanic and compendious office business upon the 
large institutions of the ancient Oracles. To satisfy (]iemy 
the Oracle should resemble a modem coach-office — where 
undoubtedly you would suspect fraud, if the question, " How 
far to Derby ? ** were answered evasively, or if the grounds 
of choice between two roads were expressed enigmatically. 
But the TO ko^v, or mysterious indirectness of the Oracle, 
was calculated far more to support the imaginative grandeui 
of the unseen God, and was designed to do so, than to relieve 
the individual suitor in a perplexity that was seldom of any 
capital importance. In this way every oracular answer 
operated upon the local Grecian neighbourhood in which it 
circulated as one of the impulses which, from time to time, 
renewed the sense of a mysterious involution in the invisible 
powers, as though they were incapable of direct correspond- 

^ What VH18 this situation ? Early in the eighth century after 
Christ (let ns say A.n. 707), Roderick the Goth, King of Spain, taking 
an infamous advantage from his regal power, was said to have violated 
the person of Count Julian's daughter — by some historians called 
Cava. Her father, as the deadliest mode of vengeance open to him, 
had called in the Mahometan invaders of the Barbary coasts. 
Roderick, by a deep prophetic instinct, read in vision the desolation 
which his own perfidious atrocity had let loose upon Spain, his 
country, and Christianity, his faith, through eight hundred years ; 
descended into hell by means of despair, re-ascended by penitence to 
earth, fought one mighty battle for the Cross, was beaten, and imme- 
diately vanished from earth, leaving no traces for deciphering his 
mysterious fate. 



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78 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

ence or parallelism with the monotony and slight compass of 
human ideas. As the symbolic dancers of the ancients, who 
narrated an elaborate story "saltando Hecubam" or "saltando 
Loadamiam,** interwove the passion of the advancing incidents 
into the intricacies of the figure — something in the same way . 
it was understood by all men that the Oracle did not so much 
evade the difficulty by a dark form of words as he revealed 
his own hieroglyphic nature. All prophets, the true equally 
with the false, have felt the instinct for surrounding them- 
selves with the majesty of darkness. Look at the Hebrew 
prophets : never once are they direct and without obliquity. 
And in a religion like the Pagan, so deplorably meagre and 
starved as to most of the draperies connected with the 
mysterious and sublime, we must not seek to diminish its 
already scanty wardrobe. But let us pass from speculation 
to illustrative anecdotes. I have imagined several cases 
which might seem fitted for giving a shock to the general 
Pagan confidence in Oracles. Let me review them. 

The first is the case of any memorable scepticism published 
in a pointed or witty form, as when Demosthenes avowed his 
suspicions "that the Oracle was PhUippismg" This was 
about 344 years b.o. Exactly one hundred years earlier, in 
the 444th year B.a, or the locus of Pericles, Herodotus (thfen 
forty years old) is universally supposed to have read (which 
for Mm was to publish) his History. In tMs work two 
insinuations of the same kind occur : during the invasion of 
Darius the Mede (about 490 B.O.) the Oracle was charged 
with Medising; and in the previous period of Pisistratus 
(about 665 B.O.) the Oracle had been almost convicted of 
AlcmcBonidwing. The Oracle concerned was the same — ^viz. 
the Delphic — in all three cases. In the case of Darius, fear 
was the ruling passion ; in the earlier case, a near self- 
interest, but not in a base sense selfish. The Alcmseonidss, 
an Athenian house hostile to Pisistratus, being exceedingly 
rich, had engaged to rebuild the ruined temple of the Oracle, 
^and had fulfilled their engagements with a munificence 
butxjuining the letter of their professions, particularly with 
re "rd to the quality of marble used in facing or "veneering" 
t^e front elevation. Now, these sententious and rather 
witty expressions gave wings and buoyancy to the public 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 79 

suspicions, so as to make them fly from one end of Greece 
to the other ; and they continued in lively remembrance for 
centuries. 

In the second case — viz. that of sceptical slights shown 
to the Oracle — there are some memorable precedents on 
record. Most readers know the ridiculous stratagem of 
CroBSus, the Lydian king, for trying the powers of the 
Oracle by a monstrous culinary arrangement of pots and 
pans, known (as he fancied) only to himself. But, please 
your most Lydian majesty, it was known also to your cook, 
though not perhaps to your chancellor, and therefore to your 
cook's scullion. Which scullion, if a man, had assuredly 
told it to his wife, — but, if a woman, then by a deadlier 
necessity to her husband. Generally, the course of the 
Delphic Oracle under similar insults was warmly to resent 
them. But GroBsus, as a king, as a foreigner, and as a suitor 
of unexampled munificence, was privileged, especially because 
the ministers of the Delphic temple had doubtless found it 
easy to extract the secret by bribery from some one of the 
royal mission. A case, however, much more interesting, 
because arising between two leading states of Greece, and in 
the century subsequent to the ruder age of Groesus (who was 
about coeval with Pisistratus, 555 RO.), is reported by Xeno- 
phon of the Lacedssmonians and Thebans. They concluded 
a treaty of peace without any communication, not so much 
as a civil notification, to the Oracle ; t<^ fiev Scy ovSev 
€KOivwa-avTO ottws ij €t/OT/viy yevotro — to the god (the Delphic 
god) they made no communication at all as to the terms of 
the peace ; avroi Se cPovXevovro, but they personally pursued 
their negotiations in private. That this was a very extra- 
ordinary reach of presumption is evident from the care of 
Xenophon in bringing it before his readers. It is probable, 
indeed, that neither of the high contracting parties had 
really acted in a spirit of religious indifiference ; though it is 
remarkable of the Spartans, that of all Greek tribes they 
were the most facile and frequent delinquents under all 
varieties of foreign temptations to revolt from their heredi- 
tary allegiance to their own established yoke of civic usage 
— a fact which measures the degree of unnatural constraint 
and tension which the Spartan usages involved ; but in this 



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80 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

case I rather account for the public outrage to religion and 
universal usage by a strong political jealousy lest the pro- 
visions of the treaty should transpire prematurely amongst 
states adjacent to Boeotia, — a point forgotten by Xenophon. 

Whatever, meantime, were the secret motive to this 
policy, it did not fail to shock all Greece profoundly. And, 
in a slighter degree, the same effect upon public feeling 
followed the act of Agesipolis, who, after obtaining an 
answer from the Oracle of Delphi, carried forward his suit 
to the more awfully ancient Oracle of Dodona, — ^by way of 
trying, as he most impudently alleged, ** whether ihe child 
agreed with its papa." These open expressions of distrust 
were generally condemned ; and the irresistible proof that 
they were lies in the fact that they led to no imitations. 
Even in a case mentioned by Herodotus, where a man had 
the audacity to found a colony without seeking an oracular 
sanction, no precedent waa established ; though the journey 
to Delphi must often have been peculiarly inconvenient to 
the founders of colonies moving westwards from Greece, and 
the expenses of such a journey, with the subsequent offerings, 
could not but prove unseasonable at the moment when every 
drachma was most urgently needed. " Charity begins at home " 
was a thought quite as likely to press upon a Pagan con- 
science, in those circumstances, as upon our modem Christian 
consciences under heavy taxation ; yet, for all that, such was 
the regard to a pious inauguration of all colonial enterprises 
that no one provision or pledge of prosperity was held equally 
indispensable by all parties to such hazardous speculations. 
The merest worldly foresight, indeed, to the most irreligious 
leader would suggest this sanction as a necessity, under the 
following reason: — Colonies the most enviably prosperous 
upon the whole have yet had many hardships to contend 
with in their novitiate of the first five years, were it only 
from the summer failure of water under circumstances of 
local ignorance, or from the casual failure of crops under 
imperfect arrangements of culture. Now, the one great 
qualification for wrestling strenuously with such difficult con- 
tingencies in solitary situations is the spirit of cheerful hope ; 
but, when any room had been left for apprehending a super- 
natural curse resting upon their efforts — equally in the most 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 81 

thoughtfally pious man and the most crazily superstitious — 
all spirit of hope would be blighted at once ; and the 
religious neglect would, even in a common human way, 
become its own certain avenger, through mere depression of 
spirits and misgiving of expectations. Well, therefore, might 
Cicero in a tone of defiance demand, *^ Quam vero GrsBcia 
coloniam misit in iBtoliam, loniam, Asiam, Siciliam, Italiam 
sine Fythio [the Delphic], aut Dodonaeo, aut Hammonis 
oraculo ? ** An oracular sanction must be had, and from a 
leading oracle — the three mentioned by Cicero being the 
greatest ^ ; and, if a minor oracle could have satisfied the 
inaugurating necessities c^ a regular colony, we may be sure 
that the Dorian states of the Peloponnesus^ who had twenty- 
five decent oracles at home (that is, within the peninsula), 
would not so constantly have carried their money to Delphi. 
Nay, it is certain that even where the colonial counsels of 
the greater oracles seemed extravagant, though a large dis- 
cretion was allowed to remonstrance, and even to very 
homely expostulations, still, in the last resort, no doubts 
were felt that the oracle must be right. Brouwer, the Belgic 
scholar, who has so recently and so temperately treated these 
subjects (^'Histoire de la Civilisation Morale et Religieuse 
chez les Grecs." 6 tomes : Qroningue, 1840), alleges a 
case (which, however, I do not remember to have met) 
where the client ventured to object : — " Mon roi ApoUon, j€ 
erois que tu es foiu" ^ But cases are obvious which look 
this way, though not going so far as to charge lunacy upon 
the lord of prophetic vision. Battus, who was destined to be 
the eldest father of Cyrene, memorable as the first ground ^ 

^ To which at one time must be added, as of equal rank, the Oracle 
of the Branchides, in Asia Minor. But this had been destroyed by 
the invading Persians, in retaliation of the Athenian outrages — real or 
pretended — at Sardis. 

^ ** Tu esfou " : — The merely English reader, who is unacquainted 
with French, must not mistake fou for sot. Sot is the word for fod ; 
and the word fou, though looking too like that opprobrious term, 
denotes a form of intellectual infirmity — viz. madness — claiming 
deeper pity, but also deeper awe and respect 

* ** First ground" : — In our modem geography, Egypt is the first 
region ot Africa to those who enter it from the east But exactly at 
that point it is that Grecian geography differs from ours. The Greek 
Libya, as regarded the Mediterranean coast, coincided with our Africa 

VOL. Vir G 



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82 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

of Greek intercourse with the Libyan shore of the Mediter- 
ranean, so often as he consulted the Delphic Oracle in 
reference to his eyes, which happened to be diseased, was 
admonished to prepare for colonising Libya. "Grant me 
patience,'' would the peppery Battus reply ; " here am I 
getting into years ; and never do I consult the Oracle about 
my precious eyesight but you, King Phcebus, begin your old 
yam about Gyrene. Confound Gyrene ! Nobody Knows 
where it is. But, if you are serious, speak to my son : he's 
a likely young man, and worth a hundred of old rotten 
hulks like myself." Battus was provoked in good earnest ; 
and it is well known that the whole scheme went to sleep 
for several years, until King Phoebus sent in a gentle 
refresher to the peppery Battus and his islanders in the 
shape of failing crops, pestilence, and his ordinary chastise- 
ments. The people were roused — the colony was founded 
— and, after utter failure, was again founded — and the 
results justified the Oracle. But, in all such cases, and 
where the remonstrances were least respectful, or where the 
resistance of inertia was longest, I differ altogether from M. 
Brouwer in his belief that the suitors fancied Apollo to have 
gone distracted If they ever said so, this must have been 
merely by way of putting the Oracle on its mettle, and 
calling forth some plainer — ^not any different — answer from 
the god, who was essentially enigmatic ; for there it was 
that the doubts of the clients settled, and on that it was the 
practical demurs hinged Not because even Battus, vexed as 
he was about his precious eyesight, distrusted the Oracle, 
but because he felt sure that the Oracle had not spoken out 
freely — that the Oracle was in debt to him as regarded plain 
dealing in a matter of natioruU interest and a question of life 
and death ; therefore had he and many others in similar 
circumstances presumed to linger or to demur. Blind 
obedience was hard to practise in cases which, being clothed 
in riddles, might (as a long experience had taught them) be 
too easily deciphered erroneously. A second edition was 
what they waited for, corrected and enlarged. We have a 

except precisely as to Egypt; which (Herodotus teUs us) was, or 
ought to be, regarded as a transitional chamber between Asia and 
Libya. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 83 

memorable inBtance of this policy in the Athenian envoys 
who, upon receiving a most ominous doom, but obscurely 
expressed, from the Delphic Oracle — which politely con- 
cluded by saying, "And so get out, you vagabonds, from my 
temple : don't cumber my decks any longer " — were advised 
to answer sturdily, " No ! we will not get out ; we mean to 
sit here for ever, until you think proper to give us a more 
reasonable reply." Upon which spirited rejoinder, the 
priestess saw the policy of revising her truly brutal rescript 
as it had Ftood originally.^ 

The necessity, indeed, was strong for not acquiescing in 
the answer of the Oracle until it had become clearer by 
revision or by casual illustration. But some were so pre- 
cipitate as to adopt the first answer in its most literal and 
apparent sense. As usual, there is a Spartan case of this 
nature. Cleomenes complained bitterly that the Oracle of 
Delphi had deluded him, by holding out as a possibility, 
and under given conditions as a certainty, that he should 
possess himself of Argos. But the Oracle, agreeably to Pagan 
casuistry, was justified: there was an inconsiderable place 
outside the walls of Argos which bore the same name. This 
was the commonest of dodges amongst the heathen professors 
of divination. Most readers will remember the case of 
Cambyses, who had been assured by a legion of oracles that 
he should die at Ecbatana, generally supposed to be the 
Hamadan of our days, — to which northern city, cooled by 
Caspian breezes, the Shah of Persia retires when Teheran 
grows too hot Suffering, therefore, in Syria from a scratch 

^ At first sight the reader is apt to wonder why it was that inso- 
lence so undisguised should have been allowed to prosper. But in 
fact all religions have been indulgent to insolence, where the known 
alternative has been sycophantic timidity. Christianity herself en- 
courages men to ''take heaven by storm." In that spirit it was that 
the Pagan deities, in the persons of their representative idols, sub- 
mitted to be caned and horsewhipped without open mutiny, and con- 
tinually to be chained up by one leg, in cases where the gods were 
suspected of meditating flight to the enemy. Universally, insolence 
was but an offence of marmer, Even'^Ao^ might have provoked a 
shade of displeasure, were it not that, more effectually than any other 
expression of temper, it cured the one unpardonable offence of insin- 
cerity, languishing devotion, decay of burning love ; to which love, as 
the one sole pledge of undying loyalty, all frailties were forgiven. 



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84 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

inflicted upon his thigli by his own sabre, whilst, angrily 
sabring a ridiculous quadruped which the Egyptian priests 
had put forward as a god, Gambyses felt quite at his ease so 
long as he remembered his vast distance from the mighty 
capital of Media, to the eastward of the Tigris. The scratch, 
however, inflamed, for his intemperance had saturated his 
system with combustible matter ; the inflammation spread ; 
the pulse ran high : and he began to feel twinges of alarm. 
At length mortification commenced ; but stiU he trusted' to 
the old prophecy about Ecbatana, when suddenly a horrid 
discovery was made — ^that the very Syrian village at his own 
head-quarters was known by the pompous name of Ecbatana. 
Josephus tells a similar story of some man contemporary 
with Herod the Great. And we must all remember that 
case in Shakspere where the first king of the red rose, Henry 
lY, had long fancied his destiny to be that he should meet 
his death in Jerusalem ; which naturally did not quicken 
his zeal for becoming a crusader. "AU time enough," 
doubtless he used to say ; "no hurry at all, gentlemen!" 
But at length, finding himself pronounced by the doctor 
ripe for dying, it became a question whether the prophet 
were a false prophet, or the doctor an incompetent physician. 
However, in such a case, it is something to have a collision 
of opinions — ^the prophet against the doctor. But, behold, 
it soon transpired that there was no collision at all. It was 
the Jerusalem Chamber, occupied by the king as a bedroom, 
and extant even yet, to which the prophet had alluded. 
Upon which his majesty reconciled himself at once to the 
ugly necessity at hand — 

" In that Jerusalem shall Harry die." 

The last case — that of oracular establishments turning 
out to be accomplices of thieves — ^is one which occurred in 
Egypt on a scale of some extent, and is noticed by Herodotus. 
This degradation argued great poverty in the particular 
temples ; and it is not at aU improbable that, amongst a 
hundred Grecian Oracles, some, under a similar temptation, 
might faU into a similar disgrace : the poverty must often 
have existed, but without the thieves ; and at Delphi con- 
stantly the thieves, but without the poverty. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 85 

Yet now, as regards even this lowest extremity of dis- 
grace, mucli more as regards the qualified sort of disrepute 
attending the three minor cases, one brief distinction puts all 
to rights. The Greeks never confounded the temple and 
household of officers engaged in the temple service with the 
dark functions of the presiding god. In Delphi, besides the 
Great Lady who discharged the life-shaking duties of Pythia, 
and the priests, with their train of subordinate ministers 
directly billeted on the temple, there were two orders of 
men outside, Delphic citizens : the one styled dpurreiSf 
gentlemen of the service ; the other oo-ioi, a sort of semi- 
sanctified members of the temple establishment, wearing a 
shadowy resemblance to the lay elders of the Presbyterian 
Kirk, whose duty was probably, inter alia, to attach them- 
selves to persons of corresponding rank in the retinues of the 
envoys or consulting clients, and doubtless to extract from 
them, in convivial moments, all the secrets or general infor- 
mation which the temple required for satisfactory answers. 
If these outside agents of the great temple personally went 
too far in their intrigues or stratagems of decoy, the disgrace 
no more recoiled on the god than, in modem times, the 
vices or crimes of a priest can affect the pure ritual sanctity 
of the sacrament he dispenses. 

Meantime, through these outside ministers — though un- 
affected by their follies or errors as trepanners — the Oracle 
of Delphi drew that vast and comprehensive information, 
from every local nook or recess of Greece, which made it in 
the end a blessing to the land. The great error is to suppose 
the majority of cases laid before the Delphic Oracle strictly 
questions for prophetic functions. Ninety-nine in a hundred 
respected marriages, state-treaties, sales, purchases, founding 
of towns or colonies, which demanded no faculty whatever of 
divination, but the nobler faculty of natural sagacity that 
calculates the natural consequences of human acts co-operating 
with the local circumstances. If ever I should attempt to 
trace the steps, or to appraise the value, of Grecian civilisa- 
tion — the mother of civilisation to all the western earth — it 
will not be difficult to prove that Delphi discharged the 
functions of a central Imreau d'administrationj a general 
centre of political information, an organ of universal organ- 



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86 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

isation for the counsels of the whole Grecian race. And 
that which caused the declension of the Oracles was the loss 
of political independence and autonomy. After Philip and 
the day of Chssronea, still more after the Eoman conquest, 
each separate state, having no powers, and therefore no 
motive, for asking counsel on public interests, naturally 
confined itself more and more to its humbler local interests 
of police, or even at last to its family arrangements. 

^ In drawing towards a dose upon the great institution of 
Oracles, I would wish to point the reader^s attention to a 
feature of strong analogy between these mysterious incorpora- 
tions and that great modem product of high civilisation — 
the Banking System. Had the ancients any banks, or any 
apology for banks? Formally and directly they certainly 
had not ; but indirectly they had an imperfect representative 
of our banks. What was it ? First let me ask — ^What is the 
primary and elementary function of a bank — of a good, 
honest, hard-working, industrious bank ? Vixere Bankers 
ante Agamemnona. But their task was simpler ; it was 
merely to take care of a man's money when he could not take 
care of it himsell What, because he was drunk ? Oh no : 
but because housebreakers (family-men, as they are called in 
our flash dictionaries) were in Greece and circumjacent regions 
far too plentiful They swarmed in aU quarte'rs of needy 
Greece. 

What an invitation to you and me, when speculating for 
a rise in our respective capitals, to suspect a supper table left 
by the sleeping family to take care of itself and also of all 
the family plate, with a perfect knowledge on our parts that 
as small a tool as a mason's trowel will introduce us in six 
minutes to that same abandoned supper-tray. The word 
Totxwpvxo5» literally wall-borer, or rotx^pvicTiys, wall-under- 
miner, the Greek name for a housebreaker, indicates the brief 
process through which the Attic burglar seduced and eloped 
with another man's too charming plate. The artist had but 
to excavate a peck or two of earth with his trowel ; a rabbit's 

^ From this point onwards is an addition by De Quincey in 1858 
to the paper as it originally appeared in Blackwood for March 1842. 
— M. 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 87 

burrow was large enough ; this he soon improved and widened, 
using his own body as a gimlet; and very soon he had 
gimleted himself down amongst the family rats. Then, 
making free to borrow a rat-hole for a minute, and lying on 
his back, he soon whittled away or chiselled away the slight 
piece of carious flooring that divided him from the beautiful 
object (whether gold or silver) that enamoured him. Between 
Greece and Rome, in this pointy how vast the difference ! In 
Bome the houses were built for eternity — twelve to twenty 
thousand pounds sterling was no uncommon cost, I believe, 
for the mansion of a senator. In Athens it is notorious that 
the houses of citizens the most distinguished, — Miltiades, 
and soon afterwards Themistocles, — were little better than 
hovels. Andy although it is true that in forty years more, 
when the star of Pericles began to dawn upon Athens, the 
houses showed symptoms of improvement, nevertheless, being 
still built of slight and frail materials, they continued to rest 
on no massier or deeper foundations than does at this day a 
Scotch Highland bothy. Stakes or poles, hand-driven into 
the ground, formed their whole support — not at all stronger 
than, the p^ which hold down the draperies of a soldier's 
tent. This it was — viz. the make-shift foundation — which 
so powerfully facilitated the art or " profession " (as I find it 
called by one lexicographer) of the housebreaker. In fact the 
art might be viewed as a mode of divmg : the Attic burglar 
dived into the earth on the outside of the walls, and, coming 
up on the other side, found himself comfortably seated in 
grandmamma's easy-chair. And, whilst the access was thus 
easy at Athens, was thus impossible at Rome, on the other 
hand, the burglars in the former land swarmed like flies in 
a hot August with us, and in the latter were rare as hornets. 
With robbery a thousand times easier, and robbers a thousand 
times more plentiful ^ — reason enough there was in Athens 

^ In fact so plentiful, that even the memorials dearest to their 
vanity and patriotism — viz. their Battle Trophies — could no otherwise 
be protected from the rapacity of domestic robbers than by making 
them of materials which wonld hardly pay the cost of removal. The 
Greeks, after any victory of one little rascally clan over another, — 
of Spartans over Thebans, for instance, or (what is more gratifying to 
imagine) of Thebans over Spartans,— nsed to do two things in the way 
of self-glorification : first, they chanted a hymn or jpcam (eirauavi^ov). 



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88 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

for banks to take charge of a man's money. And banks, 
therefore, of the very strongest construction, the Greeks had, 
banks that could stand a military siege, and sometimes did. 
But what was the name of these banks ? The name ? Why, 
the name of these banks was tenvples. Upon a twofold con- 
sideration, temples were eligible as banks. In the first place, 
any temple whatsoever, being regarded as a monument of 
reverence and gratitude to a divinity, was naturally made as 
splendid as the disposable funds would allow. Marble, there- 
fore, or stone at the least, was used in constructing the walls 
and porticoes. But the great weight of marble and stone 
obliged the architects to lay them upon deep foundations. 
Hence it happened that, in such altered circumstances, the 
alliance of a rat, and the loan of a rat-hole, went but a little 
way towards a prosperous burglary. But there was even a 
deeper protection to a temple. Being placed under the 
tutelary care of a divinity, the building enjoyed the prestige 

which was their mode of singing Te Deum ; secondly, they erected a 
trophy, or memorial of their victory, on the ground. But this trophy 
one might naturally expect to be framed of the most durable materials ; 
whereas, on the contrary, it was framed of the very frailest, viz. fire- 
wood, at sevenpence the cart-load ; and the best final result that I, for 
my part, can suppose from any trophy whatsoever would be that some 
old woman, living in the neighbourhood of the trophy, went out on 
favourable nights, and selected fuel enough to warm her poor old 
Pagan bones through the entire length of a Grecian winter. Why the 
wood rapidly disappeared is therefore easy to understand : but not 
why it had ever been relied on as a durable record. The Greeks, 
however, who were masters in the arts of varnishing and gilding, 
reported the whole case in the following superfine terms: — "It is 
right," said they, " and simply a necessity of our human nature, that 
we should quarrel intermittingly. We Grecians are all brothers, it is 
true : but still even brothers must, for the sake of health, have a 
monthly allowance of fighting and kicking. Not at aU less natural it 
is that the conquerors in each particular round of our never-ending 
battle should triumph gloriously, and crow like twenty thousand game 
cocks, each flapping his wings on his own dunghill, armed with spurs 
according to the Socratic model left us by Plato. An allowance, in 
short, of shouting and jubilating is but fair. Still all this should have 
a speedy end : not only upon the prudential maxim — ^that he who is 
the kicking party to-day will often be the kicked party to-morrow ; 
but also on a moral motive — viz. to forget and forgive. Under these 
suggestions, it becomes right to raise no memorials of fighting triumphs 
in any but fugitive materials ; not therefore of brass, not therefore of 
marble, which (says the cunning Greek) would be too durable, which 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 89 

of consecration. And this kept the most audacious burglar 
at a distance. His trade was hopeless, — he well knew that, — 
against walls so impregnable ; and, had it been otherwise, 
the burglar feared a pursuing curse if he robbed a temple of 
any peculiar sanctity : he would as little dally with any such 
dangerous purpose as a Spanish flibustier would have joined 
an English buccaneer in pillaging a shrine of the Virgin. 
With power ten times multiplied did these grounds of strength 
apply to an onuular temple ; most of all to Delphi — known 
to idl princes that were themselves known. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that Delphi should have become the 
consecrated depot for incalculable property through many 
generations. And, if the reputation of wealth so enormous 
drew upon that temple and town occasional threats, or even 
assaults from a distance, no losses arising in this way could 
counterbalance, by a thousandth part, the vast amount of 
conservative aid that this temple must, in so many genera- 
tions, have dispensed ; for Delphi must have been viewed as 

(say I, revising the Greek dissembler) would be too costly, but rather 
of wood the most worm-eaten, and, if it show signs of dry-rot, all the 
better. Under this limitation our triumph puts on a human and a 
natural shape. It very soon decays, and typifies our exultation, which 
decays concurrently." Ay, very plausible and sentimental ! But this 
is an ex parte account ; purely Grecian. Mine is different. I venture 
to suggest that the reason for not using brass or copper was because, 
in that case, long before the moon had run her circuit, the trophy 
would have been found in a blacksmith's shop at Corinlh or Athena, 
sold or pawned, at the rate of a drachma a-head for a gang of forty 
thieves. The Orcecultu esuriens of Juvenal's sketch (taken from the 
standing -point of Borne) was true for centuries : always he was a 
knave, a sharp sycophantic knave, that lived by his wits ; and yet, 
multiplying too fast, always in the large majority he was hungry. 
Through many a generation he was the dominant physician of the 
earth ; he left behind him a body of medical research that is even yet 
worth studying : he, if nobody else, forestalled Lord Bacon's philo- 
sophy, for he at least relied altogether upon experience and tentative 
approaches ; others he healed by myriads ; but himself he never 
succeeded in healing permanently or widely of the disease called 
hunger. Empty stomachs continued to form the reproach of his art. 
For the truth was, through centuries, that Greece bred too large a 
population. Her institutions favoured population too much, whilst 
her agriculture and commerce tended (but could not establish a 
sufficient tendency) to repress population. Too constantly, therefore, 
Greece was mendax, edax, furax (mendacious, edacious, furacious), 
though indisposed to criminal excesses. 



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90 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

central to Greece, to the Grecian Islands, in later days to 
Macedon, Epirus, Thrace, and (in Asia Minor) to regions 
stretching all the way to the Euphrates. 

As a bank of deposit, therefore, Delphi and its illustrious 
temple discharged a most weighty class of services ; and with 
this dass at least Christianity could have had no wish to inter- 
fere. No rivalship could here be imagined ; no crossing of 
purposes ; no collision of interests. So far it is not any service 
offering cmalogies to the modem services of banks that Delphi 
might have claimed ; it was the direct, undeniable, and element- 
ary service that any and every bank does or can perform. The 
service done was not of a nature to involve any social refine- 
ments ; it was plain and homely as a cudgel ; and in fact 
very like a cudgel : for one of the best uses which the 
learned have yet discovered in a cudgel is its tendency to 
mount guard effectually upon a man's pockets ; and precisely 
that use was rendered in perfection by the temple of the 
Oracle at Delphi. A bank which could not be stormed by 
Brennus and his Gauls was manifestly in no danger from the 
Toi.\fapv\os and his trowel 

But mere security, though a great point to achieve in a 
community where hardly anything was safe from moths that 
corrupt, or from thieves that break through and steal, waa 
yet far from approaching that mysterious discovery as to the 
powers of capital which to all mankind, for many a long 
century, seemed to involve an impossibility. The exquisite 
silliness of the ancient doctrine 'Hhat money doth not 
breed money," — that one gold or silver coin was never known, 
in any natural process of generation, to produce another gold 
or silver coin, — gagged the utterance, blindfolded the eyes, 
paralysed the understanding of man through much more than 
a thousand years. From this doctrine it seemed (in the eyes 
of our worthy and most stupid ancestors) to radiate as the 
most irresistible of inferences that, if any man drew a 
profit, a something extra, from the employment of his money, 
that profit must take its rise in some unlawful source. The 
most obvious explanation was that it arose in fraud. In 
some way the man must have cheated. This, as most people 
know, was the theory of Cicero. A man must lie, and must 
lie pretty strongly {admodum), in his opinion, before he could 



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THE PAGAN OBACLES 91 

reap any gam whatever — the least or most shadowy — from 
a commercial transaction. And, if Cicero had been made to 
imderstand that the distinction between buyer and seller was 
imaginary, — that a buyer was neoeasarily a seller, a seller 
necessarily a buyer, and that in every transaction of exchange 
the two pEurties, the party on each side, might gain simultane- 
ously, might gain equally, and not by any metaphysical trick 
of words, but by a gain expressible in money, — he would prob- 
ably, in excess of wrath, have assaulted his opponent Any 
use of capital that should imply such doctrines would, in the 
Grecian stage of civilisation, have been impossible. Yet 
why ? Simply because all such uses waited for other con- 
current agencies, which must meet in combination before 
their last potential results could be developed. From that 
Grecian stage of social progress in which the showy religion 
of men, and the pomps of their gay mythologies, had put forth 
their uttermost strength in the stationary grandeur of temples 
and the scenical beauty of processions, let us leap by a flight 
across forty generations to that modem period when the bank 
of Venice, of Amsterdam, &a, had implied as a cause, and 
had promoted as an effect, that new birth in the science of 
capital and its uses which the world has now gazed upon 
for three centuries and upwards as a gorgeous spectacle tower- 
ing to the clouds by its multitudinous creations. From this 
grand station, commanding both stages — ^the infancy and the 
maturity of the banking economy — and connecting them into 
one field of retrospect, let us ask what it is in the upshot 
that has been gained 1 In the Grecian infancy of its power, 
moneyed power (as regards the western regions of the ancient 
world) was first of all made safe. The temples (and probably 
in many instances under dim anticipations of future Persian 
invasions, or even of tumultuary invasions by mere Scythian, 
German, or Gaulish savages) were built with the strength of 
fortresses : not meant for the security of money, these massy 
temples had not the less benefited money. In that cradle of 
European culture, under the double protection of martial 
power and of rel^on, first of all we behold the great pro- 
ductive power of property, as yet indeed most slenderly 
applied to production, but still reposing in absolute safety. 
Under all this vast advantage as yet. however, it slumbers 



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92 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

passively, having very little more interest for society than 
simply as all property, however little employed productively, 
nevertheless (in the shape of expenditure as an income) 
unavoidably stimulates production. .But at the modem 
terminus of our long prospect we behold this property no 
longer inert and lifeless, but waking magically into a two- 
fold life. Money, to the confusion of the incredulous, now 
at last is found to produce money; and this intolerable 
paradox, as through so long a period it has been held, is 
accomplished oftentimes through another machinery equally 
paradoxical Not the proprietor of the money, in most cases, 
but an alien as regards any natural relations to the money, 
reaps the primary benefits from the property; and out of 
that seeming intrusion into another man's rights first of all 
it becomes possible that a bank should create an income for 
the true proprietor. This man's share of benefit is so far 
from being encroached upon by the alien employer of his 
property that, on the contrary, in the innumerable cases 
where the owner could not himself be the employer, it is 
only through this intrusion of an aHen party that the bank 
carves out a triple return : first, for itself ; secondly, for the 
commercial employer ; thirdly, for the sedentaiy and passive 
proprietor. 

Pausing for an instant, let us review the methods through 
which the bank organises such great results. All the little 
rills and runnels of surplus income scattered amongst 
numerous individuals, which in an uncommercial land could 
not find employment, and would lie as barren accumulation 
in domestic depositories, tempting the assaults of house- 
breakers, are converged by banks into large central reservoirs, 
from which they are speedily returned, through the channels 
of many commercial or manufacturing men, into the vast 
field of productive industry. What the bank does is essen- 
tially the function of a broker. The bank brings scattered 
interests into communication, and remote interests into con- 
tact Through this agency, the multitudes who have surplus 
money, and would be glad to lend it under any sufficient 
prospect of seeing it profitably employed, are brought face to 
face with the multitudes who wish to extend their means of 
creating such profitable employment And now, turning 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 93 

back to the great Oracular Temple of Delphi, we may trace 
more firmly and luminously the direct point of contact, or 
the more indirect and remote points of analogy, which con- 
nect the Delphic Temple with the machineries of banking. 
In the early and elementary stage of this great organ, we 
notice (as I remarked above) not so much the analogy, as the 
direct parity or identity, of their public ministrations. A 
modem bank contemplates, as its initial service, the safe 
keeping of the money confided to its care. The bank pro- 
vides a strong building, rooms specially protected against 
burglars, iron safes, proper attendants, and watchmen, to- 
gether with the means of rapid and authentic intelligence 
upon questions connected with the public securities of the 
national treasury, &c., and is able to distribute these great 
advantages amongst an immense number of customers at a 
cost to each which is little more than nominal. The Delphic 
Temple, upon terms essentially the same, but very much 
more costly, indemnified itself for the absolute security (both 
in its English and its Latin sense) ^ which it had created. 

What more did the bank of Delphi accomplish towards 
the development of the banking system than simply to make 
it safe ? Nothing. Then how was I entitled to say that 
Delphi & Co. exhibited strong features of analogy to our 
existing banks in their most improved state of efficiency ? 
The Bank of England at this day is prepared to stand a 
siege, if such a necessity should arise : only I fear that she is 
not victualled ; she has not laid in enough of biscuit How- 
ever, this is the uttermost extent of her martial capacities ; 
and Delphi could do as much, besides having actually done 
it. But what further lineaments of sisterly resemblance do 
we trace in the two banks 1 This one marked expression at 
the least we trace — viz. a systematic use of brokerage in the 
largest extent : by which term " brokerage " I understand a 

^ In English we understand by security neither more nor less than 
sc^ety : i.e. freedom from danger. But in Latin securUas means free- 
dom — not at all from danger, but from the sense of danger and its 
anxieties. A man is therefore in Latin often described as secwrus 
whilst on the brink of destruction, if only not conscious of his danger. 
Milton, in his occasional tendency to draw too emphatically upon the 
Latin elements in our language, has given to the word secure its Roman 
acceptation ; but he has hardly naturalised that use. 



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94 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

regular and known machinery for bringing into practical 
communication with each other parties that, but for this 
machinery, were too remote to have learned their reciprocal 
want& All people of rank and distinction, throughout 
Qreece and its dependencies or adjacencies, kept up a respect- 
ful intercourse with Delphi ; and consequently that great 
bank had the advantage of what might be called official 
reports from every comer of Hellas, and (if need arose) of 
reports circumstantially minute. Was it a high-bom lady 
with ample dowry leading a solitary life because no suitor of 
corresponding pretensions existed in her own neighbourhood ? 
The Oracle had a ready means for transmitting this intelli- 
gence to a remote quarter, where it would tell effectually. 
Was a call for colonisation becoming clamorous in some par- 
ticular region ? What more beneficial, or what more easy, 
than for the Oracle to forward this news by its own channels 
to a tract of country labouring (through causes casual or local) 
under an excess of pauperised population ? Or, if a chief- 
tain in the north were commencing a sumptuous palace, 
what should hinder the Oracle from forwarding that intelli- 
gence to the architects and decorators of the south ? Mr. 
Carlyle's impeachment of Poor-law arrangements, on the 
ground that they accumulated ploughs and ploughmen in one 
province, whilst the arable lands needing to be ploughed all 
lay in some other province, would hardly have existed under 
Delphi, or not as any subject of complaint where the remedy 
was so prompt The brief summary of Delphic administration 
was this : — ^It moved by secret springs : not being visibly or 
audibly displayed, it irritated no jealousiea Appealing to no 
coercive powers, but purely to moral suasion, it provoked no 
refractoriness. Combining with the very highest of religious 
influences that Hellas recognised, it insured a docile and a 
reverential acceptance for all its directiona And, finally, 
because this great Delphic establishment held in its hands the 
hidden reins from every province, therefore it was that out of 
universal Greece, as a body of wants, powers, slumbering 
activities, and undeveloped resources, Delphi would have con- 
structed, and did construct so far as her influence escaped the 
thwarting of cross currents, a system of political watch-work 
where all the parts and movements played into a common 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 95 

centre. We must remember that Greece, after all, and 
allowing for every class of drawbacks, was really the first 
region upon earth in which (as in our present Christendom) 
there had formed itself a system of international law, and 
fixed modes of diplomacy. Compare her, this Greece, with 
the wretched voluptuaries of Southern Asia, from Western 
Arabia and Persia to Eastern China, no matter wJien^ whether 
before or after Mahomet Greece, though beginning with 
institutions as to women too dangerously Asiatic, was yet 
never emasculated. Men, aspiring men, were what she still 
produced. And much of this great advantage she owed 
apparently to that difiFosive Delphic influence through which 
she nourished and expanded her unity, all parts existing for 
the sake of each, and each for all, in a degree of which no 
vestige was ever exhibited by the crazy and effeminate policy 
of any Asiatic state. 

Now, therefore, having laid the foimdations of a road for 
safe footing, let me march to m/y conclusion. The conclusion 
of the Fal£iers was the wildest of errors, into which they were 
misled by the most groundless of preconceptions. They 
started with the assumption that there was an essential 
hostility between Christianity and the primary pretensions of 
Oracles, consequently of Delphi as the supreme Oracle. And 
one result of this startling error was that they exacted as a 
debt from Christianity that esqn-esnon oi hostility which, 
except in a Patristic romance, never had any real existence. 
The Fathers regarded it as a duty of Christianity to destroy 
Oracles ; and, holding that baseless creed, some of them went 
on to affirm, in mere defiance of history, that Christianity 
had destroyed Oracles. But why did the Fathers fancy it so 
special a duty of the Christian faith to destroy Oracles ? 
Simply for these two reasons : viz. that 

1. Most falsely they supposed prophecy to be the main 
function of an Oracle ; whereas it did not enter as an element 
into the main business of an Oracle by so much as once in a 
thousand responses. 

2. Not less erroneously they assumed this to be the 
inevitable parent of a collision with Christianity. For all 
prophecy, and the spirit of prophecy, they supposed to be a 
regal prerogative of Christianity, — sacred, in fact, to the true 



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96 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

faith by some alienable right. But no such claim is any- 
where advanced in the Scriptures. And even a careless 
reader will remember one conspicuous case where a prophet 
of known hostility to the Hebrew interest and the Hebrew 
faith, and for that reason invoked and summoned to curse 
the children of Israel, is nevertheless relied on as a fountain 
of truth by the Hebrew leaders. 

But suppose that there really were any such exclusive pre- 
tension to prophecy on behalf of Christianity : what is pro- 
phecy ? The Patristic error is here intolerable. In order to 
make any comparison as to such a gift between the Qreek 
Oracles and Christianity, we must at least be talking of the 
same thing ; whereas nothing can be more extensively distin- 
guished from the vaticinations of the Pagan Oracle than pro- 
phecy as it is understood in the Bible. St. Paul is continually 
referring in his Epistles to gifts of prophecy : but does any 
man suppose this apostle to mean gifts as to the faculty of 
prediction 1 Nobody, of all whom St Paul was addressing, 
pretended to any qualifications of that nature. A prophet in 
the Bible nowhere means a foreseer or predicter. It means 
a person endowed with exegetic gifts : that is, with powers of 
interpretation applicable to truth hidden, or truth imperfectly 
revealed. AH profound and scriptural truth may be regarded 
as liable to misinterpretation, because originally lying under 
veils of shadowy concealment, many and various. He who 
removes any one of these varying obscurations — ^he who dis- 
plays in his commentaries the gifts of an exegetes or interpreter 
— ^is, in St. Paul's sense, a projphet. Now, among these ob- 
scuring causes, one is Time : some features of what is com- 
municated may chance to be hidden by the clouds which 
surround a distant future ; and in that sole case, one case 
amongst hundreds, the prophet coincides with the predicter. 
But in the vast majority of cases prophecy means the power 
of interpretation, or of commentary and practical extension, 
applied to scriptural doctrines : a sense not only irrelevant 
to the Oracles, but without purpose, or value, or meaning, to 
any Pagan whatever. So that competition from that quarter 
was the idlest of chimeras. Prophecy, therefore, in any sense 
ever contemplated by a Christian writer, covM not be violated 
or desecrated by any rival pretensions of Paganism, such as 



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THE PAGAN ORACLES 97 

the Fathers feared, inasmuch as all such pretensions on the 
part of Paganism were blank impossibilities. 

That falsification, therefore, of historic facts, by which the 
Fathers attempted to varnish and mystify the absolute in- 
difference of Christianity to the Oracles, falls away spon- 
taneously when the motive upon which it moved is exposed 
as frivolous and cbildish. Cleared from these gross mis- 
representations of the ill-informed, Oracles appear to have 
fulfilled a most important mission. As rationally might 
Christianity be supposed hostile to post-offices, or jealous of 
niail steamers, as indisposed to that oracular mission of which 
the noble purpose, stated in the briefest terms, was to knit 
the extremities of a state to its centre and to quicken the 
progress of civilisation. 

Why the Oracles really decayed I presume arose thus : — 
I have already noticed their loss of high political functions. 
This loss, though never intentionally offered as a degrada- 
tion, not the less had that result. During that long course 
of generations when princes or republics needed the co-opera- 
tion of Oracles that possessed worlds of local information, 
and that furnished the sanctions of heavenly authority, not 
at all less than the Oracles needed martial protection, the 
two powers were seen, or were felt obscurely, acting always 
in harmony and coalition. With us in Great Britain a man 
acquires the title of Bight Honourable by entering the Privy 
Council as a member. Some honour, or some distinction for 
the ear or for the eye, corresponding to this, no doubt settled 
upon the high officers at Delphi. They were probably 
regarded as honorary members of the national council that 
in one shape or other advised and assisted the ruler of every 
state having established relations with Delphi But these 
flattering distinctions would cease, or would become mere 
titular honours, when Delphi lost her connexion, and her 
right of suggestion, and her "voice potential," with the 
supreme government of her own land. With us, when a 
man has been presented to the sovereign, he obtains (or used 
to obtain), from the Lord Chamberlain, a sort of certificate 
which said " Mr. Thingamby is known at the Court of St. 
James " : Whether known for any good was civilly sup- 
pressed ; and this potent recognition enabled Thingamby to 

VOL. VII H 



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98 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEAROHES 

present himself as one having on a wedding garment, and 
admissible at any other court or courtlet whatsoever, except 
that of Ashantee. Let the reader honestly confess that he 
envies Thingamby. Now, it is not improbable that the high 
ministers at Delphi had a power equal to the Lord Chamber- 
lain's of certifying on behalf of any man going on his travels, 
were it Pythagoras or Solon, Herodotus or Plato, Anacharsis 
or Thingamby (every one of whom was a traveller), that the 
bearer is favourably known at Delphi. In the days of 
Delphic grandeur such an introduction would bear a high 
value at all the surrounding courts ; and this value would 
be multiplied in that age when the successors of Alexander 
had founded thrones stretching all the way from the Oxus 
to the Nile. But, after the Roman conquest of Greece and 
of Macedon, all this would collapse. A lai^e field of 
economic services would still remain open to the temple ; 
but the atmosphere of sanctity, with the faith in super- 
natural co-operation, would have suffered a shock. And the 
local agents, that once in every district had emulously dis- 
puted the glory of ranking in the long retinue of the god, 
and of the great lady seated on the tripod, would no longer 
find a sufficient indemnification for their labours in the glory 
of the service. Delphi, like the " Times " newspaper, would 
have to pay its agents ; and the clouded splendours of the 
Delphic shrine and temple would reflect themselves, as years 
went on, in the dilapidations of the town. Delphi, the city, 
must have been the creation of Delphi, the oracular temple ; 
and the dismantlings of both must have gone on under the 
same impulses, and thro.ugh corresponding stages ; so that 
either would reflect sufficiently to the other its own ruins 
and superannuations. When earthly grandeurs, however, 
were gone, there would still survive a large arrear of humbler 
and economic services, by which a decent revenue might be 
secured. And the true reason why the ceasing of Oracles 
was so variously timed and so vaguely dated is to be looked 
for precisely in this variable declension of humbler ministrar 
tions, through local ebbs and flows in casual advantages of 
position. The case recalls to my eye a scene exhibited in 
certain streets of London very early on a summer morning 
nearly forty-four years ago. It was high summer, in the 



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THE PAGAN ORACTiES 99 

year 1814. All the leaders, royal or not royal, in the three 
immortal campaigns of Moscow (1812), of Leipsic (1813), 
and of France (1814), were just then in London, and paying 
a visit of honour to our own Regent. There was the reign- 
ing King of Prussia, whom most people likened to "the 
knight of the rueful countenance." There was the king's 
sole faithful servant — Blucher. There was the imperial fop, 
Alexander, and in his train men of sixty different languages ; 
and, distinguished above all others that owed suit and ser- 
vice to this great potentate, rode Platoff, the Hetman of the 
Cossacks, specially beloved by all men as the most gallant, 
adventurous, and ugly of Cossacka These Cossacks, if one 
might believe the flying rumours, drank with rapture every 
species of train oiL The London lamps were then lighted 
with oil ; and the Cossacks, it was said, gave it the honour 
of a decided preference : so that, in streets lying near to the 
hetman's residence, to the north of Oxford Street, the lamps 
were observed to bum with a very variable lustre. In such 
a street I, and others, my companions, returning from a ball, 
about an hour before sunrise, saw a mimic sketch of the 
decaying Oracles. Here, close to the hetman's front-door, 
was a large overshadowing lamp, that might typify the 
Delphic shrine, but (to borrow a word from kitchen-maids) 
"black out." It was supposed to have been tapped too 
frequently by the hetman's sentinels who mounted guard on 
his Tartar Highness. Then, on the other side the street, was 
a lamp, ancient and gloomy, that might pass for Dodona, 
throwing up sickly and fitful gleams of undulatmg lustre, 
but drawing near to extinction. Further ahead was a huge 
octagon lamp, that apparently never had been cleaned from 
smoke and fuliginous tarnish, forlorn, solitary, yet grimly 
alight, though under a disastrous eclipse, and ably support- 
ing the part of Jupiter Ammon — that unsocial oracle which 
stood aloof from men in a narrow oasis belted round by 
worlds of sandy wilderness. And in the midst of all these 
vast and venerable mementoes rose one, singularly pert and 
lively, though not bigger than a farthing rushlight, which 
probably had singly escaped the Cossacks, as having promised 
nothing ; so that the least and most trivial of the entire 
group was likely to survive them all. 



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100 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Briefly, the Oracles went out — ^lamp after lamp — as we 
see oftentimes in some festal illumination that one glass 
globe of light capriciously outlives its neighbour. Or they 
might be described as melting away like snow on the gradual 
return of vernal breezes. Large drifts vanish in a few hours ; 
but patches here and there, lurking in the angles of high 
mountainous grounds, linger on into summer. Yet, what- 
ever might have been their distinctions or their advantages 
on collation with each other, none of the ancients ever 
appear to hav« considered their pretensions to divination or 
prescience (whether by the reading of signs, as in the flight 
of birds, in the entrails of sacrificial victims, or, again, in 
direct spiritual prevision) as forming any conspicuous feature 
of their ordinary duties. Accordingly, when Cato in the 
Pharsalia is advised by Labienus to seek the counsel of 
Jupiter Ammon, whose sequestered oracle was then near 
enough to be reached without much extra trouble, he replies 
by a fine abstract of what might be expected from an oracle : 
viz. not predictions, but grand sentiments bearing on the 
wisdom of life. These representative sentiments, as shaped 
by Lucan, are fine and noble ; we might expect it from a 
poet so truly Roman and noble. But he dismisses these 
oracular sayings as superfluous, because already familiar to 
meditative men. We know them, 

*' Scimus " — (says he) 
"Et hsBc nobis non altius inseret Ammon." 

And no Ammon will ever engraft them more deeply into 
my heart. 

This I mention, when concluding, as a further and col- 
lateral evidence against the Fathers. For, if any mode of 
prophetic illumination had been the sort of communication 
reasonably and characteristically to be anticipated from an 
Oracle, in that case Lucan would have pointed his artillery 
from a very different battery, — the battery of scorn and 
indignation. No people certainly covM be more superstitious 
than the Roman populace . witness the everlasting Bos 
locvtus est of the credulous Livy. Yet, on the other hand, 
already in the early days of Ennius, we know, by one of his 
beautiful fragments, that no nation could breed more high- 
minded denouncers of such misleading follies. 



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THE ESSENESi 



Part I. — The Tradition from Josbphus 

Some months back we published a little Essay, that might 
easily be expanded into a very large volume, and ultimately 
into a perfectly new Philosophy of Roman History, in proof 
that Rome was self-barbarised, — ^barbarised oJ intraj and not 
by foreign enemies. The evidences of this, (1) in the death 
of her literature, and (2) in the instant oblivion which 
swallowed up all public transactions, are so obvious as to 

^ The paper appeared originally in three parts in Blackwood^a 
Magaaine for January, April, and May 1840. When it was reprinted 
by De Qninoey in 1869, in the tenth volume of his Collected Writings, 
it was very much shortened by two omissions : viz. (1) the omission of 
the four introductory paragraphs to the whole, (2) the omission of 
Part II altogether. What may have been De Quincey's reasons for 
these omissions one cannot now conjecture, — if indeed he had any 
reasons, and the omissions were not in some manner the result of 
accident. In the case of the second and more important omission, it 
is possible that he was reserving the matter for some separate use, e.g. 
in an independent paper on Josephus generally, apart from Josephus 
as the describer of the Essenes, — which intention he did not live to 
carry out ; or it is just possible that, in one of his hours of somnolence 
in the last year of his life, his editorial vigilance failed him, so that 
this paper went to press with an unperceived gap in the copy. At all 
events, the omissions are so serious, and the second of them so affects 
the integrity and coherence of the paper, that the restoration of the 
omitted portions is imperative. The American edition, printing direct 
from Blackwood, gives the paper in its complete state ; and it would 
be an injury to it with its British readers to do otherwise in the 
present edition. The paper is, accordingly, here divided into three 
" Parts," as originally ; and to each part is prefixed what appears to 
be a suitable sub-title. — M. 



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102 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

challenge notice from the most inattentive reader.^ For 
instance, as respects the latter tendency, what case can be 
more striking than the fact that Trebellius Pollio,^ expressly 
dedicating himself to such researches, and having the state 
documents at his service, cannot trace, by so much as the 
merest outline, the biography of some great officers who had 
worn the purple as rebels, though actually personal friends 
of his own grandfather ? So nearly connected as they were 
with his own age and his own family, yet had they utterly 
perished for want of literary memorials ! A third indication 
of barbarism, in the growing brutality of the Army and the 
Emperor, is of a nature to impress many readers even more 
powerfully, and especially by contrast with the spirit of 
Roman warfare in its Republican period. Always it had 
been an insolent and haughty warfare ; but, upon strong 
motives of policy, sparing in bloodshed. Whereas, latterly, 
the ideal of a Roman general was approaching continually 
nearer to the odious standard of a caboceer amongst the 
Ashantees. Listen to the father of his people (Gallienus) 
issuing his paternal commands for the massacre, in cold 
blood, of a whole district — not foreign but domestic — after 
the offence had become almost obsolete : " Non satisfacies 
mihi, si tantum armatos occideris — quos et fors belli in- 
terimere potuisset. Perimendus est omnis sexus virilis " : 
and, lest even this sweeping warrant should seem liable to 
any merciful distinctions, he adds circumstantially — " Sic et 
senes atque impuberes sine mea reprehensione occidi possent." 
And thus the bloody mandate winds up : ** Occidendus est 
quicunque male voluit, occidendus est quicunque male dixit 
contra me : lacera, occide, concide." ^ Was ever such a 

^ The JEssay to which De Quincey refers is his "Philosophy of 
Roman History," which had appeared in Blackwood in November 1839, 
two months before the First Part of the present paper. See the 
Essay itaelf ante, Vol. VI. pp. 429-447.— M. 

* One of the writers of the Augustan History, living early in the 
fourth century. — M. 

' The quotations may be Englished thus : — * ' You will not satisfy me 
if you kill only the armed men, whom the mere chance of war itself 
might have cut off. The -whole male sex must be exterminated." — 
" There would be no blame from me if both the old and those not yet 
of age could be slain." — ** Let there be killed every one who has wished 
me ill ; let there be killed every one who has spoken ill against me : 
slash, kill, massacre." — M. 



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THE £:SS£NES 103 

rabid tiger found, except amongst the Hyder Alia or Nadir 
Shahs of half-civilized or decivilized tribes? Yet another 
and a very favourite Emperor outherods even this butcher, 
by boasting of the sabring which he had let loose amongst 
crowds of helpless women. 

The fourth feature of the Roman barbarism upon which 
we insisted, viz. the growing passion for trivial anecdotage in 
slight of aU nobler delineations, may be traced, in common 
with all the other features, to the decay of a public mind 
and a common connecHng vnterest amongst the different 
members of that vast imperial body. This was a necessity 
arising out of the m&rely persorutl tenure by which the throne 
was held. Competition for dignities, ambition under any form, 
could not exist with safety under circumstances which immedi- 
ately attracted a blighting jealousy from the highest quarter. 
Where hereditary succession was no fixed principle of state — ^no 
principle which all men were leagued to maintain — eveiyman, 
in his own defence, might be made an object of anxiety in pro- 
portion to his public merit. Not conspiring, he might still 
be placed at the head of a conspiracy. There was no oath of 
allegiance taken to the Emperor's family, but only to the 
Emperor personally. But, if it was thus dangerous for a 
man to offer himself as a participator in state honours, on 
the other hand it was impossible for a people to feel any 
living sympathy with a public grandeur in which they could 
not safely attempt to participate. Simply to be a member of 
this vast body was no distinction at all : honour could not 
attach to what was universal One path only lay open to 
personal distinction ; and tfuU, being haunted along its whole 
extent by increasing danger, naturally bred the murderous 
spirit of retaliation or pre-occupation. It is besides certain 
that the very change wrought in the nature of warlike 
rewards and honours contributed to cherish a spirit of 
atrocity amongst the officers. Triumphs had been granted of 
old for conquests ; and these were generally obtained much 
more by intellectual qualities than by any display of qualities 
merely or rudely martial. Triumphs were now forbidden 
fruit to any officer less than Augustan. And this one 
change, had there been no other, sufficed to throw the efforts 
of military men into a direction more humble, more directly 



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104 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

personal and more brutal It became dangerous to be too 
conspicuously victorious. Tbere yet remains a letter, amongst 
the few surviving from that unlettered period, which whispers 
a thrilling caution to a great officer not to be too meritorious : 
" Dignus eras triumpho," says the letter, " si antiqua tempora 
extarent." But what of that? What signified merit that 
was to cost a man his head ? And the letter goes on to add 
this gloomy warning — ^''Memor cujusdam ominis, cautivs 
velim vincas." ^ The warning was thrown away ; the man 
(Regillianus) persisted in these imprudent victories ; he was 
too meritorious ; he grew dangerous ; and he perished. Such 
examples forced upon the officers a less suspicious and a 
more brutal ambition. The laurels of a conqueror marked a 
man out for a possible competitor, no matter through whose 
ambition — his own in assuming the purple, or that of others 
in throwing it by force around him. The differences of 
guilt could not be allowed for where they made no difference 
in the result. But the laurels of a butcher created no 
jealousy, whilst they sufficed for establishing a camp re- 
putation. And thus the danger of a higher ambition threw 
a weight of encouragement into the lower and more brutal. 

So powerful, indeed, was this tendency — so headlong this 
gravitation to the brutal — that, unless a new force, moving 
in an opposite direction, had begun to rise in the political 
heavens, the Roman Empire would have become an organized 
engine of barbarism, — barbarous and making barbarous. 
This fact gives one additional motive to the study of Christian 
Antiquities, which on so many other motives interest and 
perplex our curiosity. About the time of Diocletian the 
weight of Christianity was making itself felt in high places. 
There is a memorable scene between that Emperor and a 
Pagan priest representing an Oracle (that is, speaking on 
behalf of the Pagan interests) full forty years before the 
legal establishment of Christianity, which shows how 
insensibly the Christian ffdth had crept onwards within the 
fifty or sixty years previous. Such hints, such ** momenta,*' 
such stages in the subtle progress of Christianity, should be 

^ * * You were worthy of a triumph, if the ancient times were still 
here." — "Mindful of a certain omen, I would have you conquer more 
cautiously." — M. 



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THE BSSENES 105 

carefully noted, searched, probed, improved. And it is 
partly because too little anxiety of research has been applied 
in this direction that every student of ecclesiastical history 
mourns over the dire sterility of its primitive fields. For 
the first three or four centuries we know next to nothing of 
the course by which Christianity moved, and the events 
through which its agency was developed. That it prospered, 
we know ; but how it prospered (meaning not through what 
transcendent cause, but by what circumstantial steps and 
gradatioDs) is painfully mysterious. And, for much of this 
darkness, we must confess that it is now past all human 
power of illumination. Nay, perhaps it belongs to the very 
sanctity of the struggle in which powers more than human 
were working concurrently with man that it should be lost 
(like much of our earliest antediluvian history) in a mysterious 
gloom, and for the same reason — viz. that, when man stands 
too near the super-sensual world, and is too palpably co- 
agent with schemes of Providence, there would arise, upon 
the total review of the whole plan and execution, were it all 
circumstantially laid below our eyes, too compulsory an 
evidence of a supernatural agency. It is not meant that 
men should be forced into believing : free agencies must be 
left to the human belief both in adapting and rejecting, else 
it would cease to be a moral thing or to possess a moral 
value. Those who were contemporary to these great agencies 
saw only in part ; the fractionary mode of their perceptions 
intercepted this compulsion from them. But, as to us who 
look back upon the whole, it would perhaps have been 
impossible to secure the same immunity from compulsion, 
the same integrity of the free, unbiassed choice, unless by 
darkening the miraculous agencies, obliterating many facts, 
and disturbing their relations. In such a way the equality is 
maintained between generation and generation ; no age is 
unduly favoured, none penuriously depressed. Each has its 
separate advantages, each its peculiar difficulties. The worst 
has not so little light as to have a plea for infidelity. The 
best has not so much as to overpower the freedom of election 
— a freedom which is indispensable to all moral value, 
whether in doing or in suffering, in believing or denying. 
Meantime, though this obscurity of Primitive Christianity 



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106 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

is past denying, and possibly, for the reason just given, not 
without an a priori purpose and meaning, we nevertheless 
maintain that something may yet be done to relieve it We 
need not fear to press into the farthest recesses of Christian 
Antiquity, under any notion that we are prying into 
forbidden secrets, or carrying a torch into shades consecrated 
to mystery. For, wherever it is not meant that we should 
raise the veil, there we shall carry our torch in vain. 
Precisely as our researches are fortunate, they authenticate 
themselves as privileged; and in such a chase aU success 
justifies itself. 

No scholar — not even the wariest — ^has ever read with 
adequate care those records which we still possess of Primitive 
Christianity. He should approach this subject with a vexa- 
tious scrutiny. He should lie in ambush for discoveries, 
as we did in reading Josephus.^ 

Let us examine his chapter on the Essenes, and open the 
very logic of the case, its very outermost outline, in these two 
sentences : A thing there is in Josephus, which ought not to 
be there ; this thing we will call Epsilon (E). A thing there 
is which ought to be in Josephus, but which is not ; this 
thing we propose to call (JM (X). 

The EpsHon, which ought not to be there, but is — what 
is that ? It is the pretended philosophical sect amongst the 
Jews to which Josephus gives the name of Essenes: this 
ought not to be in Josephus, nor anywhere else, for certain 
we are that no such sect ever existed. 

The Ghif which ought by every obligation — obligations of 
reason, passion, interest — to have been more broadly and 
emphatically present in the Judsean history of the Josephan 
period than in any other period whatever, but unaccoimtably 
is omitted — what is that ? It is, reader, neither more nor 
less than the new-bom brotherhood of Ch/ristians. The whole 
monstrosity of this omission will not be apparent to the 

^ Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historiaiii b. a.d. S7| d. about 
A.D. 100. His account of the Essenes is contained in portions of his 
History of the Jewish Wa/r and his Jewish Antiquities, — ^both of which 
books were written by him in Greek during his residence in Rome after 
he had left Judaea. — M. 



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THE ESSENES 107 

reader until Ms attention be pointed closely to the chrono- 
logical position of Josephus, — his longitude as respects the 
great meridian of the Christian era. 

The period of Josephus's connexion with Palestine, run- 
ning abreast (as it were) with that very generation succeed- 
ing to Christ — with that very Epichristian age, prolonging 
the generation of Christ, which dated from the Crucifixion, 
and terminated in the Destruction of Jerusalem — ^how ? by 
what possibility ? did he escape all knowledge of the Christ- 
ians as a body of men that should naturally have challenged 
notice from the very stocks and stones of their birthplace ; 
the very echo of whose footsteps ought to have sunk upon 
the ear with the awe that belongs to spiritual phenomena, 
that belongs to the bells of convents in the Desert long since 
dilapidated and surviving only in the traditions of Bedouins, 
that belongs (in the sublime expression of Wordsworth) to 
" echoes from beyond the grave.** There were circumstances 
of distinction in the very closeness of the confederation that 
connected the early Christians which ought to have made 
them interesting. But, waiving all that, what a supernatural 
awe must naturally have attended the persons of those who 
laid the comer-stone of their faith in an event so affecting 
and so appalling as the Resurrection ! The Ghi^ therefore, 
that should be in Josephus, but that is not, how can we 
suggest any approximation to a solution of this mystery ? 

True it is that an interpolated passage, found in all the 
printed editions of Josephus, makes him take a special and a 
respectful notice of Jesus Christ. But this passage has long 
been given up us a forgery by all men not lunatic. 

True it is that Whiston makes the astounding discovery 
that Josephus was himself an Ebionite Christian. Josephus 
a Christian ! In the instance before us, were it possible that 
he had been a Christian, in that case the wonder is many 
times greater that he should have omitted all notice of the 
whole body as a fraternity acting together with a harmony 
unprecedented amongst their distracted countrymen of that 
age, and, secondly, as a fraternity to whom was assigned a 
certain political aspect by their enemies. The civil and 
external relations of this new party he could not but have 
noticed, had he even omitted the religious doctrines which 



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108 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

bound them together internally, as doctrines too remote from 
Roman comprehension.^ In reality, so far from being a 
Christian, we can show that Josephus was not even a Jew 
in any conscientious or religious sense. He had never taken 
the first step in the direction of Christianity, but was, as 
many other Jews were in that age, essentially a pagan ; as 
little impressed with the true nature of the God whom his 
country worshipped, with his ineffable purity and holiness, 
as any idolatrous Athenian whatsoever. 

The wonder therefore subsists, and revolves upon us with 
the more violence after Whiston*s efforts to extinguish it, 
how it could have happened that a writer who passed his 
infancy, youth, manhood, in the midst of a growing sect so 
transcendently interesting to every philosophic mind, and 
pre-eminently so interesting to a Jew, should have left behind 
him, — in a compass of eight hundred and fifty-four pages, 
double columns (each column having sixty-five lines or a 
double ordinary octavo page), much of it relating to his own 
times, — not one paragraph, line, or fragment of a line, by 
which it can be known that he ever heard of such a body as 
the Christians ? 

And to our mind, for reasons which we shall presently 
show, it is equally wonderful that he should talk of the 
Essenes, under the idea of a known, stationary, original sect 
amongst the Jews, as that he should not talk of the Christ- 
ians, — equally wonderful that he should remember the 
imaginary as that he should forget the reaL There is not 
one diflSculty, but two difficulties ; and what we need is not 
one solution, but two solutions. 

If, in an ancient palace, reopened after it had been shut 
up for centuries, you were to find a hundred golden shafts 
or pillars for which nobody could suggest a place or a use, 
and if, in some other quarter of the palace, far remote, you 
were afterwards to find a hundred golden sockets fixed in the 
floor — first of all, pillars which nobody could apply to any 
purpose, or refer to any place ; secondly, sockets which 
nobody could fill — probably even " wicked Will Whiston " 

^ " Roman comprehension " : — The reader must remember that 
the audience addressed by Josephus was not a Jewish but a Roman 
audience. 



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THE ESSENES 109 

might be capable of a glimmering suspicion that the hundred 
golden shafts belonged to the hundred golden sockets. And, 
if, upon applying the shafts to the sockets, it should turn 
out that each several shaft screwed into its own peculiar 
socket, why, in such a case, not " Whiston, Ditton, & Co." 
could resist the evidence that each enigma had brought a key 
to the other, and that by means of two mysteries there had 
ceased even to be one mystery. 

Now, then, first of aU, before stating our objections to 
the Essenes as any permanent or known sect amongst the 
Jews, let us review as rapidly as possible the main features 
by which Josephus characterizes these supposed Essenes, and 
in a brief comment point out their conformity to what we 
know of the Primitive Christians. That done, let us en- 
deavour to explain all the remaining difficulties of the case. 
The words of Josephus we take from Whiston*s translation * ; 
for, if we gave our own version, we might seem to have 
coloured it so as to favour our own views. But we do this 
unwillingly : for Whiston was a poor Grecian ; and, what is 
worse, he knew very little about English. 

1. '* The third Sect " [i,e, third in relation to the Pharisees^ 
who rcmked as the first, and the Sadducees, who ranked as the 
second] " are called Essenes. These last are Jews by li/rih, and 
seem to have a greater affection for one another them the other 
sects have.'* 

We need not point out the strong conformity in this 
point to the distinguishing features of the new-born Christ- 
ians, as they would be likely to impress the eye of a 
stranger. Tliere was obviously a double reason for a stricter 
cohesion amongst the Christians internally than could by 
possibility belong to any other sect: Ist, in the essential 

^ "Genuine Works of Josephus Flavins, the Jewish Historian, 
translated from the original Greek, with proper Notes, &c. By 
William Whiston, M.A., London, 1787." Whiston (1667-1752), 
though perhaps most popularly remembered now by this translation of 
Josephus, was known in his life -time for various other works of 
theoretical scholarship and eccentric theological opinion. The phrase 
** Whiston, Ditton, & Co.," used above by De Quincey, is, as will 
afterwards appear, from a metrical squib of Dean Swift's, in which 
the name of Whiston is conjoined in very rough jest with that of 
another mathematician, Humphrey Ditton. — M. 



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no HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tendency of tlie whole Christian faith to a far more intense 
love than the world could comprehend, as well as in the 
express charge to love one another ; 2d, in the strong com- 
pressing power of external affliction, and of persecution too 
certainly anticipated. The little flock, turned out to face a 
wide world of storms, naturally drew close together. Over 
and above the indefeasible hostility of the world to a spiritual 
morality, there was the bigotry of Judaical superstition on 
the one hand, and the bigotry of Paganism on the other. 
All this would move in mass against nascent Christianity, so 
soon as that moved ; and well, therefore, might the instincts 
of the Early Christians instruct them to act in the very 
closest concert and communion. 

2. ** These men a/re despisers of richeSy and so very eom- 
rmmicative as raises owr admdration. Nor is there amy one 
to be found among them who ha^ more than another ; every 
one^s possessions are intermingled with every oth&i^s possessions, 
and so there is, as it were, one patrimony amumg aU the 
hrethrenP 

In this account of the " communicativeness," as to tem- 
poral wealth, of the third sect, it is hardly necessary that we 
should point out the mirror which it holds up to the habits 
of the very first Christians in Jerusalem, as we see them 
recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. This, the primary 
record of Christian History (for even the disciples were not 
in any full sense Christians until after the resurrection and 
the Divine afflatus), is echoed afterwards in various stages of 
Primitive Christianity. But all these subsequent acts and 
monuments of early Christian faith were derived by imita- 
tion and by sympathy from the apostolic precedent in 
Jerusalem; as that again was derived from the "common 
purse " carried by the twelve disciples. 

3. ** They have no certain city, hut numy of them dweU in 
every city; and, if any of their sect come from other places, 
whaJt ihey fund lies open for them just as if it were their oion : 
amd they go in to such as ihey never knew before, as if they had 
been ever so long acquainted with them.'* 

All Christian antiquity illustrates and bears witness to 
this, as a regular and avowed Christian habit To this 
habit point St PauFs expression of '^ given to hospitaMty** ; 



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THE ESSENES 111 

and many passages in all the apostolical writings. Like 
other practices, however, that had been firmly established 
from the beginning, it is rather alluded to, and indirectly 
taken for granted and assumed, than prescribed : expressly 
to teach or enjoin it was as little necessary, or indeed open 
to a teacher, as with us it would be open to recommend 
marriage. What Christian could be imagined capable of 
neglecting such an institution ? 

4. " For which reason they carry nothing with them when 
they traml into remote parts,^' 

This dates itseK from Christ's own directions (St Luke 
X. 3, 4) : "Go your way. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, 
nor shoes." And, doubtless, many other of the primitive 
practices amongst the Christians were not adopted without a 
special command from Christ, traditionally retained by the 
Church whilst standing in the same civil circumstances, 
though not committed to writing amongst the great press of 
matter circumscribing the choice of the Evangelists. 

5. " As for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary : 
for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profane matters, 
but put up certain prayers which they ha/oe received from their 
forefathers" 

This practice of crepuscular antelucan worship, possibly 
having reference to the ineffable mystery of the resurrection 
(all the Evangelists agreeing in the awful circumstance that 
it was very early in the morning, and one even saying, 
" whilst it was yet dark "), — a symbolic pathos which appeals 
to the very depths of human passion, as if the world of 
sleep and the anarchy of dreams figured to our apprehension 
the dark worlds of sin and death, — it happens remarkably 
enough that we find confirmed and countersigned by the 
testimony of the first open antagonist to our Christian faith. 
Pliny, in that report to Trajan so universally known to every 
class of readers, and so rank with everlasting dishonour to 
his own sense and equity, notices this point in the ritual of 
primitive Christianity. " However," says he, " they assured 
" me that the amount of their fault, or of their error, was 
** this, — that they were wont, on a stated day, to meet 
** together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ," 
&c. The date of Pliny's letter is about forty years after the 



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112 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

siege of Jerusalem, — about seventy-seven, therefore, after tlie 
Crucifixion, when Josephus would be just seventy-two years 
old.^ But we may be sure, from collateral records, and 
from the entire uniformity of Early Christianity, that a 
much longer lapse of time would have made no change in 
this respect. 

6. " They neglect wedlock ; bat they do not absolvJtely deny 
the fitness of marriage" 

This is a very noticeable article in his account of the 
Essenes, and powerfully illustrates the sort of acquaintance 
which Josephus had gained with their faith and usages. In 
the first place, as to the doctrine itself, it tallies remarkably 
with the leanings of St. Paul. He allows of marriage, over- 
ruled by his own moral prudence. But evidently his bias 
was the other way. And the allowance is notoriously a 
concession to the necessities which experience had taught 
him, and by way of preventing greater evils : but an evil, 
on the whole, it is clear that he regarded it. And naturally 
it was so in relation to that highest mode of spiritual life 
which the Apostles contemplated as a fixed ideal Moreover, 
we know that the Apostles fell into some errors which must 
have affected their views in these respects. For a time at 
least they thought the end of the world close at hand : who 
could think otherwise that had witnessed the awful things 
which they had witnessed, or had drunk out of the same 
spiritual cup? Under such impressions, they reasonably 
pitched the key of Christian practice higher than else they 
would have done. So far as to the doctrine here ascribed 
to the Essenes. But it is observable that in this place 
Josephus admits that these Essenes did tolerate marriage. 
Now, in his earlier notice of the same people, he had denied 
this. What do we infer from that ? Why, that he came to 
his knowledge of the Essenes by degrees, as would be likely 
to happen with regard to a sect sequestrating themselves and 

^ Pliny the younger was propnetor of the province of Bithynia and 
Pontus, in Asia Minor, from a.d. 103 to a.d. 105 ; and it was on the 
subject of the proper treatment of the Christians in that province that 
he wrote his famous letter to the Emperor Trajan and received that 
Emperor's reply. The siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus 
was in a.d. 70 ; and, if Josephus was alive at the date of Pliny's letter 
(which is doubtful), he was then about sixty-eight years of age. — M. 



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THE ESSENDS 113 

locking up Uieir doctrines as secrets : which description 
exactly applies to the earliest Christians. The instinct of 
self-preservation obliged them to retreat from notoriety. 
Their tenets could not be learned easily ; they were gathered 
slowly, indirectly, by fragments. This accounts for the fact 
that people standing outside, like Josephus or Philo^udaeus,^ 
got only casual glimpses of the truth, and such as were 
continually shifting. Hence at different periods Josephus 
contradicts himself. But, if he had been speaking of a sect 
as notorious as the Pharisees or Sadducees, no such error, 
and no such alteration of views, could have happened. 

7. '* They an eminent forfiddUy, and are the mmieUrs of 
Tpeace/* 

We suppose that it cannot be necessary to remind any 
reader of such characteristic Christian doctrines as '* Blessed 
are the peace-makers," &a, still less of the transcendent 
demand made by Christianity for singleness of heart, upright- 
ness, and entire conscientiousness; without which all pretences 
to Christian truth are regarded as mere hollow mockeries. 
Here, therefore, again we read the features, too plainly for 
any mistake, of pure Christianity. But, let the reader 
observe keenly, had there been this pretended sect of Essenes 
teaching all this lofty and spiritual morality, it would have 
been a fair inference to ask what more or better had been 
taught by Christ : in which case there might still, have re- 
mained the great redemptional and mediatorial functions for 
Christ ; but, as to his Divine morality, it would have been 
forestalled. Such would have been the inference, and it is 
an inference which really has been drawn from this romance 
of the Essenes adopted as true history. 

8. " WTiatsoever they say is firmer than an oath; hvi 
swearing is avoided by them; cmd they esteem U worse them 
perjwry,'' 

We presume that nobody can fail to recognise in this 
great scrupulosity the memorable command of Christ, de- 
livered in such unexampled majesty of language, " Swear not 
at all : neither by heaven, for it is Gbd's throne ; nor by the 
earth, for it is his footstool," &a This was said in condemna- 

^ Philo-Judseus, Jew of Alexandria, b. about b.c. 20, d. about 
A.D. 60.— M. 

VOL. VII I 



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114 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tion of a practice universal amongst the Jews ; and, if any 
man can believe that a visionary sect, of whom no man ever 
heard except through two writers both lying under the same 
very natural mistake, ^ could have come by blind accidents 
into such an inheritance of spiritual truth as is here described 
by Josephus, that man will find nothing beyond his credulity. 
For he presumes a revelation far beyond all the wisdom of 
the pagan world to have been attained by some unknown 
Jewish philosopher, so little regarded by his followers that 
they have not even preserved his name from oblivion. 

Amongst the initiatory and probationary vows which 
these sectarians are required to take is this — " That he will 
ever show fidelity to all men, and especially to those in 
avithorUy, because no (me obtains the government without God^s 
assistomce.'^ Here, again, we see a memorable precept of St. 
Paul and the Apostles generally, — the same precept, and 
built on the very same reason : viz. that rulers are of Gkni's 
appointment 

" They are long-lived also : insomuch that many of them 
live above a hundred years, by means of the simplicity of 
their diet." 

Here we are reminded of St. John the Evangelist : whilst 
others, no doubt, would have attained the same age, had they 
not been cut off by martyrdom. 

In many other points of their interior discipline, their 
white robes, their meals, their silence and gravity, we see in 
this account of the Essenes a mere echo of the primitive 
economy established among the first Christians, as we find 
it noticed up and down the Apostolical Constitutions. 

It is remarkable that Josephus notices, as belonging to 
the sect of the Essenes, the order of *' angels " or messengers. 
Now, everybody must remember this order of officers as a 
Christian institution noticed in the Apocalypse. 

Finally, in all that is said of the contempt which the 
Essenes showed for pain and death, and that, ^^aUhough 
tortured and distorted, burnt and torn to pieces, yet covM they 
not be made to flatter their tormentors, or to shed a tear, but thai 

^ The other writer refeiTed to is PhUo-Judaeus ; but the .books 
bearing his name in which the Essenes are mentioned are not now 
accepted as genuine. — M. 



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THE ESSENES 115 

they smiled in their very tormevUSf* &c., we see the regular 
habit of Christian martyrs through the first three centuries. 
We see that principle established amongst them so early as 
that first examination of Pliny's ; for he is so well aware how 
useless it would be to seek for any discoveries by torture 
applied to the Christian men that he resorts instantly to the 
torture of female seryants. The secrecy, again, as to their 
opinions, is another point common to the supposed Essenes 
and the Christians. Why the Essenes, as an orthodox 
Jewish sect, should have practised any secrecy, Josephus 
would have found it hard to say ; but the Christian reasons 
will appear decisive to any man who reflects. 

But, first of all, let us recur to the argument we have 
just employed, and summon you to a review of the New 
Testament Christ, during his ministry in Palestine, is 
brought as if by special arrangement into contact with all 
known orders of men : Scribes and Doctors, Pharisees and 
Sadducees, Herodians and followers of the Baptist, Roman 
officers insolent with authority, tax-gatherers the Pariahs of 
the land, Galileans the most undervalued of the Jews, 
Samaritans hostile to the very name of Jew, rich men 
clothed in purple and poor men fishing for their daily bread, 
the happy and those that sate in darkness, wedding parties 
and funeral parties, solitudes amongst hills or sea-shores and 
multitudes that could not be counted, mighty cities and 
hamlets the most obscure, golden sanhedrims and the 
glorious temple where he spoke to myriads of the wor- 
shippers, and solitary comers where he stood in conference 
with a single contrite heart Were the subject or the person 
different, one might ascribe a dramatic purpose and a scenical 
art to the vast variety of the circumstances and situations in 
which Christ is introduced. And yet, whilst all other sorts 
and orders of men converse with him, never do we hear of 
any interview between him and the Essenes. Suppose one 
Evangelist to have overlooked such a scene, another would 
not. In part, the very source of the dramatic variety in the 
New Testament scenes must be looked for in the total want 
of collusion amongst the Evangelists. Each throwing him- 
self back upon overmastering remembrances, all-glorified to 
his heart, had no more need to consult a fellow-witness than 



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116 HISTORICAL JSSSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

a man needs, in rehearsing tlie circumstances of a fijial part- 
ing with a wife or a child, to seek collateral vouchers for his 
facts. Thence it was, viz. because left to themselves, un- 
modified by each other, that they attained so much variety 
in the midst of so much inevitable sameness. One evangelist 
was impressed by thM, a second by (haL And thus it must 
have happened, amongst four, that at least one would have 
noticed the Essenes. But no one of the four Qospels alludes 
to them. The Acts of the Apostles, again, whether by a 
fifth author or not, is a fifth body of remembrances, a fifth 
act of the memory applied to the followers of Christ. Yet 
neither does this notice them. The Apocalypse of St. John, 
reviewing the new Church for a still longer period, and 
noticing all the great outstanding features of the state 
militant then unrolling for Christianity, says not one word 
about them. St. Peter, St James, utterly overlooked them. 
Lastly, which weighs more than all the rest, St. Paul, the 
learned and philosophic apostle, bred up in all the learning 
of the most orthodox amongst the Jews, gives no sign that 
he had ever heard of such people. In short, to sum up all 
in one sentence, the very word Essene and Essenes is not 
found in the New Testament 

Now, is it for one moment to be credited that a body of 
men so truly spiritual in the eternals of their creed, what- 
ever might be the temporals of their practice, should have 
won no word of praise from Christ for that by which they so 
far exceeded other sects — no word of reproach for that by 
which they might happen to &11 short of their own profes- 
sion — no word of admonition, founded on the comparison 
between their good and their bad, their heavenly and 
earthly ? Or, if that had been supposable, can we believe 
that Christ's enemies, so eager as they showed themselves to 
turn even the Baptist into a handle of reproach against the 
new teacher, would have lost the overwhelming argument 
derived from the Essenes ? "A new command I give unto 
you." " Not at all," they would have retorted. " Not at all 
new. Everything spiritual in your ethics has been antici- 
pated by the Essenes." It would have been sdleged that the 
function of Redeemer for Israel was to be judged and tried 
by the event The only instcmt touch-stone for the preten- 



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THE ESSENES 117 

sions of Christ lay in the Divine character of his morality, 
and the spirituality of that worship which he taught. 
Miracles were or were not from Qod, according to the 
purposes to which they ministered. That moral doctrine 
and that worship were those purpose& By these only they 
could try the soundness of all beside ; and, if these had been 
forestalled by the Essenes, what remained for any new 
teacher or new founder of a religion) In fact, were the 
palpable lies of this Jew -traitor built on anything but 
delusions misinterpreted by his own ignorant heart, there 
would be more in that one tale of his about the Essenes to 
undermine Christianity than in all the batteries of all the 
infidels to overthrow it No infidel can argue away the 
spirituality of the Christian religion : attacks upon miracles 
leave ihai unaffected. But he who (confessing the spirituality) 
derives it from some elder and unknown source at one step 
evades what he could not master. He overthrows without 
opposition, and enters the citadel through ruins caused by 
internal explosion. 

What then is to be thought ? If this deathlike silence 
of all the evangelists, and all the apostles, makes it a mere 
impossibility to suppose the existence of such a sect as the 
Essenes in the time of Christ, did such a sect arise after- 
wards, viz. in the Epichristian generation ? ^ Or, if not, 

^ ** Epichristian** : — This term, introduced to meet a neceflsity of the 
case, may be explained thus : That particular age or generation (of 
twenty or thirty years, suppose) which witnesses the first origin of 
any great idea, system, discovery, or revelation, rarely indeed wit- 
nesses the main struggle and opening rush of its evolution. Exactly 
as any birth promises vast results for man, it may be expected to 
slumber and gather silently, like what housemaids call a gathering- 
coal, through perhaps one generation. Then, suddenly kindling, and 
spreading by ratios continually accelerated, it rushes into the fulness 
of life with the hurry of a vernal resurrection in Sweden. Such a 
secondary generation, therefore, supervening upon the very earliest 
which dates from the first infant germs, is the season of true and 
virtual birth : but still, according to the letter of chronological prece- 
dency, it is not so. In order, therefore, to reconcile the apparent with 
the substantial truth, I speak of all agencies that belonged to the 
primary movements of Christianity as I^Jmstian, — that is, as 
essentially forming elements in the original machinery through which 
that revelation revolved, though generally not coming into mature 
action until the generation that succeeded. 



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118 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

how and by what steps came up the romance we have been 
considering ? Was there any substance in the tale ? Or, if 
positively none, how came the fiction ? Was it a conscious 
lie ? Was it a mistake ? Was it an exaggeration ? 

Now, our idea is as follows : — ^What do we suppose the 
early Christians to have been called ? By what name were 
they known amongst themselves and amongst others? 
Ghristiaiu? Not at alL When it is said, "The disciples 
were first called Christians at Antioch," we are satisfied that 
the meaning is not — "This name, now general, was first 
used at Antioch " ; but " Whereas we followers of Christ 
generally call one another, and are called, by a particular 
name X, — ^in Antioch that name wew not used ; but from 
the very beginning they were called by another name, viz. 
Christians." At all events, since this name Christian was 
confessedly used at Antioch before it was used anywhere 
else, there must have been another name elsewhere ifor the 
same people. What was that name ? It was " The Brethren " 
(pt dScA^i) ; and at times, by way of variety, to prevent 
the awkwardness of too monotonously repeating the same 
word, perhaps it was " The Failhful " (ot Trurrol), The name 
Ghrutians travelled, we are convinced, not immediately 
amongst themselves, but slowly amongst their enemies. It 
was a name of reproach; and the meaning was — "We 
pagans are all worshippers of gods, such as they are ; but 
this sect worships a man, and that man a malefactor." For, 
though Christ should properly have been known by his 
name, — which was Jesus, — ^yet, because his crime, in the 
opinion of the ^Jews, lay in the office he had assumed in 
having made himself the Ghristos^ the anointed of God, there- 
fore it happened that he was published amongst the Roman 
world by that name : his offence, his " titulua " on the cross 
(the King, or the Anointed) was made his Roman name. 
Accordingly Tacitus, speaking of some insurgents in Judea, 
says that "they mutinied under the instigation of Christ, 
their original ringleader (impulsare Chresto)" ^ And no doubt 

^ Christ — whereas naturally Tacitus should have used the name of 
the chief insurgent — impulsore Jesu ; but he does not, because the 
assumption of royalty by anointing had caused the name to merge in 
the offence. 



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THE ESSENES 119 

it had become a scoffing name, until the Christians disarmed 
the scoff of its sting by assuming it themselves ; as was done 
in the case of " ITie Beggars " in the Netherlands, of " The 
Methodists" in England, of <'The Blacksmith" in Persia, &c. 
Meantime what name did the Christians bear in Uieir 
birthplace 1 Were they called " The Brethren " there ? No. 
And why not ? Simply because it had become too danger- 
ous a name. To be bold, to affix>nt all reasonable danger, 
was their instinct and their duty, but not to tempt utter 
extinction or utter reduction to imbecility. We read amiss 
if we imagine that the fiery persecution which raged against 
Christ had burnt itself out in the act of the crucifixion. It 
slept, indeed, for a brief interval : but that was from 
necessity ; for the small flock of scattered sheep easily secreted 
themselves. No sooner did they multiply a little, no sooner 
did their meetings again proclaim their ** whereabouts," than 
the snake found them out, again raised its spiry crest amongst 
them, and again crushed them for a time. The martyrdom 
of St. Stephen showed that no jesting was intended. It was 
determined that examples should be made. It was resolved 
that this revolt against the Temple (the Law and the Prophets) 
must be put down. The next event quickened this. agency 
sevenfold. A great servant of the Persecution, in the very 
agony of the storm which he was himself guiding and 
pointing, working the very artillery of Jerusalem upon some 
scent which his bloodhounds had found in Syria, suddenly, 
in one hour, passed over to the enemy. What of that ? 
Did that startle the Persecution ? Probably it did : failure 
from within was what they had not looked for. But the 
fear which it bred was sister to the wrath of helL The 
snake turned round ; but not for flight. It turned to fasten 
upon the revolter. St. Paul's authority as a leader in the 
Jewish councils availed bim nothing after this. Orders were 
undoubtedly expedited from Jerusalem to Damascus, as soon 
as messengers could be interchanged, for his assassination. 
And assassinated he would have been, had he been twenty 
St Pauls, but for his secret evasion, and his flight to Arabia. 
Idumea, probably a sort of Ireland to Judea, was the country 
to which he fled ; where again he might have been found 
out, but his capture would have cost a negotiation ; and in 



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120 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

all likelihood lie lay unknown amongst crowds. Nor did he 
venture to show his face again in Jerusalem for some years ; 
and then again not till a term of fourteen years, half a 
generation, during which many of the burning zealots, and 
of those who could have challenged him personally as the 
great apostate, must have gone t^ their last sleep. 

During the whole of this novitiate for Christianity, and 
in fact throughout the whole Epichristian era, there was a 
brooding danger over the name and prospects of Christianity. 
To hold up a hand, to put forth a head, in the blinding 
storm, was to perish. It was to solicit and tempt destruc- 
tion. That could not be right. Those who were answerable 
for the great interest confided to them, if in their own persons 
they might have braved the anger of the times, were not at 
liberty to do so on this account, — that it would have stopped 
effectually the expansion of the Church. Martyrdom and 
persecution formed the atmosphere in which it throve, but 
not the frost of death. What, then, did the fathers of the 
Church do ? You read that, during a part of this Epi- 
christian age, "the churches had peace." True, they had 
so. But how ? 

It was thus : — They said to each other, "If we are to 
stand such consuming fires as we have seen, one year will 
finish us all. And then what will become of the succession 
that we are to leave behind us ? We must hide ourselves 
effectually. And this can be done only by symbolizing ; 
i,e. conducting our inter -communications through conven- 
tional signs. Any lesser disguise our persecutors will pene- 
trate. But this, whilst effectually baffling them for the 
present, will also provide for the future nursing of an infant 
Church." They proceeded, therefore, thus : — *^Let there be 
darkness," was the first word of command ; " let us muffle 
ourselves in thick clouds which no human eye can penetrate. 
And towards this purpose let us immediately take a symbolic 
name. And, because any name that expresses or implies a 
secret fraternity — a fraternity bound together by any hidden 
tie or purpose — will instantly be challenged for the Christian 
Brotherhood under a new mask, instantly the bloody San- 
hedrim will get to their old practices, torturing our weaker 
members [as afterwards the cruel Pliny selected for torture 



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THE ESSENES 121 

the poor frail women-servants of the brethren], and the wolf 
will be raging amongst our folds in three months : therefore 
two things are requisite : one, that this name which we 
assume shall be such as to disarm suspicion [in this they 
acted upon the instinct of those birds which artfully con- 
struct signs and appearances to tempt away the fowler from 
their young ones] ; the other, that, in case, after all, some 
suspicion should arise, and the enemy again break in, there 
must be three or four barriers to storm before he can reach, 
or even suspect, the stronghold in the centre." 

Upon this principle all was arranged. First, for the 
name that was to disarm suspicion : what name could do 
that ? Why, what wcu the suspicion ? A suspicion that 
Christian embers were sleeping under the ashes. True : but 
why was that suspicious ? Why had it ever been suspicious ? 
For two reasons : because the Christian faith was supposed 
to carry a secret hostility to the Temple and its whole ritual 
economy ; secondly, for an earnest political reason, '.because 
it was believed to tend, by mere necessity, to such tumults, 
intrigues, and fermenting cabals on revolutionary principles 
of movement, as would furnish the Roman, on tiptoe for this 
excuse, with a plea for taking away the Jewish name and 
nation, — ^that is, for taking away their Jewish autonomy (or 
administration by their Mosaic code), which they still had, 
though otherwise in a state of dependency. Now, then, to 
meet this mode of suspicion no name could be so admir- 
ably fitted as one drawn from the very ritual service of that 
very Temple which was supposed to be in danger. That 
Temple wets in danger : the rocks on which it stood were 
already quaking beneath it. All was accomplished. Its 
doom had gone forth. Shadows of the coming fate were 
spreading fast before it. Its defenders had a dim misgiving 
of the storm that was gathering. But they mistook utterly 
the quarter from which it was to come. And they closed 
the great gates against an enemy that entered by the postern. 
However, in any case, they could not apprehend a foe in a 
society that professed a special interest in Israel. The name 
chosen, therefore, was derived from the very costume of the 
Jewish High Priest, the pontifical ruler of the Temple. 
This great officer wore upon his breast a splendid piece of 



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122 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

jewellery; twelve precious stones were inserted in the 
breastplate, representing the twelve sons of Jacob, or twelve 
tribes of Israel ^ : and this was caUed The Essen, Conse- 
quently, to announce themselves as the Society of the Essen 
was to express a peculiar solicitude for the Children of 
Israel. Under this mask nobody could suspect any hostility 
to Jerusalem or its Temple ; nobody, therefore, under the 
existing misconception of Christian objects and the Christian 
character, could suspect a Christian Society. 

But was not this hypocritical dii^ise ? Not at alL A 
profession was thus made of paramount regard to Judea and 
her children. Why not I Christians everywhere turned 
with love, and yearning, and thankfulness the profoundest, 
to that " Holy City " (so called by Christ himself) which had 
kept alive for a thousand years the sole vestiges of pure faith, 
and which, for a far longer term, mystically represented that 
people which had known the true God ** when all our fathers 
worshipped stocks and stones." Christians, or they would 
have been no Christians, everywhere prayed for her peace. 
And, if the downfall of Jerusalem was connected with the 
rise of Christianity, that was not through any enmity borne 
to Jerusalem by Christians (as the Jews falsely imagine), but 
because it was not suitable for the majesty of God, as the 
Father of Truth, to keep up a separation amongst the nations 
when the fulness of time in his counsels required that all 
separation should be at an end. At his bidding the Temple 
had been raised. At his bidding the Temple must be 
destroyed. Nothing could have saved it but becoming 
Christian. The end was accomplished for which it had 
existed : a great river had been kept pure, that was now in 
the very act and process of disemboguing itself into main ocean. 

But, as to any hypocrisy in the fathers of this indispens- 
able scheme for keeping alive the fire that burned on the 
altar of Christianity, that was impossible. So far from need- 

1 " The Twelve Tribes " : — It is a beautiful circumstance in the 
symbology of the Jewish ritual, where all is symbolic and all signifi- 
cant, where all in Milton's language " was meant mysteriously," that 
the Ten Tribes were not blotted out from the breastplate after their 
revolt ; no, nor after their idolatrous lapse, nor after their captivity, 
nor after their supposed utter dispersion. Their names still burned 
in the breastplate, though their earthly place knew them no more. 



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THE ESSENES 128 

ing to assume more love for Judaism tlian they really had, 
we know that their very infirmity was to have by much too 
sectarian and exclusive a r^;ard for those who were repre- 
sented by the Temple. The Bible, which conceals nothing 
of any men's errors, does not conceal that And we know 
that all the weight of the great intellectual apostle was 
necessary to overrule the errors, in this point, of St. Peter, 
backed no doubt by a party. The fervid apostle erred ; and 
St. Paul ^* withstood him to his face.'' But his very error 
proves the more certainly his sincerity and singleness of 
heart in setting up a society that should profess in its name the 
service of Jerusalem and her children as its primary function. 
The name Essen and Essenes was sent before to disarm 
suspicion, and as a pledge of loyal fidelity to a patriotic interest. 
Next, however, this society was to be a secret society ; an 
Eleusinian society, a Freemason society. For, if it were not, 
how was it to provide for the culture of Christianity ? Now, 
if the reader pauses a moment to review the condition of 
Palestine and the neighbouring countries at that time, he 
will begin to see the opening there was for such a Society. 
The condition of the times was agitated and tumultuous 
beyond anything witnessed amongst men, except at the 
Reformation, and at the French Revolution from 1789 to 
1794. The flame on the pagan altars was growing pale, the 
oracles over the earth were muttering their alarm, panic 
terrors were falling upon nations, whispers circulating from 
nobody knew whence that out of the East about this time 
should arise some great and mysterious deliverer. This 
whisper had spread to Rome, — ^was current everywhere. It 
was one of those awful whispers that have no author. 
Nobody could ever trace it. Nobody could ever guess by 
what path it had travelled. Like pestilence, it moved in 
darkness. But observe : in that generation, at Rome and all 
parts of the Mediterranean to the west of Palestine, the word 
"Oriens" had a technical and limited meaning; it was 
restricted to Syria, of which Palestine formed a section. 
This use of the word will explain itself to anybody who 
looks at a map of the Mediterranean as seen from Italy. 
But, some years after the Epichristian generation, the word 
began to extend ; and very naturally, as the Roman armies 



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124 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

began to make permanent conquests near to the Euphrates. 
Under these remarkable circumstances, and agitated be- 
yond measure between the oppression of the Roman armies 
on the one hand, and the belief of an immediate Divine 
relation on the other, all thoughtful Jews were disturbed in 
mind. The more conscientious, the more they were agitated. 
Was it their duty to resist the Romans ? Gkd could deliver 
them, doubtless; but God worked oftentimes by human 
means. Was it his pleasure that they should resist by arms ? 
Others again replied, " If you do, then you prepare an excuse 
for the Romans to extirpate your nation." Many, again, 
turned more to religious hopes : these were they who, in 
scriptural language, " waited for the consolation of Israel," — 
that is, they trusted in that Messiah who had been promised, 
and they yearned for his manifestation. They mourned over 
Judea ; they believed that in a spiritual sense she had 
rebelled ; but she had been afflicted, and perhaps her trans- 
gressions might now be blotted out. Of this class was he 
who took Christ in his arms when an infant in the Temple. 
Of this class were the two rich men, Joseph and Nicodemus, 
who imited to bury him. But even of this class many there 
were who took different views of the functions properly 
belonging to the Messiah ; and many that, either through 
this difference of original views, or from imperfect acquaint- 
ance with the life of Jesus, doubted whether he were indeed 
the promised Messiah. Even John the Baptist doubted this ; 
and his question upon that point, addressed to Christ himself, 
" Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ? '* 
has been generally fancied singularly at war with his own 
earlier testimony, " Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh 
away the sins of the world." But perhaps it is not. The 
offices of inspired intercourse with the coming changes for 
Israel were prophetically announced as revolving through a 
succession of characters — Elias, "that prophet," and the 
Messiah. The series might even be more complex. And 
the Baptist^ who did not know himself to be Elias, might 
reasonably be in doubt (and ai a time when hie career vxm only 
beginning) whether Jesus were the Messiah. 

Now, out of these mixed elements — ^men in every stage 
and gradation of belief or spiritual knowledge, but all musing. 



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THE ESSEN£S 125 

pondering, fermenting in tbeir minds ; all tempest-sliaken, 
sorrow-haunted, perplexed, hoping, seeking, doubting, trusting 
— ^the Apostles would see abundant means for peopling the 
lower or initiatory ranks of their new Society. Such a 
craving for light from above probably never existed. The 
land was on tiie brink of convulsions, and all men felt it. 
Even amongst the rulers in Jerusalem had been some who 
saw the truth of Christ's mission, though selfish terrors had 
kept back their testimony. From every rank and order of 
men the meditative would crowd into a society where they 
would all receive sympathy whatever might be their views, 
and many would receive light. 

This Society, how was it constituted ? In the innermost 
or central class (which, remember, is the masked and secret 
class) were placed, no doubt, all those, and those only, who 
were thoroughly Christians. The danger was from Christi- 
anity. And this danger was made operative only by associat- 
ing with the mature and perfect Chiistian any false brother, 
any half-Christian, any hypocritical Christian, any wavering 
Christian. To meet this danger there must be a winnowing 
and a sifting of all candidates. And, because the danger was 
awful, involving not one but many, not a human interest but 
a heavenly interest, therefore these winnowings and siftings 
must be many, must be repeated, must be soul-searching. 
Nay, even that will not suffice. Oaths, pledges to Qod as 
well as to man, must be exacted. All this suppose done : 
serpents by experience, in the midst of their dove-like faith, 
the Apostles acted as wise stewards for God. They surrounded 
their own central consistory with lines impassable to treachery. 
Josephus, the blind Jew (blind in heart, we mean, and under- 
standing), reporting a matter of which he had no compre- 
hension, nor could have : even this man, in his utter darkness, 
telegraphs to us by many signals, — ^rockets thrown up, which 
come round, and are visible to us, but unseen by Aim, — what 
it is that the Apostles were about. He tells us expressly 
that a preparatory or trial period of two years was exacted 
of every candidate before his admission to any order ; that, 
after this probationary attendance is finished, " i^ej are parted 
into four classes *' ; and these classes, he tells us, are so 
severely separated from all intercommunion that merely to 



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126 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEARCHES 

have touched each other was a pollution requiring a solemn 
purification. Finally, as if all this were nothing, though 
otherwise disallowing of oaths, yet, in this as in a service of 
(Jod, oaths which Josephus styles " tremendous " are exacted 
of each member that he will reveal nothing of what he 
learns. 

Who can fail to see, in these multiplied precautions for 
guarding what according to Josephus is no secret at all, nor 
anything approaching to a secret, that here we have a central 
Christian Society, secret from necessity, cautious to excess 
from the extremity of the danger, and surrounding themselves 
in their outer rings by merely Jew pupils, but Jews whose 
state of mind promised a hopeful soil for the solemn and 
affecting discoveries which awaited them in the higher stages 
of their progresa Here is the true solution of this mysteri- 
ous society, The Essenes, never mentioned in any one record 
of the Christian generation, and that because it first took its 
rise in the necessities and subtle dangers of the Epichristian 
generation. There is more by a good deal to say of these 
Essenes ; but this is enough for explaining their position. 
And, if any man asks how they came to be traced to so 
fabulous an antiquity, the account now given easily explains 
that Three authors only mention them — Pliny, Philo- 
Judeeus, and Josephus. Pliny builds upon these two last 
and other Jewish romancers. The two last may be con- 
sidered as contemporaries. And all that they allege as to 
the antiquity of the sect flows naturally from the condition 
and circumstances of the ovierma^ {or purely Jew) circle in the 
series of the classes. These were occupied exclusively with 
Judaism. And Judaism had in fact, as we all know, that 
real antiquity in its people, and its rites, and its symbols, 
which these unimtiated authors understand and fancy to 
have been meant of the Esseries as a total sect 



Part IL — Of Josbphxjs generally 

We have sketched rapidly, in the first part of our essay, 
some outline of a theory with regard to the Essenes, con- 
fining ourselves to such hints as are suggested by the accounts 



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THE ESSENES 127 

of this sect in Josephas. And we presume that most readers 
will go along with us so far as to acknowledge some shock, 
some pause, given to that blind acquiescence in the Bible 
statement which had hitherto satisfied them. By the Bible 
statement we mean, of course, nothing which any inspired 
part of the Bible tells us — on the contrary, one capital 
reason for rejecting the old notions is, the total silence of 
the Bible ; but we mean that little explanatory note on the 
Essenes which .our Bible translators under James I. have 
thought fit to adopt, and in reality to adopt from Josephus, 
with reliance on his authority which closer study would 
have shown to be unwarranted.^ 

We do not wonder that Joeephus has been misappreciated 
by Christian readers. It is painful to read any author in a 
spirit of suspicion ; most of all, that author to whom we 
must often look as our only guide. Upon Josephus we are 
compelled to rely for the most affecting section of ancient 
history. Merely as a scene of human passion, the main 
portion of his Wars transcends, in its theme, all other 
histories. But, considered also as the agony of a mother 
church out of whose ashes arose, like a phcBnix, that filial 
faith " which passeth all understanding," the last conflict of 
Jerusalem and her glorious temple exacts from the devotional 
-*x>nscience as much interest as would otherwise be yielded 
by our human sympathies. For the circumstances of this 
struggle we must look to Josephus : him or none we must 
accept for witness. And in such a case how painful to 
suppose a hostile heart in every word of his deposition ! 
Who could bear to take the account of a dear friend's last 
hours and farewell words from one who confessedly hated 
him ? — one word melting us to tears, and the next rousing 
us to the duty of jealousy and distrust ! Hence we do not 
wonder at the pious fraud which interpolated the well-known 
passage about our Saviour.^ Let us read any author in those 
circumstances of time, place, or immediate succession to the 

^ For a more precise explanation of this reference, see some sub- 
sequent sentences at pp. 236-7. — M. 

^ The famous passage in Josephus making honourable mention of 
Christ occurs in Chap. 8, Book XVIIl, of the ArUiquitieit. Its 
genuineness is still maintained by some. — M. 



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128 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

cardinal events of our own religion, and we shall £bid it a 
mere postulate of the heart, a mere necessity of human 
feeling, that we should think of him as a Christian ; or, if 
not absolutely that, as every way disposed to be a Christian, 
and falling short of that perfect light only by such clouds as 
his hurried life or his personal conflicts might interpose. 
We do not blame, far from it — we admire those who find it 
necessary (even at the cost of a little self-delusion) to place 
themselves in a state of charity with an author treating such 
subjects, and in whose company they were to travel through 
some thousands of pages. We also find it painful to read an 
author and to loathe him. We, too, would be glad to sup- 
pose, as a possibility about Josephus, what many adopt as a 
certainty. But we know too much. Unfortunately, we 
have read Josephus with too scrutinizing (and, what is more, 
with too combining) an eye. We know him to be an un- 
principled man, and an ignoble man ; one whose adhesion to 
Christianity would have done no honour to our fedth — one who 
most assuredly was not a Christian — one who was not even in 
any tolerable sense a Jew— one who was an enemy to owr 
faith, a traitor to his own : as an enemy, vicious and ignorant ; 
as a traitor, steeped to the lips in superfluous baseness. 

The vigilance with which we have read Josephus has 
(amongst many other hints) suggested some with regard to 
the Essenes : and to these we shall now make our own readers 
a party, — after stopping to say that thus far, so far as we 
have gone already, we count on their assent to our theory, 
were it only from those considerations : — First, the exceeding 
improbability that a known philosophic sect amongst the 
Jews, chiefly distinguished from the other two by its raoral 
aspects, could have lurked unknown to the Evangelists ; 
secondly, the exceeding improbability that such a sect, 
laying the chief burden of its scrupulosity in the matter of 
oaths, should have bound its members by 'tremendous" 
oaths of secrecy in a case where there was nothing to conceal ; 
thirdly, the staring contradictoriness between such an avowal 
on the part of Josephus and his deliberate revelation of what 
he fancied to be their creed. The objection is too inevitable • 
either you have taken the oaths or you have not You 
haA)e? Then by your own showing you are a perjured 



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THE ESSENES 129 

traitor. You have not ? Then you coafess yourself to 
speak from no personal knowledge. How can you know 
anything of their secret doctrines ? The seal is wanting to 
the record. 

However, it is possible that some people will evade this 
last dilemma by suggesting that Josephus wrote for Roman 
readers — for strangers — and for strangers after any of his 
countrymen who might be interested in the secret had 
perished : if not personally perished, at least as a body 
politic The last vestiges of the theoretical government had 
foundered with Jerusalem ; and it might be thought by a 
better man than Josephus that all obligations of secrecy had 
perished in the general wreck. 

We need not dispute that point There is enough in 
what remains. The positive points of contact between the 
supposed Essenes and the Christians are too many to be got 
over. But upon these we will not at present insist. In 
this place we confine ourselves to the two points : 1. Of the 
universal silence amongst Christian writers, who, of all 
parties, would have felt it more essential to notice the 
Essenes, had there existed such a sect antecedently to 
Christ : and, 2. Of the absurdity involved in exacting an in- 
exorable concealment from those who had nothing to reveal. 

But then recollect, reader, precisely the Christian truths 
which stood behind the exoteric doctrines of the Essenes were 
the truths hidden from Josephus. Reason enough there was 
for concealment, if the Essenes were Christians ; and reason 
more than was ever known to Josephus. But then this 
reason for concealment in the Essenes could be known only 
to him who was aware that they had something to conceal. 
He who saw only the masque, supposing it to be the true 
fiEice, ought to have regarded the mystifying arrangements 
as perfect mummery. He that saw the countenance behind 
the masque, — a countenance sweet as Paradise, but fearful 
as the grave at that particular time in Jerusalem, — would 
never ask again for the motives to this concealment. Those 
he would apprehend in a moment. But, as to Josephus, 
who never had looked behind the masque, the order for con- 
cealment, the adjurations to concealment, the vows of con- 
cealment, the adamantine walls of separation between the 

VOL. VII K 



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ISO HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

different orders of the fraternity in order to ensure conceal- 
ment, ought to have been, must have been regarded by him, 
as the very hyperbole of childishness. 

Partly because Josephus was in this state of darkness, 
partly from personal causesi, has he failed to clear up the 
secret history of Judea in her final, that is her Epichnstian, 
generation. The evidences of his having fiBdled are two : 
1st, the absolute fact, as existing in his works ; which pre- 
sent us with, a mere anarchy of incidents, as regards the 
politics of his own times, under no law of cohesion whatso- 
ever, or of intelligible derivation ; 2dly, the a priori 
necessity that he should fail; a necessity laid in the very 
situation of Josephus — as a man of servile temper placed 
amongst elements that required a Maccabee, and as a man 
without principle, who could not act so that his actions 
would bear to be reported without disguise, and as one in 
whom no confidence was likely to be lodged by the managers 
of great interests, or the depositaries of great secrets. 

This view of things summons us to pause, and to turn 
aside from our general inquiry into a special one as to 
Josephu& Hitherto we have derived our arguments on the 
Essenes from Josephus as a wUling witness — a volunteer 
even. But now we are going to extort our arguments ; to 
torture him, to put him on the rack, to force him into con- 
fession, and upon points which he has done his best to 
darken by throwing dust in the eyes of us alL Why ? — 
because hand -in-hand with the truth must go the exposure 
of himself. Josephus stands right in the very doorway of 
the lightj purposely obscuring it A glare comes round by 
side snatches, — oblique rays, stray gleams, from the truth 
which \e so anxiously screens. But> before the real state of 
things can be guessed at, it is necessary to destroy this man's 
character.^ 

^ The following is a summary of those facts in the life of Josephus 
which De Quincey assumes in this chapter as known to his readers in a 
general way : — In a.d. 67, when Josephus was about thirty years of 
age, and had distinguished himself on the patriotic side in the final 
revolt of the Jews against the tyranny of the Roman procurators, — 
for he had acted for some time as Jewish Governor of the revolted 
Galilee, and had at last obstinately maintained the defence of the 
Galilean city of Jotapata against the Roman General Vespasian, 



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THE ESSENES 181 

Now, let us try to appreciate the exact position and 
reasonable credibility of Josepbus, as he stands at present, 
midway between ns, a distant postisrity, and his own country- 
men of his own times, sole interpreter, sole surviving reporter, 
having all things his own way, nobody to contradict him, 
nobody to taint his evidence with suspicion. His case is 
most remarkable, and yet, though remarkable, is not so rare 
but that many times it must have occurred in private (some- 

who had been sent by the Emperor Nero to crush the revolt, — 
it became his settled conviction that farther resistance to the Romans 
was hopeless. Hence, having come into the custody of Vespasian, 
and his life having been spared by Vespasian on the intercession 
of his son Titns, he had comported himself as one reconciled 
to the inevitable and entitled to do his best for his own future 
interests. It was a great stroke in this direction when, by a confi- 
dential communication to Vespasian to the effect that he knew from 
the sacred books of the Hebrews that the Empire was to pass to 
Vespasian and his son Titus, and that he had been commissioned by 
God to reveal the fact, he won the supreme place among all his 
vanquished countrymen in the favour of these two Roman conquerors. 
Vespasian, to complete the subjugation of Judaea, had begun the siege 
of Jerusalem, when, a.d. 70, the soldiery of the East did proclaim him 
Emperor, and thus fulfil in part the prophecy of Josephus. The 
consequence for Josephus was his immediate release from the nominal 
captivity in which he had been held for three years, and his closer 
intimacy than ever with Titus, whom Vespasian's departure for Italy 
to assume the purple had left in charge of the siege of Jerusalem and 
the other incidents in the winding up of the Jewish War. As far as 
Josephus is concerned, this summary of the sequel of his life, quoted 
from Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Itoman Biogra/phy^ may 
suffice : — ''He was present with Titus at the siege of Jerusalem, and 
" was suspected as a traitor both by the Jews and Romans. From 
" the anger of the latter he was saved by Titus ; through whose 
" favour also he was able to preserve the lives of his brother and of many 
" others after the capture of the city. Having been presented with a 
" grant of land in Judaea, he accompanied Titus to Rome, and received 
" the freedom of the city from Vespasian, who assigned him, as a 
'' residence, a house formerly occupied by himself, and treated him 
*' honourably to the end of his r^ign. The same favour was extended 
" to him by Titus and Domitian as well [a.d. 79-96], the latter 
" of whom made his lands in Judaea free from tribute. He mentions 
*' also that he received much kindness from Domitia, the wife of 
" Domitian. The name of Flavitu he assumed as a dependant of the 
" Flavian family [the family to which Vespasian, Titus, and 
** Domitian belonged]. His time at Rome appears to have been 
" employed mainly in literary pursuits and in the composition of his 
«• works."— M. 



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182 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

times in public) life. It is the case of a solitary individual 
surviving out of a multitude embarked in a desperate enter- 
prise — some playing one part (a part, suppose, sublime and 
heroic), some playing another (base, treacherous, fiendish). 
Suddenly a great convulsion involves all in one common 
ruin, this man only excepted. He now finds himself with a 
carte blanche before him, on which he may inscribe whatever 
romance in behalf of himself he thinks proper. The whole 
field of action is open to him, — the whole field of motivea 
He may take what side he will. And be assured that, what- 
ever part in the play he assumes, he will give himself the 
best of characters. For courage you will find him a Mac- 
cabee. His too tender heart interfered, or he could have 
signalized his valour even more emphatically. And, de- 
scending to such base things as treasures of money, jewels, 
land, &C., the chief part of what had been captured was of 
course (strictly speaking) his own property. What impudent 
falsehood, indeed, may such a man not bring forward, when 
there is nobody to confront him ? 

But vxu there nobody ? Reader, absolutedy nobody. 
Prisoners captured with himself at Jotapata there were none 
— not a man. That fact, indeed, the inexorable fact, that 
he only endured to surrender — ^that one fact, taken with the 
commentary which we could furnish as to the circumstances 
of the case and the Jewish casuistry under those circum- 
stances, is one of the many damning features of his tale. But 
was there nobody, amongst the ninety thousand prisoners 
taken at Jerusalem, who could have spoken to parts of this 
man's public life ? Doubtless there were ; but to what pur- 
pose for people in their situation to come forward ? One and 
all, positively without a solitary exception, they were them- 
selves captives, slaves condemned, despairing. Ten thousand 
being selected for the butcheries of the Syrian amphitheatres, 
the rest were liable to some punishment equally terrific ; 
multitudes were perishing of hunger; under the mildest 
award, they were sure of being sentenced to the stone quarries 
of Egypt Wherefore, in this extremity of personal misery 
and of desperate prospects, should any man find himself at 
leisure for a vengeance on one happier countryman which 
could bring no profit to the rest ? Still, in a case so question- 



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THE ESSENES 183 

able as that of Josephus, it is possible enough that Titus 
would have sought some further light amongst the prisoners 
under any ordinary circumstancea In his heart, the noble 
Roman must have distrusted Josephus and his vainglorious 
account of himsell There were circumstances outstanding, 
many and strong, that must have pointed his suspicions in 
that direction ; and the very conversation of a vilkdn is sure 
to entangle him in contradictions. But it was now too late 
to move upon that inquest Josephus himself acknowledges 
that Vespasian was shrewd enough from the first to suspect 
him for the sycophantish knave that he was. But that time 
had gone by. And, in the interval, Josephus had used his 
opportunities skilfully ; he had performed that particular 
service for the Flavian family which was the one desideratwm 
they sought for and yearned for. By his pretended dreams, 
Josephus had put that seal of heavenly ratification to the 
ambitious projects of Vespasian which only was wanting for 
the satisfaction of his soldiers. The service was critical. 
What Titus said to his father is known : — This man, be he 
what he may, has done a service to vs. It is not for men 
of rank like us to haggle and chaffer about rewards. Having 
received a favour, we must make the reward princely, — not 
what he deserves to receive, but what is becoming for us to 
grant On this consideration these great men acted Sensible 
that, not having hanged Josephus at first, it was now become 
their duty to reward him, they did not do the thing by 
halves. Not content with releasing him from his chains, 
they sent an officer to cut his chains to pieces — that being a 
symbolic act by which the Romans abolished the very memory 
and legal record that ever a man had been in confinement 
The fact is that amongst the Roman public virtues in that 
age was an intense fidelity to engagements ; and, where they 
had even tacitly permitted a man to form hopes, they ful- 
filled them beyond the letter. But what Titus said to his 
staff, though naturally not put on record by Josephus, was very 
probably this : — *' Gentlemen, I see you look upon this Jew 
as a poltroon, and perhaps worse. Well, possibly we don't 
much differ upon that point But it has become necessary 
to the public service that this man should be reinstated in 
credit He will now, perhaps, turn over a new leaf. If he 



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134 HISTORICAL ESSAYS ANI> RESEARCHES 

does not, kick him to Hades. But, meantime, give the man 
a trial." 

Such, there can be little doubt, was the opinion of Csesar 
about this man. But now it remains to give our own, with 
the reasons on which it rests. 

I. — First of all — which we bring merely as a proof of his 
habitual mendacity — in one of those tongue-doughty orations 
which he represents himself as having addressed to the men 
of Jerusalem, they standing on the walls patiently, with 
paving-stones in their hands, to hear a renegade abuse them 
by the hour (such is his lying legend), Josephus roundly 
asserts that Abraham, the patriarch of their nation, had an 
army of three hundred and sixty thousand troops, that ia, 
somewhere about seventy -five legions : an establishment 
beyond what the first Csesars had found requisite for master- 
ing the Mediterranean Sea with all the nations that belted it 
— that is, a ring-fence of five thousand miles by seven hundred 
on an average. Now, this is in the style of the Baron Mun- 
chausen. But it is worthy of a special notice for two 
illustrations which it offers of this renegade's propensities. 
One is the abject homage with which he courted the Roman 
notice. Of this lie, as of all his lies, the primary purpose is 
to fix the gaze and to court the admiration of the Romans. 
Judea, Jerusalem — these were objects never in his IJioughts ; 
it was Rome, the haven of his apostasy, on which his anxieties 
settled. Now, it is a judgment upon the man who carried 
these purposes in his heart — ^it is a judicial retribution — ^that 
precisely this very lie, shaped and pointed to conciliate the 
Roman taste for martial splendour, was probably the very 
ground of that disgust which seems to have alienated Tacitus 
from his works. Apparently Josephus should have been the 
foremost authority with this historian for Jewish affairs. But 
enough remains to show that he was not ; and it is clear that 
the confidence of so sceptical a writer must have been shaken 
from the very first by so extravagant a tale. Abraham, a 
mere stranger and colonist in Syria, whose descendants in the 
third generation mustered only seventy persons in emigrating 
to Egypt, is here placed at the head of a force greater than 
^at empires had commanded or had needed. And from 



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THE BSSENES 185 

what resources raised ? From a little section of Syria, which 
(supposing it even the personal domain of Abraham) could 
not be equal to Wales. And for what objects ? To face 
what enemies ? A handful of robbers that might congregate 
in the desert Such insufferable fairy tales must have vitiated 
the credit even of his rational statements ; and it is thus 
pleasant to see the apostate missing one reward which he 
courted, purely through his own eagerness to buy it at the 
price of truth. But a second feature which this story betrays 
in the mind of Josephus is the thorough defect of Hebrew 
sublimity and scriptural simplicity which marks his entire 
writing. How much more impressive is the picture of 
Abraham, as the father of the faithful, the selected servant 
and feudatory of Qod, sitting in the wilderness, majestically 
reposing at the door of his tent, surrounded by a little camp 
of servants and kinsmen, a few score of camels and a few 
herds of cattle, than in the melodramatic attitude of a 
general, belted and plumed, with a glittering staff of officers 
at his orders ? But the mind of Josephus, always irreligious, 
was now violently warped into a poor imitation of Boman 
models. He absolutely, talks of " Uberty " and ^^ glory *' as the 
moving impulses of Hebrew saints, and does his best to 
translate the Maccabees, and many an elder soldier of the 
Jewish faith, into poor theatrical mimics of Spartans and 
Thebans. This depravity of taste, and abjuration of his 
national characteristics, must not be overlooked in estimating 
the value whether of his opinions or his statements. We 
have evidence superabundant to these two features in the 
character of Josephus : that he would distort everything in 
order to meet the Boman taste, and that he had originally no 
sympathy whatsoever with the peculiar grandeur of his own 
country. 

11. — It is a remarkable fact that Josephus never speaks 
of Jerusalem and those who conducted its resistance but in 
words of abhorrence, and of loathing that amounts to frenzy. 
Now in what point did they differ from himself ? Change 
the name Judea to Galilee, and the name Jerusalem to Jota- 
pata, and their case was his ; and the single difference was 
that the men whom he reviles as often as he mentions them 



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136 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

had persevered to martyrdom, whilst he — he only — had 
snatched at life under any condition of ignominy. But pre- 
cisely in that difference lay the ground of his hatred. He 
could not forgive those whose glorious resistance glorious, 
were it even in a mistaken cause) emblazoned and threw into 
relief his own apostasy. This we cannot dwell on ; but we 
revert to the question — What had the people of Jerusalem 
done which Josephus had not attempted to do ? 

III. — Whiston, another Caliban worshipping another 
Trinculo, finds out a divinity in Josephus, because, on being 
brought prisoner to Vespasian, he pretended to have seen in 
a dream that the Roman general would be raised to the 
purple. Now, 

1. When we see Cyrus lurking in the prophecies of Isaiah, 
and Alexander in those of Daniel, we apprehend a reasonable- 
ness in thus causing the spirit of prophecy to settle upon 
those who were destined to move in the great cardinal revolu- 
tions of this earth. But why, amongst all the Caesars, must 
Vespasian^ in particular, be the subject of a prophecy, and a 
prophecy the most thrilling, from the mysterious circum- 
stances which surrounded it^ and from the silence with which 
it stole into the mouths of all nations ? The reigns of all 
the three Flavian Caesars, — Vespasian, with his sons Titus and 
Domitian, — were memorable for nothing : with the sole excep- 
tion of the great revolution in Judea, none of them were 
marked by any great event ; and all the three reigns com- 
bined filled no important space of time. 

2. If Vespasian, for any incomprehensible reason, were 
thought worthy of being heralded by a prophecy, what logic 
was there in connecting him with Syria? That which raised 
him to the purple, that which suggested him to men's minds, 
was his military eminence, and this was obtained in Britain. 

3. If the mere local situations from which any uninterest- 
ing emperor happened to step on to the throne merited 
this special glorification from prophecy, why was not many 
another region, town, or village, illustrated in the same 
way ? That Thraciaii hamlet from which the Emperor 
Maximin arose had been pointed out to notice before the event 
as a place likely to be distinguished by some great event 



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THE ESSBNES 137 

And yet, because this prediction had merely a personal refer- 
ence, and no relation at all to any great human interest, it 
was treated with little respect, and never crept into a general 
circulation. So of this prophecy with respect to one who 
should rise out of the East, and should ultimately stretch 
his sceptre over the whole world {rervm potiretur) : if Josephus 
is allowed to ruin it by his sycophancy, instantly, from the 
rank of a Hebrew prophecy — a vision seen by "the man 
whose eyes Qod had openewi " — it sinks to the level of a 
vagrant gipsy's gossip. What ! shall Rome combine with 
Jerusalem 1 — for we find this same mysterious prediction 
almost verbally the same in Suetonius and in Tacitus, no 
less than in the Jewish prophets. Shall it stretch not only 
from the east to the west in point of space, but through the 
best part of a thousand years in point of time, all for the 
sake of preparing one day's adulatory nvazuvy by which a 
trembling Jew may make his propitiation to an intriguing 
lieutenant of Csesar ? And how came it that Whiston (who, 
to do him justice, was too pious to have abetted an infidel 
trick, had his silliness suffered him to have seen through it) 
failed to perceive this consequence ? If the prophecy before 
us belong to Vespasian, then does it not belong to Christ. 
And in that case the worst error of the Herodian Jews, who 
made the Messiah prophecies terminate in Herod, is ratified 
by Christians ; for between Herod and Vespasian the differ- 
ence is none at all, as regards any interest of religion. Can 
human patience endure the spectacle of a religious man, for 
perfect folly, combining in their very worst efforts with those 
whom it was the object of his life to oppose ? 

4. But, finally, once for all, to cut sharp off by the roots 
this corruption of a sublime prophecy, and to re-enthrone it 
in its ancient sanctity, it was not in the " Orient " (which 
both technically meant Syria in that particular age, and is 
acknowledged to mean it here by all parties) that Vespasian 
obtained the purple. The oracle, if it is to be translated 
from a Christian to a Pagan oracle, ought at least to speak 
the truth. Now, it happens not to have been Syria in which 
Vespasian was saluted Emperor by the legions, but Alex- 
andria : a city which in that age was in no sense either in 
Syria or in Egypt So that the great prophecy, if it is once 



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188 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHBS 

suffered to be desecrated by Josephus, fails even of a literal 
fulfilment. 

IV. — Meantime, all this is a matter of personal falsehood 
in a case of trying personal interest. Even under such a 
temptation, it is true that a man of generosity, to say no- 
thing of principle, would not have been capable of founding 
his own defence upon the defamation of his nobler com- 
patriots. But in fiEU^t it is ever thus : he who has sunk 
deepest in treason is generally possessed by a double measure 
of rancour against the loyal and the faithful. What follows, 
however, has respect, not to truth personal, truth of fact, 
truth momentary, but to truth absolute, truth doctrinal, 
truth eternal. Let us preface what we are going to say by 
directing the reader's attention to this fact : how easy it is to 
observe any positive feature in a man's writings or conversa- 
tion, how rare to observe the negative features. The presence 
of this or that characteristic is noticed in an hour, the absence 
shall often escape notice for years. That a friend, for in- 
stance, talks habitually on this or that literature, we know 
as familiarly as our own constitutional tastes ; that he does 
not talk of any given literature (the Greek, suppose) may fail 
to strike us through a whole life, until somebody happens to 
point our attention in that direction, and then perhaps we 
notice it in every hour of our intercourse. This only can 
excuse the various editors, commentators, and translators of 
Josephus, for having overlooked one capital omission in this 
author : it is this — Never in one instance does Josephus allvde 
to the great prophetic doctrine of a Messiah, To suppose him 
ignorant of this doctrine is impossible ; it was so mixed up 
with the typical part of the Jewish religion, so involved in 
the ceremonies of Judaism, even waiving all the Jewish 
writers, that no Jew whatever, much less a master in Israel, 
a Pharisee, a doctor of the law, a priest, all which Josephus 
proclaims himself, could fail to know of such a doctrine, even 
if he fouled to understand it, or failed to appreciate its 
importance. 

Why, then, has Josephus suppressed it ? For this reason : 
the doctrine offers a dilemma — a choice between two inter- 
pretations, one being purely spiritual, one purely political. 



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THE ESSENBS 139 

The first was offensive and unintelligible (as was everything 
else in his native religion beyond the merely ceremonial) to 
his own worldly heart ; the other vsmld hem been offmswe 
to the Eomans, The mysterious idea of a Redeemer, of a 
Deliverer, if it were taken in a vast spiritual sense, was a 
music like the f&bled Arabian voices in the desert — utterly 
inaudible when the heart is deaf, and the sympathies un- 
tuned. The fleshly mind of Josephus everywhere shows its 
incapacity for any truths but those of sense. On the other 
hand, the idea of a political deliverer — that was comprehen- 
sible enough ; but, unfortunately, it was too comprehensible. 
It was the very watchword for national conspiracies ; and 
the Romans would state the alternative thus : The idea of a 
great deliverer is but another name for insurrection against 
us ; of a petty deliverer, is incompatible with the grandeur 
implied by a vast prophetic machinery. Without knowing 
much, or caring anything, about the Jewish prophecies, the 
Romans were sagacious enough to perceive two things — 1st, 
that most nations, and the Jews above all others, were 
combined by no force so strongly as by one which had the 
reputation of a heavenly descent ; 2dly, that a series of pro- 
phecies stretching from the century before Cyrus to the 
age of Pericles (confining ourselves to the prophets from Isaiah 
to Haggai) was most unlikely to find its adequate result and 
consummation in any petty change — any change short of a 
great national convuLsion or revolution. 

Hence it happened that no mode in which a Roman writer 
eotUd present the Jewish doctrine of a Messiah was free from 
one or other of the objections indicated by the great Apostle : 
either it was too spiritual and mysterious, in which case it 
was ^'foolishness'' to himself; or it was too palpably the 
symbol of a political interest^ too real in a worldly sense, in 
which case it was a '' stone of offence " to his Roman patrons 
— generally to the Roman people, specially to the Roman 
leaders. Josephus found himself between Scylla and Gha- 
rybdis if he approached that subject And therefore it was 
that he did not approach it 

V. — Yet, in this evasion of a theme which interested 
every Jew, many readers will see only an evidence of that 



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140 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

timidity and servile spirit which must, of coarse, be pre- 
sumed in one who had sold the cause of his country. His 
evasion, they will say, does not argue any peculiar careless- 
ness for truth ; it is simply one instance amongst hundreds 
of his mercenary cowardice. The doctrine of a Messiah was 
the subject of dispute even to the Jews — the most religiouB 
and the most learned. Some restrained it to an earthly sense ; 
some expanded it into a glorified hope. And, though a 
double sense will not justify a man in sHghting both senses, 
still the very existence of a dispute about the proper accept- 
ation of a doctrine may be pleaded as some palliation for a 
timid man in seeking to pass it svh sUentio, But what shall 
we say to this coming count in the indictment ? Hitherto 
Josephus is only an apostate, only a traitor, only a libeller, only 
a false witness, only a liar, and, as to his Jewish faith, only 
perhaps a coward, only perhaps a heretic But now he 
will reveal himself (in the literal sense of that word) as a 
miscrecmt ; one who does not merely go astray in his faith, as 
all of us may do at times, but pollutes his faith by foul 
adulterations, or undermines it by knocking away its props 
— a mwbeliever, not in the sense of a heterodox believer, who 
errs as to some point in the superstruction, but as one who 
unsettles the foundations, the external substructions. In 
one short sentence Josephus is not ashamed to wrench out 
the keystone from the great arch of Judaism : so far as a 
feeble apostate's force will go, he unlocks the whole cohesion^ 
and security of that monumental faith upon which, as its 
basis and plinth, is the " star-ypointing " column of our 
Christianity. He delivers it to tibie Romans, as sound Phari- 
saic doctrine, that God had enjoined upon the Jews the duty 
of respectful homage to all epichorial or national deities — to 
all idols, that is to say, provided their rank were attested by 
a suitable number of worshippers. The Romans applied 
this test to the subdivisions amongst princes : if a prince 
ruled over a small number of subjects, they called him (with- 
out reference to the original sense of the word) a tetrarch ; if 
a certain larger number, an ethnarch; if a still larger number, 
a king. So, again, the number of throats cut determined the 
question between a triumph and an ovation. And upon the 
same principle, if we will believe Josephus, was regulated 



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THE ESSENES 141 

the public honour due to the Pagan deities. Count his 
worshippers ; call the roll over. 

Does the audacity of man present us with such another 
instance of perfidious miscreancy % God the Jehovah anxious 
for the honour of Jupiter and Mercury ! God, the Father 
of light and truth, zealous on behalf of those lying deities, 
whose service is everywhere described as "whoredom and 
adultery " ! He who steadfastly reveals himself as ^a jealous 
God,'' jealous also (if we will believe this apostate Jew) on 
behalf of that impure Pantheon who had counterfeited his 
name and usurped His glory ! Reader, it would be mere 
mockery and insult to adduce on this occasion the solemn 
denunciations against idolatrous compliances uttered through 
the great lawgiver of the Jews — the unconditional words of 
the two first commandments — ^the magnificent thunderings 
and lightnings upon the primal question — in the twenty- 
eighth chapter of Deuteronomy (which is the most awftd 
peroration to a long series of prophetic comminations that 
exists even in the Hebrew literature), or to adduce the end- 
less testimonies to the same effect, so unvarying, so profound, 
from all the Hebrew saints, beginning with Abraham and 
ending with the prophets, through a period of fifteen hundred 
years. 

This is not wanted : this would be superfluous. But 
there is an evasion open to an apologist of Josephus, which 
might place the question upon a more casuistical footing. 
And there is also a colourable vindication of the doctrine in 
its very worst shape, viz* in one solitary text of the English 
Bible, according to our received translation.^ To this' latter 
argument, the answer is : jvrst, that the word gods is there a 
mistranslation of an Oriental expression for princes ; secondly ^ 
that an argument from an English version of the Scriptures 
can be none for a Jew writing a.d. 70 ; thirdly y that, if a 
word, a phrase, an idiom, cotUd be alleged from any ancient 
and contemporary Jewish Scripture, what is one word against 
a thousand — ^against the whole current (letter and spirit) of 
the Hebrew oracles; what, any possible verbal argument 
against that which is involved in the acts, the monuments, 

^ Perhaps Exodus xxii. 28, — " Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor 
curse the ruler of thy people." — M. 



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142 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

the sacred records of the Jewish people ? But this mode of 
defence for Josephus will scarcely be adopted. It is the 
amended form of his doctrine which will be thought open to 
apology. Many will think that it is not the worship of 
false gods which the Jew palliates, but simply a decent 
exterior of respect to their ceremonies, their ministers, their 
altars : and this view of his meaning might raise a new and 
large question. 

This question, however, in its modem shape, is nothing 
at all to us, when applying ourselves to Josephus. The 
precedents from Hebrew antiquity show us that not merely 
no respect, no lip honour, was conceded to false forms of 
religion, but no toleration — not the shadow of toleration : 
"Thine eye shall not spare them," And we must all be 
sure that toleration is a very diflFerent thing indeed when 
applied to varieties of a creed essentially the same — toleration 
as existing amongst us people of Christendom, or even when 
applied to African and Polynesian idolatries, so long as we 
all know that the citadel of truth is safe — ^from the toleration 
applied in an age when the pure faith formed a little island 
of light in a world of darkness. Intolerance the most 
ferocious may have been among the sublimest of duties when 
the truth was so intensely concentrated, and so intensely 
militant ; all advantages barely sufficing to pass down the 
lamp of religion from one generation to the next The 
contest was for an interest then riding at single anchor. 
This is a very possible case to the understanding. And 
that it was in fact the real case, so that no compromise 
with idolatry could be suffered for a moment, — that the 
Jews were called upon to scx>ff at idolatry and spit upon it, 
to trample it under their feet as the spreading pestilence 
which would taint the whole race of man irretrievably unless 
defeated and strangled by them, — seems probable in the 
highest degree from the examples of greatest sanctity amongst 
the Jewish inspired writers. Who can forget the blasting 
mockery with which Elijah overwhelms the prophets of Baal 
— the greatest of the false deities, Syrian or Assyrian — whose 
worship had spread even to the Druids of the Western 
Islands ? Or the withering scorn with which Isaiah pursues 
the whole economy of idolatrous worship ? — how he repre- 



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THE ESSENES 143 

sents a man as summoning the carpenter and the blacksmith ; 
as cutting down a tree of his own planting and rearing : part 
he applies as fuel, part to culinary purposes ; and then — 
having satisfied the meanest of his animal necessities — ^what 
will he do with the refuse, with the offal ? Behold — " of 
the residue he maketh himself a god " ! Or, again, who can 
forget the fierce stream of ridicule, like a flame driven through 
a blowpipe, which Jeremiah forces with his whole afflatus 
upon the process of idol-manufacturing? The workman's 
part is described as unexceptionable : he plates it with silver 
and with gold : he rivets it with nails ; it is delivered to 
order, true and in workmanlike style, so that as a figure, as 
a counterfeit, if counterfeits might avail, it is perfect But 
then, on examination, the prophet detects oversights : it 
cannot speak ; the breath of life has been overlooked ; reason 
is omitted ; pulsation has been left out ; motion has been 
forgotten, — it must be carried, ''for it cannot go/' Here, 
suddenly, as if a semichorus stepped in, with a moment's 
recoil of feeling, a movement of pity speaks, — '* Be not afindd 
of them, for they cannot do evil ; neither also is it in them 
to do any good." But in an instant the recoil is com- 
pensated : an overwhelming reaction of ecom comes back, as 
with the reflux of a tide ; and a full chorus seems to exclaim, 
with the prophet's voice, — " They (viz. the heathen deities) 
are altogether brutish and foolish ; the stock is a doctrine of 
vanities." 

What need, after such passages, to quote the express 
injunction from Isaiah (chap. xxx. 21, 22), ''And thine ears 
shall hear a word behind thee, saying. This is the way; 
walk ye in it : Ye shall defile the covering of the graven 
images, &c. ; ye shall cast them away as a polluted cloth " ? 
Or this (chap. xlii. 8) : ''I am the Lord ; that is my name : 
and my glory will I not give to another ; neither my praise 
to graven images " ? Once for all, if a man would satisfy 
himself upon this question of possible compromises with 
idolatry, let him run over the eleven chapters of Jeremiah 
from the tenth to the twentietli inclusively. The whole sad 
train of Jewish sufferings, all the vast equipage of woes and 
captivities that were to pursue them through so many a 
weary century, are there charged upon that one rebellion of 



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144 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

idolatry which Josephus would have us believe not only to 
be privileged, but (and that is the reason that we call him a 
miscreant) would have us believe to have been promoted by 
a collusion emanating from God. In fact, if once it had 
been said authentically, ''Pay an outward homage to the 
Pagan Pantheon, but keep your hearts from going along 
with it," then in that countenance to idolatry as a sufferable 
thing, and in that commendation of it to the forbearance and 
indulgence of men, would have lurked every advantage that 
Polytheism could have desired for breaking down the total 
barriers of truth. 

Josephus, therefore, will be given up to reprobation ; 
apologist he will find none ; he will be abandoned as a 
profligate renegade, who, having sold his country out of fear 
and avarice, having sold himself, sold also his religion, and 
his religion not simply in the sense of selling his individual 
share in its hopes, but who sold his religion in the sense of 
giving it up to be polluted in its doctrine for the accom- 
modation of its Pagan enemies. 

VI. — But, even after all this is said, there are other 
i^gravations of this Jew's crimes. One of these, though 
hurrying, we will pause to state. The founder of the Jewish 
faith foresaw a special seduction certain to beset its professors 
in every age. But how and through what avenues ? Was 
it chiefly through the base and mercenary propensities of 
human nature that the peril lay ? No ; but through its 
gentleness, its goodness, its gracious spirit of courtesy. And 
in that direction it was that the lawgiver applied his warnings 
and his resistance. What more natural than that an idola- 
trous wife should honour the religious rites which she had 
seen honoured by her parents ? What more essential to the 
dignity of marriage than that a husband should show a 
leaning to the opinions and the wishes of his wife ? It was 
seen that this condition of things would lead to a collision 
of feelings not salutary for man. The condition was too 
full of strife, if you suppose the man strong — of temptation, 
if you suppose him weak. How, therefore, was the casuistry 
of such a situation practically met ? By a prohibition of 
marriages between Jews and Pagans ; after which, if a man 



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THB ESSENES 145 

were to have pleaded his conjugal affection in palliation of 
idolatrous compliances, it would have been answered — ''It 
is a palliation ; but for an error committed in consequence 
of such a connexion. Your error was different ; it com- 
menced from a higher point ; it commenced in seeking for 
a connexion which had been prohibited as a snare." Thus 
it was that the '' wisest heart '' of Solomon was led astray. 
And thus it was in every idolatrous lapse of the Jews ; — 
they fell by these prohibited connexions. Through that 
channel it was, through the goodness and courtesy of the 
human heart, that the Jewish law looked for its dangers, and 
provided for them. But the treason of Josephus came through 
no such generous cause. It had its origin in servile fear, 
self-interest the most mercenary, cunning the most wily. 
Josephus argued with himself that the peculiar rancour of 
the Roman mind towards the Jews had taken its rise in 
religion. The bigotry of the Jews, — for so it was construed 
by those who could not comprehend any possible ground of 
distinction in the Jewish God, — ^produced a reaction of Roman 
bigotry. Once, by a sudden movement of condescension, 
the Senate and People of Rome had been willing to make 
room for Jehovah as an assessor to their own Capitoline Jove. 
This being declined, it was supposed at first that the overture 
was too overwhelming to the conscious humility of Judea. 
The truth neither was comprehended, nor could be compre- 
hended, that this miserable Palestine, a dark speck in the 
blazing orb of the Roman Empire, had declined the union 
upon any principle of superiority. But all things become 
known in time. This also became known ; and the delirious 
passion of scorn retorting scorn was certainly never, before or 
since, exemplified on the same scale. Josephus, therefore, 
profoundly aware of the Roman feeling, sets himself, in this 
audacious falsehood, to propitiate the jealousy so wide awake, 
and the pride which had been so much irritated. "You 
have been misinformed," he teUs the Romans; "we have 
none of that gloomy unsociality which is imputed to us. It 
is not true that we despise alien gods. We do not worship, 
but we venerate, Jupiter. Our lawgiver commanded us to 
do so.'' Josephus hoped in this way to soothe the angry 
wounds of the Roman spirit But it is certain that, even for 

VOL. VII L 



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146 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

a moment, he could not have succeeded. His countrymen 
of Jerusalem could not expose him ; they had perished. 
But there were many myriads of his countrymen spread over 
the face of the world, who would contradict every word that 
any equivocating Jew might write. And this treachery of 
Josephus, therefore, to the very primal injunction of his 
native law must have been as useless in the event as it was 
base in the purpose. 

VII. — Now, therefore, we may ask, was there ever a 
more abject perfidy committed than this which we have 
exposed : this deliberate surrender, for a selfish object, of 
the supremacy and unity in the Jehovah of the Jews — this 
solemn renunciation of that law and its integrity, in main- 
tenance of which seventy generations of Jews, including 
weak women and children, have endured the penalties of a 
dispersion and a humiliation more bitter by many degrees 
than death? Weighing the grounds of comparison, was a 
viler treason ever perpetrated ? We take upon ourselves to 
say — No. And yet, even in treason there is sometimes a 
dignity. It is by possibility a bold act, a perilous act Even 
in this case, though it will hardly be thought such, the 
treason of Josephus might have been dangerous: it was 
certainly committed under terror of the Roman sword, but 
it might have been avenged by the Jewish dagger. Had a 
written book in those days been as much a pvhlicatum of a 
man's words as it is now, Josephus would not long have 
survived that sentence of his Antiquities. This danger gives 
a shadow of respectability to that act of Josephus. And 
therefore, when it is asked — Can a viler act be cited from 
History ? we now answer — yes : there is one even viler. 
And by whom committed 1 By Josephus. Listen, reader. 

The overthrow of his country was made the subject of a 
Roman triumph — of a triumph in which his patrons, Ves- 
pasian and his two sons, figured as the centres of the public 
honour. Judea, with her banners trailing in the dust, was 
on this day to be carried captive. The Jew attended with 
an obsequious face, dressed in courtly smiles. The prisoners, 
who are to die by the executioner when the pomp shall have 
reached the summit of the hill, pass by in chains. What is 



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THE ESSENES 147 

their crime ? They have fought like brave men for that dear 
country which the base spectator has sold for a bribe. 
Josephus, the prosperous renegade, laughs as he sees them, 
and hugs himself on his cunning. Suddenly a tumult is 
seen in the advancii^ crowds — what is it that stirs them ? 
It ia the sword of the Maccabees : it is the image of Judas 
MaccabflBus, the warrior Jew, and of his unconquerable 
brothera Josephus grins with admiration of the jewelled 
trophies. Next — but what shout is that which tore the very 
heavens ? The abomination of desolation is passing by — the 
Law and the Prophets surmounted by Capitoline Jove vibrat- 
ing his pagan thunderbolta Judea, in the form of a lady, 
sitting beneath her palms, — Judea, with her head muffled in 
her robe, speechless, sightless, — ^is carried past And what 
does the Jew ? He sits, like a modem reporter for a news- 
paper, taking notes of the circumstantial features in this 
unparalleled scene, delighted as a child at a puppet-show, 
and finally weaves the whole into a picturesque narrative. 
The apologist must not think to evade the effect upon all 
honourable minds by supposing the case that the Jew's 
presence at this scene of triumph over his ruined country, 
and his subsequent record of its circumstances, might be a 
movement of frantic passion, bent on knowing the worst, 
bent on drinking up the cup of degradation to the very last 
drop. No, no; this escape is not open« The description 
itself remains to this hour in attestation of the astounding 
fact that this accursed Jew surveyed the closing scene in the 
great agonies of Jerusalem — not with any thought for its 
frenzy, for its anguish, for its despair, but absorbed in the 
luxury of its beauty, and with a single eye for its purple and 
gold. " Off, off, sir ! " — would be the cry to such a wretch 
in any age of the world : to " spit upon his Jewish gaber- 
dine " would be the wish of every honest man. Nor is there 
any thoughtful person who will allege that such another case 
exists. Traitors there have been many : and perhaps traitors 
who, trusting to the extinction of all their comrades, might 
have had courage to record their treasons. But certainly 
there is no other person known to history who did, and who 
proclaimed that he did, sit as a volunteer spectator of his 
buried country carried past in efiigy, confounded with a vast 



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148 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

carnival of rejoicing mobs and armies, echoing their jubilant 
outcries, and pampering his eyes with ivory and gold, with 
spoils, and with captives^ torn from the, funeral pangs of his 
countay. That case is unique, without a copy, without a 
precedent 

So much for Josephus. We have thought it necessary to 
destroy that man's character, on the principle of a king's 
ship in levelling bulkheads and partitions when clearing for 
action. Such a course is requisite for a perfect freedom of 
motion. Were Josephus trustworthy, he would sometimes 
prove an impediment in the way of our views : and it is 
because he has been too carelessly received as trustworthy 
that more accurate glimpses have not been obtained of Jewish 
affairs in more instances than one. Let the reader under- 
stand also that, as r^ards the Essenes, Josephus is not 
trustworthy on a double reason : first, on account of his 
perfidy, as now sufficiently exposed, which too often interfered 
to make secondary perfidies requisite, by way of calling off 
the field of hunters from his own traces in the first ; secondly, 
because his peculiar situation as a Pharisaic doctor of the law, 
combined with his character (which surely could not entirely 
have concealed itself in any stage of his public life), must 
have made it necessary for the Essenes to trust him very 
cautiously, and never to any extent that might have been 
irretrievable in the event of his turning informer. The 
Essenes, at all events, had some secret to guard ; in any case, 
therefore, they were responsible for the lives of all their 
members, so &r as they could be affected by confidences 
reposed ; and, if that secret happened to be Christianity, then 
were they trebly bound to care and jealousy, for that secret 
involved not only many lives, but a mighty interest of human 
nature, so that a single instance of carelessness might be the 
most awful of crimes. Hence we understand at once why it 
is that Josephus never advanced beyond the lowest rank in 
the Secret Society of the Essenes. His worldly character, 
his duplicity, his weakness, were easily discerned by the 
eagle-eyed fathers of Christianity. Consequently, he must 
be viewed as under a perpetual swtvdlUmce from what may 
be called the 'police of History : liable to suspicion as one 



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THE ESSENES 149 

who had a frequent interest in falsehood, in order to screen 
himself ; secondly, as one liable to unintentional falsehood, 
from the indisposition to trust him. 

Having now extracted the poison-fangs from the Jewish 
Historian, we will take a further notice of his History in 
relation to the Essenes in our next number. 



Part III — The Essenes Historically 

The secret history of Judaea through the two generations 
preceding the destruction of Jerusalem might yet be illu- 
minated a little better than it has been by Josephus. It 
would, however, require a separate paper. At present we 
shall take but a glance or two at that subject, and merely in 
reference to the Essenes. Nothing shows the crooked con- 
duct of Josephus so much as the utter perplexity, the mere 
labyrinth of doubts, in which he has involved the capital 
features of the last Jewish War. Two points only we notice, 
for their connexion with the Essenes. 

First, What was the cause, the outstanding pretext, on 
either side, for the Jewish insurrectionary war ? We know 
well what were the real impulses to that war ; but what was 
the capital and overt act on either side which forced the 
Jewish irritation into a hopeless contest 1 What was the 
ostensible ground alleged for the war ? 

Josephus durst not have told, had he known. He must 
have given a Koman, an ex parte, statement at any rate ; and 
let that consideration never be lost sight of in taking his 
evidence. He might blame a particular Roman, such as 
Qessius Florus,! because he found that Romans themselves 
blamed him. He might vaunt his veracity and his Trappr^o-ta 
in a little comer of the general story ; but durst he speak 
plainly on the broad field of Judsean politics ? Not for his 
life. Or, suppose the Roman magnanimity to have taken off 
his shackles, what became of his court favour and prefer- 

^ Gessius Florus, Koman procurator of Judsea, a.d. 64-66. — M. 



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160 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

ment, in case he spoke freely of Roman policy as a 
system? 

Hence it is that Josephus shuffles so miserably when 
attempting to assign the cause or causes of the war. Four 
different causes he assigns in different places, not one of 
which is other than itself an effect from higher causes, and 
a mere symptom of the convulsions working below. Fox 
instance, the obstinate withdrawal of the daily sacrifice 
offered for Caesar, which is one of the causes alleged, could 
not have occurred until the real and deep-seated causes of 
that war had operated on the general temper for some time. 
It was a public insult to Rome : would have occasioned a 
demand for explanation ; would have been revoked ; the 
immediate author punished ; and all would have subsided 
into a personal affair, had it not been supported by extensive 
combinations below the surface, which could no longer be 
suppressed. Into them we are not going to enter. We wish 
only to fix attention upon the ignorance of Josephus, whether 
unaffected in this instance, or assumed for the sake of dis- 
guising truths unacceptable to Roman ears. 

This question of itself has much to do with the origin of 
the Essenes. 

Secondlj/y Who were those Sicarii or swordsmen of whom 
Josephus talks so much during the latter years of Jerusalem ? 
Can any man believe so monstrous a fable as this : viz. that 
not one, but thousands of men were confederated for purposes 
of murder ; 2dlyy of murder not interested in its own success, 
murder not directed against any known determinate objects, 
but murder indiscriminate, secret, objectless, what a lawyer 
might call homiddiwm vagvm; Sdly, that this confederacy 
should subsist for years, should levy war, should entrench 
itself in fortresses ; 4lMy (which is more incomprehensible 
than all the rest), should talk and harangue in the spirit of 
sublime martyrdom to some holy interest; btJUy, should 
breathe the same spirit into women and little children ; and, 
finally, that all, with one accord, rather than submit to 
foreign conquest^ should choose to die in one hour, from the 
oldest to the youngest ? Such a tale, in its outset^ in the 
preliminary confederation, is a tale of ogres and ogresses, not 
of human creatures trained under a Divine law to a 



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THE ESSENES 151 

profound sense of accountability. Such a tale, in its latter 
sections, is a tale of martyrs more than human. Such a tale, 
as a whole, is self-contradictory. A vile purpose makes vile 
all those that pursue it. Even the East Indian Thugs are 
not congregated by families. It is much if ten thousand 
families furnish one Thug. And, as to the results of such a 
league, is it possible that a zealous purpose of murder, of 
murder for the sake of murder, should end in nobility of 
spirit so eminent that nothing in Christian martyrdoms goes 
beyond the extremity of self-sacrifice which even their 
enemies have granted to the Sicarii ? " Whose courage," we 
are quoting from the bitterest of enemies, ''whose courage, 
" or shall we call it madness ? everybody was amazed at ; for, 
<< when all sorts of torments that could be imagined were 
" applied to their bodies, not one of them would comply so 
" fu? as to confess, or seem to confess, that Caesar was their 
" lord ; as if they received those torments, and the very fury 
*' of the furnace which burned them to ashes, with bodies that 
" were insensible, and with souls that exceedingly rejoiced. 
'' But what most oi all astonished the beholders was the 
" courage of the children ; for not one of all these children was 
** so far subdued by the torments it endured as to confess 
" Csesar for its lord. Such a marvellous thing for endurance 
'' is the tender and delicate body of man, when supported by 
" an unconquerable soul ! " 

No, no, reader ; there is villainy at work in this whole 
story about the SicariL We are duped, we are cheated, we 
are mocked. Felony, conscious murder, never in this world 
led to such results as these. Conscience it was that must 
have acted here. No power short of that ever sustained frail 
women and children in such fiery triala A conscience, it 
may have been, erring in its principles ; but those principles 
must have been Divine. Resting on any confidence less than 
that, the resolution of women and children so tried must have 
given way. Here, too evidently, we have the genuine 
temper of the Maccabees, struggling and suffering in the same 
spirit and with the same ultimate hopes. 

After what has been exposed with regard to Josephus, we 
presume that his testimony against the Sicarii will go for 
little. That man may readily be supposed to have borne 



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162 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

fake witness against his brethren who is proved to have 
borne Mse witness against God. Him, therefore, or any 
thing that he can say, we set aside. But, as all is still dark 
about the Sicarii, we shall endeavour to trace their real 
position in the Jewish War. For merely to prove that they 
have been calumniated does not remove the cloud that rests 
upon their history. That, indeed, cannot be removed now in 
a manner quite satisfactory ; but we see enough to indicate 
the purity of their intentions. And, with respect to their 
enemy Josephus, let us remember one fetct, which merely the 
want of a personal interest in the question has permitted to 
lie so long in the shade : viz. that three distinct causes made 
it really impossible for that man to speak the truth. First, 
his own partisanship : having adopted one faction, he was 
bound to regard all others as wrong and hostile : secondly, 
his captivity and interest : in what regarded the merits of the 
cause a Roman prisoner dv/rst not have spoken the truth. 
These causes of distortion or falsehood in. giving that history 
would apply even to honest men, unless with their honesty 
they combined a spirit of martyrdom. But there was a third 
cause peculiar to the position of Josephus, viz. conscious 
guilt and shame. He could not admit others to have been 
right but in words that would have confounded himself. If 
they were not mad, he was a poltroon; if they had done 
their duty as patriots, then was he a traitor ; if they were 
not frantic, then was Josephus an apostate. This was a logic 
which required no subtle dialectician to point and enforce ; 
simply the narrative, if kept steady to the fact and faithful, 
must silently suggest that conclusion to everybody. And for 
that reason, had there been no other, it was not steady ; for 
that reason it was not faithful. Now, let us turn to the 
Sicarii. Who were they ? 

Thvrdhj, It is a step towards the answer if we may ask pre- 
viously, Who were ihs GalUecms ? Many people read Josephus 
under the impression that, of course, this term designates merely 
the inhabitants of the two Qalilees. We, by diligent collation 
of passages, have convinced ourselves that it does not ; it 
means a particular faction in Jewish politics. And, which is 
a fact already noticed by Eusebius, it often includes many of 
fbe new Christian sect But this requires an explanation. 



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THE ESSENES 153 

Strange it seems to us that men should overlook so obvious 
a truth as that in every age Christianity must have counted 
amongst its nominal adherents the erring believer, the partial 
believer, the wavering believer, equally with the true, the 
spiritual, the entire, and the steadfast believer. What sort 
of believers were those who would have taken Christ and 
forcibly made him a king ? Erroneous believers, it must be 
admitted ; but still in some points, partially and obscurely, 
they must have been powerfully impressed by the truth 
which they had heard from Christ. Many of these might 
fall away when that personal impression was withdrawn ; but 
many must have survived all causes of depression. Semi- 
Christians there must always have been in great numbers. 
Those who were such in a merely religious view we believe 
to have been called Nazarenes ; those in whom the political 
aspects at first universally ascribed to Christianity happened 
to predominate were known by the more general name of 
Galileana This name expressed in its foremost element 
opposition to the Romans ; in its secondary element, 
Christianity. And its rise may be traced thus : — 

Whoever would thoroughly investigate the very complex 
condition of Palestine in our Saviour's days must go back to 
Herod the Great. ^ This man, by his peculiar policy anrf his 
power, stood between the Jews and the Romans as a sort of 
Janus or indifferent mediator. Any measure which Roman 
ignorance would have inflicted, unmodified, on the rawest 
condition of Jewish bigotry, he contrived to have tempered 
and qualified. For his own interest, and not with any more 
generous purpose, he screened &om the Romans various 
ebullitions of Jewish refractoriness ; and from the Jews he 
screened all accurate knowledge of the probable Roman 
intentions. But, after his death, and precisely during the 
course of our Saviour's life, these intentions transpired : 
reciprocal knowledge and menaces were exchanged ; and the 
elements of insurrection began to mould themselves silently, 
but not steadily ; for the agitation was great and increasing 
as the crisis seemed to approach. Herod the Great, as a 
vigorous prince, and very rich, might possibly have main- 

^ Herod the Great was king of tl^e Jews from b,c. 40 to b.c. 4, 

-Mr 



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154 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES * 

tained the equilibrium, had he lived. But this is doubtful. 
In his old age various events had combined to shake his 
authority : viz. the tragedies in his own family, and especially 
the death of Mariamne ^ ; by which, like Ferdinand of 
Arragon, or our Henry VII, under the same circumstances, 
he seemed in equity to lose his claim upon the throne. But, 
above all, his compliance with idolatry (according to the 
Jewish interpretation), in setting up the golden eagle by way 
of homage to Kome, gave a shock to his authority that never 
could have been healed. Out of the affair of the golden 
eagle grew, as we are persuaded, the sect of the Herodians 
— ^those who justified a compromising spirit of dealing with 
the Romans. This threw off, as its antipole, a sect furiously 
opposed to the Romans. That sect, under the management 
of Judas (otherwise called Theudas), expanded greatly : he 
was a Galilean, and the sect was therefore naturally called 
Galileana^ Into this main sea of Jewish nationality emptied 
themselves all other less powerful sects that, under any 
modification, avowed an anti-Roman spirit The religious sect 
of the Christians was from the first caught and hurried away 
into this overmastering vortex. No matter that Christ lost 
no opportunity of teaching that his kingdom was not of this 
world. Did he not preach a new salvation to the House of 

^ '^HgpeciaUy the death of Mariamne " : — ^There is a remarkable 
proof extant of the veneration attached in Jewish imagination to the 
miemory of this lady as a Maccabee. Long after her death, a pretender 
(or alleged pretender) to the name and rights of Alexander, one of her 
two murdered sons, appeared at Rome, and instantly drew to himself 
the enthusiastic support of all the Jews throughout Italy. 

^ Judas the Galilean was the leader of a popular revolt against a 
Roman taxation, A.D. 6. There is a summary of his history in the 
speech of Gkunaliel recommending a tolerant policy with the Christians 
in Jerusalem on the ground that the sect, if not divinely inspired, 
would fade away of itself (Acts v. 34-39) ; but in that speech Judas 
the Galilean and Theudas are diflferent persons. The words are : — 
" Te men ot Israel, take heed to yourselves, as touching these men, 
what ye are about to do. For before these days rose up Theudas, 
giving himself out to be somebody ; to whom a number of men, about 
four hundred, joined themselves : who was slain ; and all, as many as 
obeyed him} were dispersed and came to nought. After this man rose 
up Judas of Galilee in the days of the enrolment, and drew away some 
of the people after him : he also perished ; and all, as many as obeyed ~ 
him, were scattered abroad." So in the Revised Version. — M. 



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THE ESSENES 155 

Israel ? Where could that lie but through resistance to 
Kome ? His followers resolved to place him at their head 
as a king ; and his crucifixion in those stormy times was 
certainly much influenced by the belief that, as the object - 
of political attachment, he had become dangerous, whether 
sanctioning that attachment or not 

Out of this sect of Galileans, comprehending all who 
avowed a Jewish nationality (and therefore many semi- 
Christians : that is, men who, in a popular sense, and under 
whatever view, had professed to follow Christ), arose the sect 
of Sicarii ; that is, out of a vast multitude professing good- 
will to the service, these men separated themselves as the 
men of action, the executive ministers, the self- devoting 
soldiers. This is no conjecture. It happens that Josephus, 
who had kept us in the dark about these Sicarii in that part 
of his narrative which most required some clue to their 
purposes, afterwards forgets himself, and incidentally betrays ^ 
that the Sicarii had originally been an offset from the sect 
foimded by Judas the Galilean ; that their general purpose 
was the same ; so that, no doubt, it was a new feature of the 
time giving a new momentary direction to the efforts of the 
patriotic which had constituted the distinction and which 
authorized the denomination. From the Galileans it is 
probable that the Sicarii differed only as the brave doer 
differs from the clamorous invoker. But the Sicarii, you say, 
used imhallowed means. Possibly not We do not know what 
means they used, except most indistinctly from their base and 
rancorous enemy. The truth, so far as it can be descried 
through the mist of ages and the fury of partisanship, appears 
to be that, at a moment when law slumbered and police was 
inefficient, they assumed the duties of resistance to a tyranny 
which even the Roman apologist admits to have been insuffer- 
able. They are not heard of as actors until the time when 
Gessius Floras, by opening the floodgates to military insolence, 
had himself given a licence to an armed reaction. Where 
justice was sought in vain, probably the Sicarii showed 
themselves as ministers of a sudden retribution. When the 
vilest outrages were offered by foreigners to their women, 
probably they *< visited " for such atrocities. That state of 
* Wars, b. vil chap. 8, sect. 1. 



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156 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

things, wMch caused the tribunal to slumber, privileged the 
individual to wske. And in a land (by which word we 
mean Syria as a whole, not Palestine exclusively) whose 
inspired monuments recorded for everlasting praise the acts 
of Judith, of Samson, of Judas Maccabaeus, these summary 
avengers, the Sicarii, might reasonably conceive that they 
held the same heavenly commission under the same earthly 
oppression.. 

Reviewing the whole of that calamitous period, combin- 
ing the scattered notices of the men and their acts, and the 
reflections of both thrown back from the mirrors offered to 
us by the measures of counteraction adopted at the time, 
we have little doubt that the Sicarii and the Zealots were 
both products from the same great sect of the Galileans, 
and that, in an imperfect sense or by tendency, all were 
Christiana 

But also we believe that this very political leaven it was, 
as dispersed through the body of the Galileans, which 
favoured the projection of a new order, caUed the Essenes, 
from the main body, — ^this political taint) we mean to say, 
combined with the danger of a prosehftismg Christianity, In 
that anarchy which through the latter years of Nero covered 
Judaea as with the atmosphere of hell the Christian fathers 
saw the necessity of separating themselves from these 
children of violence. They might be right politically — ^and 
certainly they began in patriotism — but too often the appre- 
hensive consciences of Christians recoiled from the venge- 
ance in which they ended. By tolerating the belief that 
they countenanced the Galileans or Sicarii the Primitive 
Church felt that she would be making herself a party to 
their actions, often bloody and vindictive, and sometimes 
questionable on any principles, since private enmities would 
too easily mingle with public motives, and, if right, would 
be right in an earthly sense. But the persecution which 
arose at Jerusalem would strengthen these conscientious 
scruples by others of urgent prudence. A sect that prosely- 
tized was at any rate a hazardous sect in Judaea ; and a sect 
that had drawn upon itself persecution must have felt a 
triple summons to th'e instant assumption of a disguise. 

Upon this warning, we may suppose, arose the Secret 



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THE ESSENES 157 

Society of the Essenes ; and its organisation was most 
artful. In fact, the relations of Judaism to Christianity 
furnished a means of concealment such as could not have 
otherwise existed without positive deceit By arranging 
four concentric circles about one mysterious centre, — by 
suffering no advances from the outside to the innermost ring 
unless through years of probation, through multiplied trials 
of temper, multiplied obligations upon the conscience to 
secrecy, — ^the Christian fathers were enabled to lead men 
onwards insensibly from intense Judaic bigotry to the purest 
form of Christianity. The outermost circle received those 
candidates only whose zeal for rigorous Judaism argued a 
hatred of pagan corruptions, and therefore gave some pledge 
for religious fervour. In this rank of novices no ray of light 
broke out from the centre — no suspicion of any alien doc- 
trine dawned upon them: all was Judaic, and the whole 
Mosaic theology was cultivated alike. This we wiU call the 
ultimate rank. Next, in the penultimate rank, the eye was 
familiarized with the prophecies respecting the MessiaJi, and 
somewhat exclusively pointed to that doctrine, and such 
other doctrines in the Mosaic scheme as express an imperfec- 
tion, a tendency, a call for an integration. In the third, or 
ante -penultimate rank, the attention was trained to the 
general characters of the Messiah, as likely to be realized in 
some personal manifestation ; and a question was probably 
raised, as if for investigation, in what degree these characters 
met and were exemplified in the mysterious person who had 
so lately engaged the earnest attention of all Palestine. He 
had assumed the office of Messiah : he had suffered for that 
assumption at Jerusalem. By what e>idences was it ascer- 
tained, in a way satisfactory to just men, that he was not the 
Messiah ? Many points, it would be urged as by way of 
unwilling concession, did certainly correspond between the 
mysterious person and the prophetic delineation of the idea. 
Thus far no suspicion has been suffered to reach the disciple 
that he is now rapidly approaching to a torrent that will 
suck him into a new faith. Nothing has transpired which 
can have shocked the most angry Jewish fanaticism. And 
yet all is ready for the .great transition. But at this point 
comes the last crisis for the aspirant. Under colour of dis- 



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158 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

puting the claims of Christ, the disciple has been brought 
acquainted with the whole mystery of the Christian theory. 
If his heart is good and true, he has manifested by this time 
such a sense of the radiant beauty which has been gradually 
unveiled that he reveals his own trustworthinesa If he 
retains his scowling Jewish bigotry, the consistory at the 
centre are warned, and trust him no farther. He is 
excluded from the inner ranks, and is reconciled to this 
exclusion (or, if not, is turned aside from suspicion) by the 
impression conveyed to him that these central ranks are 
merely the governing ranks, — highest in power, but not 
otherwise distinguished in point of doctrine. 

Thus, though all is true from first to last, from centre to 
circumference, — though nothing is ever taught but the 
truth, — yet, by the simple precaution of graduation, and of 
not teaching everywhere the whole truth, but, above all, by 
teaching any part of the truth in the character of hostile 
acceptors, and as an unwelcome concession extorted from 
unwilling hearers, it happened that in the very midst of 
truth divine were attained all the benefits of deceit the most 
earthly. The case was as though the colour of blue were 
prohibited and a dangerous colour. But, upon a suggestion 
that yellow is a most popular colour, and green tolerated, 
whilst the two extremes of blue and yellow are both blended 
and confounded in green, this last is selected for the middle 
rank ; and then, breaking it up by insensible degradations 
into the blue tints towards the secret interior, and the yellow 
towards the outer rings, the case is so managed as to present 
the full popular yellow at the outside, and the celestial blue 
at the hidden centre. 

Such we offer as the constitution of the Essenes; in 
which, however, the reader must not overlook one fact, — 
that, because the danger of Christianity as a religious pro- 
fession was confined during the Epichristian age to Judsea, 
therefore the order of the Essenes was confined to that 
region, and that in the extra-Syrian churches the Christians 
of Palestine were known simply as the Brethren of Jerusa- 
lem, of Sepphoris, &c., without further designation or dis- 
guise. Let us now see, having stated the particular 
circumstances in which this disguise of a secret society 



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THE ESSENES 159 

called EsseDes arose, what further arguments can be traced 
for identifying these Essenes with the Christians of Palestine. 

We have already pursued the Essenes and the Christians 
through ten features of agreement. Now let us pursue them 
through a few others. And let the logic of the parallel be 
kept steadily in view : above, we show some characteristic 
reputed to be true of the Essenes ; below, we show that this 
same characteristic is known from other sources to be true of 
the Christians. 

No. I. — The Essenes, according to Josephus, loere in ths 
habit of prophesying. The only prophets known in the days 
of the Apostles, and recognised as such by the Christian 
writers, — ^Agabus, for instance, and Anna,^ — were Christians 
of the Christian brotherhood in Judsea. 

*^ And it is hut seldom" says Josephus, '^ they miss in their 
predictions" Josephus could not but have been acquainted 
with this prophecy of Agabus, too practical, too urgent, too 
local not to have rung throughout Judsea ; before the event, 
as a warning ; after it, as a great providential miracle. He 
must therefore have considered Agabus as one of those 
people whom he means by the term Essenes. Now we know 
him for a Christian. Ergo, here is a case of identity made 
out between a Christian, owned for such by the Apostles, 
and one of the Essenes, owned for such by Josephus. 

No. II. — The Essenes particvJa/rly applied themselves to the 
stvdy of medicine. — This is very remarkable in a sect like the 
Essenes, who, from their rigorous habits of abstinence, must 
of all men have had the least personal call for medicine : but 
not at all remarkable if the Essenes are identified with the 
Christians. For, 

1. Out of so small a number as four Evangelists, one was 
a physician ;^ which shows at least ih^fad that medicine was 
cultivated amongst the Christians. But, 

2. The reason of this will appear immediately in the 
example (E) left by Christ, and in the motives (M) to that 
example. 

As to (E) the example, at least nine in ten of Christ's 
miracles were msdical or therapeutic miracles, miracles applied 
to derangements of the human system. 

* Agabus, Acts xi. 28, and xxi. 10 ; Anna, Luke ii. 36-38. — M. 



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160 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

As to the motives (M) which governed our Saviour in this 
particular choice, it would be truly ridiculous and worthy of 
a modem utilitarian to suppose that Christ would have 
suffered his time to be occupied^ and the great vision of his 
contemplations to be interrupted, by an employment so 
trifling (trifling surely by comparison with his transcendent 
purposes) as the healing of a few hundreds, more or less, in 
one small district through one brief triennium. This heal- 
ing office was adopted, not chiefly for its own sake, but 
partly as a symbolic annunciation of a superior healing, 
already expressed in l;he name lesiLSy from the Greek verb for 
healing ; chiefly, however, as the best means, in an eastern 
land, of advertising his approa>ch fa/r and wide, amd thus con- 
voking the people to his instructions. From Barbary to 
Hindustan — from the setting to the rising sun — it is 
notorious that no travelling character is so certainly a safe 
one as that of haJdm or physician. As he advances on his 
route, the news flies before him ; disease is evoked as by the 
rod of Amram's son ; the beds of sick people, in every rank, 
are ranged along the road-sides ; and the beneficent dispenser 
of health or of relief moves through the prayers of hope on 
the one side and of gratitude on the other. Well may this 
character be a protection ; for not only is every invalid in 
the land his friend from the first, but every one who loves 
or pities an invalid. In fact, the character is too favourable, 
because it soon becomes burdensome ; so that of late, in 
Affghanistan, Bokhara, &c.. Englishmen have declined its 
aid : for inevitably it impedes a man's progress ; and it 
exposes him to two classes of applications, one embarrassing 
from the extravagance of its expectations (as that a man 
should understand doubtful or elaborate symptoms at a 
glance), the other degrading to an Englishman's feelings, by 
calling upon him for aphrodisiacs or other modes of collusion 
with Oriental sensuality. This medical character, this all- 
persuasive title of hakim, the Apostles and their delegates 
adopted, using it both as the trumpet of summons to some 
central rendezvous, and also as the very best means of open- 
ing the heart to religious influences — the heart softened 
already by suffering, turned inwards by solitary musing, or 
melted, perhaps, by relief from anguish, into fervent grati- 



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THE ESSENES 161 

tude. This, upon consideration, we believe to have been the 
secret key to the Apostolic meaning in sending abroad the 
report, — ^which report accordingly re -emerges naturally in 
the Josephan report of the Essenes (or masquerading Christ- 
ians), — that they cultivated medicine. They became what 
80 many of us Englishmen have become in Oriental coun- 
tries, hakims ; and, as with us, that character was assumed 
as a disguise for ulterior purposes that could not have been 
otherwise obtained ^ : our purposes were liberal, theirs 
divine. Therefore we conclude our argument No. II. by 
saying that this medical feature in the Essenes is not only 
found in the Christians, but is found radicated in the very 
constitution of that body as a prosdytizing order who could 
not dispense with some excuse or other for assembling the 
people in crowds. 

No. III. — The Essenes thdnk that oU is a defilement. — So 
says Josephus, as one who stood in the outermost rank of the 
order, admitted to a knowledge of some distinctions, but never 
to the secret meaning upon which those distinctions turned. 
Now, with respect to this new characteristic, what is our 
logical duty ? It is our duty to show that the Essenes, sup- 
posing them to be the latent Christians, had a special motive 
for rejecting oil ; whereas on any other assumption they had 
no such motive. And, next^ we wiU show that this special 
motive has sustained itself in the traditionary usages of a 
remote posterity. . 

First of all, then, how came the Jews ever to use oil at 
all for the purpose of anointing their persons ? It was 
adopted (Who says so ? We say so), as a Grecian luxury, 
from their Grecian fellow-townsmen in cities without num- 
ber, under the Syro-Macedonian kings. Not only in Syria 
proper, but in many other territories adjacent to Judsaa, there 
were cities, like the two Csesareas, the maritime and the 

^ " That could not Tujuoe been othervnse obtained " :-— One most 
important fact has been entirely overlooked. Neither in Syria, nor 
any part of Asia Minor, of Acbaia, &;c., could the Apostles have called 
a general meeting of the people without instant liability to arrest as 
public disturbers. But the character of Hakdc furnished a privileged 
case, which operated as a summons, instant, certain, safe, uniformly 
intelligible to others, and for the hakim himself as potent in the 
result as it was rapid and fluent in its mode of publication. 

VOL. VII M 



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162 HISTORICA.L ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

inland, which were divided between Greeks and Jews ; from 
which equality of rights came feuds and dreadful calamities 
in the end, but previously a strong contagion of Grecian 
habits. Hence, in part, it arose that the Jews in our Saviour's 
time were fax from being that simple people which they had 
been whilst insulated in gloomy seclusion, or whilst associated 
only with monotonous oriental neighbours. Amongst other 
luxuries which they had caught from their Grecian neighbours 
were those of the bath and the palaestra. But in Jerusalem, 
as the heart of Judaea,^ and the citadel of Jewish principle, 
some front of resistance was still opposed to these exotic 
habits. The language was one aid to this resistance ; for 
elsewhere the Greek was gaining ground, whilst here the 
Chaldee prevailed But a stronger repulsion to foreigners 
was the eternal gloom of the public usages. No games in 
Jerusalem, no theatre, no hippodrome ; for all these you 
must go down to the seaside, where Caesarea, though built by 
a Jew, and half-peopled by Jews, was the Roman metropolis 
of Palestine, and with every sort of Roman luxury. To this 
stem Jerusalem standard all Jews conformed in the propor- 
tion of their patriotism ; to Graecize or not to Graecize had 
become a test of patriotic feeling ; and thus far the Essenes 
had the same general reasons as the Christians (supposing 
them for the moment two distinct orders of men) for setting 
their faces against the luxurious manners of the age. But, 
if the Essenes were Christians, then we infer that they had a 
much stronger and a special motive to all kinds of abstinence, 
from the memorable charge of Christ to his evangelizing 
disciples ; for which charge there was a double motive : Istj 
To raise an ideal of abstinence ; 2d, to release the disciple 
from all worldly cares, and concentrate his thoughts upon his 
mission. Now, the Essenes, if Christians, stood precisely in 
that situation of evangelizers. 

^ "As the heart ofJudoea": — It was an old belief amongst the 
Jews, upon their droll ideas of cosmography, that Judaea was the 
central region of the earth, and that Jerusalem was the omphcUos or 
navel of Judsea — ^an idea which the Greeks applied to Delphi And 
thus we see that the Chinese man (or moDkey), although he is jtar 
excellence the beast of the earth, nevertheless has a high sanction to 
plead for his conceit about China as a central region, round which (on 
its outer margin) are crawling all the barbarians of our planet. 



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THE ESSENES 163 

Even thus far, therefore, the Essenes, as Christians, would 
have higher motives to abstinence than simply as a sect of 
Jews ; yet still against oil, merely as a mode of luxury, their 
reasons were no stronger than against any luxury in any other 
shape. But a Christian of that day had a far more special 
restraint with regard to the familiar use of oil : not as a 
luxury, but as a consecrated symbol, he regarded it with awe : 
oil was to him under a perpetual interdict. The very name 
GhrigtoSy the Anointed, gave in one instant an inaugurating 
solemnity, a baptismal value, to the act of anointing. 
Christians bearing in their very name (though then, by the 
supposition, a ** secret name'*) a record and everlasting 
memorial of that chriam by which their Founder was made 
the Anointed of God, thought it little consistent with reveren- 
tial feelings to use that consecrated rite of anointing in the 
economy of daily life. They abstained from this Grecian 
practice, therefore, not, as the ignorant Josephus imagines, 
from despising it, but from too much revering it The 
symbolic meaning overpowered and eclipsed its natural mean- 
ing ; and they abstained from the unction of the palaestra 
just as any man amongst ourselves, the least liable to supersti- 
tion, would (if he had any reverential principles) recoil from 
the use of sacramental vessels in a service of common house- 
hold life. Would a good man, with reverential feelings 
developed in his nature, be capable of taMng his breakfast 
from a sacramental vessel ? Quite as little could the Christians 
or Essenes use oil for a purpose of luxury. And, beside the 
consecration of oil in the very name of Christ and Ghristian, 
oil was carried in those early ages of Christianity to the beds 
of dying persons. 

After this explanation of owr view, we shall hardly need to 
go forward in proof that this sanctity of the oil and of the 
anointing act has sustained itself in traditionary usages, and 
propagated its symbolic meaning to a posterity far distant 
from the Essenes. The most solemn of the ceremonies in 
the coronation of Christian kings is a memorial of this usage 
so reverentially treated by the Essenes. The affecting rite 
by which a new -bom stranger upon earth is introduced 
within the fold of the Christian Church is but the prolonga- 
tion of that ancient chrism. And so essential in earlier ages 



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164 HISTOBICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

was the presence of the holy Judeean oil used by the first 
Christians, were it only to the amount of one solitary drop, 
that volumes might be collected on the exertions made for 
tending the trees which produced it, and if possible for 
multiplying or transplanting them. Many eastern travellers 
in our own day have given the hiBt<My of those consecrated 
trees, and their slow declension to the present moment ; and 
to this hour, in our London bills of mortality, there is one 
subdivision headed, " Ghrysom Children," ^ which echoes from 
a distance of almost two thousand years the very act and 
ceremony which was surrounded with so much reverence by 
the Essenes. 

No. IV. — Ths Essenes thirik it a thing of good omen to he 
dressed in whUe robes. — ^Yes ; here again we find the external 
fact reported by Josephus, but with his usual ignorance of its 
symbolic value, and the secret record which it involved. He 
does not pretend to have been more than a novice ; that is, 
at most he had been admitted into the lowest or outermost 
class, where no hint would be given of the Christian mysteries 
that would open nearer to the centre. The white robes 
were, of course, either the baptismal robes, the albatce vestes 
noticed in the foot-note, or some other of the typical dresses 
assumed in different ranks and situations by the primitive 
Christians. 

No. V. — In the judgments they pass, the Essenes are most 

^ ** Chrysom children** : — Tell a child of three years old to pro- 
nounce the word hdm ; nine times out of ten it will say hdom, from 
the imperfection of its organs. By this mode of corruption came the 
word chrysom, from the baptismal chrism of the early Christians. In 
England, if a child dies witiiin the first month of its life, it is called a 
chrysom child ; whence the title in the London bills of mortality. In 
such a case, it was the beautiful custom amongst our ancestors, perhaps 
still is so amongst those who have the good feeling to appreciate these 
time-honoured usages, to bury the innocent creature in its baptismal 
robe ; to which the northern Spaniards (at least in Biscay) add, as 
another symbol of purity, on the Ud of the little coffin, 

** A happy garland of the pure white rose." 

How profoundly this mysterious chrism influenced the imaginations 
of our forefathers is shown by the multiplied ricochets through which 
it impressed itself upon the vocabulary of the case : the oil, the act of 
anointing, the little infant anointed, the white robe in which it was 
dressed, all and each severally bore the name of the (hrysom. 



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THE ESSENES 165 

accu/raU cmd just ; nor do they pcus sentence by the votes of a 
cowrt ihait is lower them a hundred, — Here we find Joeephus 
unconsciously alluding to the secret arrangements of the early 
Christian Church, the machinery established for conducting 
affairs so vast by their tendency in a condition so critical by 
its political relations. The Apostolical ChnstUutions show that 
many of the forms in General Councils long after that age 
had been traditionally derived from this infancy of the 
Christian Church — ^a result which is natural in any case, but 
almost inevitable where the original organizers are invested 
with that sort of honour and authority attached to inspiration. 
Here are positive traces of the Christian institutions, as viewed 
by one who knew of their existence under the name of 
fisseneS) and witnessed some of their decisions in the result, 
but wafl never admitted to any confidential glimpse of their 
deliberations, or their system of proceeding, or their principles. 
Here is the truth, but traced by its shadow. On the other 
hand, if the pretended Essenes (considered as distinct from 
Christians) were the people concerned, what need should they 
have of courts — numerous or not numerous? Had the 
Sadducees courts ? Had the Pharisees courts ? Doubtless 
they had in their general character of Jews, but certainly not 
in their separate characters as philosophic secta Here again, 
therefore, in this very mention of courts, had there been no 
word dropped of their form, we see an insuperable evidence 
to the fjEUst of the Christians being the true parties concerned. 
No. VI. — ^The Essenes are divided by Philo-Judsdus into 
the TherapetUici and the Practid. A division into four orders 
has already been noticed, in explaining the general constitu- 
tion of the society. These orders would very probably have 
characteristic names as well as barely distinguishing numbers. 
And, if so, the name of TherapeuUcB would exactly correspond 
to the mediixU evangelists (the haJcvms) noticed under No. II. 
We see therefore at once two leading divisions of the new- 
bom Christian sect : Isty the Therapeutici, who were intrusted 
with the propagation of the faith as having special gifts for 
authorizing crowds and for winning confidence ; 2<2, the 
Pradicij who were intrusted with the private affairs of the 
brethren. The external interests were confided to the first ; 
the domestic to the second. 



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166 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Na VIL — Moreover, the Essenes are stricter than any other 
of (he Jews in resting from their labours on the seventh day ; for 
they even get their food ready on the day before, that they may not 
he obliged to kindle afire on that day. — ^Now, then, it will be 
said, these Essenes, if Christians, ought not to have kept the 
Jewish Sabbath. This seems a serious objection. But 
pause, reader. One consideration is most important in this 
whole discussion. The Jews are now ranged in hostility to 
the Christians ; because now the very name of Jew makes 
open proclamation that he has rejected Christianity ; but in the 
earliest stage of Christianity the Jew's relation to that new 
creed was in suspense and undetermined : he might be, 1, in a 
state of hostility ; 2, in a state of transition ; 3, in a state of 
deliberation. So fer, therefore, from shocking his prejudices 
by violent alterations of form and of outward symbol not 
essential to the truth symbolized, the error of the early 
Christians would lie the other way ; as in fact we know that 
it did in Judea, — ^that is, in the land of the Essenes, — ^where 
they retained too much rather than too little of Mosaic rites. 
Judaism is the radix of Christianity : Christianity the inte- 
gration of Judaism. And, so long as this integration was 
only not accepted, it was reasonable to presume it the sub- 
ject of examination, and to regard the Jew as a Christian in 
transitu, and by tendency (if not violentiy disturbed or 
shocked) as a Christian elect. For one generation the Jews 
must have been regarded as novices in a lower class advancing 
gradually to the higher grades ; not as enemies at all, but as 
imperfect allies. During this pacific interim (which is not to 
be thought hostile because individual Jews were hostile) the 
Christians most entangled with Jews, viz. the Christians of 
Palestine, would not seek to widen the chasm which divided 
them. On the contrary, they would concede too much to the 
prejudices of their Jewish brethren ; they would %dopt too 
many of the Jewish rites, — as at first even circumcision, a 
fortiori the Jewish Sabbath. Thus it would be during the 
period of suspense. Hostility would first commence when 
the two orders of men could no longer be viewed as the 
inviting and invited — as teaching and learning ; but as affirm- 
ing and denying — as worshippers and blasphemers. Then 
began the perfect schism of the two orders. Then began 



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THE BSSBNBS 167 

amongst the Syrian Christians the observance of a Christian 
Sunday ; then began the general disuse of circumcision. 

Here we are called upon to close this investigation, and 
for the following reason : — ^Most subjects offer themselves 
under two aspects at the least, often under more. This 
question, accordingly, upon the true relations of the Essenes, 
may be contemplated either as a religious question or as a 
question of Christian antiquities. Under this latter aspect, it 
is not improperly entertained by a work whose primary 
functions are literary. But to pursue it further might en- 
tangle us more intricately in speculations of Christian doctrine 
than could be suitable to any writer not professedly theo- 
logical We pause, therefore ; though not for want of 
abundant matter to continue the discussion. 

The Christian Religion offers two things : a body of truth, 
of things to be believed, in the first place; in the second 
place, a spiritual agency, a mediatorial agency, for carrying 
these truths into operative life. Otherwise expressed, the 
Christian Religion offers — 1st, a knowledge, 2d, a power : 
that is^ 1st, a rudder to guide, 2d, saUs to propeL Now 
mark : — The Essenes, as reported to us by Josephus, by 
Philo-JudsDus, or two centuries afterwards by Eusebius, do 
not appear to have claimed No. 2, and for this reason : be- 
cause, as a secret society, and for the very cause which made 
it prudent for them to be a secret society, that part of their 
pretensions could not have been stated safely ; not without 
avowing the very thing which it was their purpose to conceal, 
viz. their allegiance to Christ But, as to No. 1 — as to the 
total truths taught by Christianity, taken in contradistinction 
to its spiritual fowers — these the Essenes did claim ; these 
they did appropriate. And therefore take notice of Uiis : if 
the Essenes were not the early Christians in disguise, then 
was Christianity, as a JcTuywledge, taught independently of 
Christ, — ^nay, in opposition to Christ ; or, if we were to 
accept the hyperbolical fairy-tale of Pliny, positively two 
thousand years before the era of Christ. On the affirmative 
assumption alL is clear and coherent. Take the negative 
alternative : suppose the Essenes a distinct body from the 
primitive Christians of Palestine (i,e, those particular 
Christians who stood under the ban of Jerusalem), and you 



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108 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABCHES 

have a deadlier wound inflicted on CIiriBtian faith than the 
whole army of infidels ever attempted. A parhdion — 
a secondary sun, a mock sun that should shine for 
centuries with equal arguments for its own authenticity as 
existed for the original and authentic sun — ^would not be 
more shocking to the sense and to the auguries of man than 
a secondary Christianity, not less spiritual, not less heavenly, 
not less divine, than the primary, pretending to a separate and 
even hostile origin* Much more is to be said in behalf of 
our thesis. But, say more or say less, say it well or say it 
ill, the main argument, that the Essenes were the early 
Christians, locally in danger, and therefore locally putting 
themselves, with the wisdom of the serpent, under a cloud of 
disguise, impenetrable to fierce Jewish enemies and to timid 
or treacherous brethren : that argument is essential to the 
dignity of Christian truth. That theory is involved in the 
almighty principle that, as there is but one Gk)d, but one 
hope, but one anchorage, for man, so also there can be but 
one authentic faith, but one derivation of truth, but one 
perfect revelation. 



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POSTSCRIPT.! 

The Essenes. — The paper on Ths EsaeneSj I will frankly 
acknowledge to my critical reader, has not had the good 
fortune to conciliate the sanction of the most learned amongst 
my friends. Oood fortune I say, as insinuating that its failure 
may be due to momentary accidents of hurry or dyspepsy in 
the critic. For, undeniably, habent siiafata Ubelli ; by which 
proposition, I presume, is meant that books, and intellectual 
speculations of every class, are liable to good and bad luck, 
so little corresponding to their true proportions of merit that 
sometimes for a season the momentary false reputation and 
the ultimate just reputation continue moving in opposite 
directions. 

Some indulgence is due to any attempt at reading into 
coherent meaning what, from the very beginning, was a 
Secret society upon any h/ypolhesis ; what was wilfully and 
elaborately darkened in order to evade an urgent danger ; 
what was reported only by a traitor who could not be suffered 
to understand much that he actually saw ; and what must 
now be read after a lapse of two thousand years by the 
glimmerings of a lamp muffled from the very first to defeat 
the purposes of perfidious hostility. Some indulgence, I 
repeat, may be claimed under such complex circumstances of 
difficulty. Better, meantime, by a thousandfold, is absolute 
sincerity in a critic than treacherous indulgence. Honour- 
able, therefore, I hold it to the critic, and flattering to my- 

* What is here printed as a " Postscript " was part of De Quincey's 
** Preface " in 1859 to the volume of his Collected Writings containing 
his paper on the Essenes. — M. 



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170 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

self, that the answer to my Essems should have been sternly, 
and sa/M phrase, " It won't do." Perhaps no ; perhaps yes : 
we shall see. But, in the meantime, let me observe that, if 
my affirmative will not do, neither will a blank negative. 
Before an opponent can place himself in a position for 
rejecting my theory, he must have taken these following steps 
in advance towards a counter-theory of his own. 

First : He must explain why it is that no writer in the 
New Testament mentions the Essenes, or even throws out 
a momentary hint of their existence.^ On the assumption 
that the Essenes were not a Christian but a Judaic society 
there could be no motive at all for ignoring them. 

Second : He must account for the mysterious approxima- 
tion to each other between the two codes of practical doc- 
trine — Christian and Essenic. The one is but the travesty 
of the other. The Essenic reads like such a parody of 

^ Some persons, not fully masters of the case, will perhaps object 
that surely this difficnlty presses even on myself. No, I reply ; not 
at all. Any notice of the Essenes wonld not occur in the New Testa- 
ment, because any motive to such a society would not arise until that 
point in the Acts of the Apostles at which occurs the protomartyrdom 
of St. Stephen ; consequently not until near the dose of the Apostohc 
history. "Whatever motive therefore impelled the Apostles to dis- 
continue their narrative at the particular crisis which now forms its 
dose would at any rate by its natural operation have excluded the 
secret narrative of the Essenes. But over and above that motive, 
whatsoever it might be, there was another. Until the Roman triumph 
over Jerusalem and the ecdesiastical polity of the Temple, the danger 
subsisted unabated which the Essenic scheme had been devised to 
meet. This danger would always have menaced the Christians in 
Palestine, so long as the Temple service continued to flourish. And 
the original danger, which first prompted the Essenic resource, would — 
so long as it lasted — exact the same original caution as to the publica- 
tion of its details, all or any. As respected the particular case of the 
Essenes, there was therefore a separate and special ground of silence ; 
and too obviously it was a matter of life and death. As to the more 
general motive which determined the Apostles in drawing their 
narrative to a close, I presume that it arose from the simple fact that 
the primary object was at length realized. That object had been to 
trace the Christian Church from its earhest beginnings. This'Oiad 
now been sufficiently accomplished. It was no purpose of the Evan- 
gelists or the Apostles to write narratives of mere gratification to 
curiosity. And any arrear of explanations which still remained due 
was simply a fuller development of doctrinal truth, which accordingly 
presented itself henceforward in direct Epistles from the Apostles. 



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THE ESSENES 171 

Christian ethicA as would naturally emerge from the coarse 
hands of a Jew intensely unspiritual and worldly, such as 
Josephus. But, if there were any truth in the high pre- 
Christian antiquity which Josephus ascribes to Essenism, in 
that case there must have been a Christianity before Christ. 
This insurmountable difficulty any opponent of my theory 
draws upon himself. 

Third: If there were eight thousand of the Josephan, 
i,e. the pretended non-Christian, Essenes, and as their sec- 
tarian opinions were so widely published, how happened it 
that Christy who talked freely with every order of men and 
women in Judsea, never by accident fell in with one of this 
fraternity 1 Or, if we could suppose it possible that in so 
limited a territory this failure of p€T8(mal rencontre should 
occur naturally, how happened it that Christ did not invite 
one of their body to his presence, or did not expressly visit 
some one of their pretended stations, so as to force their errors, 
or their truths, before the public eye ? 

Fowik: Supposing that, upon any inexplicable motive, 
such a casual meeting or such a deliberate visit did not 
occur from the Christian side, then why did not crowds of 
the Essenes spontaneously resort to Christ, as a teacher who, 
by repeating thei/r doctrines without any recognition of their 
community as the original well-head of such truths, was in 
effect ignoring themselves, and publishing in all quarters his 
disbelief of their existence ? 

Finally: If all personal interviews on overtures from 
either side were unaccountably intercepted, how happened it 
that the doctrines and usages at least of the Essenes were 
not brought before Christ either by friend or by foe, or, this 
failing, were not subsequently noticed and discussed by the 
Apostles ? 

It has been said repeatedly that the creed of the Papal 
Church, or at least her theory, so far travels on the same 
route with the speculation here traced out that no counte- 
nance is given to the pretensions of the Essenes as a Jewish 
philosophic sect The plagiarisms from Christianity have 
apparently been felt as insufferable. But there the Romish 
Church halts : she denies, but she finds no satisfactory affirm- 
ative creed to substitute. We differ, therefore (Who differ ? 



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172 HISTOBICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABCHES 

Why, Ego et rex meu$ — I and the Pope), in this important 
point ; and entirely to my advantage. His Holiness denies ; 
and I am bonnd to think him right ; for I deny. Bnt on 
hu part this denial is a pore mMhJtgpruch, as the Qermans 
term it — a dogmatic assertion not resting on any pleadings 
whatever of fact or argument Whereas imf denial explains 
its own why and wherefore ; substituting besides for the 
frail and fluttering tent which it boasts to have demolished a 
substantial house. So learned a Church as the Boman 
Catholic would naturally have long siuce anticipated this 
substitution, had it depended much or chiefly on erudition ; 
it is not^ however, erudition that is primarily required in such 
suggestions, but conjectural felicity. 

This is a qualification depending so much upon luck, and 
in so small a proportion upon any meritorious endowment, 
that I should not scruple to claim it for myself and yet 
acknowledge any vanity in claiming it, were I absolutely 
satisfied with all the timbers and joists of my new Essenic 
structure, or were it " sure as death " that no horrid icono- 
clast) even whilst I an) yet speaking, may not be prowling 
round my new creation, and pointing his fatal finger to 
symptoms of dry-rot creeping this way or that, like cancer 
in unsuspected comers. Owning to this uneasiness myself 
(yet after all, not more in degree than the underwriters upon 
the Great Eastern will be likely to feel when she is out 
upon her trial trip), I cannot reasonably quarrel with the 
reader if he should utter even treasonable opinions upon my 
self- ascribed conjectural felicity. My own doubts are a 
licence for Tm, 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 1 

At a very early age commenced my own interest in the 
mystery that surrounds Secret Societies : the mystery being 
often double — 1, what they do ; and 2, what they do it for. 
Except for the prematurity of this interest, in itself it was 
not surprising. Generally speaking, a child may not — but 
every adult idll, and musty if at all by nature meditative — 
regard with a feeling higher than vulgar curiosity small 
fraternities of men forming themselves as separate and inner 
vortices within the great vortex of society ; communicating 
silently in broad daylight by signals not even seen, or, tf 
seen, not understood except among themselves; and con^ 
nected by the link either of purposes not safe to be avowed, 
or by the grander link of awful truths which, merely to 
shelter themselves from the hostility of an age unprepared 
for their reception, are forced to retire, possibly for genera- 
tions, behind thick curtains of secrecy. To be hidden amidst 
crowds is sublime ; to come down hidden amongst crowds 
from distant generations is doubly sublime. 

The first incident in my own childish experience that 
threw my attention upon the possibility of such dark associa- 
tions was the Abb6 BarrueFs book,^ soon followed by a 
similar book of Professor Robison's, in demonstration of a 

1 Prom Tait's Magazine for August and October 1847 : reprinted 
by Be Qoincey in 1858, with some omissions and considerable addi- 
tions, in the seventh volume of his Collected Writings. — M. 

^ Mimovres pour servir d VHistoire du JacobmisTne, London, 4 
voU., 1797-8 ; with an English translation in 1798. In De Quincey's 
text the spelling of the name is ** Baruel " i it is corrected here 
throughout. — M. 



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174 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

regular conspiracy throughout Europe for exterminating 
Christianity .1 This I did not read, but I heard it read and 
frequently discussed. I had already Latin enough to know 
that ccmcer meant a crab ; and that the disease so appalling 
to a child's imagination, which in English we call a cancer, 
as soon as it has passed beyond the state of an indolent 
scirrhous tumour, drew its name from the horrid claws, or 
spurs, or roots, by which it connected itself with distant 
points, running underground, as it were, baffling detection, 
and defying radical extirpation. What I heard read aloud 
from the Abb4 gave that dreadful cancerous character to the 
plot against Christianity. This plot, by the Abbd's account, 
stretched its horrid fangs, and threw out its forerunning 
feelers and tentacles^ into many nations, and more than one 
century. ThaJt perplexed me, though also faBcinating me by 
its grandeur. How men, living in distant periods and 
distant places — men that did not know each other, nay, 
often had not even heard of each other, nor spoke the same 
languages — could yet be parties to the same treason against 
a mighty religion towering to the highest heavens, puzzled 
my understanding. Then, also, when wickedness was so 
easy, why did people take all this trouble to be wicked ? 
The how and the why were alike incomprehensible to me. 
Yet the Abb^, everybody said, was a good man, incapable of 
telling falsehoods, or of countenancing falsehoods; and, 
indeed, to say thai was superfluous as regarded myself, for 
every man that wrote a book was in my eyes an essentially 
good man, being a revealer of hidden truth. Things in MS. 
might be doubtful, but things printed were unavoidably and 
profoundly true. So that, if I questioned and demurred as 
hotly as an infidel would have done, it never was that by 
the slightest shade I had become tainted with the infirmity 
of scepticism. On the contrary, I believed everybody as 
well as eyerytMng, And, indeed, the very starting-point of 
my too importunate questions was exactly that incapacity of 
scepticism — not any lurking jealousy that even part miglit 

^ Proofs of a, Conspiracy against all the Religions and QoftJem- 
ments of JEwqpe : Edinburgh, 1797 : By John Robison, I1L.D., Pro- 
fessor of Natural Philosophy la the University of Edinburgh (1774- 
1805).— M. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 175 

be false, but confidence too absolute that the whole must be 
true ; since, the more undeniably a thing was certain, the 
more clamorously I called upon people to make it intel- 
ligible. Other people, when they could not comprehend a 
thing, had often a resource in saying, "But, after all, per- 
haps it's a lie." I had no such resource. A lie was im- 
possible in a man that descended updn earth in the awful 
shape of four volumes octavo. Such a great man as ihoat was 
an oracle for me, far beyond Dodona or Delphi. The same 
thing occurs in another form to everybody. Often (you 
know) — ^alas ! too often — one's dear friend talks something 
which one scruples to call " rigmarole," but which, for the 
life of one (it becomes necessary to whisper) cannot be com- 
prehended. Well, after puzzling over it for two hours, ycm 
say, " Come, that's enough ; two hours is as much time as I 
can spare in one life for one unintelligibility." And then 
you proceed, in the most tranquil frame of mind, to take 
coffee as if nothing had happened. The thing does not 
haunt your sleep : for you say, " My dear friend, after all, 
was perhaps unintentionally talking nonsense.'' But how if 
the tilling that puzzles you happens to be a phenomenon in 
the sky or the clouds — something said by nature ? Nature 
never talks nonsense. There's no getting rid of the thing 
in that way. You can't call thaJt " rigmarole." As to your 
dear friend, you were sceptical; and the consequence was 
that you were able to be tranquU. There was a valve in 
reserve, by which your perplexity could escape. But as to 
nature you have no scepticism at all ; you believe in ^ to 
a most bigoted extent ; you believe every word she says. 
And that very belief is the cause that you are disturbed daily 
by something which you cannot understand. Being true, the 
thing ought to be intelligible. And, exactly because it is 
7U>t — exactly because this horrid unintelligibility is denied 
the comfort of doubt — therefore it is that you are so imhappy. 
If you could once make up your mind to doubt and to say, 
'^ Oh, as to nature, I don't believe one word in ten that she 
utters," then and there you would become as tranquil as 
when your dearest friend talks nonsense. My purpose, as 
regarded Barruel, was not tentative, as if presumptuously 
trying whether I should like to swallow a thing with an 



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176 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

amere-pensSe that, if not palatable, I might reject it, bnt 
simply the preparatory process of a boa-constrictor lubricating 
the substance offered, whatever it might be, towards its 
readier deglutition, under the absolute certainty that, come 
what would, I must swallow it, — that result, whether easy 
or not easy, being one that finally followed at any rate. 

The person who chiefly introduced me to Barruel was a 
lady, a stern lady, and austere, not only in her manners, 
which made most people dislike her, but also in the character 
of her understanding and morals — ^an advantage which made 
some people afraid of her. Me, however, she treated with 
unusual indulgence, chiefly, I believe, because I kept her 
intellectuals in a state of exercise, nearly amounting to per- 
secution. She was just five times my age when our warfare 
of disputation commenced, I being seven, she thirty-five; 
and she was not quite four times my age when our warfare 
terminated by sudden separation, I being then ten, and she 
thirty-eight. This change, by the way, in the multiple that 
expressed her chronological relations to myself used greatly 
to puzzle me ; because, as the interval between us had 
diminished, within the memory of man, so rapidly that from 
being five times younger I found myself less than four times 
younger, the natural inference seemed to be that, in a few 
years, I should not be younger at all, but might come to be 
the older of the two ; in which case, I should certainly have 
*' taken my change " out of the airs she continually gave her- 
self on the score of closer logic, but especially of longer 
" experience." That decisive word "experience" was, indeed, 
always a sure sign to me that I had the better of the argu- 
ment, and that it had become necessary, therefore, suddenly 
to pull me up in the career of victory by a violent exertion 
of authority ; as a knight of old, at the very moment when 
he would else have unhorsed his opponent, was often frozen 
into unjust inactivity by the king's arbitrary signal for part- 
ing the tilters. It was, hpwever, only when very hard 
pressed that my fair (or, rather, brown) antagonist took this 
not fair advantage in our daily tournaments. G^erally, and 
if I showed any moderation in the assault, she was rather 
pleased with the sharp rattle of my rolling musketry. Objec- 
tions she rather liked, and questions as many as one pleased 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 177 

upon the pour^oiy if one did not go on to 26 pourquoi du 
pourquoi. That, she said, was carrying things too far : excess 
in everything die disapproved. Now, there I differed from 
her : excess was the thing I doated on. The fan seemed to 
me only beginning when she asserted that it had already 
" overstepped the limits of propriety." Ha 1 those limits, I 
thought, were soon reached. 

But, however much or often I might vault over the limits 
of propriety, or might seem to challenge both her and the 
Abb^---all this was but anxiety to reconcile my own secret 
belief in the Abb^ with the strong arguments for not believ- 
ing ; it was but the form assumed by my earnest desire to 
see how the learned gentleman could be right whom my in- 
tense faith certified beyond all doubt to he so, and whom, 
equally, my perverse logical recusancy whispered to be con- 
tinually in the wrong. I wished to see my own rebellious 
arguments, which I really sorrowed over and bemoaned, 
knocked down like ninepins ; shown to be softer than cotton, 
frailer than glass, and utterly worthless in the eye of reason. 
All this, indeed, the stem lady assured me that she had 
shown over and over again. Well, it might be so ; and 
to this, at any rate, as a decree of court, I saw a worldly 
prudence in submitting. But, probably, I must have looked 
rather grim, and have wished devoutly for one fair turn-up, 
on Salisbury Plain, with herself and the Abb^ ; in which case 
my heart told me how earnestly I should pray that they 
might for ever floor me, but how melancholy a conviction 
oppressed my spirits that my destiny was to floor them. 
Victorious, I should find my belief and my understanding in 
painful schism, since my arguments, which I so much wished 
to see refuted, would on that assumption be triumphant : on 
the other hand, beaten and demolished, I should find my 
whole nature in harmony with itself. 

The mysteriousness to me of men becoming partners (and 
by no means sleeping partners) in a society of which they 
had never heard, — or, again, of one fellow standing at the 
beginniug of a century, and stretching out his hand as an 
accomplice towards another fellow standing at the end of it, 
without either having known of the other's existence, — all 
that did but sharpen the interest of wonder that gathered 

VOL. VII N 



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178 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

about the general economy of Secret Societies. Tertullian's 
profession of believing things, not m spite of being impossible, 
but simply because they were impossible, is not the extrava- 
gance that most people suppose it. There is a deep truth in 
it Many are the things which, in proportion as they attract 
the highest modes of belief, discover a tendency to repel belief 
on that part of the scale which is governed by the lower 
understanding. And here, as so often elsewhere, the axiom 
with respect to extremes meeting manifests its subtle presence. 
The highest form of the incredible is sometimes the initial 
form of the credible. But the point on which our irrecon- 
cilability was greatest respected the cui bono (the ultimate 
purpose) of this alleged conspiracy. What were the con- 
spirators to gain by success ? and nobody pretended that 
they could gain anything by failure. The lady replied — 
that, by obliterating the light of Christianity, they prepared 
the readiest opening for the unlimited gratification of their 
odious appetites and passions. But to this the retort was too 
obvious to escape anybody, and for me it threw itself into 
the form of that pleasant story, reported from the life of 
Pyrrhus the Epii-ot — viz. that one day, upon a friend request- 
ing to know what ulterior purpose the king might mask 
under his expedition to Sicily, ** Why, after that is finished," 
replied the king, " I mean to administer a little correction 
(very much wanted) to certain parts of Italy, and particularly 

to that nest of rascals in Latium." — " And then *' said 

the friend: "And then," said Pyrrhug, "next we go for 
Macedon ; and, after that job's jobbed, next, of course, for 

Greece." — "Which done " said the friend: "Which 

done," interrupted the king, " as done it shall be, then we're 
off to tickle the Egyptians." — " Whom having tickled,*' pur- 
sued the friend, " then we '' : " tickle the Persians," 

said the king. — ** But after that is done," urged the obstinate 
friend, " whither next ? " — " Why, really, man, ifs hard to 
8*7 ; you give one no time to breathe ; but we'll consider 
the case as soon as we come to Persia; and, until we've 
settled it, we can crown ourselves with roses, and pass the 
time pleasantly enough over the best wine to be found in 
Ecbatana." — " That's a very just idea," replied the friend ; 
^^ but, with submission, it strikes me that we might do that 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 179 

just now, and at the beginning of aU these tedious wars, 
instead of waiting for their end." — ** Bless me I" said 
Pyrrhus, " if ever I thought of that before. Why, man, 
you're a conjurer ; you've discovered a mine of happiness. 
So, here, boy, bring us roses and plenty of Cretan wine." — 
Surely, on the same principle, these French Encyclop^distes, 
and Bavarian Illuminati, did not need to postpone any 
jubilees of licentiousness which they promised themselves to 
so very indefinite a period as their ovation over the ruins of 
Christianity. True, the vtnpulse of hatred, even though 
irrational, may be a stronger force for action thail any motive 
of hatred, however rational or grounded in self-interest. 
But, the particular motive relied upon by the stem lady, 
as the central spring of the antichristian movement, being 
obviously insufficient for the weight which it had to sustain, 
naturally the lady, growing sensible of this herself, became 
still sterner ; very angry with me ; and not quite satisfied, 
in this instance, with the Abb^ Yet, after all, it was not 
any embittered remembrance of our eternal feuds in dusting 
the jacket of the Abb^ Barruel that lost me, ultimately, the 
favour of this austere lady. All that she forgave ; and 
especially because she came to think the Abb^ as bad as 
myself for leaving such openings to my inroads. It was on 
a question of politics that our deadliest difference arose, and 
that my deadliest sarcasm was launched ; not against herself, 
but against the opinion and party which she adopted. I was 
right, as usually I am, but on this occasion must have been, 
because I stood up as a patriot intolerant to frenzy of all 
insult directed against dear England, and she, though other- 
wise patriotic enough, in this instance ranged herself in alli- 
ance with a false anti-national sentiment. My sarcasm was 
not too strong for the case. But certainly I ought to have 
thought it too strong for the presence of a lady ; whom, or 
any of her sex, on a matter of politics in these days, so much 
am I changed, I would allow to chase me, like a football, all 
round the tropics, rather than offer the least show of resist- 
ance. But my excuse was childhood ; and, though it may 
be true, as the reader will be sure to remind me, that she 
was rapidly growing down to my level in that respect, still 
she had not quite reached it ; so that there was more excuse 



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180 HISTOBICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABOHES 

for me, after all, than for her. She was no longer five times 
as old, or even four ; but when she would come down to be 
two times as old, and one time as old, it was hard to say. 

Thus I had good reason for remembering my first intro- 
duction to the knowledge of Secret Societies, since this know- 
ledge introduced me to the more gloomy knowledge of the 
strife which gathers in clouds over the fields of human life, 
and to the knowledge of this strife in two shapes : one of 
which none of us fail to learn — the personal strife which is 
awakened so eternally by diflFerence of opinion, or diflference 
of interest; the other, which is felt^ perhaps, obscurely by 
all, but distinctly noticed only by the profoundly reflective 
— viz. the schism (so mysterious to those even who have 
examined it most) between the human intellect and many 
undeniable realities of human experience. As to the first 
mode of strife, I could not possibly forget it ; for the stem 
lady died before we had an opportunity to exchange forgive- 
ness, and l^iat left a sting behind. She, I am sure, was a 
good forgiving creature at heart ; and especially she would 
have forgiven me, because it was nvy place (if one only got 
one's right place on earth) to forgive her. Had she even 
hauled me out of bed with a tackling of ropes in the dead of 
night, for the mere purpose of reconciliation, I should have 
said, " Why, you see I can't forgive you entirely to-night, 
because I'm angry when people waken me without notice ; 
but to-morrow morning I certainly will ; or, if that won't do, 
you shall forgive me. No great matter which, as the conclu- 
sion must be the same in either case — ^viz. to kiss and be 
friends." 

But the other strife, which perhaps sounds metaphysical 
in the reader's ears, then first wakened up to my perceptions, 
and never again went to sleep amongst my perplexities. 
Cicero ! my poor, thoughtless Cicero ! in all your shallow 
metaphysics not once did you give utterance to such a bounce 
as when you asserted that never yet did human reason say 
one thing and nature say another. On the contrary, every 
part of nature — mechanics, dynamics, morals, metaphysics, 
and even pure mathematics — are continually giving the lie 
flatly by their facts and conclusions to the very necessities 
and laws of the human understanding. Did the reader ever 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 181 

study the "Antinomies" of Kanti If not, lie thall ; and I 
am the man that will introduce him to that study. There he 
will have the pleasure of seeing a set of quadrilles or reels in 
which old Mother Reason amuses herself by dancing to the 
right and left two variations of blank contradiction to old 
Mother Truth, both variations being irrefragable, each varia- 
tion contradicting the other, each contradicting the equatorial 
reality, and each alike (though past all denial) being a lie. 
But he need not go to Kant for this. Let him look as one 
having eyes for looking, and everywhere the same perplexing 
phenomenon occurs. And this first dawned upon myself in 
the Barruel case. As nature is to the human intellect, so 
was Barruel to mine. We all believe in nature without 
limit) yet hardly understand a page amongst her innumerable 
pages. I believed in Barruel by necessity, and yet every- 
where my understanding mutinied against hds, Supersti- 
tiously I believed the aggregate of what he said : rebeUiously 
I contradicted each separate sentence. 

But in Barruel I had heard only of Secret Societies that 
were consciously formed for mischievous ends; or, if not 
always for a distinct purpose of evil, yet always in a spirit 
of malignant contradiction and hatred. Soon I read of other 
societies, even more secret, that watched over truth dangerous 
to publish or even to whisper, like the sleepless dragons that 
oriental fable associated with the subterraneous guardianship 
of regal treasures. The secrecy, and the reasons for the 
secrecy, were alike subHme. The very image, unveiling itself 
by unsteady glimpses, of men linked by brotherly love and 
perfect confidence, meeting in secret chambers, at the noon- 
tide of night, to shelter, by muffling with their own persons 
interposed, and at their own risk, some solitary lamp of truth 
— sheltering it from the carelessness of the world and its 
stormy ignorance ; that wouldsoon have blown it out — shelter- 
ing it from the hatred of the world ; that would soon have 
made war upon its life : all this was superhumanly sublime. 
The fear of those men was sublime ; the courage was sublime; 
the stealthy, thief-like means were sublime ; the audacious 
end — viz. to change the kingdoms of earth — was sublime. If 
they acted and moved like cowards, those men were sublime ; 
if they planned with the audacity of martyrs, those men were 



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182 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

sublime : not less as cowards, not more as martyrs ; for the 
cowardice that appeared above, and the courage that lurked 
below, were parts of the same machinery. 

But another feature of sublimity, which it surprises me 
to see so many irreflective men unaware of, lies in the self- 
perpetuation and phcenix-like defiance to mortality of such 
societies. This feature it is that throws a grandeur even on 
a humbug ; of which there have been many examples, and 
two in particular, which I am soon going to memorialise. 
Often and often have men of finer minds felt this secret spell 
of grandeur, and laboured to embody it in external forms. 
There was a Phoenix Club once in Oxford (up and down 
Europe there have been several), that by its constitution 
grasped not only at the sort of immortality aspired after by 
PhcBnix insurance offices — ^viz, a legal or notional perpetua- 
tion, liable merely to no practical interruptions as regarded 
paying, and a fortiori as regarded receiving money, but others 
wise fast asleep every night like other dull people : far more 
faithful, literal, intense, was the realisation in this Oxford 
case of an undying life. Such a condition as a " sede vacarUe" 
which is a condition expressed in the constitutions of all other 
societies, was impossible in this for any office whatever. That 
great case was realised which has since been described by 
Chateaubriand as governing the throne of France and its 
successions. " His Majesty is dead I " shouts a voice ; and 
this seems to argue at least a moment's interregnum. Not 
at all — not a moment's : the thing is impossible. Simul- 
taneous (and not successive) is the breath that ejaculates '^ May 
the King live for ever ! " The birth and the death, the rising 
and the setting, synchronise by a anetaphysical nicety of 
neck-and-neck, inconceivable to the book-keepers of earth. 
These wretched men imagine that the second rider's foot 
cannot possibly be in the stirrup until the first rider^s foot is 
out. If the one event occurs in moment M, the other they 
think must occur in moment N. That may be as regards 
stirrups : but not as regards metaphysical successions. I 
admit that the guard of a mail-coach cannot possibly leave 
the post-office before the coachman, but, upon the whole, a 
little after him. Such base rules, however, find themselves 
compelled to give way in presence of great metaphysicians — 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 183 

in whose science, as I stoop to inform book-keepers, the efifect, 
if anything, goes rather ahead of the cause. Now this Oxford 
club arose on these sublime principles : no disease like inter- 
mitting pulse was known there. No fire but vestal fire was 
used for boiling the tearkettle. The rule was that, if once 
entered upon the matricula of this amaranthine ^ club, thence- 
forwards, come from what zone of the earth you would, — 
come without a minute's notice — send up your card — Mr. 0. 
P., from the Anthropophagi — Mr. P. 0., from the men whose 
heads do grow beneath their shoulders, — instantly you are 
shown in to the sublime presence. You were not limited to 
any particular century. Nay, by the rigour of the theory, 
you had your own choice of millennium. Whatever might 
be convenient to you was convenient to the club. The 
constitution of the club assumed that, in every successive 
generation, as a matter of course, some president duly elected 
^r his authorised delegate) would be found in the chair ; 
scornfully throwing the onus of proof to the contrary upon 
the presumptuous reptile that doubted it Public or private 
calamity signified not. The president reverberated himself 
through a long sinking fond of vice-presidents. There, night 
and day, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, sat the 
august man, looking as grim as the Princeps SenoMs amongst 
the Conscript Fathers of Rome when the Gauls entered on 
the well-known little errand of cutting their throats. If you 
entered on the very same errand, the president was backed to 
a large amount to keep his seat until his successor had been 
sunmioned. Suppose the greatest of revolutions to have 
passed over the island during your absence abroad ; England, 
let us say, has even been conquered by a polished race of 
Hottentots. Very good : an accomplished Hottentot will 
then be found seated in the chair ; you will be allowed to 
kiss Mr. President's black paw, and will understand that, 
although farewells might be common enough as regarded 
individual members, yet, by the eternal laws of this eternal 
club, the word adjournment for the whole concern was a 

^ " Amaranthme" : — ^This word, familiar even to non- Grecian 
readers throngh the flower amararUhf and its nse amongst poets, is 
derived from a, not (equivalent to our un), and maraino, to wither or 
decay. 



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184 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEAECHES 

word so treasonable as not to be tittered without risk of 
massacre. 

The same principle in man's nature, the everlasting instinct 
for glorifying the everlasting, the impulse for petrifying the 
fugitive and arresting the transitory, which shows itself in 
ten thousand forms, has also, in this field of secret confedera- 
tions, assumed many grander forms. To strive after a 
conquest over Time the conqueror, to confound the grim 
confounder, is already great, in whatsoever direction. But it 
is still greater when it applies itself to objects that are per se 
immortal, and mortal only as respects their alliance with 
man. Glorification of heaven — Htanies chanted day and 
night by adoring hearts — these will doubtless ascend for ever 
from this planet That result is placed out of hazard, and 
needs not the guarantee of princes. Somewhere, from some 
climate, from some lips, such a worship will not cease to 
rise. But, let a man's local attachments be what they may, 
he must sigh to think that no assignable spot of ground on 
earth, that no nation, that no family, enjoys any absolute 
privilege in that respect. No land, whether continent or 
island — ^nor race, whether freemen or slaves — can daim any 
fixed inheritance, or indefeasible heirlooms of trutL Yet, 
for that very reason, men of deep piety have but the more 
earnestly striven to bind down and chain their own con- 
ceptions of truth within the models of some unchanging 
establishments, even as the Greek Pagans of old chained 
down their gods from deserting them ^ ; have striven to train 
the vagrant water-brooks of Wisdom, lest she might desert 
the region altogether, into the channels of some local home- 
stead ; to connect with a fixed succession of descendants the 

^ " Chained down their gods" : — Many of the Greek states, thougk 
it has not been sufficiently inquired which states, and in what age, had 
a notion that in war-time the tutelary deities of the place, the local or 
epichorial gods, were liable to bribery, by secret offers of temples more 
splendid, altars better served, &c., from the enemy ; so that a stand- 
ing danger existed lest these gods should desert to the hostile camp ; 
and especially because, not knowing the rate of the hostile biddings, 
the indigenous worshippers had no guide to regulate their own counter- 
biddings. In this embarrassment, the prudent course, as most people 
believed, was to chain the divine idols by the leg with golden fetters ; 
or perhaps silver-gilt would suffice. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 186 

conservation of religion ; to root, as one would root a forest 
that is to floorisli through ages, a heritage of ancient truth 
in the territorial heritage of an ancient household. That 
sounds to some ears like the policy that founded monastic 
institutions. Whether so or not, it is not necessarily Roman 
Catholic. The same policy — the same principle — the sighing 
after peace and the image of perpetuity, have many times 
moulded the plans of Protestant families. Such feunilies, with 
monastic imaginations linked to Protestant hearts, existed 
numerously in England through the reigns of the First James 
and Charles — fiimilies amongst the gentry, or what on the 
Continent would be called the lower nobility, that remembered 
with love the gorgeous ritual and services of the Romish 
Church, but having this love combined with the love of 
Protestant doctrines. 

Amongst these families, and distinguished amongst these 
families, was that of the Farrers.^ The name of their patri- 
monial estate was Little Gidding, and, I think, in the County 
of Huntingdon. They were, by native turn of mind, and by 
varied accomplishments, a most interesting family. In some 
royal houses of Europe it was once a custom that every son, 
if not every daughter, should learn a trade. This custom 
subsisted down to the days of the imhappy Louis XVI, who 
was a locksmithj-r-and, I was once assured by a Frenchman, 
who knew him well, and knew his workmanship, not so bad 
a one, considering (you know) that one cannot be as rough as 
might be wished in scolding a locksmith that one is obliged 
to address as "Your Majesty." A majestic locksmith has a 
sort of right to be a bad one. The Farrers adopted this 

1 " 27ie Farrers " :^-There is, but by whom written I really forget, 
a separate memoir of this family, and published as a separate volume. 
In the county histories will also be found sketches of their history. 
But the most popular form in which their memorials have been retraced 
is a biography of Nicholas Farrer, introduced into one of the six 
volumes, I cannot say which, of the "Ecclesiastical Biography" — an 
interesting compilation, drawn up by the late Dr. Christopher Words- 
worth, a brother of the great poet, and for many years examining 
chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Manners Sutton. — [The 
usual spelling of the name is ** Ferrar " ; but, as " Farrer " may be an 
old alternative form, De Quincey's spelling is kept. The most com- 
plete accoimt of Nicholas Ferrar, I believe, is in a volume published 
in 1866 by Mr. J. E. B. Mayor of Cambridge. — M.] 



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186 mSTOKICAL ESSAYS AND BESEARCHES 

dutoin, and moet of them chose the trade of a book- 
binder. 

Whj this was a good trade to choose I will explain in a 
brief digresmon. It is a reason which applies only to three 
other trades : yiz. to coining, to printing books, and to making 
gold or silver plate. And the reason is this : all the four 
arts stand on an isthmns^ connecting them, on one side, with 
the vast continent of merely mechanic crafts, on the other 
side with the fiir smaller continent of Fine Arts. This was 
the marking distinction between the coinages of ancient 
classical days and our own. Our European and East Indian ^ 
coins are the basest of all base products from rude barbaresque 
handicraft. Originally they must have been conceived by 
that man, some horrid Cyclops, who revealed the great idea 
of a horseshoe, of a poker, and of a tenpenny naiL Now, the 
ancient coins were modelled by the same immortal artists 
that conceived their exquisite genuy the cameos and the 
intaglios which you may buy, in Tassie's Sulphurs, at a few 
shillings each, or for much less in the engraved '^Glypto- 
thecse."' But^ as to coining, our dear lady the Queen (Qod 
bless her is so avaricious that she will have it all to 
herself. She won't let you or me into the smallest share of 
the business ; and she lags us if we poach. That is what 1 
call monopoly. And I do wish Her Majesty would be per- 
suaded to read a ship-load of political economists (generally 
in octavo) that I could point out on the ruinous consequences 
of that vice, which, otherwise, it may be feared nobody ever 

^ For proot look only at two coins of onr British Empire — first, at 
our current rupee thronghout Hindostan. When a child, I was pre- 
sented by Bengal relatives with a rouleau of rupees by way of play- 
things : anything so rude in workmanship, so truly Hunnish, and 
worthy of Attila, I have not seen on this earth of ours. And yet, 
secondly, our own English florin^ though less brutally inartificial, is 
even more oflfensive to good taste, because less unpretending as a work 
of display. Oh, that dreadful woman, with that dreadful bnst ! — the 
big woman, and the big bust ! — whom and which to encircle in "a 
chaste salute " would require a man with arms fourteen feet long 1 

2 James Tassie, modeller and engraver, 1735-1799. His " Descrip- 
tive Catalogue of a General Collection of Ancient and Modem Engraved 
Gems, Cameos as well as Intaglios, from the most celebrated Cabinets 
in Europe, cast in coloured Pastes, "White Enamel, and Sulphur," 
was published in 1791. — M. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 187 

will read. After coming, tlie next best trade is printing. 
This, also, miglit approach to a fine art When entering the 
twilight of doti^e, reader, I mean to have a printing-press in 
my own study. I shall print some immaculate editions, as 
farewell keepsakes, for distribution amongst people that I 
love ; but rich and rare must be the gems on which I bestow 
this labour. I mean, also, to print a spelling-book for the 
reader's use. As it seems that he reads (else how can he be 
the reader % he surely ought to spelL I hope he will not be 
offended. If he if, — and dreadfully, viewing it as the most 
awful insult that man could offer to his brother man, — in 
that case he might bequeath the spelling-book by will to his 
possible grandson. Two generations might dilute the affront^ 
while it left the spelling-book undamaged. As to plate- 
making, it seems to rank with the most mechanic of handi- 
works : you think not of the sculptor, the chaser, and their 
exquisite tools, but of Sheffield, Birmingham, Glasgow, sledge- 
hammers, and pincers. It seems to require no art. I think 
I could make a dessert-spoon myself. Yet the openings 
which it offers are vast, wherever wealth exists, for the 
loveliest conceptions of higher art Benvenuto Cellini — 
what an artist was hs 1 There are some few of his most 
exquisite works in this country, which may be seen by 
applying in the right quarters. Judge of him by these, and 
not by his autobiography. There he appears as a vain, 
ostentatious man.^ One would suppose, to hear hi/m talk, 
that nobody ever executed a murder but himself. His own, 
I grant, are tolerable ; that's all you can say ; but not one of 
them is first-rate, or to be named on the same day with the 
Pope's attempt at murdering Cellini himself, which must 
command the unqualified approbation of the connoisseur. 
True, the papal attempt did not succeed, and most of 

^ When a murderer is thoroughly diseased by vanity, one loses all 
confidence in him. Cellini [1500-1570] went upon the plan of claiming 
all eminent murders, suitable in point of time and place, that nobody 
else claimed ; just as many a short poem in the Greek Anthologies 
marked adespoton (or without an ovm&r) was sported by one pretender 
after another as his own. Even simple homicides he would not think 
it below him to challenge as his own. Two princes, at the very 
least, a Bourbon and a Nassau, he pretended to have shot ; it might 
be so, but nobody ever came forward to corroborate his statement. 



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188 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Cellini's did. What of thai ? Who but idiots judge by the 
event) Much, therefore, as I condemn the man's vanity, 
and the more so because he claims some murders that too 
probably were none of his (not content with exaggerating his 
own, he absolutely pirated other men's murders !), yet, when 
you turn from this walk of art, in which he practised only 
as an amateury to his orf^erie, then you feel the interval that 
divides the charlatan ftom the man of exquisite genius. As 
a murderer, he was a poor creature ; as an artist in gold, he 
was inimitable. Finally, there remains bookbinding,^ of which 
also one may affirm that, being often the vilest of handicrafts, 
it is susceptible of much higher effects in the enrichments, 
tooling, architecture (for an architecture there is), heraldic 
emblazonries, &c. 

This art Mr. Farrer selected for his trade, by which I 
mean his daily mechanic occupation ; but he pursued it with 
the enthusiasm and the inventive skiU. which belong to a fine 
art He had travelled on foot through Spain ; and I should 
think it not impossible that he had there seen some magnificent 
specimens of bookbinding. For I was once told, though I 
have not seen it mentioned in any book, that, a century 
before the date of Farrer's travels — ^which travels, I should 
say conjecturally, must be dated about ten to fifteen years 
after Shakspere's death — Cardinal Ximenes, about 1620, 
when printing his great Complutensian Bible, gave a special 
encouragement to a new style of binding, fitted for har- 
monising with the grandeur of royal fm-niture, and the 
carved enrichments of Gothic libraries.^ This, and the 
other accomplishments which the Farrers had, they had 
in perfection. But the moat remarkable trait in the family 

^ In youth I saw frequently chefs cCoeuvre of bookbinding from the 
studios of some London artists (Hering, Lewis, &c.), and of several 
Germans^specially.Kaltoeber, Staggemeier, and others (names^ for- 
gotten by reason of prickliness and thorniness). But read the account 
of Mr. Farrer's Bible, and you see how far he, in 1635, must have 
outshone them. ^ 

^ This was the earliest attempt at a Polyglot Bible, and had its 
name from the town of Complutum, which is, I think, the Latin name 
of AlccUa de Henarez, The Henarez is a little river. Some readers 
will thank me for mentioning that the accent is on the^.8^ syllable of 
Complutum, the u in the penultimate being short ; not Complutum, 
but Compliitum, the adjective from which is Cornplnieneie, 



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SECRET SOCIETIBS 189 

character was the exaltation of their devotional feelings. 
Had it not been for their benignity and humility, they 
might have been thought gloomy and ascetic. Something 
there was, as in thoughtful minds left to a deep sylvan 
solitude there is likely to be, of La Trappism and of Madame 
Guyon Quietism. A nun-like aspiration there was in the 
females after purity and oblivion of earth : in Mr. Farrer, 
the head of the family, a devotional energy, put forth in 
continual combat with the earthly energies that tempted him 
away to the world, and with all that offered itself under the 
specious name of public usefulnesa In this combination of 
qualities arose the plan which the family organised for a 
system of perpetual worship. They had a family chapel 
regularly consecrated, as so many families of their rank still 
had in England. They had an organ : they had means of 
forming a choir. Gradually the establishment was mounted : 
the appointments were completed : the machinery was got 
into motion. How long the plan was effectually carried on 
would be hard to say. The increasing ferment of the times 
until the meeting of the Long Parliament in November 1640, 
and, in less than two years after that meeting, the opening 
of the great Civil War, must have made it absolutely 
impossible to adhere systematically to any scheme of that 
nature which required perfect seclusion from worldly cares 
wUhm the mansion, and public tranquillity wUhotU, — ^not to 
mention that the Farrers had an extra source of molestation at 
that period, when Puritanism was advancing rapidly to a 
domineering station of power, in the public suspicions which 
unjustly (but not altogether unplausibly) taxed them with 
popish leanings. A himdred years later. Bishop Butler 
drew upon himself at Durham the very same suspicion, and 
in some degree justified by the very same thoughtless act — 
viz. by an adoption of pious symbols, open undeniably to the 
whole Catholic family of Christian Churches, and yet equivocal 
in their meaning, because specially in the popular mind appro- 
priated to the use of popish churches.^ Abstracting, however, 
&om the violent disturbances of those stormy times in the 

^ Was it not Bishop Halifax who apologised for Butler in this 
instance ? If Butler were in deep sincerity a Protestant, no apology 
was sufficient. 



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190 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

way of all religions schemes, we may collect that the scheme 
of the Farrers was that the chapel services should be going on, 
by means of successive "reliefB" as in camps, or of "watches" 
as at sea, through every hour of the day and the night, from 
year to year, from childhood to old age. Come when you 
might, come in the dawning, come in the twilight, come at 
noonday, come through silent roads in the dead of night — 
always you could rely upon hearing, through the woods of 
Little Qidding, the blare of the organ, the penitential wail of 
the solitary choristers, or the glad triumphant burst of the 
full choir in jubilation. There was some affinity in Mr. 
Farrer's mind to the Spanish peculiarities, and the Spanish 
modes of grandeur; awful prostration, like Pascal's, before 
the divine idea ; glodm that sought to strengthen itself by 
tenfold involution in the night of solitary woods ; exaggerated 
impressions (if such impressions could be exaggerated) of human 
wretchedness ; and a brooding sense of some unknown illimit- 
able grandeur, 

" Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns '* — 

a sense that could sustain itself at its natural level 
only by eternal contemplation of 'objects that had no 
end. 

Mr. Farrer's plan for realising a vestal fire, or something 
beyond it, — viz. a secrecy of truth, burning brightly in dark- 
ness, and, secondly, a perpetuity of truth,— did not succeed ; 
as many a noble scheme that men never heard of has been 
swept away in its infancy, amongst the ruins of flood, fire, 
earthquake, which also are forgotten not less completely than 
what they ruined. Thank Heaven for that ! If the noble 
is often crushed suddenly by the ignoble, one forgetfulness 
travels after both. The wicked earthquake which ruins is 
forgotten not less than the glorious temples which it ruined. 
Yet the Farrer plan has repeatedly succeeded and prospered 
through a course of centuries, and for purposes of the same 
nature. 

But the strange thing is (which already I have noticed) 
that the general principle of such a plan has succeeded most 
memorably when applied to purposes of humbug. The two 



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SECRET SOCrBTIBS 191 

best known of all secret societies that ever ham been are the 
two most extensive monuments of elaborate humbug on the 
one side, and credulity on the other. They divide them- 
selves between the ancient world and the modem. The 
great and illustrious humbug of Ancient History was the 
Eleusinian MYSTERiBa The great and illustrious humbug 
of Modem History — of the History which boasts a present 
and a future, as well as a past — is Frebmasonrt. Let me 
take a few liberties with both. 

The Eleusinian humbug was for centuries the opprobrium 
of scholars. Even in contemporary times it was such. The 
greatest philosopher and polyhistor of Athens, or of Rome, 
could no more tell you the secret, the to aporreton (unless he 
had been initiated, in which case he durst not tell it), than I 
can. In fact, if you come to thcU, perhaps I myself can tell 
it The ancient philosopher would retort that we of these 
days are in the same predicament as to our own humbug — 
the Freemasons. No, no, my friend ; you're wrong there. 
We know all about that humbug, as I mean to show you. 
But for what we know of Eleusis and its mummeries, which 
is quite enough for all practical purposes, we are indebted to 
none of you ancients, but entirely to modem sagacity. Is 
not that shocking, — that a hoax ^should first be unmasked 
when it has been defunct for fifteen hundred years, and after 
it has done business as a swindle through thirty generations ? 
Dreadful — an't it? The interest which attaches to the 
Eleusinian shows is not properly an interest in them, but an 
alien interest in accidents indirectly connected with them. 
Secret there was virtually none ; but a mystery at length 
begins to arise : how it was that this distressing secret — ^viz. 
of there being' no secret at all — could, through so many 
generations, pass down in religious conservation of itself 
from all profane curiosity of outside barbarians. There was 
an endless file of heroes, philosophers, statesmen, all hoaxed, 
all of course incensed at being hoaxed ; and yet not one of 
them is known to have revenged himself by blabbing. A 
great modem poet, musing philosophically on the results 
amongst the mob " in Leicester's busy Square " from looking 
through a showman's telescope at the moon, is surprised at 



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192 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

the crowd of spectators going off with an air of disappoint- 
ment : 

''One after one, they move apart ; nor have I one espied 
That doth not slackly go away, as if dissatisfied." ^ 

Yes ; but I can tell him the reason of that The fact is, a more 
pitiful sight for sight-seers than our own moon does not exist 
The first man that showed 7ne the moon through a glass of 
any power was a distinguished professor of astronomy. I 
was so incensed with the hoax (as it seemed) put upon me — 
such a weak, watery, wicked old harridan, substituted for 
the pretty creature I had been used to see — ^that I marched 
up to him with the angry design of demanding my half- 
crown back again, until a disgusting remembrance came over 
me that, being a learned professor, the showman could not 
possibly have taken any half-crown; which fact also 
destroyed all ground of action against him as obtaining 
money under false pretences. I contented myself, therefore, 
with saying that, until he showed me the man in the moon, 
with his dog, lantern, and bundle of thorns, I must decline 
corroborating his fancy of being able to exhibit the old 
original moon and no mistake. Endymion never could have 
had such a sweetheart as that Let the reader take my 
advice, not to seek familiarity with the moon. Familiarity 
breeds contempt ; and in this more eminently than in any 
other instance that I know. 

It is certain that, like the travellers through ^^ Leicester's 
busy Square," all the visitors of Eleusis must have abomi- 
nated the hoax put upon them : 

** nor have I (me espied 
That did not slackly walk away, as if dissatisfied.*' 

See, now, the different luck of hoaxers in this world. 
Joseph Ady ^ is smoked pretty nearly by the whole race of 

* Wordsworth's Star-Gazers. — M. 

^ "Jos^h Ady**: — Joseph Ady was a useful pubUc servant, 
although in some degree a disreputable servant ; and through half a 
generation (say sixteen or seventeen years in these days) a purveyor of 
fan and hilarity to the great nation of newspaper-readers. His line 
of business was this : — Naturally, in the case of a funded debt so vast 
as ours in Great Britain, it must happen that very numerous lodg- 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 193 

man ; though, by the way, not until after a prosperity of 
Bome twenty years. The Continent is, by this time, wide 
awake ; Belgium has refused to take in his letters ; and the 
cruel Lord Mayor of Jjondon has threatened to indi<it Joe 
for a fraud, value twopence, by reason of the said Joe having 
seduced his lordship into opening an unpaid letter, which 
was found to contain nothing but an invitation from " yours 
respectfully " — not to a dinner, good or bad, but to an early 

ments of sums not large enough to attract attention are dropping into 
the list of dividends with no apparent claimant every fortnight. Death 
is always at work in removing the barriers between ourselves — who- 
ever this ouraeJ/oea may happen to be — and claims upon the national 
debt that have lost (perhaps long ago) their original owners. The 
reader, for instance, or myself, at this very moment, may unconsciously 
have succeeded to some lapsed claim, between which and us five years 
ago there may have stood thirty or forty claimants with a nearer title. 
In a nation so adventurous and given to travelling as ours, deaths 
abroad by fire and water, by contagious disease, and by the dagger or 
• the secret poison of the assassin (to which of all nations ours is most 
exposed, from inveterate habits of generous unsuspecting confidence), 
annually clear off a large body of obscure claimants, whose claims (as 
being not conspicuous from their smaU amount) are silently as snow- 
flakes gathering into a vast fand (if I recollect, forty millions sterling) 
of similar noiseless accumulations. When you read the periodical list 
published by authority of the countless articles (often valuable) left by 
the owners in public carriages, out of pure forgetfulness, to the mercy 
of chance, or of needy public servants, it is not possible that you 
should be surprised if some enterprising countryman, ten thousand 
miles from home, should forget in his last moments some deposit of 
one, two, or three hundred pounds in the British Funds. In such a 
case, it would be a desirable thing for the reader and myself that 
some person practised in such researches should take charge of our 
interests, watch the future fortunes of the unadvertised claim, and 
note the steps by which sometimes it comes nearer and nearer to our 
own door. Now, such a vicarious watchman was Joseph Ady. In 
discharge of his self-assumed duties, he addressed letters to all the 
world. He communicated the outline of the case ; but naturally 
stipulated for a retaining fee (not much, usually twenty shillings) as 
the Juyrutrcunum for services past and coming. Out of five thousand 
addressees, if nine-tenths declined to take any notice of his letters, the 
remaining tenth secured to him £500 annually. Gradually he ex- 
tended his correspondence to the Continent. And general merriment 
attended his continual skirmishes with police-offices. But this lucra- 
tive trade was at last ungenerously stifled by a new section in the 
Post-Office Bill, which made the writer of letters that were refused 
liable for the postage. That legislative blow extinguished simultane- 
ously Adyism and Ady, 

VOL. VII O 



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194 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

remittance of one pound, for reasons subsequently to be dis- 
closed. I should think — but there's no knowing — that 
there might be a chance still for Joe (whom, really, one 
begins to pity, as a persecuted man, cruising, like the Flying 
Dutchman, through seas that have all closed their ports) in 
Astrakan, and perhaps in Mecca. Some business might be 
done, for a few years, in Timbuctoo ; and an opening would 
undoubtedly be found for a connexion with Abd-el-Kader, 
if only any opening could be found to Abd-el-Eader through 
the French lines. Now, on the other hand, the goddess and 
her establishment of hoaxers at Eleusis did a vast " stroke of 
business" for more than six centuries, without any ^'un- 
pleasantries " ^ occurring : no cudgels shaken in the streets, 
little incidents that custom (by making fiEimiliar) has made 
contemptible to the philosophy of Joe ; no* round-robins, 
signed by the whole main-deck of the Platonic Academy or the 
Stoic Porch ; no praetors or lord mayors threatening actions 
repetundarum, and mourning over twopences that had gone 
astray. "Misfortune acquaints a man with strange bed- 
fellows " ; and the common misfortune of having been hoaxed 
lowers the proudest and the humblest into a strange unanimity, 
for once, of pocketing their wrongs in silence. Eleusis, with 
her fine bronzed face, might say proudly and laughingly, 
" Expose vie, indeed ! Why, I hoaxed this man's great-grand- 
father, and I trust to hoax his great-grandson. All generations 
of his house ha/ve been or shall be hoaxed ; and, having been 
hoaxed inevitably, they must afterwards be grateful to me for 
not exposing that fact of the hoax at their private expense." 
There is a singularity in this case, of the same kind as 
that stratagem (but how prodigiously exceeded in its scale), 
imperfectly executed on the Greek leaders by the Persian 
satrap Tissaphemes, but perfectly, in one or two cases, 
amongst the savage islands of the South Seas, upon Euro- 
pean crews, when one victim, having first been caught, has ^ 
been used as the means of trepanning all his comrades in 

^ ** Uhpleasantries " : — This is a new and ludicroas word, launched, 
a very few years back, in some commercial towns. It is generally 
used, not in any sense that the reader would collect from its antipole 
pleasantryj but in a sense that he may abstract from the context in 
the sentence above. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 195 

succesfidon. Each successive novice lias been tamed, by terror, 
into an instrument for decoying other novices, from A to Z. 
Next, after this feature of interest in the Eleusinian mysteries, 
is another which modem times have quickened and developed 
— ^viz. the gift of enormous nonsense, the inspiration of non- 
sense, which the standrug riddle of these mysteries has been the 
fortunate means of blowing into the brains of various able men. 
It requires such men, in fact, to succeed as speculators in non- 
sense. None but a man of extraordinary talents can write 
firstrate nonsense. Perhaps the prince of all men ever formed 
by nature and education for writing superior nonsense was 
Warburton. The natural vegetation of his intellect tended 
to that kind of fungus which is called ^' crotchet " ; so much 
so that, if he had a just and powerful thought (as sometimes 
in germ he had), or a wise and beautiful thought, yet, by the 
mere perversity of his tortuous brain, it was soon digested 
into a crotchet This native tendency of his yafl cultured 
and watered for years by his original profession as an attorney. 
Making him a bishop was, perhaps, a mistake ; it certainly 
stunted the growth of special pleading, perhaps ruined the 
science ; on the other hand, it saved the twelve judges of that 
day from being driven mad, as they would have been by this 
Hermes Trismegistus in the realms of La Chicane, Some 
fractions of the virus descended through the Warburtonian 
commentaries upon Pope, &c, corroding the flesh to the very 
bones wherever it alighted. But the centaur's shirt of War- 
burton's malignity was destined for the Hebrew lawgiver, 
and all that could be made to fall within that field. Did 
my reader ever read the " Divine Legation of Moses " ? Is 
he aware of the mighty syllogism — that single block of 
granite, such as you can see nowhere but at St Petersburg^ 

1 " That single block of granite, , . , St Peter tUmrg*^ :— This block is, 
I believe, a monolith. Even to obtain in an accessible situation, and 
still more to remove into its present site, snch a granite mass insus- 
ceptible of partition, was a triumph of mechanic art, and consequently 
superadds to the attraction of the statue, — an equestrian statue of 
Peter the Great, founder at once of the city and the possibility of the 
city in that situation, — a scenical record of engineering power. So 
far, and considered as a conquest over difficulties, the entire mass 
must be very striking. But two objections must interfere with the 
spectator's pleasure. If, as I have been told, the monolith is itself the 



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196 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 



which that elaborate work reposes ? There is a Welsh 
bridge near Llanroost, the birth-place of Inigo Jones, built 
by that architect with such perfect skill that the people 
astonished me (but then ^ the people " were two milkmaids) 
by protesting that invariably a little breeze-footed Camilla, 
of three years old, in running across, caused the bridge to 
tremble like a guilty thing : so exquisite was the equilibrium 
that an infant's foot disturbed it Unhappily, Camilla had 
sprained her ankle at that time, so that the experiment 
could not be tried ; and the guilty bridge to me seemed not 
guilty at all (to judge by its trembling), but as innocent as 
Camilla herself. Now, Warburton must have sought to rival 
the Welsh porUifex in this particular test of architectural skill ; 
for his syllogism is so divinely poised that, if you shake this 
key-stone of his great arch (as you certainly may), then you 
will become aware of a vibration, of a nervous tremor, running 

hasia of the statue, in that case what is ordinarily viewed as a fu/rs- 
d^osweref no more belonging to the statue than the terrace, street, 
square, or public hall in which it may happen to be placed, suddenly 
enters into the artist's work as an essential and irremovable member, 
or integrant feature of his workmanship. Secondly, this granite 
monolith, being chiselled into the mimic semblance of an ascending 
precipice, or section of a precipice, unavoidably throws the horse into 
an unnatural action ; not perhaps into an unnatural or false attitude ; 
for the attitude may be true to the purpose : but that purpose is itself 
both false and ungraceful, unless for an ibex or an Alpine chamois. 
A horse is easily trained to ascend a flight of stairs ; and, with no 
training at all, at the request of Mr. Pitt, a little horse of the Shet- 
land breed was trotted upstairs into the front drawing-room at the 
London mansion of the penultimate Duke of Gordon. That was more 
than fifty years ago : for Pitt has been dead now (viz. November 1857) 
for nearly fifty- two years. But, within the recent knowledge of us all, 
a full-sized horse carried his rider in a flying leap over a splendid 
dinner table — ^glass, china, tureens, decanters, and blazing wax-lights 
— ambling gently downstairs on taking his leave, and winning a 
heavy wager. Such feats are accounted noble and brilliant amongst 
the princes and sirdars round the throne of Persia. But with us 
of the western world they are reputed more becoming to a Franconi or 
an Astley than to a Czar of all the Russias, who speaks as Gk>d's 
vicegerent to three hundred nations and languages. But even a flying 
leap is better than a acramhlvng : and up-hill over the asperities of a 
granite rock neither horse nor man is able to do more than scramble : 
and this is undignified for the Czar ; is perilous and more unnatural 
than running upstairs for the horse ; and to the poor spectator 
(unless paid for spectating) is sympathetically painful. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 197 

through the entire dome of his Divine Legation : you are 
absolutely afraid of the dome coming down with yourself in 
the centre ; just as the Llanroost bridge used to be near 
going into hysterics when the light-footed Camilla bounded 
across it. This syllogism, on account of its connexion with 
the Eleusinian hoax, I will rehearse : it is the very perfection 
of a crotchet Suppose the major proposition to be this : 
That no religion, unless through the advantage of divine 
inspiration, could dispense with the doctrine of future rewards 
and punishments. Suppose, secondly, the minor proposition 
this : That the Mosaic religion did dispense with that doctrine. 
Then the conclusion will be — ergOy the Mosaic religion was 
divinely inspired, else confessedly it could not have dispensed 
with it. The monstrous tenor of this argument made it 
necessary to argue most elaborately that all the systems of 
false and cruel religions were affectionately anxious for main- 
taining the doctrine of a future state ; bu^ secondly, that the 
only true faith and the only pure worship were systematically 
careless of that doctrine. Of course it became necessary to 
show, inter alia, that the Grecian lawgivers, being Pagans, 
offered officially, for consecrated parts of the public religion, 
the doctrine of immortality as valid for man's expectations 
and fears ; whilst at Jerussdem, at Hebron, on Mount Sinai, 
this doctrine was slighted. Qenerally speaking, a lie is a 
hard thing to establish. The Bishop of Gloucester was forced 
to tax his resources as an artist in building palaces of air, 
not less than ever Inigo Jones before him in building White- 
hall or St Vitus's bridge at Llanroost Unless he could prove 
that Paganism fought hard for this true doctrine, then, by 
his own argument, Paganism would be found true. Just as, 
inversely, if he failed to prove that Judaism countenanced 
the false doctrine, Judaism would itself be found false. 
Whichever favoured the false was true ; whichever favoured 
the true was false. There's a crotchet for you, reader, round 
and fuU as any prize-turnip ever yet crowned with laurels 
by great agricultural societies ! I suspect that, in Homeric 
language, twice nine of such degenerate men as the reader 
and myself, though manuring with unlimited doses of guano, 
could not grow such a crotchet as that 

The Bishop had therefore to prove — ^it was an obligation 



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198 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

self-created by his own syllogism — that the Pagan Religion 
of Greece, in some great authorised institution of the land, 
taught and insisted on the doctrine of a future state as the 
basis on which all legal ethics rested. This great doctrine 
he had to suspend as a chandelier in his halls of Pagan 
mythology. A pretty chandelier for a Christian bishop to 
be chaining to the roof and lighting up for the glory of 
heathenism ! Involuntarily one thinks of Aladdin's impious 
order for a roc's egg, the egg of the very deity whom the 
slave of the lamp served, to hang up in his principal saloon. 
The Bishop found his chandelier, or fancied he had found it, 
in the old lumber garrets of Eleusis. He knew, he could 
circumstantially reveal, what was taught in the Eleusinian 
shows. Was the Bishop ever there ? No ; but what of that 1 
He could read through a milestone. And Yiigil, in his 6th 
iEneid, had given the world a poetic account of the Teletai, 
which the Bishop kindly translated and expanded into the 
truth of absolute prose. The doctrine of immortality, he 
insisted, was the chief secret revealed in the mysteries. And 
thus he proved decisively that, because it taught a capital 
truth. Paganism must be a capital falsehood. It is impossible, 
within a few pages, to go into the innumerable details. 
Sufficient it would be for any casual reader to ask, if this 
were the very hinge of all legislative ethics in Greece, how it 
happened that it was a matter of pure caprice or accident 
whether any Greeks were initiated or not ; secondly, how the 
Bishop would escape the following dilemma : — ^If the supposed 
doctrine were advanced merely as an opinion, one amongst 
others, then what authority did it draw from Eleusis ? If, 
on the other hand, Eleusis pretended to some special argument 
for immortality, how came it that many Greek and some 
Roman philosophers, who had been introduced at Eleusis, or 
had even ascended to the highest degree of fivrfo-is, did not, 
in discussing this question, refer to that secret proof which, 
though not privileged to publish it as the Eleusinian secret, 
they were quite at liberty to use as a postulate amongst 
initiated brothers ? An opinion ungrounded was entitled to 
no weight even in the mobs of Eleusis ; an argument upon 
good grounds must have been often alluded to in philosophic 
schools. Neither could a nation of holy cowards, trembling 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 199 

like the bridge at Llanroost^ have had it in their power to 
intercept the propagation of such a truth. The 47 th of 
Euclid I. might have been kept a secret by fear of assassina- 
tion, because no man could communicate ^lat in a moment of 
intoxication : if his wife, for instance, should insist on his 
betraying the secret of that proposition, he might safely tell 
her — ^not a word would she understand or remember ; and the 
worst result would be that she would box his ears for imposing 
upon her. I once heard of a poor fellow, who complained 
that, being a Freemason, he had been led the life of a dog by 
his wife, as if Ae were Samson and khe were Delilah, on the 
motive of forcing him to betray the Masonic secret and sign ; 
and these he solemnly protested that he had betrayed most 
regularly and faithfully whenever he happened to be drunk. 
But what did he get for his goodness ? All the return he 
ever had for the kindness of this invariable treachery was a 
word, too common, I regret to say, on female lips — viz. 
fiddUde-dee. And he declared, with tears in his eyes, that 
peace for him was out of the question, until he could find out 
some plausible falsehood that might prove more satisfactory 
to his wife's mind than the truth. Now, the Eleusinian secret, 
if it related to the immortality of the soul, could not have 
the protection of obscurity or complex involution ; and upon 
the following dilemma : — If it had, then it could not have 
been intelligible to mobs ; if it had not, then it could not 
have been guarded against the fervour of confidential conversa- 
tion. A very subtle argument could not have ^ been com- 
municated to the multitudes that visited the shows ; a very 
popular argument would have passed a man's lips, in the 
ardour of argument, before he would himself be aware of it. 

But all this is superfluous. Let the reader study the short 
essay of Lobeck on this subject, forming one section in three 
of his ^ Aglaophamus,'' and he will treat with derision all the 
irrelevant skirmishing, and the vast roars of artillery pointed 
at shadows, which amuse the learned, but disgust the philo- 
sophic, in the " Divine Legation." Much remains to be done 
that Lobeck's rustic seclusion denied him the opportunities for 
doing; much that can be done effectually only in great libraries. 
But I return to my assertion : that the most memorable of all 
Secret Societies was the meanest ; that the society which made 



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200 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

more people hold their tongues than ever the Inquisition did, 
or the medisBval Vehm-gericht, was a hoax ; nay, except Free- 
masonry, the transcendent and supreme of hoaxes. 

Part II 

Has the modem world no hoax of its own, answering to 
the Eleusinian mysteries of Grecian days ? Oh yes, it has. 
I have a very bad opinion of the ancient world; and it 
would grieve me if such a world could be shown to have 
beaten us even in the quality of our hoaxes. I have also a 
very bad opinion of the modem world. But I daresay that 
in fifty thousand years it will be considerably improved ; 
and, in the meantime, if we are not quite so good or so 
clever as we ought to be, yet still we are a trifle better than 
our ancestors ; and I hope we are up to a hoax any day. A 
man must be a poor creature that can't lend a hand to a 
hoax. For two centuries we have had a first-rate one ; and 
its name is Freemasonry, Do you know the secret, my 
reader ? Or shall I tell you ? Send me a consideration, and 
I will. But stay : the weather being so fine, and philosophers, 
therefore, so good-tempered, I'll tell it you for nothing ; 
whereas, if you become a mason, you must pay for it. Here 
is the secret. When the novice is introduced into the con- 
clave of the Freemasons, the grand-master looks very fierce at 
him, and draws his sword, which makes the novice melancholy, 
as he is not aware of having had time as yet for any pro- 
faneness, and fancies, therefore, that somebody must have 
been slandering him. Then the grand-master, or his deputy, 
cites him to the bar, saying, " What's ihaJt you have in your 
pocket ? " To which the novice replies, " A guinea." — 
"Anything more?" — "Another guinea." — ^**Then," replies 
the oflScial person, in a voice of thunder, ** fork out." Of 
course, to a man coming sword-in-hand, few people refuse to 
do that. This forms the first half of the mysteries ; the 
second half, which is by much the more interesting, consists 
entirely of brandy. In fact, this latter mystery forms the 
reason, or final cause, for the elder mystery of the Forking 
out. But how did I learn all this so accurately ? Isn't a man 
liable to be assassinated if he betrays that ineflable mystery 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 201 

or airopprjTov of masonry, which no wretch ,but one since 
King Solomon's day is reputed ever to have blabbed ? And 
perhaps, reader, the wretch didn't blab the whole ; he only 
got as far as the Forking (nU, and, being a churl who grudged 
his money, ran away before reaching the Brcmdy. So that 
this fellow, if he seems to you but half as guilty as myself, 
on the other hand is but half as learned. It's better for you 
to stick by the guiltier man. And yet, on consideration, I 
am not so guilty as we have both been thinking. Perhaps 
it was a mistake. Dreaming on days far back, when I was 
scheming for an introduction to the honourable society of 
masons, and of course to their honourable secret, with the 
single-minded intention of instantly betraying that secret to 
a dear female friend (and, you see, in honour it was not 
possible for me to do otherwise, because she had made me 
promise that I would) — all this time I was soothing my 
remorse with a belief that Woman, as usual, was answerable 
for my treachery, she having positively compelled me to 
undertake it When suddenly I woke into a bright con- 
viction that all was a dream ; that I had never been near 
the Freemasons; that I had treacherously evaded the 
treachery which I ought to have committed, by perfidiously 
forging a secret quite as good, very likely better, than the 
true one, but still not that particular secret which I had 
pledged my honour to betray ; and that, if anybody had 
ground of complaint against myself, it was not the grand- 
master, sword-in-hand, but my poor ill-used female friend, so 
confiding, so amiably credulous in my treachery, but so 
cruelly deceived, who had swallowed a mendacious account of 
Freemasonry forged by myself, — ^the very same which, I fear 
that, on looking back, I shall find myself to have been 
palming, in this very page, upon the much-respected reader. 
As regards my own criminality, however, long ago it was 
consummated : for the whole bubble of Freemasonry was 
shattered in a paper which I myself threw into a London 
journal about the year 1823 or 1824. It was a paper in 
this sense mine, that from me it had received form and 
arrangement; but the materials belonged to a learned 
German — viz. Buhle; the same that edited the '*Bipont 
Aristotle," and wrote a History of Philosophy. No German 



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202 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

has any conception of style. I therefore did him the 
favour to wash his dirty face, and make him presentable 
amongst Christians ; but the substance was drawn entirely 
from this Qerman book. It was there established that the 
whole hoax of masonry had been invented in the year 1629 
by one Andrea ; and the reason that my exposure anUd have 
dropped out of remembrance is, probably, that it never 
reached the public ear : partly because the journal had a 
limited circulation ; but much more because the tUle of the 
paper was not so constructed as to indicate its object^ or to 
throw out any promises of gratification to malice. But it 
wcut malicious : though I was foolish enough to dissemble in 
its title that part of its pretensions. A title which seemed 
to promise only a discussion of masonic doctrines must have 
repelled everybody; whereas it ought to have announced 
(what in fact was accomplished) the utter demolition of the 
whole masonic edifice. At this moment I have not space for 
an abstract of that paper ; but it was conclusive ; and here- 
after, when I have strengthened it by facts since noticed in 
my own reading, it may be right to place it more effectually 
before the public eye.^ 

Finally, I will call the reader's attention to the most 
remarkable by far of all secret societies ever heard of, and 
for this reason, that it suddenly developed the most critical 
wisdom in a dreadful emergency ; secondly, revealed to us 
that now are, but hid profoundly from its murderous con- 
temporaries, the grandest of purposes ; and, lastly, did all 
this with entire success. The purpose was to protect a 
jewel by hiding it from all eyes whilst it navigated a sea 
swarming with enemies. The critical wisdom was the most 
remarkable evidence ever given by the Primitive Christians 
of that serpent's subtlety which they had been warned to 
combine with the innocence of the dove. The success was 
the victory of the Christian Church over the armies that way- 

^ The reference is to a paper of De Quincey's entitled " Historico- 
critical Inquiry into the Origin of the Rosicrucians and the Free- 
masons," which had appeared, in four instalments, in the London 
Magamne for 1824, — not professing to be original, but only to be a 
translated adaptation or digest of a Grennan work by Professor Buhle of 
Gottingen (1763-1821).— M. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 203 

laid its infancy. Without falsehood, without any shadow of 
falsehood, all the benefits of falsehood were secured. With- 
out need to abjure anything, all that would have raised a 
demoniac yell for instant abjuration was suddenly hidden out 
of sight In noonday the Christian Church was suddenly with- 
drawn behind impenetrable veils, even as the infant Christ 
himself was caught up to the secrecies of Egypt and the 
Wilderness from the bloody wrath of Herod. And, whilst 
the enemies of this infant society were roaming round them 
on every side, seeking for them, walking upon their very traces, 
absolutely touching them, or divided from their victims only 
as children in bed have escaped from murderers in thick 
darkness, sheltered by no screen but a muslin curtain, — all 
the while the inner principle of the Church lurked as in the 
cell at the centre of a labyrinth. 

Was the honourable reader ever in a real labyrinth, like 
that described by Herodotus ? We have all been in labyrinths 
of debt, labyrinths of error, labyrinths of metaphysical 
nonsense. But I speak of literal labyrinths. Now, at Bath, 
in my labyrinthine childhood, there was such a mystery : 
viz. in what were then called the Sydney Gardens, opening 
upon Great Pulteney Street. This mystery I used to visit ; 
and I can assert that no type ever flashed upon my mind so 
pathetically shadowing out the fatal irretrievability of errors 
in early life. Turn but once wrong at first entering the in- 
extricable jungle, and all was over ; you were ruined ; no 
wandering could recover the right path. Or suppose you 
even took the right turn at first, what of thati You 
couldn't expect to draw a second prize; yet five turnings 
offered very soon after : your chance of escaping error was 
now reduced to one-fifth of unity ; and, supposing that again 
you drew no blank, not very far had you gone before sixteen 
roads offered. What remained for you to do now ? Why, 
if you were a wise man, to cry like a girl. None but a 
presumptuous fool would count upon drawing for a third 
time a prize, and such a prize as one amongst fourteen. I 
mention all this, I recall this image of the poor Sydney 
Labyrinth, — whose roses, I fear, must long ago have perished, 
betraying all the secrets of the mysterious and pathless 
house, — simply to teach the stranger how secure, how im- 



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204 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

pregnable, is the central cell or heart of a labyrinth. 
Qibraltar is nothing to it. You may sit in that deep grave- 
like recess ; you may hear steps of the Avenger approaching, 
but laugh at them. If you are coining, and have all the im- 
plements of coining round about you, never trouble yourself 
to hide them. Nobody will in this life ever reach you. 
Why, it is demonstrable, by the arithmetic of combinations, 
that, if a man should spend the flower of his age as a poUce- 
oflScer in trying to reach your coining-shop, he could not do 
it ; you might rest as in a sanctuary, hidden and inaccessible 
to those who do not know the secret of the concealment In 
that central recess you might keep a private still for a 
century without fear of the exciseman — that ancient tra- 
ditional horror — or of Forbes Mackenzie, the new-bom 
revelation of woe. 

Light, common daylight, will not show you the stars : on 
the contrary, it hides them ; and, the brighter this light 
becomes, the more it hides them. Even so, from the ex- 
quisite machinery of the earliest Christian society, whatever 
suspicions might walk about in the darkness, all efforts of 
fanatical enemies at forcing an entrance within the air-woven 
gates of these entrenchments were (as the reader will see) 
utterly thrown away. Round and round the furious Jews 
must have circumambulated the Christian camp, like the poor 
gold-fish eternally wheeling round his crystal wall, but, after 
endless circumgyrations, never nearer to any opening. That 
concealment for the Christian nursery was absolutely required, 
because else martyrdom would have come too soon. Mar- 
tyrdom was good for watering the Church, and quickening 
its harvests ; but, at this early stage of advance, it would 
utterly have extirpated the Church. If a voice had been 
heard from heaven, saying " Let there be martyrs," soon the 
great answering return would be heard rolling back from 
earth, " And there loere martyrs." But for this there must be 
time ; the fire, beyond all doubt, will never be extinguished, 
if once thoroughly kindled ; but, in this earliest twilight of 
the Primitive Church, the fire was but a little gathering of 
scanty fuel fanned by human breath, and barely sufficient to 
show one golden rallying star in all the mighty wilderness. 

There was the motive to the secret society which 1 am 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 205 

going to describe ! — there waa its necessity 1 " Fall flat on 
your faces/' says the Arab to the pilgrims, when he sees 
the purple haze of the simoom running before the wind. 
^'Lie down, men/' says the captain to his fusiliers, *^till 
these hurricanes of the artillery be spent." " Mask all 1 — 
man and woman, in the service of God ; mask, till this fiery 
wrath have passed away," was the order of the Christian 
leaders. Mask they did : not a Christian at this perilous era 
but hid himself &om pursuing wrath. Qod said, Let my 
people reserve themselves for happier days ; and all with one 
heart became Essene& 

I once threw together a few thoughts upon this obscure 
question of the JEssenes ; which thoughts were published at the 
time in a celebrated journal ^ ; and my reason for referring to 
them here is in connexion with a single inappropriate 
expression since applied to that paper. 

In a short article on myself in his " Gallery of Literary 
Portraits," Mr. Gilfillan spoke of that little disquisition in 
terms beyond its merit ; and I thank him for his kind 
opinion. But as to one word, not affecting myself but the 
subject, I find it a duty of sincerity to dissent from him. 
He calls the thesis of that paper " paradoooicaU* Now, para- 
dox is a very charming thing ; and, since leaving off opium, 
I take a great deal too much of it for my health. But, in 
this case, the paradox lies precisely and outrageously in the 
opposite direction : that is, when used (as the word paradox 
commonly is) to mean something that startles by its extrava- 
gance. Else I have twice or three times explained in print, 
for the benefit of my female or non-Grecian readers, that 
paradox, being a purely Greek word, ought strictly to be read 
by a Grecian light, and then it implies nothing, of necessity, 
that may not be right Here follows a rigorous definition of 
paradox in a Greek sense. Not that only is paradoxical 
which, being really false, puts on the semblance of truth ; 
but, secondly, that, also, which, being reaUy true, puts on the 

' To wit the preceding paper on "The Essenes/' which had ap- 
peared in Blackwood* 8 Magazine for January, April, and May 1840. 
De Qnincey, now {i.e. in 1847) writing on "Secret Societies " in TaiCa 
Magaainef and having more to say about the Essenes, seizes the oppor- 
tunity for re-opening that subject — M. 



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206 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABOHES 

semblance of falsehood For, literally speaking, everything 
is paradoxical which contradicts the public doxa (So^), that 
is, contradicts the popular opinion or the public expectation, 
which may be done by a truth as^ easily as a fedsehood. The 
very weightiest truths now received amongst men have 
nearly all of them, in turn, in some one stage of their 
development, been found strong paradoxes to the popular 
mind. Hence it is, viz. in the Grecian sense of the word 
paradox, as something extraordinary, but not on that account 
the less likely to be true, that several great philosophers 
have published, under the idea and title of paradoxes, some 
first-rate truths on which they desired to fix public attention ; 
meaning, in a shorthand form, to say — " Here, reader, are 
some extraordinary truths, looking so very like falsehoods 
that you would never take them for anything else if you 
were not invited to give them a special examination." Boyle 
published some elementary principles in hydrostatics as para- 
doxes. Natural philosophy is overrun with paradoxes. 
Mathematics, mechanics, dynamics, are all partially infested 
with them. And in morals the Stoics threw their weightiest 
doctrines under the rubric of paradoxes, — a fact which sur- 
vives to this day in a little essay of Cicero's. To be para- 
doxical^ therefore, is not necessarily to be unphilosophic ; 
and, that being so, it might seem as though Mr. Gilfillan had 
laid me under no obligation to dissent from him. But, used 
popularly, as naturally Mr. Gilfillan meant to use it in that 
situiEition, the word certainly throws a reproach of extrava- 
gance upon any thought, argument, or speculation, to which 
it is imputed.^ 

Now it is important for the reader to understand that the 
very first thing which ever fixed my sceptical eye upon the 
whole fable of the Essenes, as commonly received amongst 
Christian churches, was its intolerable extravagance. This, 
and nothing else, it was that first extorted from me, on a 
July day, one long shiver of horror at the credulity, the 
bottomless credulity, that could have swallowed such a legend 

^ This paragraph of the original in Tait'a Magaseine was omitted by 
De Quincey in his reprint of the paper in his Collectiye Edition, but 
is now restored, as curious in itself, and as making the transit back to 
the subject of the Essenes less abrupt. — M. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 207 

of delirium. Why, Pliny, my excellent sir, you were a gentle- 
man mixing with men of the highest circles — ^you were your- 
self a man of fine and brilliant intellect, a jealous inquirer, 
and, in extent of science, beyond ycmr contemporaries — ^how 
came you, then, to lend an ear, so learned as yours, to two 
such knaves as your Jewish authorities ? For, doubtless, it 
w<M they — viz. Josephus and Philo-Judseus — that poisoned the 
Plinian ear. Others from Alexandria would join the cabal ; 
but these vagabonds were the ringleaders. Now, there were 
three reasons for specially distrusting such men : two known 
equally well to Pliny and me ; one separately to myself 
Jews had by that time earned the reputation, in Roman 
literature, of being credulous by preference amongst the 
children of earth. That was one reason ; a second was that 
all men tainted with intense nationality, — ^and especially if 
not the gay, amiable nationality of Frenchmen, but a gloomy, 
unsocial nationality, — are liable to suspicion as liars. So 
much was known to Pliny ; and a third thing, which was 
not, I could have told him — viz. that Josephus was the 
greatest knave in that generation. A learned man in Ireland 
is at this moment bringing out a new translation of Josephus ; 
which has, indeed, long been wanted ; for " wicked Will 
Whiston," 1 whose English version is the one current at this 

1 « Wicked WiU Whiston** :— In this age, when Swift is so little 
read, it may be requisite to explain that Swift it was who fastened this 
epithet of wicked to Will Whiston ; and the humour of it lay In the 
very incongruity of the epithet ; for Whiston, thus sketched as a pro- 
fligate, was worn to the bone by the anxieties of a conscience too 
scrupulous : he was anything but wicked, being pedantic, crazy, and 
fantastical in virtue after a fashion of his own, — ^that must have been 
sincere, as it neither brought nor promised anything but ruin. He 
ruined his wife and family, he ruined himself and all that trusted him, 
by crotchets that he never could explain to any rational man, and by 
one thing that he never explained to himself, which a hundred years 
after I explained very clearly — viz. that all his heresies in religion, all 
his crazes in ecclesiastical antiquities, in casuistical morals, and even 
as to the discovery of the longitude, had their rise, not (as his friends 
thought) in too much conscientiousness and too much learning, but in 
too Httle rhubarb and magnesia. In hia Autobiography he has de- 
scribed his own craziness of stomach in a way to move the gravest 
reader's laughter, -and the sternest reader's pity. Everybody, in fact, 
that knew his case and history stared at him, derided him, pitied 
him, and in some degree respected him. For he was a man of eternal 



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208 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

day, was a blockhead at starting, by special favour of nature , 
was a prig of formidable dimensions ; and (according to his 
own confession) a ruined dyspeptic, knocked up (and some- 
times knocked down) by a long course of constitutional 
flatulency. He was also a miserable Grecian, a miserable 
antiquarian, a coarse writer of English, and, at that time of 
day, in the absence of the main German and English re- 
searches on the many questions (chronological and historical) 
in Syro-Judaic and Egyptian antiquities, had it not within 
his physical possibilities to adorn the Sparta ^ which chance 
had assigned him. From what I hear, the History will 
benefit by this new labour of editorial culture ; the only 
thing to be feared is that the historian, the bad Josephus, 
will not be meritoriously scourged. One aspect of Josephus 
and his character occurs to me as interesting — viz. when 
placed in collision with the charaxiter so different, and the 
position so similar, of St PauL In both these men, when 
suddenly detained for inspection at an early stage of their 
career, we have a bigot of the most intractable quality ; and 
in both the bigotry expressed its ferocity exclusively upon 

self-sacrifice, and that is always venerable ; he was a man of primitive 
unworldly sincerity, and that is always lovely : yet both the one and 
the other were associated with so many oddities and absurdities as 
compelled the most equitable judge at times to join in the general 
laughter. He and Humphrey Bitton, who both held ofScial stations 
as mathematicians, and were both honoured with the acquaintance of 
Sir Isaac Newton, had both been candidates for the parliamentary 
prize as discoverers of the longitude ; and, naturally, both were found 
wrong; which famishes the immediate theme for Swift's savage 
ridicule : — 

" The longitude mist on 

By wicked Will Whiston ; 

And not better hit on 

By good Master Ditton : 

Sing Whiston, sing Ditton.'* 

After which Swift grows too atrociously Swiftian for quotation. 

^ ** To adorn the Sparta " : — This is an old proverbial form of ex- 
pression amongst the ancients. When any man had assigned to him 
for culture or for embellishment a barren, a repulsive, or an ungenial 
field of labour, his friends would often cheer him up by saying, 
"Spartam, quam nactus es, exoma"; i.e. "That Sparta (or homely 
province) which you have obtained as your allotment, improve and 
make the best of." 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 209 

the Christians, as the • new-bom heretics that troubled the 
unity of the National Church. Thus far the parties agree ; 
and they agree also in being as learned as the limitations of 
their native literature would allow. But from that point, up to 
which the resemblance in position, in education, in temper, 
is so close, how entirely opposed ! Both erring profoundly ; 
yet the one not only in his errors, but by his errors, showing 
himself most single-minded, conscientious, fervent, devout, — 
a holy bigot, as incapable of anything mercenary then, of 
anything insidious, or of compromise with modes of self- 
interest, as after the rectification of his views he was incapable 
of compromise with profounder shapes of error. The other, 
a timeserving knave, sold to adulation and servile ministra- 
tions ; a pimp ; a liar ; or ready for any worse office, if worse 
is named on earth. Never on any human stage was so 
dramatically realised as by Josephus in Bome the delineation 
of our English poet : — 

" A fingering, meddling slave ; 
One that would 'peep and botanise 
Upon his mother's grave." 

Yes, this master in Israel, this leader of Sanhedrims, went 
as to something that he thought a puppet-show, — sat the long 
day through to see a sight What sight ] Jugglers, was it ? 
buffoons 1 tumblers ? dancing-dogs ? or a reed shaken by the 
wind ? Oh no ! Simply to see his ruined country carried 
captive in effigy through the city of her conqueror — to see the 
sword of the Maccabees hung up as a Koman trophy — to see 
the mysteries of the glorious Temple, to see tiie Holy of 
Holies (which even the High Priest could enter only once in 
the year) by its representative memorials, dragged from 
secrecy before the grooms and gladiators of Eome. Then, 
when this was finished, — a woe that would once have caused 
Hebrew corpses to stir in their graves, — ^he goes home to find 
his luxury, his palace, and his harem, charged as a perpetual 
tax upon the groans of his brave unsurrendering countrymen, 
that had been sold as slaves into marble quarries : they 
worked extra hours that the one sole traitor to Jerusalem 
might revel in honour. 

VOL. VII p 



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210 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

When first I read the account of the Esseries in Josephus, 
I leaned back in my chair, and apostrophised the writer 
thus : — " Wicked Joseph, listen to me ; you've been telling 
us a fairy tale ; and, for my part, I've no objection to a fairy 
tale in any situation ; because, if one can make no use of it 
one's-self, always one knows a child that will be thankful for 
it. But this tale, Mr. Joseph, happens also to be a lie ; 
secondly, a fraudulent lie ; thirdly, a malicious lie." It was 
a fiction — ^not at all of ignorance or error, but of hatred 
against Christianity. For I shall startle the reader a little 
when I inform him that, if there were a syllable of truth in 
the main statement of Josephus, then at one blow goes to 
wreck the whole edifice of Ohristianity. Nothing but blind- 
ness and insensibility of heart to the true internal evidence 
of Christianity could ever have hidden this from men. 
Religious sycophants, who affect the profoundest admiration, 
but in their hearts feel none at all, for what they profess to 
regard as the beauty of the moral revelations made in the 
New Testament, are easily cheated, and often ham been 
cheated, by the grossest plagiarisms from Christianity oflFered 
to them as the pure natural growths of Paganism. I would 
engage to write a Greek version somewhat varied and 
garbled of the Sermon on the Mount, were it hidden in 
Pompeii, unearthed, and published as a fragment from a 
posthumous work of a Stoic, with the certain result that 
very few people indeed should detect, in it any signs of 
forgery. There are several cases of that nature, actually 
unsuspected at this hour, which my deep cynicism and detest- 
ation of human hypocrisy yet anticipates a banquet of grati- 
fication in one day exposing. Oh, the millions of deaf 
hearts, deaf to everything really impassioned in music, that 
pretend to admire Mozart ! Oh, the worlds of hypocrites 
who cant about the divinity of scriptural morality, and yet 
would never see any lustre at aU in the most resplendent of 
Christian jewels, provided the pagan thief had a little dis- 
guised the setting ! The thing has been tried long before 
the case of the Essence ; and it takes more than a scholar to 
detect the imposture. A philosopher who must also be a 
scholar is wanted. The eye that suspects and watches is 
needed. Dark seas were those over which the ark of Christ- 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 211 

ianity tilted for tlie first four centuries ; evil men and 
enemies were cruising ; and an Alexandrian Pharos is 
required to throw back a light broad enough to search and 
sweep the guilty secrets of those times. The Church of 
Home has always thrown a^ backward telescopic glance of 
question, of doubt, and uneasy suspicion, upon these ridicu- 
lous JEssenes, and has repeatedly come to the right practical 
conclusion — ^that they were, and must have been. Christians 
under some mask or other ; but the failure of Rome has been 
in carrying the Ariadne's thread through the whole labyrinth 
from centre to circumference. Rome has given the ultimate 
solution rightly, but has not (in geometrical language) raised 
the construction of the problem with its conditions and steps 
of evolution. Shall I tell you, reader, in a brief, remember- 
able form, what was the crime of the hound Josephus tjirough 
this fable of the JEssenes in relation to Christ ? It was the 
very same crime as that of the hound Lauder in relation to 
Milton. Lauder, about the middle of the last century, 
bearing deadly malice to the memory of Milton, conceived 
the idea of charging the great poet with plagiarism. He 
would greatly have preferred denying the value in toto of the 
"Paradise Lost." But, as this was hopeless, the next best 
course was to say — ^Well, let it be as grand as you please, it 
is none of Milton's. And, to prepare the way for this, he 
proceeded to translate into Latin (but with plausible varia- 
tions in the expression or arrangement) some of the most 
memorable passages in the poem. By this means he had, as 
it were, melted down or broken up the golden sacramental 
plate, and might now apply it to his own felonious purposes. 
The false swindling travesty of the Miltonic passage he pro- 
duced as the undoubted original, professing to have found it 
in some rare or obscure author, not easily within reach, and 
then saying — Judge (I beseech you) for yourself whether 
Milton were indebted to this passage or not. Now, reader, 
a falsehood is a falsehood, though uttered under circum- 
stances of hurry and sudden trepidation ; but certainly it 
becomes, though not more a falsehood, yet more criminally 
and hatefully a falsehood, when prepared from afar, and 
elaborately supported by fraud, and dovetailing into fraud, 
and having no palliation from pressure and haste. A man 



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212 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

is a knave who falsely, but in the panic of turning all sus- 
picion from himself, charges you or me with having appro- 
priated another man's jewel But how much more odiously 
is he a knave, if with no such motive of screening himself, if 
out of pure devilish malice to us, he has contrived in pre- 
paration for his own lie to conceal the jewel about our 
persons ! This was what the wretch Lauder tried hard to 
do for Milton. This was what the wretch Josephus tried 
hard to do for Christ. 

In 1839-40 and 41 it was found by our force in 
Afghanistan that, in a degree much beyond any of the 
Hindoo races, the Affghan Sirdars and officers of rank were 
profoundly struck by the beauty of the Evangelists : 
especially in five or six passages, amongst which were the 
Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the Mountj with one or 
two Parables. The reason of this was that the Affghans, 
though more simple and unpolished than the Hindoos, were 
also in a far more natural condition of moral feeling : being 
Mahometans, they were much more advanced in their concep- 
tions of Deity ; and they had never been polluted by the 
fearful distractions of the Hindoo polytheism. Now, I am 
far from insinuating that the Bomans of that first Christian 
era were no further advanced in culture than the Afghans ; 
yet still I affirm that, in many features, both moral and 
intellectual, these two martial races resembled each other. 
Both were slow and tenacious (that is adhesive) in their 
feelings. Both had a tendency to dulness, but for that very 
reason to the sublime. Mercurial races are never sublime. 
There were two channels through whom the Palestine of 
Christ's day communicated with the world outside — viz. the 
Bomans of the Eoman armies, and the Greek colonists. 
Syria under the Syro-Macedonian dynasty, Palestine under 
the house of Antipater, and Egypt under the Ptolemies — 
were all deluged with Greek emigrants and settlers. Of 
these two races, the subtle, agile Greek, unprincipled, full of 
change and levity, was comparatively of little use to Christ- 
ianity as a centre waiting and seeking for means of 
dififusion. Not only were the deeper conscientious instincts 
of the Romans more suited to a profound religion, as instru- 
ments for the radiation of light ; but also it is certain that 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 218 

the military condition per se supplies some advantages 
towards a meditative apprehension of vast eternal problems 
beyond what can be supplied by the fractionary life of petty 
brokerage or commerce. This is also certain : that Eome 
itself — that great idea which predominated in Roman 
camps — cherished amongst her soldiery, from the very enor- 
mities of her state, and from the chaos of her internal life, a 
tendency to vast fermentations of thought favourable to 
revolutions in man's internal worlds of feeling and aspira- 
tions. Hence it will be found, if once a man's eye is 
directed into that current, that no classes of people did so 
much for the propagation of Christianity as the officers of . 
the Roman army ^ : — tribunes (or even officers no higher 
than centurions), prefects, legates, &c ; or (secondly), as the 
auUc officers, the great ceremonial ministers of the imperial 
court ; or (tiiirdly), as the avMc ladies, the great leading 
official women that stood on the steps of Caesar's throne. 
The utter dying away of the Roman paganism, which had 
become quite as powerless to all the accomplished men and 
women of Rome, for any purpose of terror or of momentary 
consolation, as to us English at present is the mythology of 
Fairies, left a frightful vacwum in the mind of Roman gran- 
dees — a horror as of voyagers embarked upon some fragment 
of a wreck into unknown darkness, without a taper for guid- 

^ " Officers " : — ^I take advantage of this accidental notice directed 
to the class which amongst ourselves bears the designation of officerSf 
for the purpose of calling attention to this most singular and inexplic- 
able fact — that the Romans, by whom more than by any other 
people was developed the whole economy of war, consequently the 
whole corresponding nomenclature, had no term expressing the dis- 
tinction of officers. If you were a captaifif they called you a centurion ; 
if a colonel, triJmTma ; and if a private — i.e. a common soldier, or 
soldier in the ranks, which logically stands in contra-position to the 
term officer — they called you miles gregarius. But if, in speaking of 
you or me, they wished to say that either of us was a bad officer, 
though of what rank they could not say, by Mercury they had no 
word for conveying their meaning. The thvng officer was as well 
known at Rome as coals at Newcastle : but not the vxyrd, or tlie idea 
as abstracted from all varieties of rank. Does not this go far to prove 
that there were blockheads in those days ? — as again the continuity of 
succession in that great race (viz. blockheads) seems implied in the 
possibility that to my unworthy self should be left the very first 
indication of this unaccountable lacuna in the Roman vocabulary. 



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214 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

ance, or hehnsman, or anchorage. In tluB nnhappy agitation 
of spirit, and permanent postore of damorons demand for 
light, a nidus was already forming for a deep brooding 
interest in any great spiritoal phenomena of sufficient 
breadth and power that might anywhere arise amongst men. 
Athens was too windy, too conceited, too shaUow in feeling, 
to have been much impressed by the deepest revolntionary 
movements in religion. Bat in Rome, besides the far 
different character of the national mind, there were what 
may be called tpirUual honors arising, which (like dreadfol 
nervons diseases) unfolded terrifically spiritual capacities and 
openings beyond what had been suspected. The great 
domestic convulsions of Rome, the poisonings and assassina- 
tions, that gleam so fearfoUy from tiie pictures of Juvenal, 
were beginning about this period. It was not that by any 
coarse palpable logic, as dull people understood the case, 
women or men said — ^ Accountability there is none ; and we 
wiU no longer act as if there were." Accountability there 
never had been any ; but the obscure scene of an order with 
which all things sympathised, men not less than the wheels 
of society — ^this had blindly produced an instinct of corre- 
sponding self-control. At present^ when the pagan religion 
had virtually died out, all secret restraints were breaking up ; 
a general delirium carried, and was felt to carry, a licence 
into all ranks ; it was not a negative merely, but a positive 
change. A religion had collapsed — Uuit was negative; a 
mockery had been drawn into high relief — that was positive. 
It was not that restraints were resisted ; there were none to 
resist; they had crumbled away spontaneously. What 
power still acted upon society? Terror from police; and 
still, as ever, the divine restraints of love and pity, honour, 
and domestic affection& But the conscience spoke no longer 
through any spiritual organs. Just at this moment it was, 
when the confusions of Roman society, the vast expansion of 
the Empire, the sea-like infinity of the mighty capital, the 
political tendencies of the whole system, were all moving 
together towards grandeur and distraction of feeling, that the 
doctrine of (vpotheom^ applied to a man and often to a 
monster, towered up to cause still greater Babylonian dis- 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 216 

traction. 1 The Pagan Pantheon had just sunk away from 
the support of the Roman mind. It was not only that the 
pagan gods were individually too base and polluted 'to sustain 
the spiritual feelings of an expanding national intellect, but 
the whole collective idea of Deity was too feebly conceived 
by paganism. Had the individuals of the Pantheon been 
purer and nobler, their doom was sealed, nevertheless, by 
their abstract deficiencies as modes of spiritual life for a race 
so growing as that of man. How unfortunate, therefore, 
that at this crisis, when ancient religions were crumbling 
into ruins, new gods should be arising from the veriest 
beasts amongst men ; utterly repelled and rejected by the 
spiritual instinct in man, yet suggested by a necessity of 
political convenience. 

But oftentimes the excess of an evil is its cure, or the 
first impulse in that direction. From the connexion of the 

^ The Romans themselves saw a monstrosity in this practice which 
did not really exist in the metaphysical theory. It was, and it was 
not, monstrous. In reality it was rational or monstrous, according to 
theoretic construction. Generally speaking, it was but a variety of 
that divinity which in Christendom all of us so long ascribed to kings. 
We English always laughed at the French with their grand monarque, 
although we ourselves, until after Charles I, never presented anything 
to the sovereign without going down upon our knees. The Americans 
of the United States have always laughed at us English, and the 
sanctity with which our constitution invests the sovereign. We 
English, French, and Americans, have all alike laughed at the Romans 
upon this matter of apotheosis. And, when brought before us under 
the idea of Seneca's apocolocuntosis, this practice has seemed too 
monstrous for human gravity. And yet, again, we English, French, 
Americans, and Romans, should all have united in scorn for the deep 
Phrygian, Persian, or Asiatic servility to kings. We of European 
blood have all looked to the constitutional idea, not the individual 
person of the sovereign. The Asiatics, though they also feebly were 
groping after the same deep idea, sought it in such a sensual body of 
externals that none but a few philosophers could keep their grasp on 
the origiual problem. How profound an idea is the sanctity of the 
English sovereign's constitutional person ; which idea first made 
possible the responsibility of the sovereign's ministers I They could 
be responsible only if the sovereign were not ; let them be account- 
able, and the king might then safely be inviolable. Now really 
in its secret metaphysics the Roman apotheosis meant little more. 
Only the accountability lay not in Caesar's ministers, but in the 
personal and transitory Coesar, as distinguished from the eternal 
Imperator. 



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216 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

great AuguBtan^ and Claudian houses with the family of 
Herod, much knowledge of Jewish peculiarities had been 
diffused in Borne. Agrippa, the grandson of Herod, Berenice, 
and others of the reigning house in Judssa, had been long 
resident — had been loved and admired — in the Imperial 
family. The tragical events in Herod's own household ^ had 
drawn the attention of the Roman grandees and senate to 
Jewish affairs. .The migrations to Rome of Jewish settlers 
since the era of Pharsalia had strengthened this interest by 
keeping the enigma of the Jewish history and character con- 
stantly before the Roman eye. The upper and more intel- 
lectual circles in Rome of inquiring men and women kept 
up this interest through their military friends in the legions 
quartered upon Syria and Lower Egypt, many of whom must 
have read the Septuagint version of the Law and the Prophets. 
Some whispers, though dim and scarcely intelligible, would 
have made their way to Rome as to the scenes of the Cruci- 
fizion, able at least to increase the attraction of mystery. 
But a much broader and steadier interest would have been 
diffused by the accounts transmitted of the Temple, so 
mysterious to all nations from the absence of idol, so magnifi- 
cent to the eye and the ear from its glorious service. By the 
time when Vespasian and his son, commanded in the East, 
and when the great insurrection of the Jewish race in 
Jerusalem was commencing, Josephus must have been well 
aware of this deep attention to his own people gathering in 
the highest quarters ; and he must have been aware that 

^ " Qrea;t Augiutan": — The house of Augustus individually, it will 
be objected, was not great : the Octavian house was petty ; but it was 
elevated by its matrimonial alliance with the Julian house, and other- 
wise. 

* "JSTerocf* own household" : — viz. the murder of his wife 
Mariamne, to whom (as representing the Asmon^an house) he was 
indebted for his regal rank ; next, the murder of her youthful brother, 
who stood nearest to the crown upon her death ; lastly, the murder of 
the two most distinguished amongst his own sons. All which domestic 
carnage naturally provoked the cutting remark ascribed to Augustus 
CsQsar (himself bloody enough as controller of his female household), 
that it was far better to be numbered amongst Herod's swine than 
amongst his kinsfolk ; seeing that his swine were protected by the 
Mosaic law against the butcher's knife, whereas his kinsfolk enjoyed 
no such immunity. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 217 

what was now creeping into the subject of profoundest 
inquiry amongst the Jews themselves — wiz. the true preten- 
sions, the history, doctrines, and new morals, of those 
Nazarene revolutionists — would, by a natural transfer, soon 
become the capital object of attention to all Eomans interested 
in Judffla. The game was up for the separate glory of 
Judaism, the honour of the Mosaic legislation was becoming 
a superannuated thing, if he suffered the grandeur of Christ- 
ianity, as such, and recognised for Christianity, to force its 
way upon the fermenting intellect of Home. His discern- 
ment told him that the new Christian ethics never would be 
put down. That was impossible ; but he fancied that it 
might be possible to disconnect the system of moral truth 
from the new, but as yet obscure, Christian sect, and to 
transfer its glory upon a pretended race of Hebrew recluses 
or immemorial eremites. As Lauder meant to say, " This 
may be grand, but it is not Milton's," so did Josephus mean 
to say, " This system of morals may be very fine and very 
new ; but take notice, it is not Christ's.'' During his 
captivity in Eoman hands and in Rome, being one of the few 
cowards who had spiritedly volunteered as a traitor to 
Jerusalem, and being a good scholar for a Jew as well as a 
good traitor and the best of cowards, he enjoyed the finest 
opportunities of insinuating his ridiculous legend about the 
Essenes into the foremost literary circles of the universal 
metropolis. Imperial favour, and the increasing curiosity of 
Rome, secured him access to the most intellectual circles. 
His legend was adopted by the ruling authority in the litera- 
ture of the earth ; and an impossible lie became signed and 
countersigned for many centuries to come. 

But how did this particular form arise for the lie ? Were 
there no such people as the Essenes ? Why, no ; not as 
Josephus described them : if there were, or could be, then 
there were Christians without Christ ; then there was a 
Christianity invented by man. Under Ms delineation, they 
existed only as King Arthur existed, or Morgan le Fay, or 
the sword Excalibur. Considered in their romantic preten- 
sions connected with the Round Table, these worthy blades 
of flesh and steel were pure dreams ; but, as downright sober 
realities, known to cutlers as regards one of these classes, and 



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218 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

to creditors as regards the other, they certainly have a hold 
upon History. So of the Essenes : nobody could be more 
certain than Josephus that there were such people ; for he 
knew the very street of Jerusalem in which they met ; and 
in fact he had been matriculated amongst them himself. 
Only all that moonshine about remote seclusions, and antique 
derivations, and philosophic monasticism, were fables of the 
Hesperides, or fit for the future use of Archbishop Turpin. 
What, then, is my own account of the Essenes ? 

The earliest great danger to which Christianity was ex- 
posed arose, not with that mighty power which subsequently 
molested or threatened them — i.6. Rome and Csesar — but 
with the Jews. This was the danger that besieged the very 
cradle of the religion. From Bome no danger arose until 
the time of Trajan ; and, as to the nature of this danger, the 
very wildest mists^e is made in books innumerable. No 
Roman anger ever did, or ever could, point to any doctrine 
of Christianity ; unless, indeed, in times long subsequent, 
when the Christian doctrines, though otherwise indifferent to 
the Roman authorities, would become exponents or convert- 
ible signs of the firm disloyalty to Caesar which constituted 
the one great offence of Christians. Will you bum incense 
to Caesar ? No. Well, that is your state crime. Christian ; 
ihaty and neither less nor more. With the Jews the case 
was exactly reversed ; they cared nothing about the external 
ceremonies (or cuitui) of the Christians, what it, was they 
practised, or what it was they refused to practise. A treason- 
able distinction would even have been a reconmiendation in 
their eyes ; and, as to any differences between their own 
ritual and the Christian, for these (had they been far more 
or far greater) the ruling Jews would readily have found the 
same indulgence which they found for other schismatics, or 
imperfect proselytes, or doubtful brothers, or undoubted 
Gentiles. All these things were trifles ; what they cared 
about was exactly what the Romans did viot care about — viz. 
the Christian doctrines in relation to Moses and the Messiah. 
Was the Messiah come ? Were the prophecies accomplished? 
Was the Mosaic economy of their nation self-dissolved, as 
having reached its appointed terminus, or natural euthanasy, 
and having lost itself in a new order of things — viz. Christ- 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 219 

ianity ? This concerned their existence as a separate people. 
If that were the Messiah whom the Christians gave out for 
such, then all the fabric of their national hopes, their visions 
of an earthly restoration, were shattered. Into this question, 
into this final issue, shot itself the whole agony of their 
hereditary interest and pride as the children of Abraham. 
The Jewish nature was now roused and stung in good earnest 
So much we may see sul&ciently in the Acts of the Apostles ; 
and we may be assured by more than one reflection that the 
Jewish leaders at that time were resolved not again to 
commit the error of relaxing their efforts until the work of 
extermination was perfect. They felt, doubtless not without 
much surprise, but still with some self-reproach, that they 
had been too negligent in assuming the sect to have been 
trampled out by the judicial death of its leader. Dispersion, 
they now became aware, had not prevented the members of 
the sect from recombining ; and even the public death as a 
malefactor of the leader in that sect was so far from having 
dimmed the eyes or dejected the hopes of the main body that, 
in fact, this very deatii had become the triumphant glory 
and comer-stone of the rising Christian temple. There was, 
besides, a reason to dread the construction of the Romans 
upon this heresy, if it continued longer to defy public sup- 
pression. And, lastly, there was yet another uneasiness that 
must greatly have been increasing — an uneasiness of an affect- 
ing nature) and which long afterwards, in ages nearer to our 
own, constituted the most pathetic feature in Christian 
martyrdoms. Oftentimes those who resorted to the fiery 
spectacle in pure hatred of the martyr, or who were purposely 
brought thitiier by public authority as suspected criminals 
needing to be warned by salutary fear, were observed by 
degrees to grow thoughtfid ; instead of reaping confirmation 
in their feelings of horror, they seemed dealing with some 
internal struggle ; musing, pausing, reflecting, and at length 
enamoured as by some new-bom love ; languishing in some 
secret fascination. Those that in Pagan days caught in 
forests a momentary glimpse of the nymphs and sylvan 
goddesses were sometimes struck with a hopeless passion : 
they were nympholepts — men under a delirious possession by 
the heavenly loveliness of air-bom nymphs : the affection, as 



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220 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

well known as epilepsy, was called nympholepsy.^ The 
parallel affection, in those that caught a momentary celestial 
glimpse from the countenances of dying martyrs, when stand- 
ing by the side of their fiery couches, might be called martyr- 
olepsy. And many were they that saw the secret glance. 
In mountainous lands, oftentimes when looking down from 
eminences far above the level of lakes and valleys, it has 
happened that I could not see the sun : the sun was hidden 
behind some gloomy mass of clouds ; but far below I beheld, 
tremulously vibrating on the bosom of some half -hidden lake, 
a golden pillar of solar splendour which had escaped through 
rifts and rents in the clouds that to me were as invisible as 
the sun himselt So, in the martyrdom of the proto-martyr 
St Stephen, Paul of Tarsus, the learned Jew, could see no 
gates of heaven that opened, could see no solar orb : to him 
was visible, as the scenery about St Stephen, nothing but 
darkness of error and clouds. Yet, even as I far below in 
the lake, so he &r below in the countenance of St Stephen, 
saw, with consternation, reflected a golden sunlight, some 
radiance not earthly, coming through avenues not revealed 
to himself, some radiance from far-off fountains, such as, 
upon any theory yet opened to /m», ought not to have been 
there. That troubled him. Whence came that? The 
countenance of St Stephen, when the great chorus was even 
then arising — *^ Stone Mm to decUhl" * — shone like the coun- 
tenance of an angeL That countenance, bringing down to 
earth some revelation of a brightness in the sky, the foun- 
tains of which were intercepted to Paul, perplexed him ; 
haunted him sleeping, troubled him when awake. That face 
of the martyr brought down telegraphically, from some alti- 
tude inaccessible to himself, a handwriting that m/ust be 
authentic, a secret reading that wovM not be refused. That 
face carried off to heaven, in the very moijient of death, a 
glory that from heaven it must have borrowed. Upon this 

, 1 " Nympholepsy *' : — The English reader will here be reminded of 
Lord Byron*8 exquisite line — 

" The nympholepsy of some fond despair." 

^ There is a chorus of that title, " Stone him to death," as grand 
and tumultuous as a pitched battle, in Mendelssohn's Oratorio of ** St. 
Paul." 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 221 

we may be sure that Paul brooded intensely ; that the effect, 
noticed as so often occurring at martyrdoms, was already 
commencing in him ; and probably that the noonday scene 
on the road to Damascus did but quicken and antedate a 
result which would at any rate have followed in the end. 
That very case of Paul, and doubtless others not recorded, 
must continually have been causing fresh uneasiness to the 
Jewish leaders. Their own ministers were falling off to the 
enemy. And now, therefore, at last, the chief priests, the 
Sanhedrims, and the representatives of the great national 
Temple, that mighty Temple which everywhere, by Arabian 
tribes over the infinite and pathless deserts, had been known 
as El Koda (the Savrdly)} all at once as one man, with one 

^ " The Jerusalem of Herodotus " : — With the reader's permission, 
I will premise a brief remark on the letter A, which enjoys this advan- 
tage over the rest of the alphabet, that to many yonng friends of mine, 
not even two years old, it is tolerably familiar; though very often 
their erudition does not extend further. The remark which I wish 
to offer on this distinguished letter is that it enjoys in our language 
five separate sounds : — 

1. A very broad sound, aw, as in water, and very commonly before 

the letter I, as in aU, wdU-, caU, taU, talk, walk, &c. ; but not 
always, as in calm ; or, again, in rally, tally, dally. 

2. An ascending sound, ah, as in father, rather, bath, 

3. A very flat sound, as in man, can, shall, hand, rank, dandy, 

pandy, 

4. A very long soxmd, as in Tnane, Jane, brave, lake, Xam£S. 

5. A borrowed sound, properly the short or flat sound of the vowel 
• 0, particularly after the letter 2^, as in what, want, was ; for 

which reason it has this sound of o after qu, since that is in 
effect hw, as in quantity, quality, though, in reading Ijatin, 
the English restore the common flat sound of the a (No. 3) to 
qtuxlitas, quantita^, quantus, &c. 
And these several sounds are readily transformed into each other, 
according to their greater or less aflBnity. 

This preliminary explanation made, in order that it may not inter- 
rupt me further on, let me come to Herodotus. He was the first man 
(and of course a Grecian, being a native of a Greek Asiatic colony), not 
that travelled, for t?ial cannot be known, but certainly that wrote an 
account of his travels, and published this account (or part of it) by 
reading it at a Panhellenic assembly. And this work survives to our 
own times, as the most valuable monument by far which we still 
possess of Greek prose. The loss of Thucydides would injure us com- 
paratively not at all ; of Xenophon a little ; but that of Herodotus 
would break down the earlier arches of that long bridge which connects 
Christian Europe with Pagan Greece, with Asia, with Egypt, with the 



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222 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

heart, rose under one overmastering impulse, and with one 
voice swore fiercely by the Law and the Prophets that now 
at length, once and for ever, it should be settled who was 
master in Jerusalem. 

Euphrates, and the Nile, with Babylon and Hekatompylos. Herodotus 
was equally a traveller , the most inquiring and exploring, an archcBoloffist 
that described minutely the antiquities of all the civilised races on 
©very radius protended frotn the centre of Greece, the earliest of 
geographers, and a delightful historian : towards the improvement of 
which last function he enjoyed the unparalleled advantage of coming 
with his sickle into the whole harvest of human records, whilst yet 
untouched, except in its Biblical sections. This great man, of whom 
I have elsewhere said that his picturesque vivacity and his shifting 
scenery entitle him to the name of the Grecian Froissart, amongst 
other regions visited Lower Egypt, saw with bodily eyes the Nile and 
the Pyramids, and the mighty city of Memphis ; of which last, in our 
day, etiam periere ruinoe (even the ruins are ruined). The main 
!E)gyptian monuments he saw, and reported upon them circumstantially 
as a privileged visitor, enjoying probably the hospitality and jfriendly 
explanations of the priestly order. Consequently, being then so near 
to Judsea, naturally this question arises. Did he visit Jerusalem ? The 
impression was for a long time that he did not. But that was a trifle ; 
the difficulties of access, or dangers from robbers on the land route, or 
innumerable accidents of disappointment to a stranger having no com- 
mercial objects to determine his route, might easUy account for this 
apparent neglect. But another apparent neglect is less to be accounted 
for : to a hasty reader he does not seem to mention Jerusalem, or any 
part of Judsea. How is that ? 

Let us pause and consider for a moment at what period it was that 
Herodotus must have visited Elgypt ; perhaps thai may help us to a 
solution of the difficulty. His own central year, or year in which you 
might say that he flourished, was probably about 444 before Christ. 
Now, if Herodotus had happened to travel some 100 years earlier, 
Judsea would have been lying half-desolate, the Temple of Solomon a 
heap of ruins, and Jerusalem dismantled of her towers and battlements ; 
little, in fact, to be seen of life but the gentle restorations of nature, 

** Softening and concealing, 
And busy with a hand of healing" ; 

but, for the monuments of human art and labour, all would be crumb- 
ling dilapidations, scoria, and bleaching bones, with endless heaps of 
dust and ashes. For at that time the remnant of the Hebrew race, 
the two tribes that had survived the captivity of the ten, were them- 
selves captive on the Euphrates and elsewhere. But at present a 
happier generation had arisen. The Uite of the Jews had been suffered 
to return and re-occupy their solitary homesteads. A second Temple 
had risen. And the glorious service of daily adorations, however 
shorn of its pomps, was again in the morning and in the evening 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 228 

The Apostles, on their side, and all their flock, though not 
losing a solemn confidence in the issue, could not fail to be 
alarmed. A contest of life and death was at hand. By what 
price of suffering and ruins the victory might need to be 

throwing up clouds of incense, with peals of far-resoondiug music, to 
the astonishment of Edom and of the Arabian wilderness beyond. 
This was the age of Pericles. Cyrus was gone ; Darius was gone ; 
Xerxes was gone ; and Jerusalem was now lustrous again with a resur- 
rection of national glories. Considerations of time therefore do but 
quicken and exasperate the problem either against Herodotus or against 
Jerusalem — why it was that this man did not glorify that city? 
Plainly it would seem either that the man was grossly in fault, and 
betraying the confidence placed in the comprehensiveness of his travel- 
ling reports, or else the city was in fault : possibly he found nothing 
in the rumours about Jerusalem, not even amidst the Delta of Ilgypt, 
that tempted his curiosity, or excited his interest, or justified a circum- 
stantial report 

Meantime, what is it that anti-Biblical writers have inferred from 
this neglect of Herodotus, supposing it fully established? Would 
they infer that Jerusalem had no local existence, but was a visionary 
creation of Jewish romancers ? In that case the romancers might also 
be visionary. No, they do not go so far as that ; but they infer an 
obscurity in Jerusalem and her Temple which allowed neighbouring 
peoples to be indifferent and careless about them, in a degree which 
would argue all the Hebrew records to be fantastic exaggerations. 

At this point, therefore, let us again pause, and ask whether it is 
so entirely certain that Herodotus has not mentioned Jerusalem.- The 
name Jerusalem (lero-Solyma, or Holy Solyma) was a Greek name, 
and doubtless not current in Greece, or heard by any Grecian ear, for 
at least three centuries later than Herodotus. By what name would 
?ie know it ? Most xmdoubtedly by the name which must continually 
have resounded in his ears— the Arabic name El Eoda {the Saintly), 
But it will be seen that, about the locality where Jerusalem should be 
looked for, Herodotus places a great city, which he calls Cadytia or 
Kadeitis, Now, make the requisite corrections : cut away the ytia or 
eUiSf as a mere terminal form (such as we see in Qavlonitis, Tracho- 
nitis, kc.)f which simply indicated the territory or immediate area 
investing the city : there remains a word which Herodotus would pro- 
nounce Kauda (for el he would have learned to be simply his own 
Article, d, ij, t6). Now the a, when pronounced aw, passes in all 
languages into o. Thus the Roman noble Claudius was indifferently 
called Clodius ; plaustrum was the same as plostrum : the Latin 
aurum (gold) has become the French or. At this moment, amongst 
the English Lakes, within a very small cincture of ground, the natives 
pronounce the word cause generally as cose. This suggestion, as a key 
to the apparent neglect of Jerusalem by Herodotus, was indicated 
some eighty years ago by Larcher and by others. I really do not know 
who was first. Strangely enough, however, since Larcher's time, 



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224 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

achieved, they could not measure. They now at last stood 
face to face, as they saw, without power any more to evade 
it, right over against a fiery triaL Ordinary counsels would 
not avail ; and, according to the magnitude of the crisis, it 
became the first of duties to watch warily every step they 
should take, since the very first false one might happen to 
prove, irretrievable. The interests of the youthful Church 
were confided to their hands. Less than faithful they could 
not be ; but for the present that was not enough. To be 
faithful in extremity was all that might remain at last ; but 
for the present the summons was — to be prudent, cautious, 
vigilant, forecasting, so as to intercept that extremity, if 
possible. In this exigency, and with the sudden illumination 
which very perplexity will sometimes create, which the mere 
inspiration of ia deep distress will sometimes suggest, they 
devised the scheme of a Secret Society. 

Armies of brave men have often not only honourably shut 
themselves up into impenetrable squares, or withdrawn alto- 
gether behind walls and batteries, but have even, by exquisite 
concert, suddenly dispersed over a thousand hills ; vanished 
at noonday on the clapping of hands, as if into sdme mighty 
world of diadows ; and again, by the clapping of hands, in a 
moment have reconverged in battle array. Such was the 
magical effect from the new device. Image to yourself, 
reader, the issue of their stratagem, under the following 
aspect : — Suddenly the Christians are seen off their guard all 
around ; spearmen wheel suddenly into view, but every 
Christian has vanished. Again the Christian is absolutely in 

several writers have thrown doubts on this solution ; which to myself. 
seems unimpeachable. But, on the whole, I impute this scepticism in 
part to embarrassment from the ytis^ in not treating it as a mere 
terminal form, and in part to the error of denoting the a of Ca by an 
English long sound (No. 4) that would fail to indicate the o of Kodob, 
which is virtually represented by the a (when pronounced aw) of 
Kadytis. Call it KawdMhSy which in ail languages would pass into (or 
out of) JTodytis, and at once you trace the steps of Herodotus. 1, El 
KodOj dropping the article, is Koda ; 2, KodOt by the commonest of 
ail vowel permutations, becomes Kauda ; 3, Kauda, by terminal 
Hellenisation {i.e. adjustment to the Greek model), becomes Kaudytis ; 
and that word, to the eye of Herodotus, would be spelt Kadytis. On 
this account it was that I introduced my notice by a table of the 
different sounds given to the English A. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 225 

the grasp of the officer ; but, unaccountably, he slips away, 
and a shadow only remains in the officer's hand. The 
Christian fugitive is before your eyes ; he rushes round a 
comer ; you see him as he whirls round with a mask upon his 
face ; one bound throws you round the comer upon his 
traces ; and then you see no fugitive at all, no mask, but a 
man walking in tranquillity, who readily joins you in the 
pursuit 

The reader must consider — first, what it was that the 
Christians had to accomplish, and, secondly, how it was that 
such a thing could be accomplished in such almost im- 
practicable circumstances. If the whole problem had been 
to bend before the storm, it was easy to do that by retiring 
for a season : retiring locally, as &om this particular neigh- 
bourhood, where they might be watched and suspected, to . 
some other, where they would be unmolested and unregarded ; 
or virttiaUy retiring, as from all modes of activity that could 
be open to suspicion. But there were two reasons against so 
timid a course : first, the enemy was prepared, and watching 
for all such momentary expedients, — waiting for the sudden 
forced retirement, waiting for the sudden stealthy attempt at 
resuming the old station ; secondly , which was a more solemn 
reason for demur, such a course might possibly secure safety 
to the individual members of the Church, but in the mean- 
time it left the Church, as a spiritual community, in a 
languishing condition — ^not only without means of extension, 
but without means even of repairing her own casual waste, 
as bound up with the natural agencies of time and death. 
Safety obtained on these terms was not the safety that suited 
apostolic purposes. The several members of the Church 
might in this way be secured ; but the great spiritual interest, 
for which only they ran risks or evaded them, was chained 
to inertia, and therefore in effect hurrying to decay. It was 
necessary with the protection (and therefore with the present 
concealment) of the Church to connect some machinery for 
nursing it, feeding it, expanding it. No theory could be 
conceived more audacious than the one rendered imperative 
by circumstances. Echo was not to babble of the where- 
abouts assigned to the local stations or points of rendezvous 
for this outcast Church ; and yet in that houseless condition 

VOL. vn Q 



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226 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

this Churcli was to find shelter for her total household : 
bloodhounds were on her own traces ; she durst not look 
abroad through the mighty storm ; and yet this Church was 
to be raising a college : a council de prop<iganda fide was to 
be working all day long in the centre of enemies raging for 
her blood ; and yet then first she was to declare herself in 
permanent session when she had no foot of ground to stand 
upon. 

This object, seemingly so impracticable, found an opening 
•for all its parts in the c(yrrvmunUy of field unavoidably culti- 
vated by the Church and the enemy of the Church. Did 
the Church seek to demonstrate the realisation of the promised 
Messiah in the character and history of Christ ? This she 
must do by searching, as keenly as any hostile Jew, the 
prophetic types as the inner wards of lie lock, and then 
searching the details of Christ's life and passion as the corre- 
sponding wards of the key. Did the enemy of the Church 
seek to fight against this identification of Messiahship with 
the person of Jesus ? This she could attempt only by labours 
in the counter direction applied to the very same groimd of 
prophecy and history. The fanatical miso-Christian Jew, and 
the Christian himself, could work only by the same means, 
in the same mines of Hebrew literature, and trimming their 
lamps by the same golden light of old prophetic inspiration. 
The prophecies and traditions current in Judaea ^ that some- 
times were held to explain, and sometimes to integrate, the 
written prophecies about the mysterious Messiah, must be 
alike important and alike commandingly interesting to both 
parties. There lay the starting-point of the new Christian 
tactics. A study that must equally belong to the Christian 
and to the demoniac persecutor of Christians could not of 
itself, and unconditionally, famish grounds of suspicion. 
Having this fortunate common ground of theological study 
with her own antagonist, there was no reason at all why the 

1 ** Traditions^^ : — By this term, as distinguished from prophecies, 
I mean to indicate those special characteristics of the expected 
Messiah, current everywhere amongst the populace of Judsea, which 
had been sent down through possibly sixty generations from Abraham, 
but were not expressly noticed in the Prophets. There were apparently 
many of these ; and it is certain that some of them were regarded 
with reverence by Christ, and deliberately fulfilled by him. 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 227 

Cliristiaii Church should not set up a seminary of labourers 
for her own vineyard under the mask of enemies trained 
against herself. There was no sort of reason, in moral principle 
or in prudence, why she should not, under colour of training 
learned and fervent enemies to the Christian name, silently 
arm and discipline a succession of servants for doing her own 
work. In order to stamp from the beginning a patriotic and 
intensely national character of Judaism, bigoted or even 
fanatical, upon her new institution, leading men already by 
names and sounds into the impression that the great purpose 
of this new-bom institution (vitaUy so uniquely Christian, 
speciously and ostensibly so antichristian) was to pour new 
blood into the life of old Judaic prejudices, and to build up 
again the dilapidations of Mosaic orthodoxy, whether due to 
time or to recent assaults, the Christians selected the name of 
Essen for the designation of the new society, that being the 
name of a venerated gate in the fortified cincture of the 
Temflb. 

Pause upon that great word : for it is here intensely 
significant Against the Temple, and the vast machineries of 
its pompous ritual and elaborate sacrificial system^ multitudes 
believed that the hostility of the young Christian establish- 
ment was mainly directed. Any institution, therefore, which 
began by deriving its very name and baptismal sanction, its 
omen and inauguration, from a part of the Temple, by opening 
to admit with welcome — by closing to exclude with wrath — 
did by this one symbolic agency of the Temple gate seem to 
pledge and implicate the whole mighty overshadowing edifice, 
i,e. the whole Judaic nationality, in the brotherhood of the 
Essenes, and in the doctrines which they taught. A college 
or fraternity of Essenes became, by its very name, a brief 
symbolic profession of religious patriotism and bigotry, or 
what the real bigots would consider orthodoxy ; from the 
first, therefore, carried itself clear away from suspicion. But 
it may occur to the reader that the Christian founders would 
thus find themselves in the following difficult dilemma. If 
they carried out the seeming promise of their Judaic name, 
then there would be a risk of giving from the first an anti- 
christian bias to the feelings of the students, which might 
easily warp their views for life. And, on the other hand, if 



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228 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

by direct discipline they began at an early stage to correct 
this bias, then there arose a worse risk — viz. that their real 
purposes might be suspected or unmasked. In reality, how- 
ever, no such risk would arise in either direction. The 
elementary studies (that is, suppose in the eight first ascend- 
ing classes) would be simply to accumulate a sufficient fund 
of materials, of the original documents, with the commentaries 
of every kind, and the verbal illustrations or glosses. In 
this stage of the studies, at any rate, and whether the final 
objects had or had not been Christian, all independent 
judgments upon subjects so difficult and mysterious would be 
discouraged as presumptuous ; so that no opening would arise 
for suspicion against the teachers, on the one hand, as unfaith- 
ful to the supposed bigotry of the institution, nor on the 
other for encouraging an early pre-occupation of mind against 
Christian views. After passing No. 9 or 10 of the classes, 
the delicacy of the footing would become more trying. But, 
until the very last or innermost class was reached, when all 
reserves must be laid aside, two circumstances would arise to 
diminish the risk. The first is this — ^that, the nearer the 
student advanced to the central and dangerous circles of the 
school, the more opportunity would the governors have had 
for observing and appraising his character. Now, it is 
evident that, altogether apart from considerations of treason 
applying itseK specially to the one perilous secret of the 
society, even for general secular uses, and the wants of any 
religious community, none but pure, gentle, truthful, and 
benign minds would avail the Church for its future ministra- 
tions. The very same causes, therefore, which would point 
out a student as dangerous to intrust with the capital secrets 
of the institution would equally have taken away from the 
society all motive for carrying him farther in studies that 
must be thrown away for himself and others. He would be 
civilly told that his vocation did not lie towards such pur- 
suits ; would have some sort of degree or literary honour 
conferred upon him ; and would be turned back from the 
inner chambers, where he was beginning to be regarded as 
suspicious. 

Josephus, there can be no doubt^ was turned adrift in this 
way. He fancied himself to have learned all, whilst in tact 



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SECRET SOCIETIES 229 

there were secret esoteric classes which, so far from entering 
and learning experimentally to appreciate, Mr. Joe had not 
suspected to exist Knaves never passed into those rooms. 
A second reason which diminished the risk was that, 
undoubtedly, under the mask of scholastic disputation, the 
student was exercised in hearing aU the arguments that were 
most searchingly profound in behalf of Christ's Messiahship. 
No danger would attend this : it was necessary, were it only 
for polemic discipline and gymnastics ; so that it always 
admitted of a double explanation, reconcilable alike with the 
true end that was dissembled, and with the false end that 
was simulated. But, though used only as a passage of 
practice and skill, such a scene furnished means at once to 
the Christian teachers in disguise for observing the degrees 
in which different minds melted or froze before the evidence 
for Christ as the true Messiah. There again arose fresh aids 
to a safe selection. And, finally, whilst the institution of 
the Essenes was thus accomplishing its primary mission of 
training up a succession to a Church which durst not show 
its face to the world or avow its own existence, and thus was 
providing concurrently for the future growth of that Church, 
it was also in a secondary way providing for the secret 
meeting of the Church, and for its present consolation. 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENES^ 

At this pointy reader, we have come to a sudden close. The 
paper, or (according to the phraseology of modem journals) 
the article, has reached its terminus. And a very abrupt 
terminus it seems. Such even to myself it seems ; much 
more, therefore, in all probability, to the reader. But I 

^ This supplement was added by De Quincey in 1857 when he 
revised his paper on Secret Societies (originally in Tait's Magcusvne for 
August and October 1847) for inclusion in Vol. VII of his Collected 
Writings. He thought he had not said enough about the Essenes in 
his paper, or made his speculations about them sufficiently clear: 
hence the supplement. It is to be remembered that his special 
Blackwood article of 1840 on the Essenes, which in our present 
volume precedes this Tait paper on Secret Societies generally, had 
not yet been overtaken by De Quincey in his revisions for the Collective 
Edition. In fact, it was not reprinted till 1859, when De Quincey 
had got as far as Vol. X of that edition. Hence the jocular strain in the 
opening of this supplement, by way of excuse for writing it. " Instead 
" of saying anythhig more about the Essenes here," he is supposed to be 
muttering to himself, * ' might I not refer to my previous Blackwood 
" article on the subject ? But, by the bye, is there such an article ? 
" Who knows ? I have some recollection of such a thing ; but, again, 
" I may be wrong. What do I know about what papers I have 
" written, or where they are ? They know all about it in Boston ; 
" where they have collected all my papers and are reprinting them in 
" an American Collective Edition. Perhaps, indeed, they have already 
" reprinted that Blacknoood paper on the Essenes, if there ever was 
" such a paper. Possible enough ; but, at all events, I have not come 
" to it yet for my own Edinburgh Collective Edition, and cannot 
** assume its existence. No reason therefore why I should not, here 
" and now, have another fling at Josephus and his precious Essenes in a 
" supplement to my general paper on Secret Societies. The subject 
" will bear as much additional hammering as I can give it, the rather 
" because my previous hammering has not been voted perfectly 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENES 231 

believe that we must look for the true cause of this abrupt- 
ness, and the natural remedy of the anger incident to so 
unexpected a disappointment, in the records of my own 
literary movements some twenty-five or thirty years back 
— at which time this little paper was written. It is possible 
that I may, concurrently (or nearly so) with this ** article," 
have written some other " article " expressly and separately on 
the Essenes — ^leaving, therefore, to that the elucidation of any 
obscurities as to ihem which may have gathered in this paper 
on ** Secret Societies." And,- now I think of it, my belief 
begins to boil up fervently that I did so. " How 1 Possible 
that I may have written such an article ? Don't I know ? " 
Candidly, I do not. " In that case, who does f " Why, per- 
haps one of the three following New England States — 
Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or Rhode Island. If anybody, 
insular or continental, is likely to know anything whatever 
in the concern, it is one of these illustrious communities. But 
such is the extent of my geographical ignorance that I am 
profoundly ignorant in which of the three states it is proper 
to look for the city of Boston, though I know to a nicety in 
which of the three it is not, Rhode Island, I am positive, does 
not grow any huge city, unless, like Jonah's gourd, it has 
rushed into life by one night's growth. So that I have 
eliminated one quantity at least from the algebraic problem ; 
which must, therefore, be in a very hopeful state towards solu- 
tion, Boston, meantime, it is, wheresoever that Boston may 
ultimately be found, whUk (or more civilly, perhaps, who) keeps 
all my accounts of papers and *^ 'paperasses " (to borrow a very 
useful French word), all my MSS., finished books — ^past, 
presentj or to come — ^tried at the public bar, or to he tried ; 
condemned, or only condemnable. It is astonishing how 
much more Boston knows of my literary acts and purposes 
than I do myself. Were it not indeed through Boston, 

" satisfactory." All this (which is but a translation into editorial 
terms of the opening paragraph of the supplement) is, of course, only 
De Quincey*s rigmarole way of excusing himself for his obstinacy in 
again taking the public by the throat on a favourite subject. It must 
serve here also, — the Blackwood article on the Essenes having 
necessarily preceded the TcM paper on Secret Societies in our arrange- 
ment, — as an excuse for the repetitions of ideas and arguments from the 
earlier paper which will be found in the later. — M. 



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232 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

hardly the sixth part of my literary undertakings, hurried or 
deliberate, sound, rotting, or rotten, would ever have reached 
posterity : which, be it known to thee, most sarcastic of 
future censors, already most of them have reached. For 
surely to an " article " composed in 1821 ^ a corpulent reader 
of 1858 is posterity in a most substantial sense. Everything, 
in short, relating to myself is in the keeping of Boston : 
and, were it not that the kindness of society in Boston is as 
notorious to us in England as her intellectual distinction and 
her high literary rank among cities, I should fear at times 
that^ if on any dark December morning, say forty or fifty 
years ago, I might have committed a forgery (as the best of 
men will do occasionally), Boston could array against me all 
the documentary evidence of my peccadillo (such it is now 
esteemed) before I could have time to abscond. But, if such 
a forgery exists, I rely on her indulgent sympathy with 
literary men for allowing me six hours' law (as we of old 
England call it). This little arrangement, however, is private 
business, not meant for public ears. Returning to general 
concerns, I am sure that Boston will know whether anywhere 
or aajwhen I have or have not written a separate " article " 
on the Essenea Meantime, as the magnetic cable is not yet 
laid down across the flooring of the Atlantic, and that an 
exchange of question and answer between myself and my 
friends Messrs Ticknor, Fields, & Co., will require an extra 
month of time (of " irreparahile tempus "), I will suppose my- 
self not to have written such a paper ; and, in that case of so 
faulty an omission, will hold himself debtor, and will on the 
spot discharge my debt, for a few preliminary explanations 
that ought to have been made already upon a problem which 
very few men of letters have had any special motive for 
investigating. Let me quicken the reader's interest in the 
question at issue by warning him of two important facts : 
viz. — 

First, that the Church of Rome, in the persons of some 
amongst her greatest scholars, has repeatedly made known her 
dissatisfaction with the romance of Josephus. It is dimly 

^ This looks like an intimation that the Blackwood article on the 
Essenes, though not published till 1840, existed, in draft at least, 
nineteen years earlier, viz. in the Grasmere days. — M. 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENBS 233 

apparent that, so far as she had been able to see her way, 
this most learned Church had found cause to adopt the same 
Conclusion practically as myself — viz. that under some course 
of masquerading, hard to decipher, the Essenes were neither 
more nor less than Early Christians. 

But, secondly, although evidently aware that the account 
of the Essenes by Josephus was, and must have been, an in- 
tolerable romance, she had failed to detect the fraudulent 
motive of Josephus underlying that elaborate fiction ; or the 
fraudulent tactics by which, throughout that fiction, he had 
conducted his warfare against the Christians ; or the counter- 
system of tactics by which, were it only for immediate safety, 
but also with a separate view to self-propagation and continual 
proselytism, the infant Christian Church must have fought 
under a mask against Josephus and his army of partisans in 
Jerusalem. It is inexplicable to me how the Church of 
' Rome could for one moment overlook the fierce internecine 
hostility borne by the Jewish national faction to the Christians, 
and doubtless most of all to the Judaising Christians ; of 
whom, as we know, there were some eminent champions 
amongst the Christian apostles themselvea Good reason the 
Jew bigot really had for hating, persecuting, and calumniat- 
ing the Christian revolutionist more rancorously even than 
the Roman avowed enemy. How stood the separate pur- 
poses of these two embattled antagonists : first, Rome 
Imperial ; secondly, the new-bom sect of Christians ? Of 
these two armies by far the deadliest was the last. Rome 
fought against the Jewish nation simply as a little faction, 
mad with arrogance, that would not by any milder chastise- 
ment be taught to know its own place; and the captives 
netted in the great haul at Jerusalem, being looked upon not 
as honourable prisoners of war, but as rebels — obstinate and 
incorrigible — were consigned to the stone-quarries of Upper 
Egypt : a sort of dungeons in which a threefold advantage 
was gained to the Roman — viz. 1, that the unhappy captives 
were held up to the nations as monuments of the ruin con- 
sequent on resistance to Rome ; 2, were made profitable to 
the general exchequer ; 3, were watched and guarded at a 
cost unusually trivial. But Rome, though stem and harsh, 
was uniform in her policy, never capricious, and habitually 



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284 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

too magnanimous to be jrindictive. Even amongst these 
criminals, though so nearly withdrawn from notice, it was 
not quite impossible that select victims might still win their 
way back to the regions of hope and light But, setting 
these aside, through Rome it was — in Rome and by Rome — 
that vast stratifications of thia most headstrong and turbulent 
of eastern tribes cropped out upon many a western soil ; nor 
was any memorial of the past allowed to speak or to whisper 
against them, if only (as children express it) " they would be 
good/' Rome was singularly wise in that matter ; and knew 
that obstinate rebellion, though inconvenient and needing 
sharp coercion, argued a strong and aspiring nature. Even 
now, even already, when as yet the vast wounds were raw 
and uncicatrised, Rome, the mighty mother, sat in genial 
incubation upon generations of the old Hebrew blood, 
destined to reappear up and down distant centuries in 
Poland and Russia, in Spain and Portugal, in the Barbary 
States and other western lands, not to speak of their Asiatic 
settlements as far east as China. Rome, therefore, was no 
ultimate or uncompromising enemy to the tribe of Judah. 

But the rising Sect of Christians brought simple destruction 
to the name and pretensions of the Jew. The Temple and 
sacrificial service of the Temple had become an abomination, 
and the one capital obstacle to the progress of the true 
religion : and Rome, in destroying this Temple, had been 
unconsciously doing the work of Christianity. Jews and 
Jewish usages, and Judaic bigotry, would continue (it is 
true) to maintain themselves for thousands of years ; Jewish 
fanaticism would even reveal itself again in formidable re- 
bellions. But the combination of power and a national name 
with the Jewish religion and principles had disappeared from 
the earth for ever with the final destruction of El Koda. 
And the hostility of the Christians was even more absolute 
than that of Rome ; since Christianity denied the whole pre- 
tensions and visionary prospects upon which Judaism founded 
any title to a separate name or nationality. Even without 
that bitter exasperation of the feud, the quarrels of brothers 
are almost proverbially the deadliest as regards the chance of 
reconciliation or compromise ; and in the infancy of the 
Christian faith nearly all the proselytes were naturally Jews ; 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENES 235 

80 that for a long period the Christians were known in Home 
and foreign quarters simply as a variety of provincial Jews 
— ^viz. Nazarenes, or Galileans. In these circumstances the 
Siege of Jerusalem must thus far have widened the schism, 
that everywhere the enlightened Christian would doubtless 
have seceded from the faction of those who stood forward as 
champions of the Jewish independence. This is an aspect of 
the general history which has not received any special investi- 
gation. But there can be no doubt that, for the Christians 
generally, all narrow and too manifestly hopeless calls of 
patriotism would be regarded as swallowed up in the tran- 
scendent duties of their militant religion. Christian captives 
may have been found amongst the convicts of the stone- 
quarries; but they must have been few, and those only 
whom some casual separation from their own Christian 
fraternity had thrown in a state of ignorant perplexity upon 
their own blind guidance. This consequence, therefore, must 
have saiB&D. from the Siege of Jerusalem, that the Jewish 
ctcharnement against the Christians, henceforth regarded as 
political and anti-national enemies, would be inflamed to a 
frantic excess. And Josephus, suddenly exalted by an act 
of the vilest adulation to Vespasian (who was in effect, through 
his success in Palestine, and through his popularity with the 
army, already the Imperator elect), instead of visiting the 
Egyptian quarries as a felon, most unmeritoriously found 
himself in one hour translated into the meridian sunshine of 
court favour, and, equally through that romantic revolution 
and through his own previous dedication to literature, qualified 
beyond any contemporary for giving effect to his party malice. 
He would be aware that in the circumstantial accidents of 
Christianity there was a good deal to attract favour at Rome. 
Their moral system, and their eleemosynary system of vigilant 
aid to all their paupers, would inevitably conciliate regard. 
Even the Jewish theological system was every way fitted to 
challenge veneration and awe, except in so far as it was 
associated with the unparalleled and hateful arrogance of 
Judaism. Now, here for the first time, by the new-bom 
sect of Christians, this grandeur of theologic speculation was 
exhibited in a state of insulation from that repulsive arrogance. 
The Jews talked as if the earth existed only for theniy and as 



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236 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

if Gk)d took notice only of Jewish service as having any value 
or meaning. But here were the Christians opening their 
gates, and proclaiming a welcome to all the children of man. 
These things were in their favour. And the malignant 
faction of mere Jewish bigots felt a call to pre-occupy the 
Roman mind with some bold fictions that should for ever 
stop the mouth of the Christian, whenBoever or t/soever any 
opening dawned for uttering a gleam of truth. Josephus, 
followed and supported by Alexandrian Jews, was evidently 
the man for this enterprise ; not so much, or not so exclusively, 
by his literary talent (for, doubtless, many in Alexandria, 
and some in Rome, could have matched him) : but he was 
the man bom with the golden spoon in his mouth ; he was 
the second Joseph that should be carried captive from Palestine 
to Egypt, and on the banks of that ancient Nile should find 
a Pharaoh, calling himself Csesar Vespasian, that, upon hear- 
ing Joe's interpretation of a dream, should bid him rise up 
from his prostration as a despairing felon fresh from bearing 
arms against S. P. Q. R, and take his seat amongst the men 
whom the king delighted to honour. 

Seated there, Joe was equal to a world of mischief ; and 
he was not the man to let his talent lie idle. In what way 
he would be likely to use his experience gained amongst the 
secret society of the Essenes, we may guess. But, to move by 
orderly steps', let us ask after Mr. Joe's own account of that 
mysterious body. How and when does he represent the 
Essenes as arising? I have no book, no vouchers, as generally 
happens to me ; and, moreover, Joseph is not strong in 
chronology. But I rely on my memory as enabling me to 
guarantee this general fact — that, at the date of the Josephan 
record, our shy friends, the Essenes, must, by Joe's reckoning, 
have existed at least seventy years since Christ's nativity. 
The reader knows already that I, who make these Essenes 
the product of Christianity under its earliest storms, cannot 
possibly submit to such a registration. But for the present 
assume it as true. Under such an assumption, it must have 
been that many writers, in giving an account of the Jewish 
philosophic sects, have numbered them as three — ^viz. 1, the 
Pharisees ; 2, the Sadducees ; 3, the Essenes. And in my 
childhood there was an authorised Bible, — and it must have 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENES 237 

been a common one, because I remember it as belonging to 
a female servant, and bearing a written memorandum that it 
was a gift from her father, — which boldly ranked the Essenes 
as assessors of the undeniable Pharisees and Sadducees on 
that prefatory leaf which assigns the value of a shekel, the 
measures of capacity, of weight, of distance, &c. Now, then, 
I would demand of Josephus why it was that Christy who 
took such reiterated notice of the elder sects, never once by 
word or act recognised the Essenes even as existing. Con- 
sidering their pretensions to a higher purity, or the preten- 
sions in this direction ascribed to them, is it conceivable 
that Christ should not by one word have countersigned these 
pretensions if sound, or exposed them if hollow 1 Or, again, 
if He for any reason had neglected them, would not some of 
his disciples, or of his many occasional visitors, have drawn 
his attention to their code of rules and their reputed habits 
— to what they professed, and what they were said to have 
accomplished ? Or, finally, if all these chances had failed to 
secure an evangelical record, can we suppose it possible that 
no solitary member of that large monastic body, counting 
(I think, by the report of Josephus) 8000 brethren, should 
have been moved sufficiently, by the rumours gathering like 
a cloud up and down Palestine through three consecutive 
years about the steps of Christ and his followers, to present 
himself for a personal interview, so as to form a judgment of 
Christ, if Christ were even careless of him and his brother- 
hood] We know that Christ was not without interest in 
the two elder sects — though absolutely sold to worldly 
interests and intrigues : he himself pointed out a strong 
argument for allowing weight and consideration to the 
Pharisees — viz. that they, so long as the Mosaic economy 
lasted, were to be regarded with respect as the depositaries 
of his authority, and the representatives of his system. 
And it is remarkable enough that here, as elsewhere, at the 
very moment of heavily blaming the Pharisees, not the less 
he exacts for them — as a legal due — the popular respect ; 
and this, though perfectly aware that they and the ancient 
system to which they were attached (a system 1500 years 
old) would, simultaneously receive their doom from that 
great revolution which he was himself destined to accomplish. 



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288 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

The blame wliich he imputes to them in this place is that 
\hey required others to carry burdens which they themselves 
would not touch. That was a vice of habit and self-indul- 
gence, more venial as a natural concession to selfishness that 
might have grown upon them imperceptibly ; but, in the 
second case, the blame strikes deeper, for it respects a defect 
of principle that must have been conscious and wilful. 
Moses, we are told, had laid down express laws for the 
regulation of special emergencies ; and these laws, when 
affecting their own separate interests, the Pharisees were in 
the habit of evading under some plea of a traditional 
immunity or professional privilege secured to themselves. 
Now, let the reader sternly note down this state of Christ's 
relations to the great leading sect of the Pharisees. He had 
high matter of impeachment against them ; and yet, for all 
that, so profound was his loyalty to the Mosaic system, as a 
divine revelation, so long as it was not divinely superseded, 
that he would not lend his sanction to any failure of respect 
towards the representatives of this system in the fickle 
populace : on the contrary, he bade them hearken to their 
instructions, because in doing that they were hearkening to 
the words of Moses, which were the words of God. The 
words of the Pharisees were consecrated, but not their deeds : 
those furnished a false and perilous rule of conduct Next, 
as to the Sadducees : this sect, bearing far less of a national 
and representative character, is less conspicuously brought 
forward in the New Testament. But it is probable that 
Christ) though having no motive for the same interest in 
ihern as in the Pharisees, who might be regarded as heraldic 
supporters on one side of the national armorial shield, never- 
theless maintained a friendly or fraternal intercourse with 
their leading men — as men who laid open one avenue to the 
central circles of the more aristocratic society in Jerusalem. 
But had not Christ a special reason for recoiling from the 
Sadducees, as from those who " say that there is no resur- 
rection of the dead " ? If they really said any such thing, 
he would have had one reason more than we are certain of 
his having had for calling upon them to make open pro- 
fession of their presumed faith, and the unknown grounds of 
that faith. If the Sadducees, as a sect^ really did hold the 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENES 239 

doctrine ascribed to them, it would have been easy to silence 
them (t.6. in a partial sense to refute them) by forcing them 
to the conclusion that they had no grounds for holding the 
negative upon the problem of Resurrection beyond what 
corresponded to the counter weakness on the side of the 
affirmative. On either side there was confessedly an absolute- 
blank as regarded even the ^ww of reasonable grounds for 
taking a single step in advance. Guess you might : but as to 
any durable conquest of ground, forward or backward — ^to 
the right or the left — "to the shield or to the spear" — 
nobody could contradict you ; but then (though uncontra- 
dicted) you did not entirely believe yourself. So that, at 
the worst, the Sadducees could not plausibly have denied the 
Resurrection, though they might have chosen to favour those 
who doubted it Meantime, is it at all certain that the 
Sadducees did hold the imputed opinion? I for my part 
exceedingly hesitate in believing this ; and for the following 
reasons : — First, it is most annoying to a man of delicate 
feelings that he should find himself pledged to a speculative 
thesis, and engaged in honour to undertake its defence against 
all comers, when there happens to be no argument whatsoever 
on its behalf — not even an absurd one. Secondly, I doubt 
much whether it would have been safe to avow this doctrine 
in Judaea. And, thirdly, whether in amy circles at Jerusalem, 
even such as might secure it a toleration, this doctrine would 
not have been most unwelcome. For whose favour, therefore, 
or towards what final object, should such a speculation origin- 
ally have been introduced, or subsequently have maintained 
itself? We are told, indeed, that it won no favour, and 
courted none, from those working classes amongst whom lay 
the strength of the nationality. This is a clear case : actvve 
support, of course, it could not find amongst those who, in 
m/y opinion, would have been vainly invoked for a pamve 
acquiescence or gloomy toleration. But in this case there 
seems to have been too precipitate a conclusion : because the 
natural favourers of scepticism and an irreligious philosophy 
will be found (if at all) exclusively almost in aristocratic 
circles, it does not foUow that, inversely, aristocratic circles 
will be found generally to be tainted with such a philosophy. 
Infidels may belong chiefly to the aristocracy, but not the 



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240 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESBABCHES 

aristocracy to infidels. It is true that in the luxurious 
capitals of great kingdoms there are usually found all shapes 
of licentious speculation ; yet even in the most latitudinarian 
habits of thinking such excesses tend in many ways to limit 
themselves. And in Judaea at that period the state of society 
and of social intercourse had not, apparently, travelled beyond 
the boundaries of a semi-barbarous simplicity. A craving for 
bold thinking supervenes naturally upon a high civilisation, 
but not upon the elementary civilisation of the Jews. A 
man who should have professed openly so audacious a creed 
as that ascribed to the Sadducees must have been prepared 
for lapidation. That tumultuary court — a Jewish mob, 
always ready for action, always rich in munitions of war, so 
long as paving-stones were reasonable in price — made it 
dangerous for any man in Judaea, Jew or Gentile, to wade 
out of his depth in theologic waters. But how, then, did 
the Sadducees come by their ugly reputation ? I understand 
it thus : — What the scandalous part of the public charged 
against them was — ^not openly and defyingly that they held 
such an irreligious creed, but that such a creed would 
naturally flow as a consequence from their materialistic 
tendencies, however much the Sadducees might disavow that 
consequence. Whatever might be said, fancied, or proved 
by Bishop Warburton, it is certain that the dominant body 
of the nation, at the era of Christ, believed in a Resurrection 
as preliminary to a Final Judgment And so intense was 
the Jewish bigotry since their return from captivity that 
. assuredly they would have handled any freethinker on such 
questions very roughly. But in fact the counter sect of 
Pharisees hold up a mirror for showing us by reflection the 
true popular estimate of the Sadducees. The Pharisees were 
denounced by Christ, and no doubt were privately condemned 
in the judgment of all the pious amongst their countrymen, 
as making void — ^virtually cancelling — much in the institu- 
tions of Moses by their own peculiar (sometimes pretended) 
traditions : this was their secret character among the devout 
and the sternly orthodox. But do we imagine that the 
Pharisees openly accepted such a character f By no meana : 
that would have been to court an open feud and schism with 
the great body of the people. And in like manner the 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE BSSENBS 241 

Sadducees had their dark side, from which an answering 
character was abstracted by their enemies : but doubtless 
they themselves treated this character as an odious calumny. 

These things premised, the reader is prepared to under- 
stand that the reproach of Christ fastened itself upon the 
offence, not upon the offenders in any single generation, far 
less upon the individual offenders, who, separately and 
personally, oftentimes were unconscious parties to a trespass 
which, deep though it were as the hidden fountains of life, 
yet also was ancient and hereditary as the stings of death. 
The quarrel of Christ, as regarded the unholy frauds of 
Phariseeism, had no bearing upon those individually whom 
education and elaborate discipline had conducted to the 
vestibule of that learned college by whom alone, at the 
distance of a millennium and of half a millennium, the Law 
and the Prophets were still kept alive in the understanding 
and in the reverence of the unlettered multitude. 

Apart from their old hereditary crime of relaxing and 
favouring the relaxation of the Mosaic Law, the Pharisees 
especially, but in some degree both sects, were depositaries of 
all the erudition — archseologic, historic, and philologic — by 
which a hidden clue could be sought^ or a lost clue could be 
recovered, through the mazes of the iuicient prophecies, in 
times which drew near, by all likelihood, to their gradual 
accomplishment and consummation. Supposing that the one 
sect was even truly and not calumniously reproached with 
undervaluing the spiritual Future, can we imagine them so 
superfluously to have courted popular odium as by carrying 
before them a proclamation of the gloomy creed which must 
for any purpose be useless ? The answer is found precisely 
in the parallel case of the counter sect: because Christ 
reproached them with virtually neutralising the whole rigour 
of the law by their private traditions, are we to suppose the 
Pharisees to have sent before them a banner making procla* 
mation that " We are the sect who make void the Law of 
Moses by human devices of false, counterfeit traditions " ? 
So far from this, even the undeniable abuses and corruptions 
had probably grown up and strengthened through successive 
ages of negligence and accumulated contributions of unin- 
tentional error. The special authors of the corruptions and 
VOL. vn B 



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242 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

dangerous innovations were doubtless generations, and not 
individuals. The individual members of both sects must 
have embodied the whole available learning of the nation. 
They jointly were for the Hebrew race what the Brahmins 
were, and locally are, for the Hindoos — what the childish 
" literati " of China are to the childish race of the Chinese — 
what the three learned professions of Law, Medicine, and the 
Church are in Christian lands. For many purposes, the 
Pharisees and Sadducees were indispensable associates ; and, 
according to their personal merits of integrity, sincerity, and 
goodness of heart, there can be little doubt that Christ honoured 
multitudes amongst them with marks, of his personal regard. 
Now, then, under such circumstances, can we suppose it 
possible that a sect approaching by traits of resemblance far 
deeper and more conspicuous to the coming sect of Christians 
which Christ was labouring to build up should have gone 
unnoticed by Him, or should themselves have. left Christ 
unnoticed and unapproached ? Chronology of itself over- 
whelmingly confounds Josephus. According to him, a sect 
whose origin is altogether unaccounted for suddenly walks 
forward out of darkness ; and, when called upon to unfold 
the characteristics of this sect^ which nobody had ever named 
before himself, he presents you with such a coarse travesty 
of the Christians as to usages and doctrines — whom, doubt- 
less, he knew by having helped to persecute them — that we 
read at once the full-blown knavery of a scoundrel who had 
motives more than one or. two for suborning, as the antici- 
pators of every feature that could fascinate men in Christianity, 
a secret society really of Christians, but to him and other 
members not trustworthy masking itself as a society of Jews. 
It would too much lengthen a note already too long if I were 
to expose circumstantially the false colouring impressed upon 
the Christian scheme by one who was too unprincipled and 
worldly even to comprehend the Christian elements. Enough, 
however, remains of the archetype in the report of Josephus 
to reveal, as lurking beneath the disguise, and gleaming 
through it, an undeniable Christian original ; so that here, 
as I have said previously, we are faced suddenly by a 
Christianity before Christ, and a Christianity without Christ^ 
1 Oh no, will be the reply of some critics ; not vnthout Christ. 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE BSSENES 243 

In conclusion, I will confess to the reader, in the foolish 
excess of my candour, that, amongst those who have most 
inclined to express dissatisfaction (yet as a final, not as an 
initiatory feeling) with my hypothesis accounting for the 
Essenes, are several of my own oldest Mends — men dis- 
tinguished (for one moment I wish they were not) by search- 
ing judgment and by extensive learning. Doesn't the reader 
think that perhaps much learning may have made them mad ? 
Certainly they demand unreasonable proofs, considering that 
time (not to mention other agencies) upon many a topic has 
made us all bankrupt in satisfactory argument, — Mr. Joe, I 
presume, not at all less than myself. A little daughter of 
mine, when about two years old, nsed sometimes to say at 
the dinner-table, " Please give me too much." My learned 
friends, it sometimes strikes me, are borrowing Tier sentiment, 
and, with no less gravity than hers, are insisting on having 
" too much " of certainty in this delicate case — too much, in 
fact, and too complex evidence for the why and the how, for 
the where and the when, of a masonic brotherhood that was, 
by the very tenure and primary motive of its existence, con- 
fessedly a secret brotherhood. In the spirit of honest Sancho's 
Andalusian proverb, it seems to me that my too learned 

But I answer — if before Christ, then necessarily without Christ. 
And, besides the profound objection from the whole flagrant plagiarism 
of the moral scheme, the other capital objection remains — How did 
these men, if chronologically anterior to Christ, miss an interview with 
Christ ; or, if not a personal interview, at least a judgment of Christ 
sealing their pretensions, or a judgment of Christ sealing their con- 
demnation f Mf/ Essenes escaped this personal interview, and this 
judgment approving or condemning, simply because, chronologically, 
they were not contemporaries of Christ, but by twenty or twenty-five 
years younger than the Crucifixion. They were in fact a masquerad- 
ing body of Christians-^-an offshoot of Christians that happened to be 
resident in Judsea at a crisis of fiery persecution. Fortunately for 
themf one great advantage befell them, which in subsequent Boman 
persecutions they wanted — viz. that they and their persecutors 
occupied common ground in much of their several creeds, which 
facilitated the deep disguise. Both alike adopted the Jewish Prophets 
into the basis of their faith ; both alike held the truth of all the other 
Scriptures — for instance, of the Law itself, though differing as to its 
practical validity for the future. Hence, by confining themselves to 
those parts of the Old Testament which both adopted, the Christians 
masked as Essenes were able to deceive and evade the most cruel of 
their enemies. 



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244 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND BESEABCHES 

Mends are seeking for " better bread than is made of wbeat" 
Since, really, when you tubpixna a witness out of the great 
deeps of time divided from yourself by fifty-five generations, 
you are obliged to humour bim, and to show him special 
indulgence ; else he grows " crusty '' on your hands, and 
keeps back even that which by gentler solicitation might 
have been won from him. 

Meantime, I have re-touched the evidence a little, so that 
he who was restive formerly may now be tractable; and 
have attempted to coax the witnesses in a way which is but 
fair, as no more than balancing and corresponding to those 
gross tamperings practised (we may be sure) by the Jew 
courtier. Mr. Joe, we may rely upon it, when packing the 
jury, did his best : I may have an equal right to do my 
worst It happens that my theory and Mr. Joe's are involved 
alternatively in each other. If you reject Joe's — a thing that 
I suppose inevitable — this throws you by rebound upon 
mine : if you are inclined to reject mine — a case that is 
supportable by human fortitude — then you find yourself 
pitched violently into Mr. Joe's : a case that is Tuot support- 
able by any fortitude, armed with any philosophy. In 
taking leave, I add, as an extra argument against the possi- 
bility that Essenism could have been contemporary with the 
birth of Christianity, this ugly objection : — ^We may suppose 
that a Jew, in maintaining the historic truth of Essenism, 
would endeavour to evade the arguments so naturally 
emerging from the internal relations of this secret sect to 
those of the avowed sect called Christians, and at the same 
time to ignore the vast improbability that two sects wearing 
features so sisterly should have sailed past each other silently, 
and exchanging no salutes, no questions of reciprocal interest, 
no mutual recognitions, no interchange of gratulation in the 
midst of departing storms, or of solemn valediction amongst 
perilous mists that were slowly gathering. The Jew might 
argue, in explanation, that the Essenes, under the form of 
ascetic moralists, would from this single element of their 
system derive a prejudice against the founder of Christianity, 
as one who in his own person had deemed it advisable, for 
the attainment of social influence in the Judaea of that day, 
and for the readier propagation of truth, to adopt a more 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE ESSENBS 245 

liberal and genial mode of living. For tlie stem ascetic may 
win reverence, but never wins confidence, so that tbe heart 
of his hearer is still for him under a mask. My argument 
being that the Essenes could not have been contemporary 
with the great moral teacher (in fact, the revolutionary 
teacher) of their own century, without seeking Him or His 
seeking them — we may suppose the Jew taking his stand 
plausibly enough on a primal alienation of the Essenes, 
through incongruities of social habits, such (let us suppose 
by way of illustration) as would naturally repel Quakers or 
Moravians in our own day from any great moral teacher 
wearing a brilliant exterior and familiar with courts and 
princes. Such an estrangement would be matter of regret to 
all the wise and liberal even of those two sects, but it would 
be natural ; and it would sufficiently explain the non-inter- 
course objected, without any call for resorting to the plea of 
anachronism, as the true bar of separation. 

Answer: — It is true that any deep schism in social habits 
would tenA to divide the two parties — ^the great moral teacher 
on the one side from the great monastic fraternity on the 
other, — that stood aloof from the world, and the temptations 
of the world. Pro tcmto such a schism would pull in that 
direction ; though I am of opinion that the least magnani- 
mous of dissenting bodies would allow a transcendent weight 
(adequate to the crushing of any conceivable resistance) to 
the conspicuous originality and searching pathos of Chrisf s 
moral doctrine. Four great cases, or memorable cartoonSy in 
the series of Christ's doctrinal "shows" (to borrow the 
Eleusinian term), in 1839-40, powerfully affected the 
Mahometan Affghan Sirdars : viz., 1, the model of prayer 
which he first and last among all teachers left as a guiding 
legacy to infinite generations ; 2, the model of purity which 
he raised aloft in the little infant suddenly made the centre 
of his moral system as the normal form of innocence and 
simplicity of heart ; 3^ the Sermon on the Mount, which, by 
one sudden illumination, opened a new world in man's secret 
heart ; 4, the translation of moral tests from the old and 
gross one of palpable acts to thoughts and the most aerial of 
purposes, as laid down in the passage, " He that looketh upon 
a woman," &c. These four revelations of the Christian 



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246 HISTOBICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Founder, being once reported to the pretended monastic body, 
must have caugbt tbe affections, and have prompted on insur- 
mountable craving for personal intercourse with such a 
"Prophet", — i.e, in the Hebrew sense of Prophst, such a 
revealer out of darkness. In Affghanistan, amongst blind, 
prejudiced, sometimes fanatical, Mahometans, these extra- 
ordinary moral revelations had power deeply to shake and 
move : could they have had less in Judaaa ? But, finally, 
suppose they had, and that an ascetic brotherhood refused all 
intercourse with a teacher not ascetic, so much the more 
zealously would they have courted such intercourse with a 
teacher memorably and in an ultimate degree ascetic. Such 
a teacher was John the Baptist. Here then stands the case : 
in an age which Josephus would have us believe to have 
been the flourishing age of the Essenes there arise two great 
revolutionary powers, who are also great teachers and legis- 
lators in the world of ethics : the first, by a short space of 
time, was the Baptist ; ^ the second was Christ. The one 
was uniquely ascetic, declining not only the luxuries, but the 
slenderest physical appliances against the wrath of the ele- 
ments, or the changes of the seasons. The other described 
himself as one who came eating and drinking, in conformity 
to the common usages of men. With neither of these great 
authorities is there any record of the Essenes having had the 
most trivial intercourse. Is ihat reconcilable with their 
alleged existence on a large scale in an age of deep agitation 
and fervent inquiry ? 

^ That John the Baptist was a moral teacher, as well as a hei'ald 
of coming changes, may be inferred from the fact (noticed by the 
Evangelists) that the military body applied to him for moral instruc- 
tion ; which appeal must have grown out of the general invitation to 
do 80 involved in the ordinary course of his ministrations, and in the 
terms of his public preaching. In what sense he was to be held the 
harbinger of Christ, over and above his avowed mission for announcing 
the fast approaching advent of the Messiah, I have elsewhere suggested, 
in a short comment on the word /Mravoia ; which word, as I contend, 
cannot properly be translated repentance ; for it would have been 
pure cant to suppose that age, or any age, as more under a summons 
to repentance than any other assignable. I understand by fieropoia 
a revolution of thought — a great intellectual change — in the accepting 
a new centre for all moral truth from Christ ; which centre it was 
that subsequently caused all the offence of Christianity to the Roman 
People. 



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POSTSCRIPT 1 

The other historic person on whom I shall probably be 
charged with assault and battery is Josephus. And the 
impartial reader, who knows but slightly or not at all what 
it is that this felon has been doing, is likely enough to think 
that I have shown a levity and hastiness of resentment not 
warranted by the notorieties of his life. It is remarkable 
that few of us know the possible strength of our patriotic 
sympathies^ and how much it is that we could do and could 
hazard for our own dear, noble country, if danger or calamity 
should besiege her. Seen always under calm and gentle 
sunshine, this natal land of ours forms an object that would 
be thoroughly transfigured to our hearts, and would wear a 
new life, if once she were thrown into impassioned circum- 
stances of calamity, not by visitations of Providence, but by 
human wrongs and conspiracies. Vendid/U hie awro patriam 

^ It shows the strength of De Quince/s passion for the subject of 
the Essenes, and of his antipathy to Josephns, that, not content with 
his long supplement to the Essenes portion of his paper on Secret 
Societies, he inserted into the preface of the volume of his Collected 
Writings in which that paper was reprinted (1858) this further invec- 
tive against Josephus. It comes now necessarily as a ''Postscript" ; 
and, to explain the wording of the first sentence, it is to be understood 
that "the other historic person" similarly assaulted in the same 
prefEU^ was Pompey. The paper on Cicero having been included in 
the same volume of the Collected Writings which contained that on 
Secret Societies, De Quincey had begun his preface to the volume 
with that reiteration of Ms dislike to Pompey which has its natural 
place now as a " Postscript '* to the Cicero paper {anUf Vol. VI. pp. 
222-4), and had then indulged in this more vehement parting kick at 
Josephus. — M. 



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248 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

is the dreadful category which Virgil has prepared in the 
infernal regions for traitors such as this Jew ; for I suppose 
it can make but slight difference in any man's estimate that 
the Jew did not receive the bribe first and then perpetrate 
the treason, but trusted to Roman good faith at three months 
after date. But this Jew did worse. Many have been the 
willing betrayers of their country who would have spumed 
with fury an invitation to join in a gorgeous festival of 
exultation celebrating the final overthrow of their mother- 
land, and the bloody ruin of their kindred, through all their 
tribes and households. There is many an intelligent little 
girl, not more than seven years old, who, in such circum- 
stances, and knowing that the purpose of the festival was to 
drag the last memorials of her people — its honours, trophies, 
sanctities — ^through the pollution of triumph, would indig- 
nantly refuse to give the sanction of so much as a momentaiy 
gaze upon a spectacle abominable in all Hebrew eyes. And, 
if, in such a case, she could descend to an emotion so humili- 
ating as curiosity, she would feel a silent reproach fretting 
her heart so often as she beheld upon a Roman medal that 
symbolic memorial of her desolated home — so beautiful and 
so pathetic — Jvdcea figured cu a woman veiledy weeping under 
her palmrtree: Rachel weeping for her children. But this 
Josephus, this hound — ^hound of hounds, and very dog of 
very dog — did worse : he sat as a congratulating guest, 
offering homage and adoring cringes, simpering and Icotooing^ 
whilst the triumphal pageant for Judaea ravaged, and for 
Jerusalem burned, fiUed the hours of a long summer's day, 
as it unfolded its pomps before him. Nay, this Jew achieved 
a deeper degradation even than this. But for hvrn^ when it 
was asked of the conquerors, Where is the conquered race ? 
what has become of them ? it must have been answered, 
"All slain, or captives." And that result is a mode of 
military triumph, even for the conquered. But through the 
presence of Josephus, a solitary man of rank, all this was 
transformed. A Jewish grandee, sitting on terms of amity 
amongst the victors, and countersigning their pretensions, 
had the inevitable effect of dismowmg all his humbler 
countrymen : from heroes they became mutineers ; and in 
an instant of time the fiery struggle of the ancient El Koda 



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POSTSCRIPT 24d 

against the "abomination of desolation, standing where it 
should not " — i.e, the Roman banners, expressing the triumph 
of an idolatrous nation, insolently hoisted aloft in the 
Temple of Jehovah — was transfigured, through this one 
man's presence, into a capricious, possibly an ungrateful, 
rebellion. Did this carrion find a peaceful grave ? 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS i 

What is called PhUosophdccU Higtory I believe to be yet in 
its infancy. It is the profound remark of Mr. Finlay — ^pro- 
found as I myself understand it, i,e. in relation to tlus 
philosophical treatment — "that History will ever remain 
inexhaustible." How inexhaustible ? Are the facts of His- 
tory inexhaustible? In regard to the ancierU division of 
History with which he is there dealing, this would be in no 
sense true ; and in any case it would be a lifeless truth. So 
entirely have the mere feicts of Pagan History been disinterred, 
ransacked, sifted, that, except by means of some chance medal 
that may be unearthed in the illiterate East (as of late towards 
Bokhara), or by means of some mysterious inscription, such 
as those which still mock the learned traveller in Persia, 
northwards near Hamadan (Ecbatana), and southwards at 
Persepolis, or those which distract him amongst the shadowy 
ruins of Yucatan (Uxmal, suppose, and Palenque) — once for 
all, barring these pure godsends, it is hardly " in the dice ^* 
that any downright novdty of feet should remain in rever- 
sion for this nineteenth century. The merest possibility 
exists that in Armenia, or in a Grseco-Russian monastery on 
Mount Athos, or in Pompeii, &a, some authors hitherto 
av€K8oTot may yet be concealed ; and, by a channel in that 

^ From Blackwood's Magazine for October 1844, where it appeared 
as a review of " Greece under the Romans. By George Finlay, E.R.G. 
Edinburgh and London, 1844." Reprinted by De Quincey in 1858 in 
the Eighth Volume of his Collected Writings, with only slight verbal 
changes, such as the substitution of "I" for *' We," but with the addi- 
tion of one or two footnotes. — M. 



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GREECE UNDEK THE ROMANS 261 

degree improbable, it is possible that certain new facts of 
history may still reach us. But else, and failing these 
cryptical or subterraneous currents of communication, for us 
the record is closed. History in that sense has come to an 
end, and is sealed up as by the Angel in the Apocalypse. 
What then 1 The facts so understood are but the dry bones 
of the mighty past. And the question arises here also, not 
less than in that sublimest of prophetic visions, " Can these 
dry bones live ? " Not only can they live, but by an infinite 
variety of life. The same historic facts, viewed in different 
lights, or brought into connexion with other facts, according 
to endless diversities of permutation and combination, furnish 
grounds for such eternal successions of new speculations as 
make the facts themselves virtually new, and virtually end- 
less. The same Hebrew words are read by different sets of 
vowel points, and the same hieroglyphics are deciphered by 
keys everlastingly varied. 

To me I repeat that oftentimes it seems as though the 
science of History were yet scarcely founded. There will be 
such a science, if at present there is not ; and in one feature 
of its capacities it will resemble Chemistry. What is so 
familiar to the perceptions of man as the common chemical 
agents of water, air, and the soil on which we tread ? Yet 
each one of these elements is a mystery to this day ; handled, 
used, tried, searched experimentally, combined in ten thou- 
sand ways — it is still unknown; fathomed by recent science 
down to a certain depth, it is still probably by its destiny 
unfathomable. Even to the end of days, it is pretty certain 
that the minutest particle of earth, that a dewdrop scarcely 
distinguishable as a separate object, that the slenderest fila- 
ment of a plant, wiU include within itseK secrets inaccessible 
to man. And yet, compared with the mystery of man him- 
self, these physical worlds of mystery are but as a radix of 
infinity. Chemistry is in this view mysterious and Spino- 
sistically sublime — that it is the science of the latent in all 
things, of all things as lurking in all. Within the lifeless 
flint, within the silent pyrites, slumbers an agony of potential 
combustion. Iron is imprisoned in blood. With cold water 
(as every child i^ now-a-days aware) you may lash a fluid 
into angry ebullitions of heat ; with hot water, as with the 



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252 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

rod of Amram's son, you may freeze a fluid down to the 
temperature of the Sarsar wind, provided only that you regu- 
late the pressure of the air. The sultry and dissolving fluid 
shall bake into a solid, the petriflc fluid shall melt into a 
liquid. Heat shall freeze, frost shall thaw ; and wherefore ? 
Simply because old things are brought together in new modes 
of combination. And, in endless instances beside, we see in 
aU elements the same Panlike latency of forms and powers, 
which gives to the external world a ^capacity of self-trans- 
formation, and of polymorphcms absolutely inexhaustible. 

But the same capacity belongs to t^e facts of History. 
And I do not mean merely that, from subjective differences 
in the minds reviewing them, such facts assume endless 
varieties of interpretation and estimate, but that objectively, 
from lights still increasing in the science of government and 
of social philosophy, all the primary facts of History become 
liable continually to new presentations, to new combinations, 
and to new valuations of their moral relatione I have seen 
some kinds of marble, where the veinings happened to be 
unusually multiplied, in which human faces, figures, proces- 
sions, or fragments of natural scenery, seemed absolutely 
illimitable, under the endless variations or inversions of the 
order according to which they might be combined and 
grouped. Something analogous takes effect in reviewing the 
remote parts of History. Rome, for instance, has been the 
object of historic pens for twenty centuries (dating from 
Polybius) ; and yet hardly so much as twenty/ years have 
elapsed since Niebuhr opened upon us almost a new revela- 
tion, by re-combining the same eternal facts according to a 
different set of principles. The same thing may be said, 
though not with the same degree of emphasis, upon the 
Grecian researches of the late Ottfried Mueller. Egyptian 
History again, even at this moment, is seen stealing upon us 
through the dusky twilight in its first distinct lineaments. 
Before Young, Champollion, Lepsius, and the others who 
have followed on their traces in this field of History, all was 
outer darkness ; and whatsoever we do know or shall know 
of Egyptian Thebes will now be recovered as if from the 
unswathing of a mummy. Not until a flight of three thou- 
sand years has left Thebes the Hekatompylos a dusty speck 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 253 

in the far distance, have we even begun to read her annals, 
or to understand her revolutions. 

Another instance I have now before me of this new 
historic faculty for resuscitating the buried, and for calling 
back the breath to the frozen features of death, in Mr. Finlay's 
work upon the Greeks as related to the Roman Empire. He 
presents us with old facts, but under the purpose of clothing 
them with a new life. He rehearses ancient stories, not 
with the humble ambition of better adorning them, of more 
perspicuously narrating, or even of more forcibly pointing 
their moral, but of extracting from them some new meaning, 
and thus forcing them to arrange themselves, under some 
latent connexion with other phenomena now first detected, 
as illustrations of some great principle or agency now first 
revealing its importance. Mr. Finlay's style of intellect is 
appropriate to such a task ; for it is subtle and Machiavelian. 
But there is this difficulty in doing justice to the novelty, 
and at times I may say with truth to the profundity, of Ms 
views, that they are by necessity thrown out in continued 
successions of details, are insulated, and, in one word, sporcuUc. 
This follows from the very nature of his work ; for it is a 
perpetual commentary on the incidents of Grecian History, 
from the era of the Roman Conquest to the commencement 
of what Mr. Finlay, in a peculiar sense, calls the Byzantine 
Empire. These incidents have nowhere been systematically 
or continuously recorded: they come forward by casual 
flashes in the annals, perhaps, of some church historian, as they 
happen to connect themselves with his momentary theme ; 
or they betray themselves in the embarrassments of the central 
government, whether at Rome or at Constantinople, when 
arguing at one time a pestilence, at another an insurrection, 
or at a third an inroad of barbarians. It is not the fault of 
Mr. Finlay, but his great disadvantage, that the affairs of 
Greece have been thus discontinuously exhibited, and that 
its internal changes of condition have been never treated 
except indirectly, and by men cUivd agentibus. The Grecian 
race had a primary importance on our planet ; but the 
Grecian name, represented by Greece considered as a territory, 
or as the politiced seat of the Hellenic people, ceased to have 
much importance, in the eyes of historians, from the time 



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254 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

when it became a conquered proyince ; and it declined into 
absolute insignificance after the conqnest of so many other 
provinces had degraded Hellas into an arithmetical unit, 
standing amoDgst a total amount of figures so vast and so 
much more dazzling to the ordinary mind. Hence it was 
that in ancient times no complete History of Greece, through 
all her phases and stages, was conspicuously attempted. 
The greatness of her later revolutions, simply as changes, 
would have attracted the historian; but, as changes associated 
with calamity and loss of power, they repelled his curiosity, 
and alienated his interest. It is the very necessity, there- 
fore, of Mr. Finla/s position, when coming into such an 
inheritance, that he must splinter his. philosophy into separate 
individual notices; for the records of History furnish no 
grounds for more. SpaHami, quam nadus ed, omamt That 
ungenial province, which he has obtained by lot, he has 
beautified by his culture and treatment But this does not 
remedy the difficulty for ourselves in attempting to give a 
representative view of his philosophy. General abstractions 
he had no opportunity for presenting, consequently we have 
no opportunity for valuing ; and, on the other hand, single 
cases selected &om a succession of hundreds would not justify 
any refpresefiUaJtim criticism, more than the single brick, in 
the old anecdote of Hierocles, would serve representatively 
to appraise the house. 

Under this difficulty as to the possible for myself and 
the just for Mr. Finlay, I shall adopt the following course. 
So far as the Greek People connected themselves in any 
splendid manner with the Roman Empire, they did so with 
the eastern horn of that Empire, and, in point of time, from 
the foundation of Constantinople as an Eastern Eome, in the 
fourth century, to a period not fully agreed on, — ^but for the 
moment I will say, with Mr. Finlay, up to the early part of 
the eighth century. A reason given by Mr. Finlay for this 
latter date is that about that time the Grecian blood, so 
widely diffused in Asia, and even in Africa, became finally 
detached by the progress of Mahometanism and Mahometan 
systems of power from all further concurrence or coalition 
with the views of the Byzantine Caesar. Constantinople was 
from that date thrown back more upon its own peculiar 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 255 

heritc^e and jurisdiction, of which the main resources for 
war and peace lay in Europe, and (speaking by the narrowest 
terms) in Thrace. Henceforth, therefore, for the city and 
throne of Constantine, resuming its old Grecian name of 
Byzantium, there succeeded a theatre less diffusive, a popula- 
tion more concentrated, a character of action more determinate 
and jealous, a style of courtly ceremonial more elaborate as 
well as more haughtily repulsive, and universally a system 
of interests as much more definite and selfish as might natur- 
ally be looked for in a nation now everywhere surrounded 
by new thrones, gloomy with malice, and swelling with the 
consciousness of youthful power. This new and final state 
of the Eastern Rome Mr. Finlay denominates the Byzantine 
Empire. Possibly this use of the term thus limited may be 
capable of justification ; but more questions would arise in 
the discussion than Mr. Finlay has thought it of importance 
to notice. And for the present I shall take the word Byzcm- 
tine in its most ordinary acceptation, as denoting the local 
empire founded by Constantine in Byzantium early in the 
fourth century under the idea of a translation from the old 
Western Rome, and overthrown by the Ottoman Turks in 
the year 1453. In the fortunes and main stages of this 
Empire, what are the chief arresting phenomena, aspects, or 
relations to the greatest of modem interests ? I select by 
preference these : — 

I. First, this was the earliest among the kingdoms of our 
planet vMch connected itself with Chrutianity, In Armenia 
there had been a previous stcUe recognition of Christianity. 
But thai was neither splendid nor distinct ; whereas the 
Byzantine Rome built avowedly upon Christianity as its own 
basis, and consecrated its own nativity by the sublime act of 
founding the first provision ever attempted for the poor, 
considered simply as poor (t.e. cu objects of piiyj not as vnstrvr 
ments of ambition), 

II. Secondly, as the great cegis of Western Ghristendom, nay, 
the barrier which made it possible that any Christendom 
should ever exist, this Byzantine Empire is entitied to a very 
different station in the enlightened gratitude of us Western 
Europeans from any which it has yet held, I do not scruple 
to say that, by comparison with the services of the Byzantine 



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256 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

people to Europe, no nation on record has ever stood in the 
same relation to any other single nation, much less to a 
whole family of nations, whether as regards the opportunity 
and means of conferring benefits, or as regards the astonish- 
ing perseverance in supporting the succession of these benefits, 
or as regards the ultimate event of these benefits. A great 
wrong has been done for ages ; for we have all been accus- 
tomed to speak of the Byzantine Empire with scom,^ as 
chiefly known by its effeminacy ; and the greater is the call 
for a fervent palinode. 

III. Thirdly, in a reflex way, as the one great danger 
which overshadowed Europe for generations, and against 
which the Byzantine Empire proved the capital bulwark, 
Mahometanism may rank as one of the Byzantine aspects 
or counterforces. And, if there is any popular error apply- 
ing to the history of that great convulsion as a political 
effort for revolutionising the world, some notice of it will 
find a natural place in connexion with these present trains 
of speculation. 

Let me, therefore, have permission to throw together a 
few remarks on these three subjects — 1, on the remarkable 
distinction by which the eldest of Christian rulers proclaimed 
and inaugurated the Christian basis of his Empire ; 2, on 
the true but forgotten relation of this great Empire to our 
modem Christendom, under which idea I comprehend Europe, 
and reverdonaUy the whole Continent of America ; 3, on the 
false pretensions of Mahometanism, whether advanced by 
itself or by inconsiderate Christian speculators on its behalf. 
I shall thus obtain this advantage, that some sort of unity 
will be given to my own glances at Mr. Finlay's theme ; 

1 " With scorn'* : — This has arisen from two causes. One is the 
habit of regarding the whole Roman Empire as in its '' decline " from 
so early a period as that of Commodus ; agreeably to which conceit, 
it wonld natnraUy follow that, during its latter stages, the Eastern 
Empire must have been absolutely in its dotage. If already declining 
in tiie second century, then from the tenth to the fifteenth it must 
have been paralytic and bedridden. The other cause may be found 
in the accidental but reasonable hostility of the Byzantine Court to 
the first Crusaders, as also in the disadvantageous comparison with 
respect to manly virtues between the simplicity of these Western 
children and the refined dissimidation of the Byzantines. 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 267 

and, at the same time, by gathering under these general 
heads any dispersed comments of Mr. Finlay, whether for 
confirmation of my own views, or for any purpose of objection 
to his, I shall give to those comments also that kind of unity, 
by means of a reference to a common purpose, which I 
could not have given them by citing each independently for 
itsel£ 

I. First) then, as to that memorable act by which Con- 
stantinople (t.«. the Eastern Empire) connected herself for 
ever with Christianity — ^viz. the recognition of pauperism as 
an element in the state entitled to the maternal guardianship 
of the state. In this new principle, introduced by Christ- 
ianity, we behold a far-seeing or proleptic wisdom, making 
provision for evils before they had arisen ; for it is certain 
that great expansions of pauperism did not exist in the 
ancient world. A pauper population is a disease peculiar to 
the Modem or Christian world. Various causes latent in 
the social systems of the ancients prevented such develop- 
ments of surplus people. But does not this argue a superlori^ 
in the social arrangements of these ancients ? Not at all ; 
they were atrociously worse. They evaded this one morbid 
a£fection by means of others far more injurious to the moral 
advance of man. The case was then everywhere as at this 
day it is in Persia. A Persian ambassador to London or 
Paris might boast that in his native Ir&n no such spectacles 
existed of hunger-bitten myriads as may be seen everywhere 
during seasons of distress in the crowded cities of Christian 
Europe. " No," would be the answer, " most certainly not ; 
but why ? The reason is, that your accursed form of society 
and government mtercepts such surplus people, does not suffer 
them to be bom. What is the result ? You ought, in Persia, 
to have three hundred millions of people ; your vast territory 
is easily capacious of that number. You ham — how many 
have you 1 Something less than eight millions." Think of 
this, startled reader. But, if that be a good state of things, 
then any barbarous soldier who makes a wildemess is entitled 
to call himself a great philosopher and public benefactor. 
This is to cure the headache by amputating the head. Now, 
the same principle of limitation to population a parte ante, 
though not in the same savage excess as in Mahometan Persia, 

VOL. VII s 



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258 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

operated upon Greece and Rome. The whole Pagan world 
escaped the evils of redundant population by vicious repres- 
sions of it beforehand. But under Christianity a new state 
of things was destined to take effect. Many protections and 
excitements to population were laid in the framework of this 
new religion, which, by its new code of rules and impulses, 
in so many ways extended the free agency of human beings. 
Manufacturing industry was destined first to arise on any 
great scale under Christianity. Except in Tyre and Alex- 
andria (see the Emperor Hadrian's account of this last), there 
was no town or district in the ancient world where the 
populace could be said properly to work. The rural labourers 
worked a little — not much ; and sailors worked a little ; 
nobody else worked at all. Even slaves had little more 
work distributed amongst each ten than now settles upon 
one. And in many other ways, by protecting the principle 
of life as a mysterious sanctity, Christianity has favoured the 
development of an excessive population. There it is that 
Christianity, being answerable for the mischief, is answerable 
for its redress. Therefore it is that, breeding the disease, 
Christianity breeds the cure. Extending the vast lines of 
poverty, Christianity it was that first laid down the principle 
of a relief for poverty. Constantine, the first Christian 
potentate, laid the first stone of the mighty overshadowing 
institution since reared in Christian lands to poverty, disease, 
orphanage, and mutilation. Christian instincts, moving and 
speaking through that CsBsar, first carried out that great idea 
of Christianity. Six years was Christianity in building 
Constantinople, and in the seventh she rested from her 
labours, saying, "Henceforward let the poor man have a 
haven of rest for ever ; a rest from his work for one day in 
seven ; a rest from his anxieties by a legal and fixed relief." 
Being legal, it could not be open to disturbances of caprice 
in the giver ; being fixed, it was not open to disturbances of 
miscalculation in the receiver. Now first, when first Christ- 
ianity was installed as a public organ of government (and 
first owned a distinct political responsibility), did it become 
the duty of a religion which assumed,' as it were, the official 
tutelage of poverty, to proclaim and consecrate that function 
by some great memorial precedent. And, accordingly, in 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 259 

testimony of that obligation, the 'first Christian Caesar, on 
behalf of Christianity, founded the first system of relief for 
pauperism. It is true that largesses from the public treasury, 
gratuitous com, or corn sold at diminished rates, not to 
mention the sportulcB or stated doles of private Roman nobles, 
had been distributed amongst the indigent citizens of Western 
Rome for centuries before Constantine ; but all these had 
been the selfish bounties of factious ambition or intrigue. 

To Christianity was reserved the inaugural act of public 
charity in the spirit of charity. "We must remember that 
no charitable or beneficent institutions of any kind, grounded 
on disinterested kindness, existed amongst the Pagan Romans, 
and still less amongst the Pagan Greeks. Mr. Coleridge, in 
one of his lay sermons, advanced the novel doctrine that in 
the Scripture is contained all genuine and profound states- 
manship. Of course, he must be understood to mean, in its 
capital principles ; for, as to subordinate and executive rules 
for applying such principles, these, doubtless, are in part 
suggested by the local circumstances in each separate case. 
Now, amongst the political theories of the Bible is this, that 
pauperism is not an accident in the constitution of states, 
but an indefeasible necessity ; or, in the scriptural words, 
that "the poor shall never cease out of the land.'* This 
theory, or great canon of social philosophy, during many 
centuries, drew no especial attention from philosophers. It 
passed for a truism, bearing no particular emphasis or mean- 
ing beyond some general purpose of sanction to the impulses 
of charity. But there is good reason to believe that it 
slumbered, and was meant to slumber, until Christianity, 
arising and moving forwards, should call it into a new life, 
as a principle suited to a new order of things. Accordingly, 
we have seen of late that this scriptural dictum — " The poor 
shall never cease out of the land ^ — has terminated its career 
as a truism (that is, as a truth, either obvious on one hand, 
or inert on the other), and - has wakened into a polemic or 
controversial life. People arose who took upon them utterly 
to deny the scriptural doctrine. Peremptorily they chal- 
lenged the assertion that poverty must always exist. The 
Bible said that it was an affection of human society which 
could not be exterminated ; the economist of 1800 said that 



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260 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

it was a foul disease which must and should be exterminated. 
The scriptural philosophy said that pauperism was inalienable 
from man's social condition, in the same way that decay was 
inalienable from his flesh. '' I shall soon see tAo^," said the 
economist of 1800 ; "for, as sure as my name is Malthus, I 
wiU have this poverty put down by law within one genera- 
tion, if there's a law to be had in the courts of Westminster." 
The Scriptures have left word that, if any man should come 
to the national banquet declaring himself unable to pay his 
contribution, that man should be accounted the guest of 
Christianity, and should be privileged to sit at the table in 
thankful remembrance of what Christianity had done for 
man. But Mr. Malthus left word with all the servants that, 
if any man should present himself under those circumstances, 
he was to be told " the table is full " (his words, not mine) ; 
** go away, good man." Go away I Mr. Malthus ? Whither ? 
In what direction) — "Why, if you come to that,** said the 
man of 1800, "to any ditch that he prefers : surely there's 
good choice of ditches for the most fastidious taste." During 
twenty years — viz. from 1800 to 1820 — this new philo- 
sophy, which substituted a ditch for a dinner, and a paving- 
stone for a loa^ prevailed and prospered. At one time it 
seemed likely enough to prove a snare to our own aristocracy 
— the noblest of all ages. But that peril was averted, and 
the farther history of the case was this : By the year 1820, 
much discussion having passed to and fro, serious doubts had 
arisen in many quarters ; scepticism had begun to arm itself 
against the sceptic ; the economist of 1800 was no longer 
quite sure of his ground. He was now suspected of being 
fallible ; and, what seemed of worse augury, he was beginning 
himself to suspect as much. To one capital blunder he was 
obliged publicly to plead guilty. What it was I shall have 
occasion to mention immediately. Meantime it was justly 
thought that, in a dispute loaded with such prodigious 
practical consequences, good sense and prudence demanded a 
more extended inquiry than had yet been instituted. Whether 
poverty would ever cease from the land might be doubted by 
those who balanced their faith in Scripture against their 
£edth in the man of 1800. But this at least could not be 
doubted — that as yet poverty had not ceased, nor indeed 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 261 

had made any sensible preparations for ceasing, from any 
land in Europe. It was a clear case, therefore, that, howso- 
ever Europe might please to dream upon the matter when 
pauperism should have reached that glorious euthanasy pre- 
dicted by the alchemist of old and the economist of 1800, 
for the present she must deal actively with her own pauperism 
on some avowed plan and principle, good or evil, gentle or 
harsh. Accordingly, along the line of years between 1820 
and 1830, inquiries were made through our consuls of every 
state in Europe, what were those plans and principles. For 
it was justly said — ^' As one step towards judging rightly of 
our own system, now that it has been so clamorously chal- 
lenged for a bad system, let us learn what it is that other 
nations think upon the subject, but above all what it is that 
they do." The answers to our many inquiries varied con- 
siderably ; and some amongst the most enlightened nations 
appear to have adopted the good old plan of laisien faire, 
giving nothing from any public fund to the pauper, but 
authorising him to levy contributions on that gracious 
allegoric lady. Private Charity, wherever he could meet 
her taking the air with her babe& This reference appeared 
to be the main one in reply to any application of the pauper; 
and for all the rest they referred him generally to the "ditch," 
or to his own unlimited choice of ditches, according to the 
approved method of public benevolence published in 4to and 
in 8vo by the man of 1800. But there were other and 
humbler states in Europe, whose very pettiness had brought 
more fully within their vision the whole machinery and 
watchwork of pauperism, as it acted and reacted on the 
industrious poverty of the land, and on other interests, by 
means of the system adopted in relieving it From these 
states came many interesting reports, all tending to some 
good purpose. But at last, and before the year 1830, 
amongst other results of more or less value, three capital 
points were established, not more decisive for the justifica- 
tion of the English system in administering national relief 
to paupers, and of all systems that reverenced the authority 
of Scripture, than they were for the overthrow of Mr. 
Malthus, the man of 1800. These three points are worthy 
of being used as buoys in mapping out the true channels, or 



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262 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEAKCHES 

indicating the breakers on this difficult line of navigation ; 
and I now rehearse them. They may seem plain almost to 
obviousness ; but it is enough that they involve aU the dis- 
puted questions of the case. 

First, that, in spite of the assurances from economists, no 
progress whatever had been made by England, or by any 
state in this world, which lent any sanction to the hope of 
ever eradicating poverty from society. 

Secondly, that, in absolute contradiction to the whole 
hypothesis relied on by Malthus and his brethren, in its most 
fundamental doctrine, a legal provision for poverty did not 
act as a bounty on marriage. There went to wreck the basis 
of the Malthus philosophy. The experience of England, 
where the trial had been made on the largest scale, was 
decisive on this point ; and the opposite experience of 
Ireland, under the opposite circumstances, was equally 
decisive. And this result had made itself so dear by 1820 
that even Malthus (as I have already noticed by anticipation) 
was compelled to publish a recantation as to this particular 
error, which in effect was a recantation of his entire theory. 

Thirdly, that, according to the concurring experience of 
all the most enlightened states in Christendom, the public 
suffered least (not merely in molestation, but in money), 
pauperism benefited most, and the growth of pauperism was 
retarded most, precisely as the provision for the poor had 
been legalised as to its. obligation, and fixed as to its amount 
Left to individual discretion, the burden was. found to press 
most unequally ; and, on the other hand, the evil itself of 
pauperism, whilst much less effectually relieved, neverthe- 
less, through the irregular action of this relief, was much 
more powerfully stimulated. 

Such is the abstract of our latest public warfare on this 
great question through a period of nearly fifty years. And 
the issue is this : starting from the contemptuous defiance of 
the scriptural doctrine upon the necessity of making pro- 
vision for poverty as an indispensable element in civil com- 
munities (the poor shall never cease out of the land), the 
economy of the age has lowered its tone by graduated de- 
scents in each one successively of the four last decennia. 
The philosophy of the day, as to this point at least, is at 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 263 

length in coincidence with Scripture. And thus the very 
extensive researches of this nineteenth century as to pauper- 
ism have reacted with the effect of a full justification upon 
Constantine's attempt to connect the foundation of his Empire 
with that new theory of Christianity upon the imperishable- 
ness of poverty and upon the duties corresponding to it 

Meantime, Mr. Finlay denies that Christianity had been 
raised by Constantine into the religion of the state ; and 
others have denied that, in the extensive money privileges 
conceded to Constantinople, he contemplated any but politi- 
cal principles. As to the first point, I apprehend that Con- 
stantine will be found not so much to have shrunk back from 
fear of installing Christianity in the seat of supremacy as to 
have diverged in policy from our modem methods of such an 
installation. My own belief is that, according to his notion 
of a state religion, he supposed himself to have conferred 
that distinction upon Christianity. With respect to the 
endowments and privileges of Constantinople, they were 
various : some lay in positive donations, others in immunities 
and exemptions ; some again were designed to attract 
strangers, others to attract nobles from old Home. But, with 
fuller opportunities for pursuing that discussion, I think it 
might be possible to show that, in more than one of his in- 
stitutions and his decrees, he had contemplated the special 
advantage of the poor considered as poor ; and that, next 
after the august distinction of having founded the first 
Christian throne, he had meant to challenge and fix the gaze 
of future ages upon this glorious pretension — ^viz. that he 
first had executed the scriptural injunction to make a 
provision for the poor, as an order of society that by laws 
immutable should "never cease out of the land." 

II. Let me advert to the value and functions of Con- 
stantinople as the tutelary genius of western or dawning 
Christianity. 

The History of Constantinople, or more generally of the 
Eastern Eoman Empire, wears a peculiar interest to the 
children of Christendom ; and for two separate re&sons — 
first, as being the narrow isthmus or bridge which connects 
the two continents of Ancient and Modem History, and thai 
is a philosophic interest ; but, secondly, which in the very 



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26i HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

highest degree is a practical interest, as the record of our 
earthly salvation from Mahometanism. On two horns was 
Europe assaulted by the Moslems. Firsts last, and through 
the largest tract of time, on the horn of Constantinople : 
there the contest raged for more than eight hundred years ; 
and by the time that the mighty bulwark fell (1463) Vienna 
and other cities near the Danube had found leisure for grow- 
ing up ; Hungary had grown up ; Poland had grown up ; 
so that, if one range of Alps had slowly been surmounteid, 
another had now embattled itself against the westward pro- 
gress of the Crescent On the westward horn, in France, but 
by Germans, once for all Charles Martel had arrested the pro- 
gress of the fanatical Moslem almost in a single battle ; 
certainly a single generation saw the whole danger dispersed, 
inasmuch as within that space the Saracens were effectually 
forced back into their Spanish lair. This demonstrates pretty 
forcibly the difference of the Mahometan resources as applied 
to the western and the eastern struggle. To throw the 
whole weight of that difference, a difference in the result as 
between eight centuries and thirty years, upon the mere 
difference of energy in German and Byzantine forces, — as 
though the first did, by a rapturous fervour, in a few revolu- 
tions of summer what the other had protracted through 
nearly a millennium, — ib a representation which defeats itself 
by its own extravagance. To prove too much is more 
dangerous than to prove too little. The fact is that vast 
armies and mighty nations were continually disposable for 
the war upon the City of Constantine ; nations had time to 
arise in juvenile vigour, to grow old and superannuated, 
to melt away, and totally to disappear, in that long struggle 
on the Hellespont and Propontis. It was a struggle which 
might often intermit and slumber ; armistices there might 
be, truces, or unproclaimed suspensions of war out of mutual 
exhaustion ; but peace there could nat be, because any resting 
from the duty of hatred between races that reciprocally 
seemed to lay the foundations of their creed in a dishonour- 
ing of God was impossible to aspiring human nature. Malice 
and mutual hatred, I repeat, became a duty in those circum- 
stances. Why had they heffwn to fight ? Personal feuds 
there had been none between the parties. For the early 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 266 

Caliphs did not conquer Syria and other vast provinces of the 
Boman Empire because they had a quarrel with the Caesars 
who represented Christendom ; but, on the contrary, they 
had a quarrel with the Csesars because they had conquered 
Syria; or, at the most, the conquest and the feud (if not 
always lying in that exact succession as cause and effect) were 
joint effects from a common cause, which cause was imperish- 
able as death or the ocean, and as deep as are the fountains of 
life. Could the ocean be altered by a sea-fight, or the 
atmosphere be tainted for ever by an earthquake ? As little 
could any single reign or its events affect the feud of the 
Moslem and the Christian : a feud which could not cease un- 
less Gk)d could change, or unless man (becoming careless of 
spiritual things) should sink to the level of a brute. 

These are considerations of great importance in weighing 
the value of the Eastern Empire. If the cause and interest 
of Islamism, as against Christianity, were undying, then we 
may be assured that the Moorish infidels of Spain did not 
reiterate their trans-Pyrenean expeditions after one genera- 
tion simply because they tmUd not But we know that on the 
south-eastern horn of Europe they cotddy upon the plain argu- 
ment that for many centuries they did. Over and above this, I 
am of opinion that the Saracens were unequal to the sort of 
hardships bred by cold climates ; and there lay another repul- 
sion for Saracens from France, &c, and not merely the Car- 
lovingian sword. We children of Christendom show our 
innate superiority to the children of the Orient upon this 
scale or tariff of acclimatising powers. "We travel as wheat 
travels, through all reasonable ranges of temperature ; they, like 
rice, can migrate only to warm latitudes. They cannot support 
our cold, but we can support the countervailing hardships of 
their heat. This cause alone would have weatherbound the 
Mussulmans for ever within the Pyrenean cloisters. Mussul- 
mans in cold latitudes look as much out of their element as 
sailors on horseback. Apart from which cause, we see that 
the fine old Visigothic races in Spain found them full 
employment up to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, which 
reign first created a kingdom of Spain ; in that reign the 
whole fabric of their power thawed away, and was confounded 
with forgotten things. Columbus, according to a local tradi- 



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266 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tion, was personally present at some of the latter campaigns 
in Grenada : he saw the last of them. So that the discovery 
of America may be used as a convertible date with that of 
extinction for the Saracen power in western Europe. True 
that the overthrow of Constantinople had forerun this event 
by nearly half-a-century. But then I insist upon the 
different proportions of the struggle. Whilst in Spain a pro- 
vince had fought against a province, all Asia Militant had 
fought against the Eastern Roman Empire. Amongst the 
many races whom dimly we descry in those shadowy hosts, 
tilting for ages in the vast plains of Angora, are seen latterly 
pressing on to the van two mighty powers, the children of Persia 
and the Ottoman family of the Turks. Upon these nations 
— ^the one heretical, the other orthodox and more accurately 
Mahometan than Miahomet^ both now rapidly decaying — the 
faith of Mahomet has ever leaned as upon her eldest sons ; 
and these powers, both the right and the wrong, the Byzan- 
tine OsBsars had to face in every phasis of Moslem energy, as 
it revolved from perfect barbarism, through semi-barbarism, 
to that crude form of civilisation which Mahometans can 
support And through all these transmigrations of their 
power we must remember that they were under a martial 
training and discipline, never suffered to become effeminate. 
One set of warriors after another (2«2, it is true, become 
effeminate in Persia ; but^ upon that advantage opening, 
always another set stepped in from Turkistan or from the 
Imaus. The nation, as individuals, melted away; the 
Moslem armies were immortal 

Here, therefore, it is, and standing at this point of my 
review, that I complain of Mr. Finlay's too facile compliance 
with historians far beneath himself. He throws away his own 
advantages. Oftentimes his commentaries on the past are 
ebullient with subtlety; and his fault strikes me as lying 
even in the excess of his sagacity applying itself too often to 
a basis of facts quite insufficient for supporting the superin- 
cumbent weight of his speculations. But in the instance before 
us he surrenders himself too readily to the ordinary current of 
History. How would he like it, if he happened to be a Turk 
himself, finding his nation thus implicitly undervalued ? For 
clearly, in undervaluing the Byzantine resistance, he does 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 267 

andervalue the Mahometan assault. Advantages of local 
situation cannot eternally make good the deficiencies of man. 
If the Byzantines (being as weak as historians would repre- 
sent them) yet for ages resisted the whole impetus of Maho- 
metan Asia, then it follows, either that the Crescent was 
correspondingly weak, or that^ not being weak, she must 
have found the Cross pretty strong. The fadt of History 
does not here correspond with the numerical itema 

Nothing has ever surprised me more, I will frankly own, 
than this coincidence of authors in treating the Byzantine 
Empire as feeble and crazy. On the contrary, to me it is 
clear that some secret and preternatural strength it must 
have had, lurking where the eye of man did not in those 
days penetrate; or by what miracle did it undertake our 
universal Christian cause, fight for us all, keep the waters 
open from freezing us up, and through nine centuries pre- 
vent the ice of Mi^ometanism firom closing over our heads 
for ever? Yet does Mr. Finlay describe this empire as 
labouring, in a.d. 623, equally with Persia, under " internal 
weakness," and as " equally incapable of offering any popular 
or national resistance to an active or enterprising enemy." 
In this Mr. Finlay does but agree with other able writers ; 
but he and they should have recollected that hardly had 
that very year 623 departed, even yet the knell of its last 
hour was sounding upon the winds, when this effeminate 
empire had occasion to show that she could clothe herself 
with consuming terrors, as a belligerent both defensive and 
aggressive. In the absence of her great Emperor,^ and of 
the main imperial forces, the golden capital herself, by her 
own resources, routed and persecuted into wrecks a Persian 
army that had come down upon her by stealth and a fraudu- 
lent circuit Even at that same period, she advanced into 
Persia more than a thousand miles from her own metropolis 
in Europe under the blazing ensigns of the cross, kicked the 
crown of Persia to and fro like a tennis-ball, upset the throne 
of Artaxerxes, countersigned haughtily the elevation of a 
new Bcuileue more friendly to herself, and then recrossed the 

^ Heradiibs ; which name ought not to have the stress laid on the 
antepenultimate {r(ic\ but on the penultimate (t). [Heraclius, 
Emperor of the East from 610 to 641. — M.] 



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268 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Tigris homewards, after having torn forcibly out of the heart 
. and palpitating entrails of Persia whatever trophies that 
empire had formerly, in her fire-worshipping stage, wrested 
from herseK These were not the acts of an effeminate 
kingdom. In the language of Wordsworth we may say — 

" All power was given her in the dreadful trance ; 
Infidel kings she withered like a flame." 

Indeed, no image that I remember can do justice to the 
first of these acts, except that Spanish legend of the did 
which tells us that, long after the death of the mighty 
cavalier, when the children c^ those Moors who had fled 
from his face whilst living were insulting the marble statue 
above his grave, suddenly the statue raised its right arm, 
stretched out its marble lance, and drifted the heathen dogs 
like snow. The mere sanctity of the Christian champion's 
sepulchre was its own protection ; and so we must suppose 
that, when the Persian hosts came by surprise upon Con- 
stantinople — her natural protector being absent by three 
months' march — simply the golden statues of the mighty 
Ceesars, half rising on their tbj^ones, must have caused that 
sudden panic which dissipated the danger. Hardly fifty 
years later, Mr. Finlay well knows that Constantinople agaiii 
stood an assault — ^not from a Persian hourrah or tempestuous 
surprise, but from a vast expedition, armaments by land and 
sea, fitted out elaborately in the early noontide of Maho- 
metan vigour ; and that assault also, in the presence of the 
Caliph and the crescent^ was gloriously discomfited. Now, 
if, in the moment of triumph, some voice in the innumer- 
able crowd had cried out, "How long shall this great 
Christian breakwater, against which are shattered into surge 
and foam all the mountainous billows of idolaters and mis- 
believers, stand up on behalf of infant Christendom ? ", and 
if from the clouds some trumpet of prophecy had replied, 
"Even yet for eight hundred years !*', could any man have 
persuaded himself that such a fortress against such antagon- 
ists — such a monument against such a millennium of fury — 
was to be classed amongst the weak things of the earth? 
This Oriental Rome, it is true, equally with Persia, was 
liable to sudden inroads and incursions. But the difference 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 269 

was this : Persia was strongly protected in all ages by the 
wilderness on her main western frontier ; if this were passed, 
and a hand-to-hand conflict succeeded where light cavalry or 
fugitive archers could be of little value, the essential weak- 
ness of the Persian Empire then betrayed itself. Her sove- 
reign was then assassinated, and peace was obtained from 
the condescension of the invader. But the enemies of Con- 
stantinople — Goths, Avars, Bulgarians, or even Persians — 
were strong only by their weakness. Being contemptible, 
they were neglected; being clfased, they made no stand; 
being prostrate, they capitulated ; and thvs only they escaped. 
They entered like thieves by means of darkness, and escaped 
like sheep by means of dispersion. But, if caught, they 
were annihilated. No : I resume my thesis ; I close this 
head by reiterating my correction of History ; I re-affirm 
my position that in eastern Borne lay the salvation of 
western and central Europe, in Constantinople and the Pro- 
pontis lay the sine qua rum condition of any future Christen- 
dom. Emperor and People m/ust have done their duty ; the 
result, the vast extent of generations surmounted, furnishes 
the triumphant demonstration. Finally, indeed, they fell, 
king and people, shepherd and flock ; but by that time their 
mission was fulfilled. And, doubtless, as the noble Palse- 
ologus lay on heaps of carnage with his noble People, as life 
was ebbing away, a voice horn heaven sounded in his ears 
the great words of the Hebrew prophet, " Behold I tour 
WORK IS DONE ; youT warfare is accomplished." 

III. Such, then, being the unmerited disparagement of 
the Byzantine government, and so great the ingratitude of 
later Christendom to that sheltering power under which 
themselves enjoyed the leisure of a thousand years for knit- 
ting and expanding into strong nations, on the other hand 
what is to be thought of the Saracen anti-Byzantines? 
Everyirhere it has passed for a lawful postulate that the 
Saracen conquests prevailed, half by the feebleness of the 
Boman government at Constantinople, and half by the pre- 
ternatural energy infused into the Arabs by their false 
prophet and legislator. In either of its faces, this theory 
is falsified by a steady review of facts. With regard to the 
Saracens, Mr. Finlay thinks, as I do, and argues, that they 



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270 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

prevailecl through the hccUy or sometimefl the casual, weak- 
ness of their immediate enemies, and rarely through any 
strength of their own. "We must remember one fatsl weak- 
ness of the imperial administration in those days, not due 
to men or to principles, but entirely to nature and the slow 
growth of scientific improvements — viz. the difficulties of 
locomotion. As respected Syria, Egypt, Cyrenaica, and so 
on to the most western provinces of AMca, the Saracens had 
advantages for moving rapidly which the Caesar had not 
But is not a water movement speedier than a land move- 
ment, which for an army never has much exceeded fourteen 
miles a^ay ? Certainly it is ; but in this case there were 
two desperate defects in the imperial control over that water 
service. To use a fleet, you must have a fleet ; but their 
whole naval interest had been starved by the intolerable 
costs of the Persian War. Immense had been the expenses 
of Heraclius, and annually decaying had been his Asiatic 
revenues. Secondly, the original position of the Arabs had 
been better than that of the Emperor in every stage of the 
warfare which so suddenly arose. In Arabia the Arabs 
stood nearest to Syria, in Syria nearest to Egypt, in Egypt 
nearest to Cyrenaica. "What reason had there been for 
expecting a martial legislator at that moment in Arabia who 
should fuse and sternly combine her distracted tribes ? 
"What blame, therefore, to Heraclius, that Syria — ^the first 
object of assault, being also by much the weakest part of 
the Empire, and immediately after the close of a desolating 
war — should in four campaigns be found indefensible ? We 
must remember the unexampled abruptness of the Arabian 
revolution. The year six hundred and twenty-two, by its 
very name of Hegira, does not record a triumph, but a 
humiliation. In that year, therefore, and at the very 
moment when Heraclius was entering upon his long Persian 
ntruggle, Mahomet was yet prostrate, and his destiny was 
doubtful. Eleven years after — viz. in six hundred and 
thirty-three — ^the prophet was dead and gone ; but his first 
successor was already in Syria as a conqueror. Such had 
been the velocity of events. The Persian War had then 
been finished by three years, but the exhaustion of the 
Empire had perhaps, at that moment, reached its maximum. 



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GEEECE UNDER THE ROMANS 271 

I am satisfied that ten years* repose from this extreme state 
of collapse would have shown us another result. Even as 
it was, and caught at this enormous disadvantage, Heraclius 
taught the robbers to tremble, and would have exterminated 
them, if not baffled by two irremediable calamities, neither 
of them due to any act or neglect of his own. The first lay 
in the treason of his lieutenants. The governors of Damas- 
cus, of Aleppo, of Emesa, of Bostra, of Kinnisrin, all proved 
traitors. The root of this evil lay, probably, in the disorders 
following the Persian invasion, which had made it the 
perilous interest of the Emperor to appoint great officers 
from amongst those who had a local influence. Such persons 
it might have been ruinous too suddenly to set aside ; as, in 
the event, it proved ruinous to employ them. A dilemma 
of this kind, offering but a choice of evils, belonged to the 
nature of any Persian war ; and that particular war was 
bequeathed to Heraclius by the management of his prede- 
cessors. The second calamity was even more fatal ; it lay 
in the composition of the Syrian population, and its original 
want of vital cohesion. For no purpose could this popula- 
tion be united ; they formed a rope of sand. There was the 
distraction of religion — Jacobites, Nestorians, &c. ; there was 
the distraction of races — slaves and masters, conquered and 
conquerors, modem intruders mixed, but not blended with, 
aboriginal mountaineers. Property became the one principle 
and ground of choice between the two governments. Where 
was protection to be had for that ? Barbarous as were the 
Arabs, they saw their present advantage. Often it would 
happen, from the position of the armies, that ^ley could, 
whilst the Emperor could not, guarantee the instant security 
of land or of personal treasures ; the Arabs could also pro- 
mise, sometimes, even a total immunity from taxes — gener- 
ally a diminished scale of taxation, always a remission of 
arrears ; none of which concessions could be listened to by 
the Emperor, partly on account of the public necessities, 
partly from jealousy of establishing operative precedents. 
For religion, again, protection was more easily obtained in 
that day from the Arab, who made war on Christianity, 
than from the Byzantine Emperor, who was its champion. 
What were the different sects and subdivisions of Christianity 



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272 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

to the barbarian ? Monophysite, Monothelite, Eutycbian, or 
Jacobite, all were to him as the scholastic disputes of noble 
and intellectual Europe to the camps of gipsies. The Arab 
felt himself to be the depositary of one sublime truth, the 
unity of God. His mission, therefore, was principally 
against idolaters. Yet even to them his policy was to sell 
toleration of idolatry and polytheism for tribute. Clearly, 
as Mr. Finlay hints, this was merely a provisional moderar 
tion, meant to be laid aside when sufficient power was 
obtained ; and it vxu laid aside, in after ages, by many a 
wretch like Timour or Nadir Shah. Religion, therefore, and 
property once secured, what more had the Syrians to seek ? 
And, if to these advantages for the Saracens we add the fact 
that a considerable Arab population was dispersed through 
Syria, who became so many emissaries, spies, and decoys in 
the service of their countrymen, it does great honour to the 
Emperor that through so many campaigns he should at all 
have maintained his ground ; and this at last he resigned 
only under the despondency caused by almost universal 
treachery. 

The Saracens, therefore, had no great merit even in 
their earliest exploits ; and the impetus of their movement 
forwards, that principle of proselytism which carried them so 
strongly ** ahead *' through a few generations, was very soon 
brought to a stop. Mr. Finlay, in my mind, does right to 
class these barbarians as " socially and politically little better 
than the Gothic, Hunnish, and Avar monarchies." But, on 
consideration, the Gothic monarchy embosomed the germs of 
a noble civilisation ; whereas the Saracens have never propa- 
gated great principles of any kind, nor attained even a 
momentary grandeur in their institutions, except where 
coalescing with a higher or more ancient civilisation. 

Meantime, ascending from the earliest Mahometans to 
their Prophet, what are we to think of him ? Was Mahomet 
a great man ? I think not The case was thus : — The 
Arabian tribes had long stood ready, like dogs held in a 
leash, for a start after distant game. It was not Mahomet 
who gave them that impulse. But^ next, what was it that 
hindered the Arab tribes from obeying the impulse ? 
Simply this, that they were always in feud with each other, 



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GEEECB UNDER THE ROMANS 273 

SO that their expeditions, beginning in harmony, were sure 
to break up in anger on the road. What they needed was 
some one grand compressing and unifying principle, such as 
the Roman found in the destinies of his City. True ; but 
this, you say, they found in the sublime principle that God 
was one, and had appointed them to be the scourges of all 
who denied it. Their mission was to cleanse the earth from 
Polytheism, and, as ambassadors from God,' to tell the nations, 
" Ye shall have no other gods but me." That was grand ; 
and tJuxt surely they had from Mahomet. Perhaps so ; but 
where did he get it ? He stole it from the Jewish Scrip- 
tures, and from the Scriptures no less than from the tradi- 
tions of the Christians. Assuredly, then, the first projecting 
impetiM was not impressed upon Islamism by Mahomet This 
lay in a revealed truth ; and by Mahomet it was furtively 
translated to his own use from those oracles which held it in 
keeping. But possibly, if not the principle of motion, yet at 
least the steady conservation of this motion, was secured to 
Islamism by Mahomet Granting (you will say) that the 
launch of this religion might be due to an alien inspiration, 
yet still the steady movement onwards of this religion, 
through some centuries, might be due exclusively to the 
code of laws bequeathed by Mahomet in the Koran. And 
this has been the opinion of many European scholars. They 
fancy that Mahomet, however worldly and sensual as the 
founder of a pretended revelation, was wise in the wisdom of 
this world, and that, if ridiculous as a prophet (which word,^ 
however, did not mean foreUUer, but simply revealer of truth), 
he was worthy of veneration as a statesman. He legislated well 
and presciently, they imagine, for the interests of a remote 
posterity. Now, upon that question let us hear Mr. Finlay. 
He, when commenting upon the steady resistance offered to 
the Saracens by the African Christians of the seventh and 
eighth centuries, — a resistance which terminated disastrously 

^ I have already (viz. in the paper on ** Oracles ") had occasion to 
notice the erroneous limitation of the word Prophecy , as if it meant 
only, or chiefly, that revelation which draws away the veil of futurity. 
But in the great cardinal proposition of Islamism this correction is 
broadly enunciated — ^There is one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet. 
Now, in the narrow sense of prediction, Mahomet disclaimed the gift 
of prophecy as much as of miracles. 

VOL. VTI T 



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274 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

for both sides, the poor Christians being exterminated, and 
the Moslem invaders being robbed of an indigenous working 
population,^ — ^naturally inquires what it was that led to so 
tragical a result The Christian natives of these provinces 
were in a political condition little favourable to belligerent 
efforts ; and there cannot be much doubt that, with any 
wisdom or any forbearance on the part of the intruders, both 
parties might soon have settled down into a pacific com- 
promise of their feuds. Instead of this, the scimitar was 
invoked and worshipped as the sole possible arbitrator ; and 
truce there was none, until the silence of desolation brooded 
over those once fertile fields. How savage was the fanati- 
cism, and how blind the worldly wisdom, which could have 
co-operated to such a result ! The cause must have lain 
in the unaccommodating nature of the Mahometan insti- 
tutions, in the bigotry of the Mahometan leaders, and in 
the defect of expansive views on the part of their legis- 
lator. He had not provided even for other climates than 
that of his own sweltering sty in the Hedjas, or for manners 
more polished, or for institutions more philosophic, than 
those of his own sun-baked Ishmaelites. ** The construction 
" of the political government of the Saracen Empire," says 
Mr. Finlay, " was imperfect, and shows that Mahomet had 
" neither contemplated extensive foreign conquests, nor 
** devoted the energies of his powerful mind to the considera- 
" tion of the questions of administration which would arise 
" out of the difficult task of ruling a numerous and Wealthy 
" population, possessed of property, but deprived of equal 
" righta*' He then shows how the whole power of the state 
settled into the hands of a chief priest — systematically irre- 
sponsible. When, therefore, that momentary state of 
responsibility had passed away from the Mahometans which 
was created (like the state of martial law) " by national feel- 
ings, military companionship, and exalted enthusiasm," the 
administration of the Caliphs became " far more oppressive 
than that of the Roman Empire." It is in fact an insult to 
the majestic Romans if we should place them seriously in the 
balance with savages like the Saracens. The Romans were 
essentially the leaders of civilisation, according to the possi- 
bilities then existing ; for their earliest usages and social 



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GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 276 

forms involved a high civilisation, whilst promising a higher : 
whereas all Moslem nations have described a petty arch of 
national civility — soon reaching its apex, and rapidly barbar- 
ising backwards. This fatal gravitation towards decay and 
decomposition in Mahometan institutions, which at this day 
exhibit to the gaze of mankind one uniform spectacle of 
Mahometan ruins, — all the great Moslem nations being 
already in a Strulhrug'^ state, and held erect only by the 
colossal support of Christian powers,— could not, as a reoer- 
donary evil, have been healed by the Arabian prophet. His 
own religious principles would have prevented that, for they 
offer a permanent bounty on sensuality ; so that every man 
who serves a Mahometan state faithfully and brilliantly at 
twenty-five is incapacitated at thirty-five for any further 
service by the very nature of the rewards which he receives 
from the state. Within a very few years, every public 
servant is usually emasculated by that unlimited voluptuous- 
ness which equally the Moslem Princes and the Common 
Prophet of all Moslems countenance as the proper object, 
and indeed the sole object, of human pursuit not on earth 
only, but in the future of paradise. Here is the mortal 
ulcer of Islamism, which can never cleanse itself from death 
and the odour of deatL A political ulcer would or might 
have found restoration for itself; but this ulcer is higher 
and deeper : — ^it lies in the religion, which is incapable of 
reform : it is an ulcer reaching as high as the paradise 
which Islamism promises, and deep as the hell which it 
creates. I repeat that Mahomet could not effectually have 
neutralised a poison which he himself had introduced into 
the circulation and life-blood of his Moslem economy. The 
false prophet was forced to reap as he had sown. But an 
evil which is certain may be retarded ; and ravages which 
tend finally to confusion may be limited for many genera- 

^ To any reader who happens to be illiterate, or not extensively in- 
formed, it may be proper to explain that StrtUbmgs were a creation 
of Dean Swift, They were people in an imaginary world, who were 
afraid of dying, and who had the privilege of lingering on through 
centuries when they ought to have been dead and buried, but suffering 
all the evils of utter superannuation and decay ; having a bare 
glimmering of semi-consciousness, but otherwise in the condition of 
mere vegetables. 



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276 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

lions. Kow, in the case of the Afrioan provincials which 1 
have noticed, we observe an original incapacity in Islamism, 
even at its meridian altitude, for amalgamating with any 
superior (and therefore any Christian) culture. And the 
specific action of Mahometanism in the African case, as con- 
trasted with the Boman economy which it supplanted, is 
thus exhibited by Mr. Finlay in a most instructive passage, 
where every negation on the Mahometan side is made to 
suggest the countervailing podtive usage on the side of the 
Romans. children of Romulus 1 how noble do you 
appear, when thus abruptly contrasted with the wild boars 
that desolated your vineyards ! "No local magistrates 
'^ elected by the people, and no parish priests connected by 
** their feelings and interests both with their superiors and 
^* inferiors, bound society together by common ties ; and 
" no system of legal administration, independent of the 
" military and financial authorities, preserved the property of 
" the people from the rapacity of the government." Such, 
we are to understand, was not the Mahometan system ; such 
had been the system of Rome. " Socially and politically," 
proceeds the passage, ^ the Saracen Empire was little better 
" than the Gothic, Hunnish, and Avar monarchies ; and 
" that it proved more durable, with almost equal oppression, 
"is to be attributed to the powerful enthusiasm of 
" Mahomet's religion, which tempered for some time its 
" avarice and tyranny." The same sentiment is repeated 
still more emphatically at p. 468 : — " The political policy of 
^^ the Saracens was of itself utterly barbarous ; and it only 
" caught a passing gleam of justice from the religious feeling 
** of their prophet's doctrines." 

Thus far, therefore, it appears that Mahometanism is not 
much indebted to its too famous founder : it owes to him a 
principle — ^viz. the unity of God — which, merely through a 
capital blunder, it fancies peculiar to itself. Nothing but 
the grossest ignorance in Mahomet, nothing but the grossest 
non-acquaintance with Greek authors on the part of the 
Arabs, could have created or sustained the delusion current 
amongst that illiterate people that it was themselves only 
who rejected Polytheism. Had but one amongst the personal 
enemies of Mahomet been acquainted with Greek, there was 



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' GREECE UNDER THE ROMANS 277 

an end of the new religion in the first moon of its existence. 
Once open the eyes of the Arabs to the fact that Christians 
had anticipated them in this great truth of the divine unity, 
and Mahometanism could only have ranked as a subdivision 
of Christianity. Mahomet would have ranked only as a 
Christian heresiarch or schismatic, such as Nestorius or 
Marcian at one time, such as Arius or Pelagius at another. 
In his character of theologicmy therefore, Mahomet was simply 
the most memorable of blunderers, supported in his blunders 
by the most unlettered of nations.^ In his other character 
of legislator we have seen that already the earliest stages of 
Mahometan experience exposed decisively his ruinous imbe- 
cility. Where a rude tribe offered no resistance to his 
system, for the simple reason that their barbarism suggested 
no motive for resistance, it could be no honour to prevail. 
And, where, on the other hand, a higher civilisation had fur- 
nished strong points of repulsion to his system, it appears 
plainly that this pretended apostle of social improvements 
had devised or hinted no readier mode of conciliation than 
by putting to the sword all dissentients. He starts, as a 
theological reformer, with a fancied defiance to the world 
which was no defiance at all, being exactly what Christians 
had believed for six centuries, and Jews for six-and-twenty. 
He starts, as a political reformer, with a fancied conciliation 
to the world, which was no conciliation at all, but was sure 
to provoke imperishable hostility wheresoever it had any 
effect at alL 

I have thus reviewed some of the more splendid aspects 
connected with Mr. Finlay's theme ; but that theme, in its 
entire compass, is worthy of a far more extended investiga- 
tion than my own limits will allow, or than the historical 
curiosity of the world (misdirected here, as in so many other 
cases) has hitherto demanded. The Greek race, suffering a 
long occultation under the blaze of the Roman Empire, into 

^ ** Most unleUered " : — viz. at the era of Mahomet. Subse- 
quently, under the encouragement of great Caliphs, they became con- 
fessedly a learned people. But this cannot disturb the sublime 
character of their ignorance at that earliest period when this ignorance 
was an indispensable co-operating element with the plagiarisms of 
Mahomet for the generation of a new religion. 



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278 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

wMch for a time it had been absorbed, but again emerging 
from this blaze, and reassuming a distinct Greek agency 
and influence, offers a subject great by its own inherent 
attractions, and separately interesting by the unaccountable 
neglect which it has suffered. To have overlooked this sub- 
ject^ is one amongst the capital oversights of Gibbon. To 
have rescued it from utter oblivion, and to have traced an 
outline for its better illumination, is the peculiar merit of 
Mr. Finlay. His greatest fault is to have been careless or 
slovenly in the niceties of classical and philological precision. 
His greatest praise, and a very great one indeed, is to have 
thrown the light of an original philosophic sagacity upon a 
neglected province of History, indispensable to the wnondisse- 
VMfnX of Paganism in its latest stages and of anti-Paganism in 
its earliest. 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE » 

It is falsely charged upon itself by this age, in its character 
of censor morum, that effeminacy in a practical sense lies 
either amongst its full-blown faults, or amongst its lurking 
tendencies. A rich, a polished, a refined age, may, by mere 
necessity of inference, be presumed to be a luxurious one ; 
and the usual principle which sets in motion the whole 
trivial philosophy which speculates upon the character of a 
particular age or a particular nation is first of all to adopt 
some one central idea of its characteristics, and then without 
further effort to pursue its integration ; that is, having 
assumed (or, suppose even having demonstrated) the existence 
of some great influential quality in excess sufficient to over- 
throw the apparent equilibrium demanded by the common 
standards of a just national character, the speculator then 
proceeds, as in a matter of acknowledged right, to push this 
predominant quality into all its consequences, and all its 
closest affinities. To give one illustration of such a case, 
now perhaps beginning to be forgotten : Somewhere about 
the year 1755, the once celebrated Dr. Brown, after other 
little attempts in literature and paradox,^ took up the con- 
ceit that England was ruined at her hearts core by excess of 
luxury and sensual self-indulgence. He had persuaded 

^ In BlaektcoocPs Magazine for April 1833, as a review of ** History 
of the Greek Revolution, By Thomas Gordon, F,R.8, In two vds, 
Edinburgh, 1833 " : reprinted by De Quincey in 1859 in the eleventh 
volume of his CoUected Writings. — M. 

^ John Brown, D.D., an English divine and miscellaneous writes; 
1715-1766.— M. 



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280 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

himseK that the ancient activities and energies of the 
country were sapped by long habits of indolence, and by a 
morbid plethora of enjoyment in every class. Courage, and 
the old fiery spirit of the people,, had gone to wreck with the 
physical qualities which had sustained them. Even the 
faults of the public mind had given way under its new com- 
plexion of character; ambition and civil dissension were 
extinct It was questionable whether a good hearty assault 
and battery, or a respectable knock-down blow, had been 
dealt by any man in London for one or two generations. 
The doctor carried his reveries so far that he even satisfied 
himself and one or two friends (probably by looking into the 
parks at hours propitious to his hypothesis) that horses were 
seldom or never used for riding ; that, in fact, this accomplish- 
ment was too boisterous or too perilous for the gentle pro- 
pensities of modem Britons ; and that^ by the best accounts, 
few men of rank or fashion were now seen on horseback. 
This pleasant collection of dreams did Dr. Brown solemnly 
propound to the English public, in two octavo volumes,^ 
under the title of An EgtimaGs of the Mcv/mers omd Principles 
of the Times ^ ; and the report of many who lived in those 
days assures us that for a brief period the book had a pro- 
digious run. In some respects the doctor's conceits might 
seem too startling and extravagant ; but» to balance thaty 
every nation has some pleasure in being heartily abused by 
one of its own number ; and the English nation has always 
had a special delight in being alarmed, and in being clearly 
convinced that it is and ought to be on the brink of ruin. 
With such advantages in the worthy doctor's favour, he 
might have kept the field until some newer extravaganza 
had made his own obsolete, had not one ugly turn in political 
affairs given so smashing a refutation to his practical con- 
clusions, and called forth so sudden a rebound of public 
feeling in the very opposite directioi^ that a bomb-shell 
descending right through the whole impression of his book 
could not more summarily have laid a chancery " injunction " 
upon its further sale. This arose under the brilliant ad- 
ministration of the first Mr. Pitt : England was suddenly 
victorious in three quarters of the globe ; land and sea 
1 Published in 1767.— M. 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 281 

echoed to the voice of her triumphs ; and the poor Doctor 
Brown, in the midst of all this hubbub, cut his own throat 
with his own razor. Whether this dismal catastrophe were 
exactly^ due to his mortification, as a baffled visionary whose 
fiekvourite conceit had suddenly exploded like a rocket into 
smoke and stench, is more than any man is entitled to 
swear judicially ; but^ at all events, the sole memorial of his 
hypothesis which now reminds the English reader that it 
ever existed is one solitary notice of good-humoured satire 
pointed at it by Cowper.^ And the possibility of such 
exceeding folly in a man otherwise of good sense and judg- 
menty not depraved by any brain -fever or enthusiastic 
infatuation, not drunk with new wine, not frantic with 
delirium tremens, is to be found in the vicious process of 
reasoning applied to such estimates. The doctor, having 
taken up one novel idea of the national character, proceeded 
-afterwards by no tentative inquiries or comparison with 
actual facts and phenomena of daily experience, but resolutely 
developed out of his one idea all that it appeared analytically 
to involve; and postulated audaciously as a solemn fact 
whatsoever could be exhibited in any possible connexion 
with his one central principle, whether in the way of con- 
sequence or of affinity. 

Pretty much upon this unhappy Brunonian mode of 
deducing our national character, it is a very plausible specu- 
lation, which has been and will again be chanted, that we, 
being a luxurious nation, must by force of good logical 
dependency be liable to many derivative taints and in- 
firmities which ought of necessity to besiege the blood of 
nations in that predicament. All enterprise and spirit of 
adventure, all heroism and courting of danger for its own 
attractions, ought naturally to languish in a generation ener- 
vated by early habits of personal indulgence. Doubtless they 
<mght ; a priori, it seems strictly demonstrable that such con- 
sequences should follow. Upon the purest forms of inference 
in Barbara or Gdarent, it can be shown satisfactorily that 
from all our tainted classes, a fortiori then from our most 

^ In Cowper's Table Talk :— 

** The inestimable Estimate of Brown 
Rose like a kite, and charmed all the town." — M. 



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282 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tainted classes — our men of fashion and of opulent fortunes 
— ^no description of animal can possibly arise but poltroons 
and faw4ans. In fact, pretty generally, under the known 
circumstances of our modem Ei^lish education and of our 
social habits, we ought^ in obedience to all the precogmta of 
our position, to show ourselves rank cowards. Yet, in spite 
of so much excellent logic, the feu^ts are otherwise. No age 
has shown in its young patricians a more heroic disdain of 
sedentary ease ; none in a martial support of liberty or 
national independence has so gaily volunteered upon ser- 
vices the most desperate, or shrunk less from martyrdom on 
the field of battle, whenever there was hope to invite their 
disinterested exertions, or grandeur enough in the cause to 
sustain them. Which of us forgets the gallant Mellish, the 
frank and the generous, who reconciled himself so gaily to 
the loss of a splendid fortune, and from the very bosom of 
luxury suddenly precipitated himself upon the hardships of 
Peninsular warfare ? Which of us forgets the adventurous 
Lee of Lime, whom a princely estate could not detain in 
early youth from courting perils in Nubia and Abyssinia, 
nor (immediately upon his return) from almost wooing death 
as a volunteer aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington at 
Waterloo ? So again of Colonel De Lacy Evans, who, after 
losing a fine estate long held out to his hopes, five times 
over put himself at the head of forhm hopes. Such cases 
are memorable, and were conspicuous at the time, from the 
lustre of wealth and high connexions which surrounded the 
parties ; but many thousand others, in which the sacrifices 
of personal ease were less noticeable from their narrower 
scale of splendour, had equal merit for the cheerfulness with 
which those sacrifices were made. 

Here, again, in the person of the author before ns,^ we 
have another instance of noble and disinterested heroism, 
which, from the magnitude of the sacrifices that it involved, 
must place him in the same class as the Mellishes and the 
Lees. This gallant Scotsman, who was bom in 1788 or 
1789, lost his father in early life. Inheriting from him a 
good estate in Aberdeenshire, and one more considerable in 

^ Gordon's History of the Cheek Revolution : see footnote, antey p. 
279.— M. 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 283 

Jamaica, he found himself at the close of a long minority in 
the possession of a commanding fortune. Under the vigilant 
care of a sagacious mother, Mr. Gordon received the very 
amplest advantages of a finished education, studying first at 
the University of Aberdeen and afterwards for two years at 
Oxford, whilst he had previously enjoyed as a boy the benefits 
of a private tutor from Oxford. Whatever might be the 
immediate result from this careful tuition, Mr. Gordon has 
since completed his own education in the most comprehensive 
manner, and has carried his accomplishments as a linguist to 
a point of rare excellence. Sweden and Portugal excepted, 
we understand that he has personally visited every country 
in Europe. He has travelled also in Asiatic Turkey, in 
Persia, and in Barbary. From this personal residence in 
foreign countries, we understand that Mr. Gordon has ob- 
tained an absolute mastery over certain modem languages, 
especially the French, the Italian, the Modem Greek, and 
the Turkish.^ Not content^ however, with this extensive 
education in a literary sense, Mr. Gordon thought proper to 
prepare himself for the part which he meditated in public 
life by a second, or military education, in two separate ser- 
vices : first, in the British, where he served in the Greys, 
and in the forty-third regiment ; and subsequently, during 
the campaign of 1813, as a captain on the Russian stafiEl 

Thus brilliantly accomplished for conferring lustre and 
benefit upon any cause which he might adopt amongst the 
many revolutionary movements then continually emerging 
in Southern Europe, he finally carried the whole weight of 
his great talents, prudence, and energy, together with the 
unlimited command of his purse, to the service of Greece in 
her heroic struggle with the Sultan. At what point his 
services and his countenance were appreciated by the ruling 
persons in Greece will be best collected from the accom- 
panying letter, translated from the original in modem 
Greek, addressed to him by the Provisional Government of 
Greece in 1822. It will be seen that this official document 

^ Mr. Qordon is privately known to be the translator of the work 
written by a Turkish minister, " Tchebi Effendi" published in the 
Appendix to Wilkinson's WdUcuihia^ and frequently referred to by 
the Q^offterly Review in its notices of Oriental affairs. 



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284 HISTORICAL BSSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

notices with great sorrow Mr. Qordon's absence from Greece, 
and with some surprise, as a fact at that time unexplained 
and mysterious ; but the simple explanation of this mystery 
was that Mr. Gordon had been brought to the very brink of 
the grave by a contagious fever at Tripolizza, and that his 
native air was found essential to his restoration. Subse- 
quently he returned, and rendered the most powerful ser- 
vices to Greece, until the war was brought to a close, as 
much almost by Turkish exhaustion as by the armed inter- 
ference of the three great conquerors of Navarina 

" The Government of Greece to the Signor Gordon, a man 
worthy of aU admiration, and a friend of the Grecians, 
health and prosperity. 

'* It was not possible, most excellent sir, nor was it a thing 
** endurable to tiie descendants of the Grecians, that they 
" should be deprived any longer of those imprescriptible 
" rights which belong to the inheritance of their birth — ^rights 
'* which a barbarian of a foreign soil, an anti-christian tyrant, 
" issuing from the depths of Asia, seized upon with a robber's 
'* hand, and, lawlessly trampling under foot, administered up 
" to this time the affairs of Greece after his own lust and 
<' wilL Needs it was that we, sooner or later, shattering this 
** iron and heavy sceptre, should recover at the price of life 
" itself (if UkU were found necessary) our patrimonial 
" heritage, that thus our people might again be gathered to 
*' the family of free and self-legislating states. Moving, then, 
*' under such impulses, the People of Greece advanced with one 
" heart, and perfect unanimity of council, against an oppressive 
** despotism, putting their hands to an enterprise beset with 
" difficulties, and hard indeed to be achieved, yet, in our 
^' present circumstances, if any one thing in this life, most 
'' indispensable. This, then, is the second year which we are 
*^ passing since we have begun to move in this glorious contest, 
*' once again struggling to all appearance upon unequal 
** terms, but grasping our enterprise with the right hand and 
'^ the left, and with all our might stretching forward to the 
" objects before us. 

"It was the hope of Greece that, in these seasons of 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 286 

" emergency, she would not fail of help and earnest resort of 
** friends from the C5hristian nations throughout Europe. For 
" it was agreeable neither to humanity nor to piety that the 
'^ rights of nations, liable to no grudges of malice or scruples 
" of jealousy, should be surreptitiously and wickedly filched 
" away, or mocked with outrage and insult ; but that they 
** should be settled firmly on those foundations which Nature 
" herself has famished in abundance to the condition of man 
" in society. However, so it was that Greece, cherishing 
" these most reasonable expectations, met with most un- 
" merited disappointments. 

"But you, noble and generous Englishman, no sooner 
** heard the trumpet of popular rights echoing melodiously 
" from the summits of Taygetus, of Ida, of Pindus, and of 
" Olympus, than, turning with listening ears to the sound, 
" and immediately renouncing the delights of country, of 
" family ties, and (what is above all) of domestic luxury and 
" ease and the happiness of your own fireside, you hurried to 
" our assistance. But suddenly, and in contradiction to the 
" universal hope of Greece, by leaving us you have thrown us 
'^ all into great perplexity and amazement, and that at a crisis 
" when some were applying their minds to military pursuits, 
" some to the establishment of a civil administration, others 
" to other objects, but all alike were hurrying and exerting 
" themselves wherever circumstances seemed to invite them. 

"Meantime, the Government of Greece, having heard 
" many idle rumours and unauthorized tales disseminated, 
" but such as seemed neither in correspondence with their 
" opinion of your own native nobility from rank and family, 
" nor with what was due to the newly-instituted administra- 
" tion, have slighted and turned a deaf ear to them all, 
" coming to this resolution, that in absenting yourself from 
** Greece you are doubtless obeying some strong necessity ; 
" for that it is not possible nor credible, of a man such as you 
'* displayed yourself to be whilst living amongst us, that he 
" should mean to insult the wretched, — least of all to insult 
" the unhappy and much-suffering people of Greece. Under 
" these circumstances, both the deliberative and the executive 
" bodies of the Grecian Government, assembling separately, 
" have come to a resolution, without one dissentient voice, to 



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286 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

** invite you back to Greece, in order that you may again take 
" a sliare in the Grecian contest, — a contest in itself glorious, 
*' and not alien from your character and pursuits. For the 
" liberty of any one nation cannot be a matter altogether 
" indifferent to the rest, but naturally it is a common and 
" diffusive interest ; and nothing can be more reasonable 
'^ than that the Englishman and the Grecian, in such a cause, 
" should make themselves yoke-fellows, and should partici- 
" pate as brothers in so holy a struggle. Therefore the Gre- 
" cian Government hastens, by this present distinguished 
" expression of its regard, to invite you to the soil of Greece, 
** a soil united by such tender memorials with yourself ; con- 
** fident that you, preferring glorious poverty and the hard 
" living of Greece to the luxury and indolence of an obscure 
" seclusion, will hasten your return to Greece, agreeably to 
" your native character, restoring to us our valued English 
" connexion. Farewell I 

" The Vice-President of the Executive, 

"Athanasius Kanakarbs. 

" The Chief-Secretary, Minister of Foreign 

" Relations, Neqenzz." 

Since then, having in 1817 connected himself in marriage 
with a beautiful young lady of Armenian Greek extraction, 
and having purchased land and built a house in Argos, Mr. 
Gordon may be considered in some sense as a Grecian citizen. 
Services in the field having now for some years been no 
longer called for, he has exchanged his patriotic sword for a 
patriotic pen ; judging rightly that in no way so effectually 
can Greece be served at this time with Western Europe as by 
recording faithfully the course of her revolution, tracing the 
difl&culties which lay or which arose in her path, the heroism 
with which she surmounted them, and the multiplied errors 
by which she raised up others to herself Mr. Gordon, of 
forty authors who have partially treated this theme, is the 
first who can be considered either impartial or comprehen- 
sive ; and upon his authority, not seldom using his words, we 

all now present to our readers the first continuous abstract 
ofvthis most interesting and romantic war : — 




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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 287 

Greeoe, in the largest extent of that term, having once 
belonged to the Byzantine Empire, is included, by the mis- 
conception of hasty readers, in the great wreck of 1453. 
They take it for granted that, concurrently with Constan- 
tinople and the districts adjacent, these Grecian provinces 
passed at that disastrous era into the hands of the Turkish 
conqueror. But this is an error. Parts of Greece, previously 
to that era, had been dismembered from the Eastern Empire ; 
other parts did not until long after it share a common fate 
with the metropolis. Venice had a deep interest in the 
Morea ; in that, and for that, she fought with various success 
for generations ; and it was not until the year 1717, nearly 
three centuries from the establishment of the crescent in 
Europe, that "the banner of St. Mark, driven finally from 
the Morea and the Archipelago," was henceforth exiled (as 
respected Greece) to the Ionian Islands. 

In these contests, though Greece was the prize at issue, 
the children of Greece had no natural interest. Whether the 
cross prevailed or the crescent, the same, for all substantial 
results, was the fate which awaited themselves. The Moslem 
might be the more intolerant by his maxims, and he might 
be harsher in his professions ; but a slave is not the less a 
slave though his master should happen to hold the same 
creed with himself; and towards a member of the Greek 
Church one who looked westward to Rome for his religion 
was likely to be little less of a bigot than one who looked to 
Mecca. So that we are not surprised to find a Venetian 
rule of policy recommending, for the daily allowance of these 
Grecian slaves, '^ a HMe bread and a liberal application of 
the cudgel ! " Whichever yoke were established was sure to 
be hated ; and therefore it was fortunate for the honour of 
the Christian name that from the year 1717 the fears and the 
enmity of the Greeks were to be henceforward pointed 
exclusively towards Mdhammedam, tyrants. 

To be hated, however, sufficiently for resistance, a yoke 
must have been long and continuously felt. Fifty years 
might be necessary to season the Greeks with a knowledge 
of Turkish oppression ; and less than two generations ^ could 

^ Time must be allowed, often a century even, for the play-room of 
tlie occasions for tyranny. 



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288 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

hardly be supposed to have manured the whole territory with 
an adequate sense of the wrongs they were enduring, and the 
withering effects of such wrongs on the sources of public 
prosperity. Hatred, besides, without hope, is no root out of 
which an effectual resistance can be expected to grow ; and 
fifty years almost had elapsed before a great power had arisen 
in Europe having in any capital circumstance a joint interest 
with Greece, or specially authorized by visible right and 
power to interfere as her protector. The semi-Ajsiatic power 
of Russia, from the era of the Czar Peter the Great, had 
arisen above the horizon with the sudden sweep and splendour 
of a meteor. The arch described by her ascent was as vast 
in compass as it was rapid ; and in all History no political 
growth, not that of our own Indian Empire, had travelled by 
accelerations of speed so terrifically marked. Not that even 
Russia could have really grown in strength according to the 
a/ppofteftd scale of her progress. The strength was doubtless 
there, or much of it, before Peter and Catherine ; but it was 
latent ; there had been no such sudden growth as people 
fancied ; but there had been a sudden evolution. Infinite 
resources had been silently accumulating from century to 
century ; but before the Czar Peter no mind had come across 
them of power sufficient to reveal their situation or to organize 
their efforts. In some nations the manifestations of power 
are coincident with its growth ; in others, from vicious 
institutions, a vlEist crystallization goes on for ages blindly 
and in silence, which the lamp of some meteoric mind is 
required to light up into brilliant display. Thus it had been 
in Russia ; and hence, to the abused judgment of all 
Christendom, she had seemed to leap like Pallas from the 
brain of Jupiter, gorgeously endowed, and in panoply of 
civil array, for all purposes of national grandeur, at the fiaJt 
of one coarse barbarian. As the metropolitan home of the 
Greek Church, she could not disown a maternal interest in 
the humblest of the Grecian tribes, holding the same faith 
with herself, and celebrating their worship by the same rites. 
This interest she could at length venture to express in a tone 
of sufficient emphasis; and Greece became aware that she 
could, about the very time when Turkish oppression had 
begun to unite its victims in aspirations for redemption, and 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 289 

had turned their eyes abroad in search of some great standard 
under whose shadow they could flock for momentary pro- 
tection or for future hope. What cabals were reared upon 
this condition of things by Russia, and what premature 
dreams of independence were encouraged throughout Greece 
in the reign of Catherine II, may be seen sufficiently 
developed in the once celebrated work of Mr. William Eton.^ 

Another great circumstance of hope for Greece, coinciding 
with the dawn of her own earliest impetus in this direction, 
and travelling paH passu almost with the growth of her 
mightiest friend, was the advancing decay of her oppressor. 
The wane of the Turkish crescent had seemed to be in some 
secret connexion of fatal sympathy with the growth of the 
Russian cross. Perhaps the reader will thank us for rehears- 
ing the main steps by which the Ottoman power had flowed 
and ebbed. 

The foundations of this Empire were laid in the thirteenth 
century by Ortogrul, the chief of a Turkoman tribe, residing 
in tents not far from Dorylseum (a Phrygian name so memor- 
able in the early Crusades), about the time when Jenghiz had 
overthrown the Seljukian dynasty.. His son Osman first 
assumed the title of Sultan ; an^ in 1300, having reduced 
the city of Prusa in Bithynia, he made that the capital of 
his dominions. The Sultans who succeeded him for some 
generations, all men of vigour, and availing themselves not 
less of the decrepitude which had by that time begun to palsy 
the Byzantine sceptre than of the martial and religious fanati- 
cism which distinguished their own followers, crossed the 
Hellespont, conquering Thrace and the countries up to the 
Danube. In 1453, the most eminent of these Sultans, 
Mahomet II, by storming Constantinople, put an end to the 
Roman Empire ; and before his death he placed the Ottoman 
power in Europe pretty nearly on that basis to which it 
had again fallen back by 1821. The long interval of time 
between these two dates involved a memorable flux and reflux 
of power, and an oscillation between two extremes of panic- 
striking grandeur in the ascending scale (insomuch that the 
Turkish Sultan was supposed to be charged in the Apocalypse 
with the dissolution of the Christian thrones), and in the 

^ A Siirvey of the Turkish Empire, 1798.— M. 
VOL. VII U 



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290 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

descending scale of paralytic dotage tempting its own instant 
ruin. In speculating on the causes of the extraordinary 
terror which the Turks once inspired, it is amusing and illus- 
trative of the revolutions worked by time to find it imputed, 
in the first place, to superior discipline ; for, if their disci- 
pline was imperfect, they had, however, a stcmding army of 
Janissaries, whilst the whole of Christian Europe was accus- 
tomed to fight merely summer campaigns with hasty and 
necessarily untrained levies : a second cause lay in their 
superior finances, for the Porte had a regular revenue when 
the other powers of Europe relied upon the bounty of their 
vassals and clergy : and, thirdly, which is the most surpris- 
ing feature of the whole statement, the Turks were so far 
ahead of others in the race of improvement that to them 
belongs the credit of having first adopted the extensive use 
of gunpowder, and of having first brought battering-trains 
against fortified places. To his artillery and his musketry it 
was that Selim the Ferocious (grandson of that Sultan who 
took Constantinople) was indebted for his victories in Syria 
and Egypt. Under Solyman the Magnificent (the well-known 
contemporary of the Emperor Charles V, Francis I, and 
Henry VIII) the crescent is supposed to have attained its 
utmost altitude ; and already for fifty years the causes had 
been in silent progress which were to throw the preponder- 
ance into the Christian scale. In the reign of his son, Selim 
the Second, this crisis was already passed ; and the battle of 
Lepanto, in 1571, which crippled the Turkish navy in a 
degree never wholly recovered, gave the first overt signal to 
Europe of a turn in the course of their prosperity. Still, as 
this blow did not equally aflfect the principal arm of their 
military service, and as the strength of the German Empire 
was too much distracted by Christian rivalship, the prestige 
of the Turkish name continued almost unbroken until their 
bloody overthrow in 1664, at St. Gothard, by the imperial 
General Montecuculi. In 1 6 7 3 they received another memor- 
able ^defeat from Sobieski, — on which occasion they lost 
25,000 men. In what degree, however, the Turkish Samson 
had been shorn of his original strength was not yet made 
known to Europe by any adequate expression before the great 
catastrophe of 1683. In that year, at the instigation of the 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 2Pl 

haughty vizier, £[ara Mustafa, the Turks had undertaken the 
siege of Vienna ; and great was the alarm of the Christian 
world. But, on the 12th of September, their army of 
150,000 men was totally dispersed by 70,000 Poles and 
Germans, under John Sobieski : " he conquering through 
God, and God by him." i Then followed the Treaty of 
Carlovitz, which stripped the Porte of Hungary, the Ukraine, 
and other places ; and " henceforth," says Mr. Gordon, 
" Europe ceased to dread the Turks, and began even to look 
upon their existence as a necessary element of the balance of 
power among its states." Spite of their losses, however, 
during the first half of the eighteenth century, the Turks 
still maintained a respectable attitude against Christendom. 
But the wars of the Empress Catherine II, and the French 
invasion of Egypt and Syria, demonstrated that either their 
native vigour was exhausted and superannuated, or, at least, 
that the institutions were superannuated by which their 
resources had been so long administered. Accordingly, at 
the commencement of the present century, the Sultan Selim 
II endeavoured to reform the military discipline ; but, in the 
first collision with the prejudices of his people and the 
interest of the Janissaries, he perished by sedition. Mustafa, 
who succeeded to the throne, in a few months met the same 
fate. But then (1808) succeeded a prince formed by nature 
for such struggles : cool, vigorous, cruel, and intrepid. This 
was Mahmoud 11. He perfectly understood the crisis, and 
determined to pursue the plans of his uncle Selim, even at 
the hazard of the same fate. Why was it that Turkish 
soldiers had been made ridiculous in arms as often as they 
had met with French troops, who yet were so far from being 
the best in Christendom that Egypt herself, and the beaten 
Turks, had seen them in turn uniformly routed by the British ? 
Physically, the Turks were equal, at the very least, to the 
French. In what lay their inferiority ? Simply in dis- 
cipline, and in their artillery. And, so long as their con- 
stitution and discipline continued what they had been, suited 

^ See the sublime Sonnet on this subject, as translated by Mr. 
Wordsworth. [The Sonnet is entitled "Siege of Vienna raised 
by John Sobieski," and the translated phrase is from an ode of 
Filicaia.— M.] 



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292 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

(that is) to centuries long past and gone, and to a condition 
of Christendom ohsolete for ages, so long it seemed inevitable 
that the same disasters should follow the Turkish banners. 
And to this point, accordingly, the Sultan determined to 
address his earliest reforms. But caution was necessary ; he 
waited and watched. He seized all opportunities of profiting 
by the calamities or the embarrassments of his potent 
neighbours. He put down all open revolt. He sapped the 
authority of all the great fBunilies in Asia Minor whose 
hereditary influence could be a counterpoise to his own, 
Mecca and Medina, the holy cities of his religion, he brought 
again within the pale of his dominions. He augmented and 
fostered, as a counterbalancing force to the Janissaries, the 
corps of the Topjees or artillery-men. He amassed prepara- 
tory treasures. And, up to the year 1820, "his govern- 
" ment," says Mr. Gordon, " was highly unpopular ; but it 
" was strong, stem, and uniform ; and he had certainly 
" removed many impediments to the execution of his ulterior 
** projects." 

Such was the situation of Turkey at the moment when 
her Grecian vassal prepared to trample on her yoke. In her 
European territories Turkey reckoned, at the utmost, eight 
millions of subjects. But these, besides being more or less 
in a semi-barbarous condition, and scattered over a very wide 
surface of country, were so much divided by origin, by 
language and religion, that without the support of her Asiatic 
arm she could not, according to the general opinion, have 
stood at aU. The rapidity of her descent, it is true, had 
been arrested by the energy of her Sultans during the first 
twenty years of the nineteenth century. But previously, for 
the last thirty of the eighteenth, she had made a headlong 
progress downwards. So utterly also were the tables turned 
that, whereas in the fifteenth century her chief superiority 
over Christendom had been in the three points of artillery, 
discipline, and fixed revenue, precisely in these three she had 
sunk into utter insignificance, whilst all Christendom had 
been continually improving. Selim and Mahmoud indeed 
had made effectual reforms in the corps of gunners, as we 
have said, and had raised it to the amount of 60,000 men ; 
so that at present they have respectable field-artillery, whereas 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 293 

previously they had oiily heavy battering-trains. But the 
defects in discipline cannot be remedied so long as the want 
of a settled revenue obliges the Sultan to rely upon hurried 
levies from the provincial militias of police. Turkey, how- 
ever, might be looked upon as still formidable, for internal 
purposes, in the haughty and fanatical character of her 
, Moslem subjects. And we may add, as a concluding circum- 
stance of some interest in this sketch of her modern con- 
dition, that pretty nearly the same European territories as 
were assigned to the Eastern Roman Empire at the time of 
its separation from the Western ^ were included within the 
frontier line of Turkey on the 1st of January 1821. 

Precisely in this year commenced the Grecian Revolution. 
Concurrently with the decay of her oppressor the Sultan had 
been the prodigious growth of her patron the Czar. In what 
degree she looked up to that throne, and the intrigues which 
had been pursued with a view to that connexion, may be 
seen (as we have already noticed) in Eton's Turkey, a book 
which attracted a great deal of notice about thirty years ago. 
Meantime, besides this secret reliance on Russian countenance 
or aid, Greece had since that era received great encourage- 
ment to revolt from the successful experiment in that direc- 
tion made by the Turkish province of Servia. In 1800 
Czemi George came forward as the assertor of Servian in- 
dependence, and drove the Ottomans out of that province. 
Personally he was not finally successful. But his example 
outlived him ; and, after fifteen years' struggle, Servia (says 
Mr. Gordon) offered " the unwonted spectacle of a brave and 
armed Christian nation living under its own laws in the 
heart of Turkey,*' and retaining no memorial of its former 
servitude but the payment of a slender and precarious tribute 
to the Sultan, with a verbal profession of allegiance to his 
sceptre. Appearances were thus saved to the pride of the 
haughty Moslem by barren concessions which cost no real 
sacrifice to the substantially victorious Servian. 

Examples, however, are thrown away upon a people 

1 " The vitals of the monarchy lay within that vast triangle circum- 
" scribed by the Danube, the Save, the Adriatic, Enxine, and iEgean 
" Seas, whose altitude may be computed at five hundred, and the 
" length of its base at seven hundred, geographical miles." — QosDON. 



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294 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

utterly degraded by long oppression. And the Greeks were 
pretty nearly in that condition. " It would, no doubt," 
says Mr. Gordon, " be possible to cite a more crud oppression 
than that of the Turks towards their Christian subjects, but 
none 90 fitted to break men's spirit." The Greeks in fact 
(under which name are to be understood not only those who 
speak Greek, but the Christian Albanians of Roumelia and 
the Morea, speaking a different language, but united with 
the Greeks in spiritual obedience to the same Church) 
were, in the emphatic phrase of Mr. Gtordon, " the slaves of 
slaves": that is to say, not only were they liable to the 
universal tyranny of the despotic Divan, but "throughout 
" the empire they were in the habitual intercourse of life 
" subjected to vexations, affronts, and exactions, from Moham- 
** medans of every rank. Spoiled of their goods, insulted in 
" their religion and domestic honour, they could rarely 
" obtain justice. The slightest flash of courageous resent- 
" ment brought down swift destruction on their heads ; and 
" cringing humility alone enabled them to live in ease, or even 
" in safety." Stooping under this iron yoke of humiliation, 
we have reason to wonder that the Greeks preserved sufficient 
nobility of mind to raise so much as their wishes in the 
direction of independence. In a condition of abasement 
from which a simple act of religious apostasy was at once 
sufficient to raise them to honour and wealth, **and from 
the meanest serfs gathered them to the caste of oppressors," 
we ought not to wonder that some of the Greeks should be 
mean, perfidious, and dissembling, but rather that any, as 
Mr. Gordon says, " had courage to adhere to their religion, 
and to eat the bread of affliction," But noble aspirations 
are fortunately indestructible in human nature. And in 
Greece the lamp of independence of spirit had been partially 
kept alive by the existence of a native militia, to whom the 
Ottoman Government, out of mere necessity, had committed 
the local defence. These were called Armaioles (or Gendar- 
merie); their available strength was reckoned by Pouque- 
ville (for the year 1814) at 10,000 men ; and, as they were 
a very effectual little host for maintaining from age to age 
the ** true faith militant " of Greece, — ^namely, that a tem- 
porary and a disturbed occupation of the best lands in the 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 295 

country did not constitute an absolute conquest on the part 
of the Moslems, most of whom flocked for security with their 
families into the stronger towns, — and as their own martial 
appearance, with arms in their hands, lent a very plausible 
countenance to their insinuations that they, the Christian 
Armatoles, were the true bond fids governors and possessors 
of the land under a Moslem Suzerain, — and as the general 
spirit of hatred to Turkish insolence was not merely main- 
tained in their own local stations,^ but also propagated thence 
with activity to every part of Greece, — it may be interesting 
to hear Mr. Gordon's account of their peculiar composition 
and habits. 

** The Turks," says he, " from the epoch of Mahommed 
*' the Second, did not (unless in Theesaly) generally settle 
" there. Beyond Mount CEta, although they seized the best 
^^ lands, the Mussulman inhabitants were chiefly composed of 
" the garrisons of towns with their families. Finding it im- 
'^ possible to keep in subjection with a small force so many 
" rugged cantons, peopled by a poor and hardy race, and to 
'^ hold in check the robbers of Albania, the Sultans embraced 
" the same policy which has induced them to court the Greek 
" hierarchy, and respect ecclesiastical property, by enlisting 
*^ in their service the armed bands that they could not destroy. 
" When wronged or insulted, these Armatoles threw off their 
" allegiance, infested the roads, and pillaged the country ; 
" while such of the peasants as were driven to despair by acts 
*' of oppression joined their standard : the term Armatole was 
" then exchanged for that of Klefthis [KXcttti/s] or Thief, a 
" profession esteemed highly honourable when it was exer- 
** cised, sword in hand, at the expense of the Moslems. * 

^ Originally, it seems, there were fourteen companies (or capiia- 
neriaa) settled by imperial diplomas in the mountains of Olympus, 
Othryx, Pindus, and (Eta ; and distinct appropriations were made by 
the Divan for their support. Within the Morea the institution of the 
Armatoles was never tolerated ; but there the same spirit was kept 
alive by tribes, such as the Mainatts, whose insurmountable advantages 
of natural position enabled them eternally to baffle the most powerful 
enemy. 

' And apparently, we may add, when exercised at the expense of 
whomsoever at sea. The old Grecian instinct, which Thucydides 
states so frankly, under which all seafarers were dedicated to spoil as 
people who courted attack, seems never to have been fully rooted out 



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296 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

** Even in their quietest mood, these soldiers curbed Turkish 
** tyranny ; for, the captains and (Christian primates of dis- 
" tricts understanding each other, the former, by giving to 
" some of their men a hint to desert and turn Klefts, could 
** easily circumvent Mohammedans who came on a mission 
" disagreeable to the latter. The habits and manners of the. 
^' Armatoles, living among forests and in mountain passes, 
" were necessarily rude and simple : their magnificence con- 
" sisted in adorning with silver their guns, pistols, and 
'*' daggers ; their amusements, in shooting at a mark, dancing, 
'^ and singing the exploits of the most celebrated chiefis. 
" Extraordinary activity and endurance of hardships and 
** fatigue made them formidable light troops in their native 
" fastnesses ; wrapped in shaggy cloaks, they slept on the 
" ground, defying the elements ; and the pure mountain air 
" gave them robust health. Such were the warriors that, 
** in the very worst times, kept alive a remnant of Grecian 
" spirit." 

But all these facts of history or institutions of policy, — 
nay, even the more violent appeals to the national pride in 
such memorable transactions as the expatriation of the illus- 
trious Suliotes (as also of some eminent predatory chieftains 
from the Morea), — were, after all, no more than indirect 
excitements of the insurrectionary spirit. If it were possible 
that any adequate occasion should arise for combining the 
Greeks in one great movement of resistance, such continued 
irritations must have the highest value, as keeping alive the 
national spirit which must finally be relied on to improve 
it and to turn it to account ; but it was not to be expected 
that any such local irritations could ever Di themselves avail 
to create an occasion of sufficient magnitude for imposing 
silence on petty dissensions, and for organizing into any 
unity of effort a country so splintered and naturally cut 
into independent chambers as that of Greece. That task, 
transcending the strength (as might seem) of any real 

from the little creeks and naval fastnesses of the Morea, and of some 
of the iBgean Islands. Not, perhaps, the mere spirit of wrong and 
aggression, but some old traditionary conceits and maxims, brought 
on the great crisis of piracy, which fell under no less terrors than of 
the triple thunders of the great allies. 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 297 

agencies or powers then existing in Greece, was assumed by 
a mysterious, and, in some sense, a fictitious, society of cor- 
responding members, styling itself the Hetoeria ('Erat/Jta).^ 

A more astonishing case of mighty effects prepared and 
carried on to their accomplishment by small means, magnify- 
ing their own extent through great zeal and infinite conceal- 
ment, and artifices the most subtle, is not to be found in 
history. The VefvmrGericktf or Secret Tribuncd, of the Middle 
Ages is not to be compared with it for the depth and expan- 
sion of its combinations, or for the impenetrability of its 
mask. Nor is there in the whole annals of man a manoeuvre 
so admirable as that by which this society, silently effecting 
its own transfiguration, and recasting as in a crucible its own 
form, organs, and most essential functions, contrived, by 
mere force of seasonable silence, or by the very pomp of 
mystery, to carry over from the first or innoxious model of 
the Hetseria, to its new organization, all those weighty names 
of kings or princes who would not have given their sanction 
to any association having political objects, however artfully 
veiled. The early history of the Hetseria is shrouded in the 
same mystery as the whole course of its political movements. 
Some suppose that Alexander Maurocordato, ex-Hospodar of 
Wallachia, during his long exile in Russia, founded it for 
the promotion of education, about the beginning of the pre- 
sent century. Others ascribe it originally to Riga. At all 
events, its purposes were purely intellectual in its earliest 

^ Epirus and Acamania, &c., to the north-west, Ronmelia, Thebes, 
Attica, to the east, the Morea or Peloponnesus to the south-west, 
and the Islands so widely dispersed in the ^gean, had from position 
a separate interest over and above their common interest as members 
of a Christian confederacy. And, in the absence of some great repre- 
sentative society, there was no voice commanding enough to merge 
the local interest in the universal one of Greece. The original (or 
Philomuse society), which adopted literature for its ostensible object, 
as a mask to its political designs, expired at Munich in 1807 ; but 
not before it had founded a successor more directly political. Hence 
arose a confusion, under which many of the crowned heads in Europe 
were judged uncharitably as dissemblers or as traitors to their engage- 
ments. They had subscribed to the first society ; but they reason- 
ably held that this did not pledge them to another, which, though 
inheriting the secret puiposes of the first, no longer masked or dis- 
avowed them. 



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298 HISTORICAL fiSSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

fomi. In 1815, in consequence chiefly of the disappoint- 
ment which the Greeks met with in their dearest hopes from 
the Congress of Vienna, the Hetaeria first assumed a political 
character, under the secret influence of Ckmnt Capodistria of 
Corfu, who, having entered the Russian service as mere 
private secretary to Admiral Tchitchagoff ^ in 1812, had, in 
a space of three years, insinuated himself into the favour of 
the Czar, so far as to have become his private secretary, and 
a cabinet minister of Russia. He, however, still masked his 
final objects under plans of literature and scientific improve- 
ment. In deep shades he organized a vast apparatus of 
agents and apostles, and then retired behind the curtain to 
watch or to direct the working of his blind machine. It is 
an evidence of some latent nobility in the Greek character, 
in the midst of that levity with which all Europe taxes it, 
that never except once were the secrets of the society 
betrayed ; nor was there the least ground for jealousy offered 
either to the stupid Moslems, in the very centre of whom, 
and round about them, the conspiracy was daily advancing, 
or even to the rigorous police of Moscow, where the Het9Bria 
had its head-quarters. In the single instance of treachery 
which occurred, it happened that the Zantiote who made 
the discovery to Ali Pacha on a motive of revenge was him- 
self too slenderly and too vaguely acquainted with the final 
purposes of the Hetsoria for effectual mischief, having been 
fortunately admitted only to its lowest degree of initiation ; 

^ TchUchagoff" : — That famous Russian admiral who, being sua- 
denly liberated from a Turkish war in Moldavia, came down when 
least expected, by a right-angled movement, to the French line of 
retreat from Moscow, upon the perishing columns of Napoleon, already 
floundering through accumulated snow-drifts. For the Britif^ public 
he became for many months, in 1813, even less familiarized by the 
splendour and critical seasonableness of his descents upon the French 
line of retreat than by the following comic notice of his uncouth 
name in the body of Southey*s JSxcursion to Moscow — an admirable 
sketch of Napoleon's Expedition (which had the honour to be sung 
on the stage of every theatre great and small throughout the three 
kingdoms) — 

*' And last of aU an admiral came, 
A terrible man with a terrible name : 
A name which you all must know very well, 
Which nobody can speak, and nobody can spell. " 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 299 

so that all passed off without injury to the cause, or even 
personally to any of its supporters. There were, in fact, five 
degrees in the Hetaaria. A candidate of the lowest class 
(styled Adelphoi or Brothers), after a minute examination of 
his past life and connexions, and after taking, a dreadful 
oath, under impressive circumstances, to be faithful in all 
respects to the society and his afiUcted country, and even to 
assassinate his nearest and dearest relation if detected in 
treachery, was instructed only in the general fact that a 
design was on foot to ameliorate the condition of Greece. 
The next degree of Systimenai, or bachelors, who were 
selected with more anxious discrimination, were informed 
that this design was to move towards its object hy mums of 
a revolution. The third class, called Priests of Eleusis, were 
chosen from the aristocracy ; and to them it was made 
known that this revoluUion was nea/r at hand ; and, also, that 
there were in the society higher ranks than their own. The 
fourth class was that of The Prelates; and to this order, 
which never exceeded the number of one hundred and 
sixteen, and comprehended the leading men of the nation, 
the most unreserved information was given upon all the 
secrets of the Hetseria ; after which they were severally 
appointed to a particular district, as superintendent of its 
interests, and as manager of the whole correspondence on its 
concerns with the Grand Arch. This, the crowning order 
and key-stone of the society, was reputed to comprehend 
sixteen " mysterious and illustrious names," amongst which 
were obscurely whispered those of the Czar, the Crown 
Prince of Bavaria and of Wurtemberg, of the Hospodar of 
Wallachia, of Count Capodistria, and some others. The 
orders of the Grand Arch were written in cipher, and bore a 
seal having in sixteen compartments the same number of 
initial letters. The revenue which it commanded must have 
been considerable ; for the lowest member, on his novitiate, 
was expected to give at least fifty piastres (at that time about 
two pounds sterling) ; and those of the higher degrees gave 
from three hundred to one thousand each. The members 
communicated with each other, in mixed society, by masonic 
signs. 

It cannot be denied that a secret society with the grand 



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300 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

and almost awful purposes of the Hetseria, spite of some 
taint which it had received in its early stages from the spirit 
of German mummery, is fitted to fill the imagination, and 
to command homage from the coldest. Whispers circulat- 
ing from mouth to mouth of some vast conspiracy mining 
subterraneously beneath the very feet of their accursed 
oppressors ; whispers of a great deliverer at hand, whose 
mysterious Laharum, or mighty banner of the Cross, was 
already dimly descried through northern miflts, and whose 
eagles were already scenting the carnage and " savour of 
death '' from innumerable hosts of Moslems ; whispers of a 
revolution which was again to call, as with the trumpet of 
resurrection, from the grave, the land of Timoleon and 
Epaminondas : such were the preludings, low and deep, to 
the tempestuous overture of revolt and patriotic battle which 
now ran through every nook of Greece, and caused every ear 
to tingle. 

The knowledge that this mighty cause must be sowed in 
dishonour — propagated, that is, in respect to the knowledge 
of its plans, by redoubled cringings to their brutal masters, 
in order to shield it from suspicion — ^but that it would 
probably be reaped in honour ; the belief that the poor 
Grecian, so abject and trampled under foot, would soon re- 
appear amongst the nations who had a name, in something 
of his original beauty and power : these dim but elevating 
perceptions, and these anticipations, gave to every man the 
sense of an ennobling secret confided to his individual honour, 
and, at the same time, thrilled his heart with sympathetic 
joy from approaching glories that were to prove a personal 
inheritance to his children. Over all Greece a sense of 
power, dim and vast, brooded for years ; and a mighty phan- 
tom, under the mysterious name of Arch, in whose cloudy 
equipage were descried, gleaming at intervals, the crowns and 
sceptres of far-distant potentates, sustained whilst it agitated 
their hearts. London, that " mighty heart " of an organization 
ebuUient with imperishable life, was one of the secret watch- 
words in their impenetrable cipher ; Moscow, holy capital and 
crest of the gorgeous Grecian Christianity, was a counter- 
sign; Bavaria and Austria bore mysterious parts in the 
drama ; and, though no sound was heard, nor voice given to 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 301 

the powers that were working, yet, as if by mere force of 
secret sympathy, all mankind who were worthy to participate 
in the enterprise seemed to be linked in brotherhood with 
Greece. These notions were, much of them, mere phantasms 
and delusions ; but they were delusions of mighty efficacy 
for arming the hearts of this oppressed country against the 
terrors that must be faced ; and for the whole of them 
Greece was indebted to the Hetseria, and to its organized 
agency of apostles (as they were technically called), who 
compassed land and sea as pioneers for the coming 
crusade.^ 

By 1820, Greece was thoroughly inoculated with the 
spirit of resistance ; all things were ready, so far, perhaps, 
as it was possible that they ever should be ready under the 
eyes and scimitars of the enemy. Now came the question of 
time : when was the revolt to begin ? Some contend, says 
Mr. Gk)rdon, that the Hetaeria should have waited for a 
century ; by which time they suppose that the growth of 
means in favour of Greece would have concurred with a more 
than corresponding decay in her enemy. But, to say nothing 
of the extreme uncertainty which attends such remote specu- 
lations, and the utter impossibility of training men with no 
personal hopes to labour for the benefit of distant genera- 
tions, there was one political argument against that course, 
which Mr. Gordon justly considers unanswerable. It is 
this : — Turkey in Europe has been long tottering on its 
basis. Now, were the attempt delayed until Russia had dis- 
placed her and occupied her seat, Greece would then have 
received her liberty as a boon from the conqueror ; and the 
construction would have been that she held it by sufferance, 
and under a Russian warrant This argument is conclusive. 
But others there were who fancied that 1825 was the year 
at which all the preparations for a successful revolt could 
have been matured. Probably some gain in such a case 
would have been balanced against some loss. But it is not 

^ Oonsidering how very much the contest did finally assume a 
religious character (even Franks being attached, not as friends of 
Greece, but simply as Christians), one cannot but wonder that thi^ 
grand romantic name of Crusade has not been applied to the Greek 
War in Western Europe. 



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802 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

necessary to discuss that question. Accident, it was clear, 
might bring on the first hostile movement at any hour, when 
the minds of all men were prepared, let the means in other 
respects be as deficient as they might Already, in 1820, 
circumstances made it evident that the outbreak of the insur- 
rection could not long be delayed. And, accordingly, in the 
following year all Greece was in flames. 

This affair of 1820 has a separate interest of its own, con- 
nected with the character of the very celebrated person to 
whom it chiefly relates ; but we notice it chiefly as the real 
occasion, the momentary spark, which, alighting upon the 
combustibles by this time accumulated everywhere in Greece, 
caused a genered explosion of the long-hoarded insurrectionary 
fury. AJi Pacha, the faivfamed vizier of Yannina,^ had long 
been hated profoundly by the Sultan, who in the same pro- 
portion loved and admired his treasures. However, he was 
persuaded to wait for his death, which could not (as it 
seemed) be far distant, rather than risk anything upon the 
chances of war. And in this prudent resolution he would 
have persevered, but for an affront which he could not over- 
look. An Albaniau, named Ismael Pasho Bey, once a 
member of All's household, had incurred his master's deadly 
hatred ; and, flying from his wrath to various places under 
various disguises, had at length taken refuge in Constanti- 
nople, and there sharpened the malice of Ali by attaching 
himself to his enemies. Ali was still further provoked by 
finding that Ismael had won the Sultan's favour, and 
obtained an appointment in the palace. Mastered by his 
fury, Ali hired assassins to shoot his enemy in the very 
midst of Constantinople, and under the very eyes of 
imperial protection. The assassins fiedled, having only 
wounded him ; they were arrested, and disclosed the name 
of their employer. 

Here was an insult which could not be forgiven. Ali 
Pacha was declared a rebel and a traitor, and solemnly 
excommunicated by the head of the Mussulman law. The 

^ Pronounced YannKna, as I have always understood, t.e. with the 
accent on the antepenultimate, and the i of the penultimate ni short 
(as in the English word cmimoU), not long (as in the word repining or 
refinement). 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 303 

Pachas of Europe received orders to march against him ; and 
a squadron was fitted out to attack him hy sea. 

In March 1820 Ali became acquainted with these strong 
measures, which at first he endeavoured to parry by artifice 
and bribery. But, finding that mode of proceeding abso- 
lutely without hope, he took the bold resolution of throwing 
himself, in utter defiance, upon the native energies of his 
own ferocious heart Having, however, but small reliance 
on his Mohammedan troops in a crisis of this magnitude, he 
applied for Christian succours, and set himself to court the 
Christians generally. As a first step, he restored the Arma- 
toles, — that very body whose suppression had been so 
favourite a measure of his policy, and pursued so long, so 
earnestly, and so injuriously to his credit amongst the 
Christian part of the population. It happened, at the first 
opening of the campaign, that the Christians were equally 
courted by the Sultan's generalissimo, Solyman, the Pacha of 
Thessaly. For this, however, that Pacha was removed and 
decapitated ; and a new leader was now appointed in the 
person of that very enemy, Ismael Pasho, whose attempted 
murder had brought the present storm upon AU. Ismael 
was raised to the rank of Seraskier, and was also made 
Pacha of Yannina and Delvino. Three other armies, besides 
a fleet under the Captain Bey, advanced upon All's terri- 
tories simultaneously from different quarters. But at that 
time, in defiance of these formidable and overwhelming pre- 
parations, bets were strongly in Ali's favour amongst all 
who were acquainted with hie resources : for he had vast 
treasures, fortresses of great strength, inexhaustible supplies 
of artillery and ammunition, a country almost inaccessible, 
and fifteen thousand light troops, whom Mr. Gordon, upon 
personal knowledge, pronounces " excellent." 

Scarcely had the war commenced when Ali was aban- 
doned by almost the whole of his partisans, in mere hatred 
of his execrable cruelty and tyrannical government. To 
Ali, however, this defection brought no despondency ; and 
with unabated courage he prepared to defend himself to the 
last, in three castles, with a getrrison of three thousand men. 
That he might do so with entire effect he began by destroy- 
ing his own capital of Yannina, lest it should afford shelter 



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304 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

to the enemy. Still his situation would have been most 
critical, but for the state of affairs in the enemy's camp. 
The Seraskier was attended by more than twenty other 
pachas. But they were all at enmity with each other. One 
of them, and the bravest, was even poisoned by the 
Seraskier. Provisions were running short in consequence of 
their own dissensions. Winter was fast approaching ; the 
cannonading had produced no conspicuous effect ; and the 
soldiers were disbanding. In this situation the Sultan's 
lieutenants again saw the necessity of courting aid from the 
Christian population of the country. Ali on his part never 
scrupled to bid against them at any price ; and at length, 
irritated by the ill-usage of the Turks on their first entrance, 
and disgusted with the obvious insincerity of their reluctant 
and momentary kindness, some of the bravest Christian 
tribes (especially the celebrated Suliotes) consented to take 
All's bribes, forgot his past outrages and unnumbered per- 
fidies ; and, reading his sincerity in the extremity of his 
peril, these bravest of the brave ranged themselves amongst 
the Sultan's enemies. During the winter they gained some 
splendid successes ; other alienated friends came back to 
Ali ; and even some Mohammedan Beys were persuaded to 
take up arms in his behalf Upon the whole, the Turkish 
Divan was very seriously alarmed ; and so much so, that it 
superseded the Seraskier Ismael, replacing him with the 
famous Kourshid Pacha, at that time viceroy of the Morea. 
And so ended the year 1820. 

This state of affairs could not escape the attention of the 
vigilant Hetaeria. Here was Ali Pacha, hitherto regarded as 
an insurmountable obstacle in their path, absolutely com- 
pelled by circumstances to be their warmest friend. The 
Turks again, whora no circumstances could entirely disarm, 
were yet crippled for the time, and their whole attention 
preoccupied by another enemy, most alarming to their policy, 
and most tempting to their cupidity. Such an opportunity 
it seemed unpardonable to neglect Accordingly, it was 
resolved to begin the insurrection. At its head was placed 
Prince Alexander Ypsilanti, a son of that Hospodar of 
WaUachia whose deposition by the Porte had produced the 
Russian War of 1806. This prince's qualifications consisted 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 305 

in his high birth, in his connexion with Russia (for he had 
risen to the rank of major-general in that service), and, 
finally (if snch things can deserve a mention), in an agreeable 
person and manners. For all other and higher qualifications 
he was wholly below the situation and the urgency of the 
crisis. His first error was in the choice of his ground. For 
some reasons, which are not sufficiently explained — ^possibly 
on account of his fiEtmily connexion with those provinces — ^he 
chose to open the war in Moldavia and Wallachia. This 
resolution he took in spite of every warning, and the most 
intelligent expositions of the absolute necessity that, to be at 
all effectual, the first stand should be made in Greece. He 
thought otherwise ; and, managing the campaign after his 
own ideas, he speedily involved himself in quarrels, and his 
army, through the perfidy of a considerable officer, in ruinous 
embarrassments. This unhappy campaign is circumstantially 
narrated by Mr. GJordon in his first book ; but, as it never 
crossed over to the south bank of the Danube, and had no 
connexion with Greece except by its purposes, we shall 
simply rehearse the great outline of its course. The signal 
for insurrection was given in January 1821 ; and Prince 
Ypsilanti took the field, by crossing the Pruth, in March. 
Early in April he received a communication from the 
Emperor of Russia, which at once prostrated his hopes before 
an enemy was seen. He was formally disavowed by that 
prince, erased from his army-list, and severely reproached for 
his "/o% and. ingratitude " in letters from two members of 
the Russian cabinet ; and on the 9th of April this fact was 
publicly notified in Yassy, the capital of Moldavia, by the 
Russian consul-generaL His army at this time consisted of 
3000 men, — ^which, however, was afterwards reinforced, — but 
with no gunpowder, except what was casually intercepted, 
and no lead, except some that had been stripped from the 
roof of an ancient cathedral. 

On the 12th of May the Pasha of Ibrail opened the cam- 
paign. A few days after, the Turkish troops began to appear 
in considerable force ; and on the 8th of June an alarm was 
suddenly given ** that the white turbans were upon them." 
In the engagement which followed the insurgent army gave 
way ; and, though their loss was much smaller than that of 

VOL. VII X 



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306 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RiSEARCHES 

the Turks, yet, from the many blunders committed, the 
consequences were disastrous ; and, had the Turks pursued, 
there would on that day have been an end of the insurrection. 
But fieir worse and more decisive was the subsequent disaster 
of the 17th. Tpsilanti had been again reinforced, and his 
advanced guard had surprised a Turkish detachment of 
cavalry in such a situation that their escape seemed im- 
possible. Tet all was ruined by one officer of rank, who 
got drunk and advanced with an air of bravado, followed, on 
a principle of honour, by a sacred cohort (hieros locJios), 
composed of 500 Greek volunteers of birth and education, 
the very ^ite of the insurgent infantry. The Turks gave 
themselves up for lost ; but, happening to observe that this 
drunkard seemed unsupported by other parts of the axmj, 
they suddenly mounted, came down upon the noble young 
volunteers before they could even form in square, and nearly 
the whole, disdaining to fly, were cut to pieces on the ground. 
An officer of rank and a brave man, appalled by this hideous 
disaster, the affair of a few moments, rode up to the spot and 
did all he could to repair it. But the cowardly drunkard 
had fled at the first onset with all his Amauts ; panic spread 
rapidly ; and the whole force of 5000 men fled before 800 
Turks, leaving 400 men dead on the field, of whom 350 
belonged to the sacred battalion. 

The Turks, occupied with gathering a trophy of heads, 
neglected to pursue. But the work was done. The defeated 
advance fell back upon the main body ; and that same night 
the whole army, panic - struck, ashamed, and bewildered, 
commenced a precipitate retreat From this moment Prince 
Ypsilanti thought only of saving himself. This purpose he 
effected in a few days by retreating into Austria ; from 
which territory he issued his final order of the day, taxing 
his army, in violent and unmeasured terms, with cowardice 
and disobedience. This was in a limited sense true ; many 
distinctions, however, were called for in mere justice, and 
the capital defects after all were in himself. His plan was 
originally bad ; and, had it been better, he was quite unequal 
to the execution of it. The results were unfortunate to all 
concerned in it. Ypsilanti himself was arrested by Austria, 
and thrown into the unwholesome prison of Mongatz ; where. 



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THE REVOLUTION OP GREECE 807 

after languishing for six years, he perished miserably. Some 
of the subordinate officers prolonged the struggle in a guerilla 
style for some little time, but all were finally suppressed. 
Many were put to death ; many escaped into neutral ground ; 
and it is gratifying to add that^ of two traitors amongst the 
higher officers, one was detected and despatched in a summary 
way of vengeance by his own associates : the other, for some 
unexplained reason, was beheaded by his Turkish friends at 
the very moment when he had put himself into their power, 
in fearless obedience to their own summons to cowrie and 
receive his weH-merited reward, and under an express assurance 
from the Pacha of Silistria that he was impatiently waiting 
to invest him with a pelisse of honour. Such faith is kept 
with traitors ; such faith be ever kept with the betrayers of 
nations and their holiest hopes ! Though in this instance 
the particular motives of the Porte are still buried in mystery, 
— and (buried or not buried) those motives could not have 
been other than detestably base, — let the Greek officers have 
been rotten with perfidy to their own compatriots, that was a 
crime which concerned God and their own brethren ; to the 
Turks it brought no rights of vengeance. Them it did not 
in the remotest degree concern. And, supposing even that 
it hadf perfidy is not the righteous instrument for chastising 
perfidy. 

Thus terminated the first rash enterprise, which resulted 
from the too tempting invitation held out in the rebellion 
then agitating Epirus, locking up, as it did, and neutralizing 
so large a part of the disposable Turkish forces. To this we 
return, Kourshid Pacha quitted the Morea with a large 
body of troops in the first days of January 1821, and took 
the command of the army already before Yannina. But, 
with all hia great numerical superiority to the enemy with 
whom he contended, and now enjoying undisturbed union 
in his own camp, he found it impossible to make his advances 
rapidly. Though in hostility to the Porte, and though now 
connected with Christian allies, Ali Pacha was yet nominally 
a Mohammedan. Hence it had been found impossible as yet 
to give any colour of an anti- Christian character to the war ; 
and the native Mohammedan chieftains had therefore no 
scruple in coalescing with the Christians of Epirus, and 



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308 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

making joint cause with Ali. Gradually, from the inevitahle 
vexatious incident to the march and residence of a large 
army, the whole population became hostile to Kourshid; 
and their remembrance of All's former oppressions, if not 
effaced, was yet suspended in the presence of a nuisance so 
immediate and so generally diffused, — so that eventually 
most of the Epirots turned their arms against the Porte. 
The same feelings which governed tkem soon spread to the 
provinces of Etolia and Acamania ; or rather, perhaps, being 
previously ripe for revolt, these provinces resolved to avail 
themselves of the same occasion. Missolonghi now became 
the centre of rebellion ; and Eourshid's difficulties were daily 
augmenting. In July of this year (1821) these various in- 
surgents, actively co-operating, defeated the Seraskier in 
several actions, and compelled a Pacha to lay down his arms 
on the road between Yannina and Souli. It was even pro- 
posed by the gallant partisan, Mark Bozzaris, that all should 
unite to hem in the Seraskier ; but a wound received in a 
skirmish defeated this plan. In September following, how- 
ever, the same Mark intercepted and routed Hassan Pacha in 
a defile on his march to Yannina ; and in general the Turks 
were defeated everywhere, except at the head-quarters of the 
Seraskier, and with losses in men enormously disproportioned 
to the occasions. This arose partly from the necessity under 
which they lay of attacking expert musketeers who were 
under cover of breastworks, and partly from their own preci- 
pitance and determination to carry everything by summary 
force : " whereas," says Mr. Gordon, " a little patience would 
surely have caused them to succeed, and at least saved them 
much dishonour, and thousands of lives thrown away in mere 
wantonness." But, in spite of all blunders, and every sort 
of failure elsewhere, the Seraskier was still advancing slowly 
towards his main object — ^the reduction of Ali Pacha. And 
by the end of October, on getting possession of an important 
part of All's works, he announced to the Sultan that he 
should soon be able to send him the head of that rebel, who 
was already reduced to 600 men. A little b^ore this, 
however, the celebrated Maurocordato, with other persons of 
influence, had arrived at Missolonghi with the view of 
cementing a general union of Christian and Mohammedan 



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THE REVOLUTION OF QREECE 309 

forces against the Turks. In this he was so far successful 
that in November a combined attack was made upon Ismael, 
the old enemy of Ali, and three other Pachas, shut up in the 
town of Arta. This attack succeeded partially ; but it was 
attempted at a moment dramatically critical, and with an 
effect ruinous to the whole campaign as well as that particular 
attack. The assailing party, about 3400 men, were composed 
in the proportion of two Christians to one Mohammedan. 
They had captured one half of the town ; and, Mark Bozzaris 
having set this on fire to prevent plundering, the four Pachas 
were on the point of retreating under cover of the smoke. 
At that moment arrived a Mohammedan of note, instigated 
by Eourshid, who was able to persuade those of his own 
faith that the Christians were not fighting with any sincere 
views of advantage to Ali, but with ulterior purposes hostile 
to Mohammedanism itself. On this, the Christian division 
of the army found themselves obliged to retire without noise, 
in order to escape their own allies, now suddenly united with 
the four Pachas. Nor, perhaps, would even this evasion have 
been effected, but for the precaution of Mark Bozzaris in 
taking hostages from two leading Mohammedans. Thus failed 
the last diversion in favour of Ali Pacha ; who was hence- 
forward left to his own immediate resources. All the Moham- 
medan tribes now ranged themselves on the side of Kourshid ; 
and the winter of 1821-2 passed away without further dis- 
turbance in Epirus. 

Meantime, during the absence of Kourshid Pacha from 
the Morea, the opportunity had not been lost for raising the 
insurrection in that important part of Greece. Kourshid 
had evacuated the province early in January 1821 ; and 
already in February symptoms of the coming troubles 
appeared at Patrass, "the most flourishing and populous 
city of the Peloponnesus, the emporium of its trade, and 
residence of the foreign consuls and merchants." Its popula- 
tion was about 18,000, of which number two-thirds were 
Christian. In March, when rumours had arrived of the 
insurrection beyond the Danube under Alexander Ypsilanti, 
the fermentation became universal ; and the Turks of Patrass 
hastily prepared for defence. By the 25th, the Greeks had 
purchased all the powder and lead which could be had, and 



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310 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

about the 2(1 of April they raised the standard of the Cross. 
Two days after this, fighting began at Patrass. The town 
having been set on fire, " the Turkish castle threw shot and 
" shells at random ; the two parties fought amongst the 
" ruins, and massacred each other without mercy ; the only 
" prisoners that were spared owed their lives to fanaticism, 
" some Christian youths being circumcised by the Mollahs, 
" and some Turkish boys baptized by the priests." 

" While the commencement of the war," says Mr. Gordon, 
" was thus signalized by the ruin of a flourishing city, the 
" insurrection gained ground with wonderful rapidity, and 
" from mountain to mountain, and village to village, propa- 
" gated itself to the furthest comer of the Peloponnesus. 
" Everywhere the peasants flew to arms, and those Turks who 
" resided in the open country or unfortified towns were either 
" cut to pieces, or forced to fly into strongholds." On the 
2d of April, the flag of independence was hoisted in Achaia. 
On the 9th, a Grecian senate met at Calamata in Messenia, 
having for its president Mavromichalis, Prince or Bey of 
Maina, a rugged territory in the ancient Sparta, famous for 
its hardy race of robbers and pirates.^ 

On the 6th of April, the insurrection had spread to the 
narrow territory of Megaris, situated to the north of the 
isthmua The Albanian population of this country, amount- 
ing to about 10,000, and employed by the Porte to guard 
the defiles of the entrance into Peloponnesus, raised the 

^ These Mainatts have been supposed to be of Slavonian origin ; 
but Mr. Gordon, upon the authority of the Emperor Constantine 
Porphyrogenitos, asserts that they are of pure Laconian blood, and 
became Christians in the reign of that Emperor's grandfather, Basil 
the Macedonian. They are, and ever have been, robbers by profes- 
sion ; robbers by land, pirates by sea ; for which last branch of their 
mixed occupation they enjoy singular advantages in their position 
at the point of junction between the Ionian and .£igean Seas. To 
illustrate their condition of perpetual warfare, Mr. Gordon mentions 
that there were very lately individuals who had lived for twenty years 
in towers, not daring to stir out lest their neighbours should shoot 
them. They were supplied with bread and cartridges by their wives ; 
for the persons of women are sacred in Maina. Two other good 
features in their character are their hospitality and their indisposition 
to bloodshed. They are in fact gentle thieves, — the Robin Hoods of 
Greece. 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 311 

standard of revolt, and marched to invest the Acrocorinthus. 
In the Messenian territory, the Bishop of Modon, having 
made his guard of Janissaries drunk, cut the whole of them 
to pieces ; and then, encamping on the heights of Navarin, 
his lordship blockaded that fortress. The abruptness of 
these movements, and their almost simultaneous origin at 
distances so considerable, sufficiently prove how ripe the 
Greeks were for this revolt as respected temper ; and in 
other modes of preparation they never could have been ripe 
whilst overlooked by Turkish masters. That haughty race 
now, from every part of the Morea, retreated within the 
ramparts of Tripolizza. 

In the first action which occurred the Arcadian Greeks 
did not behave well ; they fled at the very sound of the 
Moslem tread. Colocotroni commanded ; and he rallied 
them again, but again they deserted him at the sight of 
their oppressors. "And I," said Colocotroni afterwards, 
when relating the circumstances of this early affair, " having 
" with me only ten companions, including my horse, sat 
" down in a bush and wept." 

Meantime affairs went ill at Patrass. Yussuf Pacha, 
having been detached from Epirus to EubcEa by the Seras- 
kier, heard on his route of the insurrection in Peloponnesus. 
Upon which, altering his course, he sailed to Patrass, and 
reached it on the 15th of April. This was Palm Sunday, 
and it dawned upon the Greeks with evil omens. First 
came a smart shock of earthquake; next a cannonade 
announcing the approach of the Pacha; and, lastly, an 
Ottoman brig of war, which saJuted the fort and cast anchor 
before the town. 

The immediate consequences were disastrous. The Greeks 
retreated ; and the Pacha detached Eihaya-Bey, a Tartar 
officer of distinguished energy, with near 3000 men, to the 
most important points of the revolt. On the 5th of May 
the Tartar reached Corinth, but found the siege already 
raised ; thence he marched to Argos, sending before him a 
requisition for bread. He was answered by the men of 
Ajgos that they had no bread, but only powder and ball at 
his service. This threat, however, proved a gasconade ; the 
Kihaya advanced in three columns ; cavalry on each wing. 



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312 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

and infantry in the centre ; on which, after a single discharge, 
the Argives fled.^ Their general, fighting bravely, was killed, 
together with 700 others; and 1500 women were captured. 
The Turks, having sacked and burned Argos, then laid siege 
to a monastery, which surrendered upon terms; and it is 
honourable to the memory of this Tartar general that, 
according to the testimony of Mr. Gk>rdon, at a time when 
the war was managed with merciless fury and continual 
perfidies on both sides^ he observed the terms with rigorous 
fidelity, treated all his captives with the utmost humanity, 
and even liberated the women. 

Thus far the tide had turned against the Greeks ; but 
now came a decisive reaction in their favour ; and, as if for 
ever to proclaim the folly of despair, just at the very crisis 
when it was least to have been expected. The Eihaya was at 
this point joined by the Turks of Tripolizza, and was now 
reputed to be 14,000 strong. This proved to be an exaggera- 
tion ; but the subsequent battle is the more honourable to 
those who believed it At a council of war in the Greek 
camp the prevailing opinion was that an action could not 
prudently be risked. One man thought otherwise ; this was 
Anagnostoras. He, by urging the desolations which would 
follow a retreat, brought over the rest to his opinion ; and 
it was resolved to take up a position at Yaltezza, a village 
three hours' march from Tripolizza. Thither, on the 27 th 
of May, the Kihaya arrived with 5000 men, in three 
columns, having left Tripolizza at dawn ; and immediately 
raised redoubts opposite to those of the Greeks, and placed 
three heavy pieces of cannon in battery. He hoped to storm 
the position ; but, if he should fail, he had a reason for still 
anticipating a victory ; and that was the situation of the 
fountains, which must soon have drawn the Greeks out of 
their position, as they had water only for twenty-four hours' 
consumption. 

The battle commenced ; and the first failure of the 
Kihaya was in the cannonade ; for his balls, passing over 

^ It has a sublime effect in the record of this action to hear that 
the Argives were drawn np behind a wall originally raised as a defence 
against the deluge of Inadius : 1800 years, according to my school- 
boy recollections, before Christ. 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 313 

the Greeks, fell amongst a corps of his own troops. These 
now made three assaults, but were repulsed in all. Both 
sides kept up a fire till night, and each expected that his 
enemy would retire in the darkness. The 28th, however, 
found the two armies still in the same positions. The battle 
was renewed for five hours ; and then the Kihaya, finding 
his troops fatigued, and that his retreat was likely to be 
intercepted by Nikitas (a brave partisan officer bred to arms 
in the service of England), who was coming up by forced 
marches &om Argos with 800 men, gave the signal for 
retreat This soon became a total rout ; the Kihaya lost his 
horse, and the Greeks, besides taking two pieces of cannon, 
raised a trophy of 400 Moslem heads. 

Such was the battle of Yaltezza, the inaugural performance 
of the insurrection ; and we have told it thus circumstan- 
tially because Mr. Gordon characterizes it as ** remarkable 
for the moral effect it produced " ; and he does not scruple 
to add that it " certainly decided the campaign in Pelopon- 
nesus, cmd perhaps even the fate of the Revolution" 

Three days crfter, — ^that is, on the last day of May 1821, 
— followed the victory of Doliana, in which the Kihaya, 
anxious to recover his lost ground, was encountered by Nikitas. 
The circumstances were peculiarly brilliant ; for the Turkish 
general had between 2000 and 3000 men, besides artillery, 
whereas Nikitas at first sustained the attack in thirteen 
barricaded houses, with no more than ninety-six soldiers, and 
thirty armed peasants. After a resistance of eleven hours, he 
was supported by 700 men ; and in the end he defeated the 
Kihaya with a very considerable loss. 

These actions raised the enthusiasm of the Morea to a high 
point, and in the meantime other parts of Greece had joined 
in the revolt In the first week of April an insurrection 
burst out in the eastern provinces of Greece, — Attica, Boeotia, 
and Phocis. The insurgents first appeared near Livadia, 
one of the best cities in northern Greece. On the 13 th 
they occupied Thebes without opposition. Immediately 
after, Odysseus (that is, my unlearned friend, the Greek 
form of the name Ulysses) propagated the revolt in Phocis, 
where he had formerly commanded as a lieutenant of Ali 
Pacha's. Next arose the Albanian peasantry of Attica, 



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314 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

gathering in armed bodies to the west of Athens. Towards 
the end of April, the Turks, who composed one-fifth of the 
Athenian population (then rated at 10,000), became greatly 
agitated, and twice proposed a massacre of the Christians. 
This was resisted by the humane Ehadi ; and the Turks, 
contenting themselves with pillaging absent proprietors, 
began to lay up stores in the Acropolis. With ultra-Turkish 
stupidity, however, out of pure laziness, at this critical 
moment, they confided the night duty on the ramparts of the 
city to Greeks. The consequence may be supposed. On the 
8th of May the Ottoman standard had been raised and blessed 
by an Iman. On the following night, a rapid discharge of 
musketry, and the shouts of Christ has risen! Liberty! 
Liberty! proclaimed the capture of Athens. Nearly 2000 
peasants, generally armed with clubs, had scaled the walls 
and forced the gates. The prisoners taken were treated with 
humanity ; but, unfortunately, this current of Christian 
sentiment was immediately arrested by the conduct of the 
Turks in the Acropolis, in killing nine hostages, and throw- 
ing over the wall some naked and headless bodies. 

The insurrection next spread to Thessaly, and at last even 
to Macedonia, from the premature and atrocious violence of 
the Pacha of Salonika. Apprehending a revolt, he himself 
drew it on by cutting off the heads of the Christian merchants 
and clergy (simply as a measure of precaution), and enforcing 
his orders on the peasantry by military execution. Un- 
fortunately, from its extensive plains, this country is peculiarly 
favourable to the evolutions of the Turkish cavalry ; the 
insurgents were, therefore, defeated in several actions, and 
ultimately took refuge in great numbers amongst the convents 
on Mount Athos, which also were driven into revolt by the 
severity of the Pacha. Here the fugitives were safe from 
the sabres of their merciless pursuers, but, unless succoured 
by sea, ran a great risk of perishing by famine. But a more 
important accession to the cause of independence, within one 
month from its first outbreak in the More«^ occurred in the 
Islands of the Archipelago. The three principal of these 
in modern times are Hydra, Spezzia, and Psarra.^ They had 

^ Their insignificance in ancient times is proclaimed by the ob- 
scurity of their ancient names — Aperopia, Tiparenus, and Psyra. 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 315 

been colonized in the preceding century by some poor families 
from Peloponnesus and Ionia. At that time they had gained 
a scanty subsistence as fishermen. Qradually they became 
merchants and seamen. Being the best sailors in the Sultan's 
dominions, they had obtained some valuable privileges, 
amongst which was that of exemption from Turkish magis- 
trates ; so thatj if they could not boast of avionomy, if they 
did not legislate for themselves, they had at least the advantage 
of executing the bad laws of Turkish imposition by chiefs of 
their own blood ; and they had the further advantage of 
paying but a moderate tribute to the Sultan. So favoured, 
their commerce had flourished beyond all precedent And 
latterly, when the vast extension of European warfare had 
created first-rate markets for grain, selecting, of course, those 
which were highest at the moment^ they sometimes doubled 
their capitals in two voyages, and seven or eight such trips 
in a year were not an unusual instance of good fortune. 
What had been the result may be collected from the follow- 
ing description which Mr. Gtordon gives us of Hydra : " Built 
^' on a sterile rock, which does not offer at any season the 
^^ least trace of vegetation, it is one of the best cities in the 
" Levant, and infinitely tupericr to amy other in Greece ; the 
" houses are all constructed of white stone, and those of the 
** aristocracy (erected at an immense expense, floored with 
" costly marbles, and splendidly furnished) mdght pass for 
" palaces even in the capitals of Italy, Before the Revolution 
" poverty was unknown, all classes being comfortably lodged, 
'* clothed, and fed. Its inhabitants at this epoch exceeded 
" 20,000, of whom 4000 were able-bodied seamen.'* 

The other Islands were, with few exceptions, arid rocks ; 
but most of them had the inestimable advantage of being un- 
plagued with a Turkish population. Enjoying that precious 
immunity, it may be wondered why they should have entered 
into the revolt But for this there were two great reasons : 
they were ardent Christians in the first place, and disinterested 
haters of Mohammedanism on its own merits ; secondly, as 
the most powerful ^ nautical confederacy in the Levant, they 

^ Mr. Gordon says that " they could withont diflScnlty fit out a 
hundred sail of ships, brigs, and schooners, armed with from twelve to 
twenty-four guns each, and manned by 7000 stout and able sailors. " 



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816 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

anticipated a large booty from captures at sea. In that 
expectation, at first, they were not disappointed. But it was 
a sonrce of wealth soon exhausted ; for, naturally, as soon as 
their ravages became known, the Mussulmans ceased to 
navigate. Spezzia was the first to hoist the independent 
flag: this was on the 9th of April 1821. Psarra im- 
mediately followed her example. Hydra hesitated, and at 
first even declined to do so ; but^ at last^ on the 28th of April, 
this island also issued a manifesto of adherence to the 
patriotic cause. On the 3d of May, a squadron of eleven 
Hydriot and seven Spezsia vessels sailed from Hydra, having 
on the mainmast '* an address to the people of the ^gean Sea, 
** inviting them to rally round the national standard : an 
^* address that was received with enthusiasm in every quarter 
** of the Archipelago where the Turks were not numerous 
" enough to overawe popular feeling." 

" The success of the Qreek marine in this first expedition," 
says Mr. Gordon, " was not confined to merely spreading the 
" insurrection throughout the Archipelago : a swarm of swift 
« armed ships swept the sea from the Hellespont to the 
" waters of Crete and Cyprus ; captured every Ottoman 
" trader they met with, and put to the sword, or flung over- 
'^ board, the Mohammedan crews and passengers ; for the 
" contest abeady assumed a character of terrible ferocity. It 
" would be vain to deny that the Greeks were guilty of 
" shocking barbarities : at the little island of Castel Rosso, 
" on the Karamanian^ shore, they butchered in cold blood 
" several beautiful Turkish females ; and a great number of 
" defenceless pilgrims (mostly old men), who, returning from 
" Mecca, fell into their power off Cyprus, were slain without 
" mercy, because they would not renounce their faith." 
Many such cases of hideous barbarity had already occurred, 
and did afterwards occur, on the mainland. But this is the 
eternal law and providential retribution of oppression. The 
tyrant teaches to his slave the crimes and the cruelties 

Pouqueville ascribes to them, in 1813, a force considerably greater. 
But the Peace of Paris (one year after Pouqneville*s estimates) natur- 
ally reduced their power, as their extraordinary gains were altogether 
dependent on war and naval Uockades. 

* Karamanian, i.e. the southern coast of Asia Minor (Anatolia). 



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THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE 317 

which he inflicts ; blood will have blood ; and the ferocious 
oppressor is involved in the natural reaction of his own 
wickedness, by the frenzied retaliation of the oppressed. Now 
was indeed beheld the realization of the sublime imprecation 
in Shakspere : " one spirit of the first-bom Cain " did 
verily reign in the hearts of men ; and now, if ever upon 
this earth, it seemed likely, from the dreadful CLcha/rnement 
which marked the war on both sides — the achameiinent of 
long-hoarded vengeance and maddening remembrances in the 
Qrecian, of towering disdain in the alarmed oppressor — that, 
in very simplicity of truth, Shakspere's deep word would 
be realized, and ** darhnesa he the hv/rier of the dead.^' 

Such was the opening scene in the astonishing drama of 
the Greek Insurrection, which through all its stages was 
destined to move through fire and blood, and beyond any 
war in human annals to command the interest of mankind 
through their sterner affections. We have said that it was 
eminently a romantic war ; but not in the meaning with 
which we apply that epithet to the semi-fabulous wars of 
Charlemagne and his Paladins, or even to the Crusaders. 
Here are no memorable contests of generosity ; no triumphs 
glorified by mercy ; no sacrifices of interest the most basely 
selfish to martial honour ; no ear on either side for the 
pleadings of desolate affliction ; no voice in any quarter of 
commanding justice ; no acknowledgment of common nature 
between the belligerents, no sense of a participation in tl^e 
same human infirmities, dangers, or necessities. To the 
fugitive from the field of battle there was scarcely a retreat ; 
to the prisoner there was absolutely no hope. Stem retri- 
bution, and the very rapture of vengeance, were the passions 
which presided on the one side ; on the other, fanaticism and 
the cruelty of fear and hatred, maddened by old hereditary 
scorn. Wherever the war raged, there followed upon the 
face of the land one blank Aceldama. A desert tracked the 
steps of the armies, and a desert in which was no oasis ; 
and the very atmosphere in which men lived and breathed 
was a chaos of murderous passions. Still it is true that the 
war was a great romance. For it was filled with change 
and with elastic rebound from what seemed final extinction, 
with the spirit of adventure carried to the utmost limits of 



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318 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

heroism, with self-devotion on the snblimest scale and the 
very frenzy of patriotic martyrdom, with resurrection of 
everlasting hope upon groimd seven times blasted by the 
blighting presence of the enemy, and with flowers radiant 
in promise springing for ever from under the very tread of 
the accursed Moslem. 



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SUPPLEMENT ON THE SULIOTES^ 

We have thought that we should do an acceptable service to 
the reader by presenting him with a sketch of the Suliotes, 
and the most memorable points in their history. We have 
derived it (as to the facts) from a little work originally com- 
posed by an Albanian in modem Greek, and printed at 
Venice in 1815. This work was immediately translated 
into Italian by Gherardini, an Italian officer of Milan ; and 
shortly afterwards, with some few omissions, it was repro- 
duced in an English version ; but in this country it seems 
never to have attracted public notice, and is probably now 
forgotten. 

With respect to the name of Suli, the Suliotes themselves 
trace it to an accident : — " Some old men," says the Albanian 
author, reciting his own personal investigations amongst the 
oldest of the Suliotes, " replied that they did not remember 
" having any information from their ancestors concerning the 
" first inhabitants of Suli, except this only : that some goat 
" and swine heids used to lead their flocks to graze on the 
'^ mountains where Suli and Ghiafa now stand ; that these 
^' mountains were not only steep and almost inaccessible, but 
** clothed with thickets of wood and infested by wild boars ; 
" that these herdsmen, being oppressed by the tyranny of 
" the Turks of a village called to this day Gardichi, took 
" the resolution of flying for a distance of six hours' journey 
" to this sylvan and inaccessible position, of sharing in 

^ This supplement appeared originally as a very long and rather cum- 
bersome footnote to the main Blackwood paper in April 1833, on the 
ground that the omission of the subject in Mr. Gordon's book or the 
Greek Revolution had been a serious oversight. — M. 



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320 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

" common the few animals wMcli they had, and of suffering 
" voluntarily every physical privation, rather than submit to 
" the slightest wrong from their foreign tyrants. This re- 
" solution, they added, must be presumed to have been 
" executed with success, because we find that, in the lapse of 
'^ five or six years, these original occupants of the fastness 
** were joined by thirty other families. Somewhere about 
'^ that time it was that they began to awaken the jealousy of 
** the Turks ; and a certain Turk, named Suli, went in high 
^^ scorn and defiance, with many other associates, to expel 
" them from this strong position ; but our stout forefathers 
" met them with arms in their hands. Suli, the leader and 
" inciter of the Turks, was killed outright upon the ground ; 
" and, on the very spot where He fell, at this day stands the 
" centre of our modem Suli, which took its name, therefore, 
*^ from that same slaughtered Turk, who was the first insolent 
" and malicious enemy with whom our country in its days 
'* of infancy had to contend for its existence.'* 

Such is the most plausible account which can now be 
obtained of the iticunoLbtUa of this most indomitable little 
community, and of the circumstances under which it acquired 
its since illustrious name. It was, perhaps, natural that a 
little town in the centre of insolent and bitter enemies should 
assume a name which would long convey to their whole 
neighbourhood a. stinging lesson of mortification, and of 
prudential warning against similar molestations. As to the 
chronology of this little state, the Albanian author assures ns, 
upon the testimony of the same old Suliotes, that " seventy 
yea/rs before " there were barely one hundred men fit for the 
active duties of war ; which, in ordinary states of society, 
would imply a total population of four hundred souls. That 
may be taken, therefore, as the extreme limit of the Suliote 
population at a period of seventy years antecedently to the 
date of the conversation on which he founds his information. 
But, as he has unfortunately omitted to fix the exact era 
of these conversations, the whole value of his accuracy is 
neutralized by his own carelessness. However, it is probable, 
from the internal evidence of his book, which brings down 
affairs below the year 1812, that his information was collected 
somewhere about 1810. We must carry back the epoch, 



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THE SULIOTES 821 

therefore^ at whicli Suli had risen to a population of four 
hundred, pretty nearly to the year 1740 ; and, since, by the 
same traditionary evidence, Suli had then accomplished an 
independent existence through a space of eighty years, we 
have reason to conclude that the very first gatherings of poor 
Christian herdsmen to this sylvan sanctuary, when stung to 
madness by Turkish insolence and persecution, would take 
place about the era of the Restoration (of our Charles II), — 
that is, in 1660. 

In more modem times the Suliotes had expanded into 
four separate little towns, peopled by 560 families, from which 
they were able to draw 1000 first-rate soldiers. But, by a 
very politic arrangement, they had colonized with sixty -six 
other families seven neighbouring towns, over which, from 
situation, they had long been able to exercise a military pre- 
ponderance. The benefits were incalculable which they ob- 
tained by this connexion. At the first alarm of war the 
fighting men retreated, with no incumbrances but their arms, 
ammunition, and a few days' provision, into thfe four towns of 
Suli proper, which all lay within that ring-fence of impreg- 
nable position from which no armies could ever dislodge 
them ; meantime they secretly drew supplies from the seven 
associate towns, which were better situated than themselves 
for agriculture, and which (apparently taking no part in the 
war) pursued their ordinary labours unmolested. Their 
tactics were simple, but judicious. If they saw a body of 
6000 or 6000 advancing against their jwsition, knowing 
that it was idle for them to meet such a force in the open 
field, they contented themselves with detaching 150 or 200 
men to skirmish on their flanks, and to harass them according 
to the advantages of the ground ; but, if they saw no more 
than 500 or 1000 in the hostile column, they then issued in 
equal or superior numbers, in the certainty of beating them, 
striking an effectual panic into their hearts, and also of profit> 
ing largely by plunder and by ransom. 

In so small and select a community, where so much must 
continually depend upon individual qualities and personal 
heroism, it may readily be supposed that the women would 
play an important part ; in fact, " the women carry arms and 
" fight bravely. When the men go to war, the women bring 
VOL. vn y 



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822 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

'' them food and provigiona ; when they see their strength 
^ declining in combat, they run to their assistance, and fight 
'' along with them ; but, if by any chance their husbands 
'' behave with cowardice, they snatch their anus from them 
'^ and abuse them, calling them mean and unworthy of having 
^ a wifa" Upon these feelings there has even been built a 
law in Suli which must deeply interest the pride of women 
in the martial honour of their husbands. Agreeably to this 
law, any woman whose husband has distinguished himself in 
battle, upon going to a fountain to draw water, has the liberty 
to drive away another woman whose husband is tainted with 
the reproach of cowardice ; and all who succeed her, " from 
dawn to dewy eve,'' unless under the ban of the same 
withering stigma, have the same privil^;e of taunting her 
with her husband's baseness, and of stepping between her and 
her cattle until their own wants are fuUy supplied. 

This social consideration of the female sex, in right of 
their husbands' military honours, is made available for no 
trifling purposes : on one occasion it proved the absolute 
salvation of the tribe. In one of the most desperate assaults 
made by Ali Pacha upon Suli, — ^when that tyrant was himself 
present at the head of 8000 picked men, animated with the 
promise of 600 piastres a man to as many as should enter 
Suli, — ^after ten hours' fighting under an enfeebling sun, and 
many of the Suliote muskets being rendered useless by con- 
tinual discharges, a large body of the enemy had actually 
succeeded in occupying the sacred interior of Suli itself. At 
that critical moment, when Ali was in the very paroxysms of 
frantic exultation, the Suliote women, seeing that the general 
fate hinged upon the next five minutes, turned upon the 
Turks en masse, and with such a rapture of sudden fury that 
the conquering army was instantly broken, thrown into 
panic, pursued, and in that state of ruinous disorder was met 
and flanked by the men, who were now recovering from their 
defeat The consequences, from the nature of the ground, 
were fatal to the Turkish army and enterprise. The whole 
camp equipage was captured ; none saved their lives but by 
throwing away their arms ; one-third of the Turks (one-half 
by some accounts) perished on the retreat ; the rest returned 
at intervals as an unarmed mob ; and the bloody, perfidious 



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THE SULIOTES 823 

Pacha himself saved his life only by kiUing two horses in his 
haste. So total was the rout, and so bitter the mortification 
of Ali, who had seen a small band of heroic women snatch 
the long-sought prize out of his very grasp, that for some 
weeks he shut himself up in his palace at Yannina, would 
receive no visits, and issued a proclamation imposing instant 
death upon any man detected in looking out at a window or 
other aperture — as being ^esumoMy engaged in noticing the 
various expressions of his defeat which were continually 
returning to Yannina. 

The wars, in which the adventurous courage of the. 
Suliotes (together with their menacing position) could not 
ffiul to involve them, were in all eleven. The first eight of 
these occurred in times before the French Revolution, and 
with Pachas who have left no memorials behind them of the 
terrific energy or hellish perfidy which marked the character 
of Ali Pacha. These Pachas, who brought armies at the 
lowest of 5000, and at the most of 12,000 men, were 
uniformly beaten, and apparently were content to be beaten. 
Sometimes a Pacha was even made prisoner ^ ; but, as the 
simple Suliotes . little understood the art of improving 
advantages, the ransom was sure to be proportioned to the 
value of the said Pacha's sword-arm in battle rather than to 
his rank and ability to pay ; so that the terms of liberation 
were made ludicrously easy to the Turkish chiefs. 

These eight wars naturally had no other ultimate effect 
than to extend the military power, experience, and renown, 
of the Suliotes. But their ninth war placed them in 
collision with a new and far more perilous enemy than any 
they had yet tried ; above all, he was so obstinate and un- 
relenting an enemy thatj excepting the all-conquering mace of 
death, it was certain that no obstacles bom of man ever 
availed to turn him aside from an object once resolved on. 
The reader will understand, of course, that this enemy was 

1 On the same occasion the Pacha's son, and sixty officers of the 
rank of Aga, were also made prisoners by a truly rustic mode of 
assault. The Turks had shut themselves up in a church : into this, by 
night, the Suliotes threw a number of hives fall of bees, whose insuflFer- 
able stings soon brought the haughty Moslems into the proper 
surrendering mood. The whole body were afterwards ransomed for so 
trifling a sum as 1000 sequins. 



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824 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Ali Pacha. Their ninth war was with him ; and he, like 
all before him, was beaten ; but not like all before him did 
Ali sit down in resignation under his defeat His hatred 
had now become fiendish ; no other prosperity or success had 
any grace in his eyes so long as Suli stood, by which he had 
been overthrown, trampled on, and signally humbled. Life 
itself was odious to him if he must continue to witness the 
triumphant existence of the abhorred little mountain village 
which had wrung laughter at his expense from every nook of 
Epirus. Delenda est Ctwthago I Suli must he exterminated I 
became, therefore, from this time, the master watchword of 
his secret policy. And on the 1st of June, in the year 1792, 
he commenced his second war against the Suliotes at the 
head of 22,000 men. This was the second war of Suli with 
Ali Pacha ; but it was the tenth war on their annals ; and, 
as far as their own exertions were concerned, it had the same 
result as all the rest But> about the sixth year of the war, 
in an indirect way Ali made one step towards his final pur- 
pose, which first manifested its disastrous tendency in the new 
circumstances which succeeding years brought forward. In 
1797 the French made a lodgment in Corfu ; and, agreeably 
to their general spirit of intrigue, they had made advances to 
Ali Pacha and to all other independent powers in or about 
Epirus. Amongst other states, in an evil hour for that ill- 
fated city, they wormed themselves into an alliance with 
Prevesa ; and in the following year their own quarrel with 
Ali Pacha gave that crafty robber a pretence, which he had 
long courted in vain, for attacking the place with his over- 
whelming cavalry before they could agree upon the mode of 
defence, and long before cmy mode could have been tolerably 
matured. The result was one universal massacre, which 
raged for three days, and involved every living Prevesan, 
excepting some few who had wisely made their escape in 
time, and excepting those who were reserved to be tortured 
for All's special gratification, or to be sold for slaves in the 
shambles. This dreadful catastrophe, which in a few hours 
rooted from the earth an old and flourishing community, was 
due in about equal degrees to the fatal intriguing of the 
interloping French, and to the rankest treachery in a quarter 
where it could least have been held possible, — namely, in a 



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THE SULIOTES 325 

Suliote, and a very distinguished Suliote; Captain George 
Botzari ; but the miserable man yielded up his honour and 
his patriotism to Ali*s bribe of one hundred purses (perhaps at 
that time equal to £2500 sterling). The way in which this 
catastrophe operated upon Ali's fiinal views was obvious to 
everybody in that neighbourhood. Parga on the sea-coast 
was an indispensable ally to Suli : now Prevesa stood in the 
same relation to Parga, as an almost indispensable ally, that 
Parga occupied towards SulL 

This shocking tragedy had been perpetrated in the October 
of 1798 ; and in less than two years from that date, — ^namely, 
on the 2d of June 1800, — commenced the eleventh war of the 
Suliotes, being their third with Ali, and the last which, from 
their own guileless simplicity, meeting with the craft of the 
most perfidious amongst princes, they were ever destined to 
wage. For two years, that is until the middle of 1802, the 
war, as managed by the Suliotes, rather resembles a romance 
or some legend of Paladins than any grave chapter in modern 
history. Amongst the earliest victims it is satisfactory to 
mention the traitor George Botzari ; who, being in the power 
of the Pacha, was absolutely compelled to march with about 
200 of his kinsmen, whom he had seduced from Suli, against 
his own countrymen, under whose avenging swords the 
majority of them fell, whilst the arch-traitor himself soon 
died of grief and mortification. After this Ali himself led a 
great and well-appointed army in various lines of assault 
against Suli. But so furious was the reception given to the 
Turks, so deadly and so uniform their defeat, that panic 
seized on the whole army, who declared unanimously to Ali 
that they would no more attempt to contend with the 
Suliotes, — " who," said they, " neither sit nor sleep, but are 
bom only for the destruction of men." Ali was actually 
obliged to submit to this strange resolution of his army ; 
but, by way of compromise, he built a chain of forts pretty 
nearly encircling Suli, and simply exacted of his troops that, 
being for ever released from the dangers of the open field, 
they should henceforward shut themselves up in these forts 
and constitute themselves a permanent blockading force, for 
the purpose of bridling the marauding excursions of the 
Suliotes. It was hoped that from the close succession of 



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826 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

these forts the Suliotes would find it impossible to slip 
between the cross fires of the Turkish musketry, and that^ 
being thus absolutely cut off from their common resources of 
plunder, they must at length be reduced by mere starvation. 
That termination of the contest was in fact repeatedly within 
a trifle of being accomplished ; the poor Suliotes were reduced 
to a diet of acorns, and even of this food had so slender a 
quantity that many died, and the rest wore the appearance of 
blackened skeletons. All this misery, however, had no effect 
to abate one jot of their zeal and their undying hatred to the 
perfidious enemy who was bending every sinew to their 
destruction. It is melancholy to record that such perfect 
heroes, from whom force the most disproportioned, nor misery 
the most absolute, had ever wrung the slightest concession or 
advantage, were at length entrapped by the craft of their 
enemy, and by their own foolish confidence in the oaths of 
one who had never been known to keep any engagement 
which he had a momentary interest in breaking. All con- 
trived first of all to trepan the matchless leader of the 
Suliotes, Captain Foto Giavella, who was a hero after the 
most exquisite model of ancient Greece, — Epaminondas, or 
Timoleon, — and whose counsels were uniformly wise and 
honest After that loss all harmony of plan went to wreck 
amongst the Suliotes; and at length, about the middle of 
December 1803, this immortal little independent state of 
Suli solemnly renounced by treaty to Ali Pacha its sacred 
territory, itsShrice-famous little towns, and those unconquer- 
able positions among the crests of wooded inaccessible 
mountains which had baffled all the armies of the crescent^ 
led by the most eminent of the Ottoman Pachas, and not 
seldom amounting to 20,000, 25,000, and, in one instance, 
even to more than 30,000 men. The articles of a treaty 
which on one side there never was an intention of executing 
are scarcely worth repeating: the amount was, that the 
Suliotes had perfect liberty to go whither they chose, retain- 
ing the whole of their arms and property, and with a title to 
payment in cash for every sort of warlike store which could 
not be carried ofL In excuse for the poor Suliotes in trust- 
ing to treaties of any kind with an enemy whom no oaths 
could bind for an hour, it is but fair to mention that they 



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THE SULIOTES 827 

were now absolutely without supplies either of ammunition 
or provisions, and that for seven days they had suffered under 
a total deprivation of water, the sources of which were now 
in the hands of the enemy and turned into new channels. 
The winding up of the memorable tale is soon told : — The 
main body of the fighting Suliotes, agreeably to the treaty, 
immediately took the route to Parga, where they were sure 
of a hospitable reception, — that city having all along made 
common cause with Suli against their common enemy All. 
The son of Ali, who had concluded the treaty, and who 
inherited all his father's treachery, as fast as possible de- 
spatched 4000 Turks in pursuit, with orders to massacre the 
whole. But in this instance, through the gaUant assistance 
of the Parghiotes, and the energetic haste of the Suliotes, the 
accursed wretch was disappointed of his prey. As to all the 
other detachments of the Suliotes, who were scattered at 
different points, and were necessarily thrown everywhere 
upon their own resources without warning or preparation of 
any kind, they, by the terms of the treaty, had liberty to go 
away or to reside peaceably in any part of Ali's dominions. 
But, as these were mere windy words, it being well under- 
stood that Ali's fixed intention was to cut every throat among 
the Suliotes, whether of man, woman, or child, — ^nay, as he 
thought himself dismally ill-used by every hour's delay which 
interfered with the execution of that purpose, — ^what rational 
plan awaited the choice of the poor Suliotes, finding them- 
selves in the centre of a whole hostile nation, and their own 
slender divisions cut off from communication with each 
other ? What could people so circumstanced propose to 
themselves as a suitable resolution for their situation 1 Hope 
there was none; sublime despair was aU that their case 
allowed ; and, considering the unrivalled splendours of their 
past history for more than one hundred and sixty years, 
perhaps most readers would reply in the femous words of 
Comeille, QuHU mourussent. That was their own reply to 
the question now so imperatively forced upon them ; and 
die they all did. It is an argument of some great original 
nobility in the minds of these poor people that none disgraced 
themselves by useless submissions, and that all alike, women 
as well as men, devoted themselves in the "high Roman 



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828 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

fashion " to the now expiring cause of their country. The 
first case which occurred exhibits the very perfection of nonr 
chcUanee in circumstances the most appalling. Samuel, a 
Suliote monk of somewhat mixed and capricious character, 
and at times even liable to much suspicion amongst his 
countrymen, but of great name and of unquestionable merit 
in his military character, was in the act of delivering over to 
authorized Turkish agents a small outpost which had greatly 
annoyed the forces of Ali, together with such military stores 
as it stiU contained. By the treaty, Samuel was perfectly 
free, and under the solemn protection of Ali ; but the Turks, 
with the utter shamelessness to which they had been brought 
by daily familiarity with treachery the most barefaced, were 
openly descanting to Samuel upon the unheard-of tortures 
which must be looked for at the hands of Ali by a soldier 
who had given so much trouble to that Pacha as himself. 
Samuel listened coolly ; he was then seated on a chest of 
gunpowder, and powder was scattered about in all directions. 
He watched in a careless way until he observed that all the 
Turks, exulting in their own damnable perfidies, were 
assembled under the roof of the building. He then coolly 
took the burning snuflf of a candle, and threw it into a heap 
of combustibles, still keeping his seat upon the chest of 
powder. It is unnecessary to add that the little fort, and all 
whom it contained, were blown to atoms. And, with respect 
to Samuel in particular, no fragment of his skeleton could 
ever be discovered.^ After this followed as many separate 
tragedies as there were separate parties of Suliotes. When 
all hope and all retreat were clearly cut off, then the women 
led the great scene of self-immolation, by throwing their 
children headlong from the summit of precipices, — which 
done, they and their husbands, their fathers and their sons, 
hand in hand, ran up to the brink of the declivity, and 
followed those whom they had sent before. In other situa- 
tions, where there was a possibility of fighting with effect, 
they made a long and bloody resistance, until the Turkish 

^ The deposition of two Suliote sentinels at the door, and of a 
third person who escaped with a dreadful scorching, sufficiently 
established the facts : otherwise the whole would have been ascribed 
to the treachery of Ali or his son. 



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THE SULIOTBS 829 

cavalry, finding an opening for their operations, made all 
further union impossible ; upon which they all plunged into 
the nearest river, without distinction of age or sex, and were 
swallowed up by the merciful waters. Thus, in a few days 
from the signing of that treaty which nominally secured to 
them peaceable possession of their property and paternal 
treatment from the perfidious Pacha, none remained to claim 
his promises or to experience his abominable cruelties. 

In their native mountains of Epirus the name of Suliote was 
now blotted from the books of life, and was heard no more 
in those wild sylvan haunts where once it had filled every 
echo with the breath of panic to the quailing hearts of the 
Moslems. In the most " palmy " days of Suli she had never 
counted more than 2500 fighting men ; and of these no 
considerable body escaped, excepting the corps who hastily 
fought their way to Parga. From that city they gradually 
transported themselves to Corfu, then occupied by the 
Russians. Into the service of the Russian Czar, as the sole ^ 
means left to a perishing corps of soldiers for earning daily 
bread, they naturally entered ; and, when Corfu afterwards 
passed from Russian to English masters, it was equally 
inevitable that for the same ui^ent purposes they should 
enter the military service of England. In that service they 
received the usual honourable treatment, and such attention 
as circumstances would allow to their national habits and 
prejudices. They were placed also, we believe, under the 
popular command of Sir R. Church ; who, though unfortunate 
as a supreme leader, made himself beloved in a lower station 
by all the foreigners under his authority. These Suliotes 
have since then returned to Epirus and to Greece, — the Peace 
of 1815 having, perhaps, dissolved their connexion with 
England ; and they were even persuaded to enter the service 
of their arch-enemy, AH Pacha. Since his death their 
diminished numbers, and the altered circumstances of their 
situation, should naturally have led to the extinction of their 
political importance. Yet we find them, in 1832, still 
attracting (or rather concentrating) the wrath of the Turkish 
Sultan, made the object of a separate war, and valued (as in 
all former cases) on the footing of a distinct and independent 
nation. On the winding up of this war, we find part of 



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830 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

them at least an object of indulgent solicitude to the British 
Gk)vemnient, and under their protection transferred to Ce- 
phalonia. Yet again others of their scanty clan meet us at 
dififerent points of the War in Greece, especially at the first 
decisive action with Ibrahim, when, in the rescue of Costa 
Botzaris, every Suliote of his blood perished on the spot ; and 
again, in the fatal battle of Athens (May 6, 1827), Mr. Gordon 
assures us that *' almost all the Suliotes were exterminated." 
We understand him to speak not generally of the Suliotes as 
of the total clan who bear that name, but of those only who 
happened to be present at that dire catastrophe. Still, even 
with this limitation, such a long succession of heavy losses 
descending upon a people who never numbered above 2500 
fighting men, and who had passed through the furnace seven 
times heated of All Pacha's wrath, and suffered those many 
and dismal tragedies which we have just recorded, cannot but 
have brought them latterly to the brink of utter extinction. 



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MODERN GREECE 1 

What are the nuisances special to Greece which repel 
tourists from that country ? They are three — robbers, fleas, 
and dogs. It is remarkable that all are, in one sense, respect- 
able nuisances : they are ancient, and of classical descent 
The monuments still existing from pre-Christian ages in 
memory of honest travellers assassinated by brigands or 
klephts (Kkeirrai) show that the old respectable calling of 
freebooters by sea and land, — which Thucydides, in a well- 
known passage, describes as so reputable an investment for 
capital during tiie times preceding his own, and, as to northern 
Greece, even during his own, — had never entirely languished, 
as with us it has ' done for two generations on the heaths of 
Bagshot, Hounslow, or Finchley. Well situated as these 
grounds were for doing business, lying at such convenient 
distances from the metropolis, and studying the convenience 
of all parties (since, if a man were destined to lose a burden 
on his road, surely it was pleasing to his feelings that he had 
not been suflFered to act as porter over ninety or a hundred 
miles, in the service of one who would neither pay him nor 
thank him) : yet, finally, what through banks, and what 
through policemen, the concern has dwindled to nothing. 
In England, we believe, this concern was technically known 
amongst men of business and "family men " as the "Low Toby/* 

^ In BlachvoocPs Magazine for July 1842, in the form of a review 
of " Journal of a Tow in Greece and the Ionian Islcmda. By William 
Mure of CaldweU. In two whimes, 1842.*' Reprinted in 1860 in the 
fourteenth volume of De Quincey's Collected Writings. — M. 



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382 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

In Greece it was called X,rj<TT€ia ; and, Homerically speaking, 
it was perhaps the only profession thoroughly respectable. 
A few other callings are mentioned in the Odyssey as famish- 
ing regular bread to decent men: viz* the doctor's, the 
fortune-teller's or conjurer's, and the armourer's. Indeed it 
is clear, from the ofifer made to Ulysses of a job in the way 
of hedging and ditching, that sturdy big-boned beggars, or 
what used to be called " Abraham men " in southern England, 
were not held to have forfeited any heraldic dignity attached 
to the rank of pauper (which was considerable) by taking a 
farmer's pay when mendicancy happened to be " looking 
downwards." Even honest labour was tolerated, though, of 
course, disgraceful. But the Corinthian order of society, to 
borrow Burke's image, was the bold se«i-rover, the buccaneer, 
or (if you will call him so) the robber in all his varieties. 
Titles were at that time not much in use — ^honorary titles 
we mean ; but, had our prefix of '' Right Honourable " 
existed, it would have been assigned to burglars, and by no 
means to privy-councUlors ; as again our English prefix of 
" Venerable " would have been settled, not on so sheepish a 
character as the archdeacon, but on the spirited appropriator 
of church plate. We were surprised lately to find, in a Ger- 
man work of some authority, so gross a misconception of 
Thucydides as that of supposing him to be in jest Nothing of 
the sort. The question which he represents as once current^ 
on speaking a ship in the Mediterranean, " Pray, gentlemen, 
are you robbers ? " actually occurs in Homer ; and to Homer, 
no doubt^ the historian alludes. It neither was, nor could be 
conceived as, other than complimentary ; for the alternative 
supposition presumed him that mean and well-known char- 
acter — the merchant, who basely paid for what he took. It 
was plainly asking. Are you a knight grand-cross of some 
martial order, or a sort of costermonger ? And we give it as 
no hasty or fanciful opinion, that the South Sea Islands, 
(which Bougainville held to be in a state of considerable 
civilisation) had, in fact, reached the precise stage of Homeric 
Greece. The power of levying war, as yet not sequestered 
by the ruling power of each community, was a private right 
inherent in every individual of any one state against all 
individuals of any other. Captain Cook's ship, the Resolution, 



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MODERN GREECE 833 

and her consort, the Adventure, were as much independent 
states and objects of lawful war to the Islanders as Owyhee, 
in the Sandwich group, was to Tongataboo in the Friendly 
group. So that to have taken an Old Bailey view of the 
thefts committed on the deck was unjust, and, besides, 
ineflfectual ; the true remedy being by way of treaty or con- 
vention with the chiefe of every island. And perhaps, if 
Homer had tried it, the same remedy (in effect, regular pay- 
ments of hlackrmail) might have been found available in fm 
day. 

It is too late to suggest ^kaJb idea now. The princely 
pirates are gone ; and the last dividend has been paid upon 
their booty ; so that, whether he gained or lost by them, 
Homer*s estate is not liable to any future inquisitions from 
commissioners of bankruptcy or other sharks. He, whether 
amongst the plundered, or, as is more probable, a consider- 
able shareholder in the joint-stock privateers from Tenedos, 
&c., is safe both from further funding or refunding. We are 
not And the first question of moment to any future tourist 
is, What may be the present value, at a British insurance 
office, of any given life risked upon a tour in Greece ? Much 
will, of course, depend upon the extent and the particular 
route. A late prime minister of Greece, under the reigning 
king Otho, actually perished by means of one day's pleasure 
excursion from Athens, though meeting neither thief nor 
robber. He lost his way ; and, this being scandalous in an 
ex-chancellor of the exchequer having ladies under his 
guidance, — who were obliged, like those in the Midsummer 
Night's Dream, to pass the night in an Athenian wood, — ^his 
excellency died of vexation. Where may not men find a 
death ? But we ask after the calculation of any office which 
takes extra risks ; and, as a basis for such a calculation, we 
submit the range of tour sketched by Pausanias, more than 
sixteen centuries back — that Hava-aviaK-q wepijoBoSf as 
Colonel Leake describes it, which carries a man through the 
heart of all that can chiefly interest in Greece. Where are 
the chances, upon such a compass of Greek travelling, having 
only the ordinary escort and arms, or having no arms (which 
the learned agree in thinking the safer plan at present), 
that a given traveller will revisit the glimpses of an English 



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834 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

moon, or again embrace his " placens uxor ** ? As, with 
regard to Ireland, it is one stock trick of Whiggery to treat 
the chances of assassination in the li^ht of an English 
hypochondriacal chimera, so for a different reason it has 
been with regard to Italy, and soon will be for Greece. 
Twenty years ago it was a fine subject for jesting — the 
English idea of stilettoes in Rome, and masqued bravos, and 
assassins who charged so much an inch for the depth of their 
wounds. But all the laughter did not save a youthful English 
marriage-party from being atrociously massacred ; a grave 
English professional man with his wife from being carried 
off to a mountainous captivity, and reserved from slaughter 
only by the prospect of ransom ; a British nobleman's son 
from death or the consequences of Italian barbarity ; or a 
prince, made such by the Universal Father of Christendom, 
the brother of Napoleon, from having the security of his 
mansion violated, and the most valuable captives carried off 
by daylight from his household. In Greece apparently the 
state of things is worse, because absolutely worse under a far 
slighter temptation. But Mr. Mure is of opinion that Greek 
robbers have private reasons as yet for sparing English 
tourists. 

So far then is certain : viz. that the positive danger is 
greater in poverty-stricken Greece than in rich and splendid 
Italy. But, as to the valuation of the danger, positively and 
not relatively, it is probably as yet imperfect from mere 
defect of experience : the total amount of travellers is un- 
known. And it may be argued that at least Colonel Leake, 
Mr. Dodwell, and our present Mr. Mure, with as many more 
as have written books, cannot be among the killed, wounded, 
and missing. There is evidence in octavo that they are yet 
" to the fore." Still, with respect to books, after all, they 
may have been posthumous works : or, to put the case in 
another form, who knows how many excellent works in 
medium quarto, not less than crown octavo, may have been 
suppressed and intercepted in their rudimente by these 
expurgatorial ruffians ? Mr. Mure mentions as the exquisite 
reason for the present fashion of shooting from an ambush 
first, and settling accounts afterwards, that by this means 
they evade the chances of a contest. The Greek robber, it 



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MODERN GREECE 335 

seems, knows as well as Cicero that " non semper viator a 
latrone, nonnunquam etiam latro a viatore occiditur " — a dis- 
appointment that makes one laugh exceedingly. Now, this 
rule as to armed travellers is likely to bear hard upon 
our countrymen ; who, being rich (else how come they in 
Greece 1), will surely be brilliantly armed ; and thus again it 
may be said, in a sense somewhat different from Juvenal's, 

** Et vacuw cantat coram latrone viator," — 

vacuus not of money, but of pistols. Yet, on the other hand, 
though possibly sound law for the thickets of Mount Cithaeron, 
this would be too unsafe a policy as a general rule : too often 
it is the exposure of a helpless exterior which first suggests 
the outrage. And perhaps the best suggestion for the present 
would be that travellers should carry in their hands an 
apparent telescope or a reputed walking-cane ; which peace- 
ful and natural part of his appointments will first operate to 
draw out his lurking forest friend from his advantage ; and, 
on closer colloquy, if this friend should turn restive, then the 
" Tuscan artist's tube," contrived of course a double debt to 
pay, will suddenly reveal another sort of tube, insinuating 
an argument sufficient for the refutation of any sophism 
whatever. This is the best compromise which we can put 
forward with the present dilemma in Greece, where it seems 
that to be armed or to be unarmed is almost equally perilous 
— to be armed is to insure a shot from an ambush. But our 
secret opinion is that in all countries alike the only absolute 
safeguard against highway robbery is — a railway ; for then 
the tables are turned ; not he who is stopped incurs the risk, 
but he who stops : we question whether Samson himself 
could have pulled up his namesake on the Liverpool Railway. 
Recently, indeed, in the Court of Common Pleas, on a motion 
to show cause by Sergeant Bompas, in Hewitt v. Price, Tindal 
(Chief- Justice) said — ^''We cannot call a railway a public 
security,^ I think *' (kmghter) ; but we think otherwise. In 

^ Chief-Justice squinted probably at the Versailles affair, where 
parties were incinerated ; for which, in Yorkshire, there is a local 
word — crozeUed, applied to those who lie down upon a treacherous 
lime-pit, whose crust gives way to their weight. But, if he meant 
security in the sense of public funds, Chief-Justice was still more in 



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836 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

spite of ^ laughter/' we consider it a specific against the '^ Low 
Toby." And, en aUendant, there is but one step towards 
amelioration of things for Greece; which lies in summary 
ejecting of the Bavarian locusts. Where all offices of profit or 
honour are engrossed by needy aliens, you cannot expect a 
cheerful temper in the people. And, unhappily, from 
moody discontent in Greece to the taking of purses is short 
transition. 

Thus have we disposed of " St Nicholas's Clerks." Next 
we come to fleas and dogs. Have we a remedy for these ? 
We have : but, as to fleas, applicable or not, according to the 
purpose with which a man travels. I^ as happened at times 
to Mr. Mure, a natural, and, for his readers, a beneficial, 
anxiety to see something of domestic habits overcomes all 
sense of personal inconvenience, he will wish, at any cost, 
to sleep in Grecian bedrooms, and to sit by German hearths. 
On the other hand, though sensible of the honour attached 
to being bit by a flea lineally descended from an Athenian 
flea that in one day may possibly have bit three such men 
as Pericles, Phidias, and Euripides, many quiet, unambitious 
travellers might choose to dispense with " glory," and content 
themselves with a view of Greek external nature. To these 
persons we would recommend the plan of carrying amongst 
their baggage a tent, with portable camp-beds : one of those, 
as originally invented upon the encouragement of the Penin- 
sular campaigns from 1809 to 1814, and subsequently 
improved, would meet all ordinary wants. It is objected, 
indeed, that by this time the Grecian fleas must have colo- 
nized the very hills and woods : as once, we remember, upon 
Westminster Bridge, to a person who proposed bathing in the 
Thames by way of a ready ablution from the July dust, 
another replied, *' My dear sir, by no means ; the river itself 
is dusty. Consider what it is to have received the dust of 
London for nineteen hundred years since Caesar's invasion, 
without having once been swept" But in any case the 
water-cups in which the bed-posts rest forbid the transit of 

error, as he will soon learn. For the British Railways now yield a 
regular income of three millions per annum — one-tenth of the interest 
of the national debt ; offer as steady an investment as the three per 
cent consols ; and will soon be quoted in other securities. 



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MODERN GREECE 337 

creatures not able to swim or to fly. A flea indeed leaps ; 
and, by all report, in a way tbat far beats a tiger — taking 
the standard of measurement from the bodies of the com- 
petitors. But even this may be remedied: given the 
maximum leap of a normal flea, it is always easy to raise 
the bed indefinitely from the ground — space upwards is 
unlimited — and the supporters of the bed may be made to 
meet in one pillar, coated with so viscous a substance as to 
put even a flea into chancery. 

As to dogs, the case is not so easily settled ; and, before 
the reader is in a condition to judge of our remedy, he 
ought to understand the evil in its whole extent After all 
allowances for vermin that waken you before your time, or 
assassins that send you to sleep before your time, no single 
Greek nuisance can be placed on the same scale with the 
dogs attached to every m^wogfe, whether household or pastoral. 
Surely as a stranger approaches to any inhospitable door of 
the peasantry, often before he knows of such a door as in 
rerum natva-ay out bounds upon him by huge careering leaps 
a horrid infuriated ruffian of a dog — oftentimes a huge molossy 
big as an English cow, active as a leopard, fierce as a hyena, 
but more powerful by much, and quite as little disposed to 
hear reason. So situated — ^seeing an enemy in motion with 
whom it would be as idle to negotiate as with an earthquake 
— what is the bravest man to do ? Shoot him ? Ay ; that 
was pretty much the course taken by a young man who 
lived before Troy : and see what came of it This man, in 
fact a boy of seventeen, had walked out to see the city of 
MycensB — which in those days was as fashionable as Baden- 
Baden — leaving his elder cousin at the hotel sipping his 
wine. Out sprang a huge dog from the principal house in 
what you might call the High Street of Mycenae ; the young 
man's heart began to palpitate ; he was in that state of excite- 
ment which affects most people when fear mingles with 
excessive anger. What was he to do ? Pistols he had none, 
not even Colt's revolvers. And, as nobody came out to his 
aid, he put his hand to the ground ; seized a cherTruidion (or 
paving-stone), smashed the skull of the odious brute, — and 
with quite as much merit as Count Robert of Paris was 
entitled to have claimed from his lucky hit in the dungeon, 

VOL. VII z 



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388 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

— then walked off to report his little exploit to his consin at 
the hotel ? But what followed ? The wretches in the house, 
who never cared to show themselves so long as it might only 
be the dog killing a boy, all came tumbling out by crowds 
when once it became clear that a boy had killed the dog. 
"^ la lanterned* they yelled out; valiantly charged en 
masse ; and among them they managed to kill the boy. But 
there was a reckoning to pay for this. Had they known 
who it was that sat drinking at the hotel, they would have 
thought twice before they backed their brute. That cousin, 
whom the poor boy had left at his wine, happened to be an 
ugly customer — Hercules incog. It is needless to specify the 
result The child unborn had reason to rue the murder of 
the boy. For his cousin proved quite as deaf to all argument 
or submission as their own foul thief of a dog or themselves. 
SuflBce it that the royal house of MycensB, in the language of 
Napoleon*s edicts, ceased to reign. But here is the evil : 
few men leave a Hercules at their hotel ; and all will have 
to stand the vindictive fury of the natives for their canine 
friends, if you should happen to pistol them. Be it in 
deliverance of your own life, or even of a lady's by your 
side, no apology would be listened to. In fact, besides the 
disproportionate annoyance to a traveller's nerves that he 
shall be kept uneasy at every turn of the road in mere 
anxiety as to the next recurrence of struggles so desperate, 
it arms the indignation of a bold Briton beforehand that a 
horrid brute shall be thought entitled to kill him, and, if he 
does, it is pronounced an accident, but if he, a son of the 
mighty island, kills the brute, instantly a little hybrid 
Greek peasant shall treat it as murder. 

Many years ago, we experienced the selfsame annoyance 
in the North of England. Let no man talk of courage in 
such cases. Most justly did Mar^chal Saxe ask an officer 
sneeringly, who protested that he had never known the 
sensation of fear, and could not well imagine what it was 
like, had he never snuffed a candle with his fingers ? " Be- 
cause, in that case," said the veteran, "I fancy you must 
have felt afraid of burning your thumb." A brave man, 
on a service of known danger, braces up his mind by a 
distinct effort to the necessities of his duty. The great 



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MODERN GREECE 339 

sentiment that it is bis duty, the sentiments of honour and 
of country, reconcile him to the service while it lasts. No 
use, besides, in ducking before shot, or dodging, or skulking ; 
he that faces the storm most cheerfully has after all the best 
chance of escaping — were that the object of consideration. 
But, as soon as this trial is over, and the energy called forth 
by a high tension of duty has relaxed^ the very same man 
often shrinks from ordinary trials of his prowesa Having, 
perhaps, little reason for confidence in his own bodily strength, 
seeing no honour in the struggle, and sure that no duty would 
be hallowed by any result, he shrinks from it in a way which 
surprises those who have heard of his martial character. 
Brave men in extremities are many times the most nervous 
and the shyest under perils of a mean order. We, without 
claiming the benefit of these particular distinctions, happened 
to be specially " soft " on this one danger from dogs. Not 
from the mere terror of a bite, but from the shocking doubt 
besieging such a case for four or five months that hydrophobia 
may supervene. Think, excellent reader, if we should sud- 
denly prove hydrophobous in the middle of this paper, how 
would you distinguish the hydrophobous from the non- 
hydrophobous parts 1 You would say, as Voltaire of 
Rousseau, " Sa plume apparemment brfilera le papier." 
Such being the horror ever before our mind — images of 
eyeballs starting from their sockets, spasms suffocating the 
throat — we could not see a dog starting off into a yell of 
sudden discovery bound for the foot of our legs, but that 
undoubtedly a mixed sensation of panic and fury over- 
shadowed us : a x€/>/^ciStov was not always at hand ; and 
without practice we could have little confidence in our 
power of sending it home, — else many is the head we should 
have crushed. Sometimes, where more than one dog hap- 
pened to be accomplices in the outrage, we were not altogether 
out of danger. " Euripides," we said, " was really torn to 
pieces by the dogs of a sovereign prince ; in Hounslow, but 
a month since, a little girl was all but worried by the buck- 
hounds of a greater sovereign than Archelaus ; and why not 
we by the dogs of a farmer 1 " The scene lay in Westmore- 
land and Cumberland. Oftentimes it would happen that in 
summer we had turned aside from the road, or perhaps the 



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840 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

road itself forced us to pass a farm-lioaBe from which the 
family might be absent in the hay- field. Unhappily the 
dogs in such a case are often left behind. And many have 
been the fierce contests in which we have embarked ; for, as 
to retreating, be it known that there (as in Greece) the 
murderous savages will pursue you — sometimes tar into the 
highroad. That result it was which uniformly brought us 
back to a sense of our own wrong, and finally of our rights. 
" Come," we used to say, " this is too much ; here at least is 
the king's highway, and things are come to a pretty pass 
indeed, if we, who partake of a common nature with the 
king, and write good Latin, whereas all the world knows 
what sort of Latin is found among dogs, may not have as 
good a right to standing-room as a low-bred quadmiped with 
a tail, like you." " Non usque adeo summis permiscuit ima 
longa dies," &c. We remember no instance which ever so 
powerfully illustrated the courage given by the consciousness 
of rectitude. So long as we felt that we were trespassing on 
the grounds of a stranger, we certainly sneaked ; we seek not 
to deny it. But, once landed on the highroad, where we 
knew our own title to be as good as the dog's, not all the 
world should have persuaded us to budge one foot. 

Our reason for going back to these old Cumbrian remem- 
brances will be found in what follows. Deeply incensed at 
the insults we had been obliged to put up with for years, 
brooding oftentimes over 

*' Wrongs unredressed and insnlts unavenged, " 

we asked ourselves — Is vengeance hopeless 1 And at length 
we hit upon the following scheme of retribution. This it 
is — useless to myself as it happened on English ground — 
which we propose as applicable to Greece. Well acquainted 
with the indomitable spirit of the bull-dog, and the fidelity 
of the mastiff, we determined to obtain two such companions; 
to re-traverse all our old ground ; to make a point, like 
Tulus, of visiting every house where we had been grossly 
insulted by dogs ; and to commit our cause to the manage- 
ment of these new allies. " Let us see," said we, " if they 
will speak in the same bullying tone Ms time." " But with 



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MODERN GREECE 341 

what ulterior views ?" the dispassionate reader asks. The 
same, we answer, which Mr. Pitt professed as the objects of 
the Revolutionary War — "Indemnity for the past, and security 
for the future." Years, however, passed on ; Charles X fell 
from his throne ; the Reform Bill passed ; other things 
occurred ; and at last this change struck us — that the dogs 
on whom our vengeance would alight, generally speaking, 
must belong to a second generation, or even a third, in 
descent from our personal enemies. Now, this vengeance 
** by procuration " seemed no vengeance at alL But a plan 
which failed as regarded our own past wrongs may yet apply 
admirably to a wrong current and in progress. If we English- 
men may not pistol Greek canine ruffians, at any rate we 
suppose an English bull-dog has a right to make a tour in 
Greece. A mastiff, if he pays for his food and lodgings, 
possesses as good a title to see Athens and the Peloponnesus 
as a Bavarian, perhaps even as Themistocles in times of old, 
and a better than a Turk ; and, if he cannot be suffered to 
pass quietly along the roads on his own private affairs, the 
more is the pity. But assuredly the consequences will not 
fall on him: we know enough of the sublime courage bestowed 
on that heroic animal to be satisfied that he will shake the 
life out of any enemy that Greece can show. The embassy 
sent by Napoleon to the Shah of Persia about the year 1810 
complained much and often of the huge dogs scattered over 
all parts of Western Asia, whether Turkish or Persian ; and, 
by later travels amongst the Himalayas, it seems that the 
same gigantic ruffians prevail in Central Asia. But the 
noble English bull-dogs, who, being but three in number, 
did not hesitate for one instant to rush upon the enormous 
lion at Warwick, will foce any enemy in the world, and will 
come off victors, unless hyperbolically overweighted : a peril 
which need not be apprehended, except perhaps in Laconia 
or Messenia. 

Here, therefore, we should be disposed to leave the sub- 
ject. But, as it is curious for itself, is confessedly of 
importance to the traveller, and has thrown light upon a 
passage in the Odyssey that had previously been unintel- 
ligible, we go on to one other suggestion furnished by the 
author before us. It is really a discovery, and is more 



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342 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

worthy of a place in annotations upon Homer than nine in 
ten of all that we read : — 

" Among the numerous points of resemblance with which 
^* the classical traveller cannot fail to be struck between the 
** habits of pastoral and agricultural life as still exemplified 
" in Greece and those which formerly prevailed in the same 
'* country, there is none more calculated to arrest his atten- 
'* tion than the correspondence of the shepherds' encamp- 
^* ments, scattered on the face of the less cultivated districts, 
'< with the settlements of the same kind whose concerns are 
** so frequently brought forward in the imagery of the Iliad 
" and Odyssey. Accordingly, the passage of Homer to which 
'^ the existing peculiarity above described [viz. of pelting off 
" dogs by large jagged stones] affords the most appropriate 
'< commentary is the scene where Ulysses, disguised as a 
" beggar, in approaching the farm of the swineherd, is fiercely 
" assaulted by the dogs, but delivered by the master of the 
'^ establishment. Pope's translation, with the exception of 
" one or two expressions [amongst which Mr. Mure notices 
" mastiff as not a good term for a sheep-dog], here conveys 
" with tolerable fidelity the spirit of the original : — 

'* Soon as Ulysses near the enclosure drew 
With open months the fnrioos mastiffs flew ; 
Down sate the sage ; and, cautious to withstand, 
Let fall the offensive truncheon from his hand. 
Sudden the master runs — aloud he calls ; 
And from his hasty hand the leather falls ; 
With showers of stones he drives them far away ; 
The scattered dogs around at distance hay. 

Odyss. xiv. 29." 

First, however, let us state the personal adventure which 
occasions this reference to Homer, as it illustrates a feature 
in Greek scenery, and in the composition of Greek society : — 
In the early part of his travels, on a day when Mr. Mure 
was within a few hours of the immortal Missolonghi, he (as 
better mounted) had ridden ahead of his suite. Suddenly 
he came upon **an encampment of small, low, reed wig- 
wams," which in form resembled " the pastoral capanne of 
the Roman plain," but were ^vastly inferior in size and 
structure." Women and children were sitting outside : but 



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MODERN GREECE 843 

finally there crawled forth from the little miserable hovels 
two or three male figures of such gigantic dimensions as 
seemed beyond the capacity of the entire dwellinga Several 
others joined them, all remarkable for size and beauty. 
And one, whose air of authority bespoke his real rank of 
chief, Mr. Mure pronounces "a most magnificent-looking 
barbarian.'' This was a nomad tribe of Wallachian shep- 
herds, descended (it is supposed) from the Dacian colonies, 
Romans intermingled with natives, founded by the later 
Caesars. The prevalent features of their faces are, it seems, 
Italian ; their language is powerfully veined with Latin ; 
their dress, differing from that of all their Albanian, neigh- 
bours, resembles the dress of Dacian captives sculptured on 
the triumphal monuments of Rome ; and, lastly, their pecu- 
liar name, VlcuJe WaUacMany indicates in the Slavonic 
language pretty much the same relation to a foreign origin 
as in Qerman is indicated by the word Welsh : an affinity of 
which word is said to exist in our word WalnvJby where waU 
(as the late Mr. Coleridge thinks) means alieuy outlandish. 
The evidence, therefore, is as direct for their non-Grecian 
descent as could be desired. But they are interesting 
to Greece at this time, because annually migrating from 
Thessaly in the summer, and difiFusing themselves in the 
patriarchal style, with their wives, their children, and their 
flocks, over the sunny vales of Bceotia, of Peloponnesus, and 
in general of southern Greece. Their men are huge, but 
they are the mildest of the human race. Their dogs are 
huge also ; so far the parallel holds. . We regret that strict 
regard to truth forbids us to pursue the comparison. 

"I found myself on a sudden,'* says Mr. Mure, "sur- 
" rounded by a fierce pack of dogs, of size proportioned to 
" that of their masters, and which rushed forth on every side 
'' as if bent on devouring both myself and beast : being alto- 
** gether unprovided with any means of defence but the rope- 
" end of the same halter that supplied my stirrups, I was (I 
^ confess) not a little disconcerted by the assault of so un- 
" expected an enemy." From this he was soon delivered at 
the moment by some of the gentle giants, who ^' pelted off 
the animals with the large loose stones that lay scattered 
over the rocky surface of the heath." But upon the char- 



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344 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

acter of the nuisance, and upon the particular remedy 
employed, both of which are classical, and older than Troy, 
Mr. Mure makes the following explanations : — 

'^The number and ferocity of the dogs that guard the 
" Greek hamlets and sheepfolds, as compared with those kept 
" for similar purposes in other parts of the world, is one of 
" the peculiarities of this country, which not only first 
^ attracts the attention of the tourist, but is chiefly calcu- 
'^ lated to excite his alarm, and call into exercise his prowess 
** or presence of mind. It is also amongst the features of 
" modem Greek life that supply the most curious iUustra- 
^^ tions of classical antiquity. Their attacks are not con- 
" fined to those who approach the premises of which they 
** are the appointed guardians ; they do not limit themselves 
*' to defensive war : in many districts they are in the habit 
" of rushing from a considerable distance to torment the 
^* traveller passing along the public track : and, when the 
'^ pastoral colonies, as is often the case, occur at frequent 
" intervals, the nuisance becomes quite intolerable." But, 
in cases where the succession is less continuous, we should 
imagine that the nuisance was in the same proportion more 
dangerous ; and Mr. Mure acknowledges that under certain 
circumstances, to a solitary stranger, the risk would be 
serious ; though generally, and in the case of cavalcades, the 
dogs fasten chiefly upon the horses. 

But endless are the compensations which we find in the 
distributions of nature. Is there a bane ? Near it lies an 
antidote. Is there a disease ? Look for a specific in that 
same neighbourhood. Here, also, the universal rule pre- 
vails. As it was destined that Greece in all ages should 
be scourged by this intestine enemy, it was provided that a 
twofold specific should travel concurrently with the evil. 
And, because the vegetable specific, in the shape of oaken 
cudgels, was liable to local failure (at this moment, in fact, 
from the wreck of her woods by means of incendiary armies, 
Greece is, for a season, disafforested), there exists a second 
specific of a mineral character, which (please Heaven !) shall 
never fail, so long as Greece is Greece. " The usual weapons 
" of defence employed in such cases by the natives are the 
" large loose stones with which the soil is everywhere strewed. 



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MODERN GREECE 345 

" — a natural feature of this region, to which also belongs 
" its own proper share of classic interest." The character of 
the rocks prevailing in those mountain ridges which intersect 
the whole of Greece is that, whilst in its interior texture 
" of iron-hard consistency," yet at the surface it is " broken 
into detached fragments of infinitely varied dimensions." 
Balls, bullets, grape, and canister shot^ have all been 
^ parked " in inexhaustible magazines ; whilst the leading 
feature which strikes the mind with amazement in this 
natural artillery is its fine retail distribution. Everywhere 
you may meet an enemy : stoop, and everywhere Uiere is 
shot piled for use. We see a Leibnitzian pre-established 
harmony between the character of the stratification and the 
character of the dogs. 

Cardinal de Retz explains why that war in the minority 
of Louis XIY was called the Fronde ; and it seems that 
in Greece, where an immortal fronde was inevitable, an 
immortal magazine was supplied for it — one which has been 
and will continue to be under all revolutions ; for the un- 
cultured tracts present the missiles equally diffused, and the 
first rudiments of culture show themselves in collections of 
missiles along the roads. Hence, in fact, a general mistake 
of touristSb "It is certain," si^s Mr. Mure, 'Hhat many 
^* of the circular mounds which are noticed in the itineraries 
" under the rubric of ancient tvmulue have been heaped up 
" in this manner. It is to these stones that travellers, and 
" the population at large, instinctively have recourse as the 
" most effectual weapon against the assaults of the dogs." 
The small shot of pebbles, however, or even stones equal to 
pigeons' eggs, would avail nothing: <' those selected are 
'* seldom smaller than what a man, exerting his whole force, 
" can conveniently lift and throw with one hand." Thence, 
in fact) and from no other cause, comes (as Mr. Mure observes) 
the Homeric designation of such stones, viz. chermadion, 
or handful ; of which he also cites the definition given by 
Lucian, kiSos x^LpoTrhfid-q^ a handrfiUvng stone, Ninely 
generations have passed since the Trojan war, and each of 
the ninety has used the same bountiful magazine. All 
readers of the Biad must remember how often Ajax or 
Hector took up ehermadia, " such as twice five men in our 



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846 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

degenerate days could barely lift," launching them at light- 
armed foes, who positively would not come nearer to take 
their just share of the sword or spear. "The weapon is 
^ the more effectual, owing to the nature of the rock itself, 
" broken as it is in its whole surface into angular and sharp- 
** pointed inequalities, which add greatly to the severity of 
'^ the wound inflicted. Hence, as most travellers will have 
'^ experienced, a fieJl amongst the Qreek rocks is unusually 
" painfuL" It is pleasing to find Homer familiar not only 
with the use of the weapon, but with its finest external 
"developments." Not only the stone must be a bouncer, a 
ckermadion, with some of the properties (we believe) marking 
a good cricket-ball, but it ought to be 6Kpu>€is — such is the 
Homeric epithet of endearment, his caressing description of 
a good brainer, viz. splvnting-jagged. 

This fact of the chermadic weight attached to the good 
war-stone explains, as Mr. Mure ingeniously remarks, a 
simile of Homer's which ought to have been pure nonsense 
for Pope and Cowper, viz. that, in describing a dense mist> 
such as we foolishly imagine peculiar to our own British 
climate, and meaning to say that a man could scarcely 
descry an object somewhat ahead of his own station, he says, 
Tocrcrov tls t hri Acixrorct o<rov r ctti Aaav l7j<ri : so fa/r 
does man see as he hwrls a stone. Now, in the skirmish of 
"bickering," this would argue no great limitation of eye- 
sight "Why, man, how far would you see? Would you 
see round a comer ? " "A shot of several hundred yards," 
says Mr. Mure, " were no great feat for a country lad well 
skilled in the art of stone - throwing." But this is not 
Homer's meaning — " The cloud of dust [which went before 
an army advancing, and which it is that Homer compares to 
a mist on the hills perplexing the shepherd] was certainly 
much denser than to admit of the view extendiog to such a 
distance. In the Homeric sense, as allusive to the hurling 
of the ponderous chermadion, the figure is correct and ex- 
pressive." And here, as everywhere, we see the Horatian 
parenthesis upon Homer, as one qwi nil molitwr inepte, who 
never speaks vaguely, never wants a reason, and never loses 
sight of a reality, amply sustained. Here, then, is a local 
resource to the British tourist besides the imported one of 



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MODERN GREECE 847 

the bull-dog j aiid it is remarkable that, except where the 
dogs are pretematurally audacious, a mere hint of the cher- 
madion suffices. Late in our own experience, too late for 
glory, we made the discovery that all dogs have a mysterious 
reverence for a trundling stone. It calls off attention from 
the human object, and strikes alarm into the caitiff's mind. 
He thinks the stone alive. Upon this hint we thought it 
possible to improve. Stooping down, we " made believe *' to 
launch a stone, when in fact we had none ; and the effect 
generally followed. So well is this understood in Greece 
that, according to a popular opinion reported by Mr. Mure, 
the prevailing habit in Grecian dogs, as well as bitches, of 
absenting themselves from church, grows out of the frequent 
bowing and genuflexions practised in the course of the ser- 
vice. The congregation, one and all, simultaneously stoop ; 
the dog's wickedness has made him well acquainted with the 
meaning of that act ; it is a symbol but too significant to his 
conscience; and he takes to his heels with the belief that a 
whole salvo of one hundred and one chernwMa are fastening 
on his devoted " hurdles." 

Here, therefore, is a suggestion at once practically useful, 
and which furnishes more than one important elucidation to 
passages in Homer hitherto unintelligible. For the sake of 
one other such passage, we shall, before dismissing the subject, 
pause upon a novel fact communicated by Mr. Mure, which 
is equally seasonable as a new Homeric light, and as a service- 
able hint in a situation of extremity. 

In the passage already quoted under Pope's version from 
Odyssey^ xiy. 29, what is the meaning of that singular 
couplet — 

** Down sate the sage ; and, cautious to withstand, 
Let fall the offensive truncheon ixGOL his hand." ^ 

Mr. Mure's very singular explanation will remind the 

1 As respects the elegance of this translation, there is good reason 
to warn the reader that much of the Odyssey was let off by contract, 
like any poor-house proposal for "clods " and ** stickings " of beef, to 
low undertakers, such as Broome and Fenton. Considering the ample 
fortune which Pope drew from the whole work, we have often been 
struck by the inexplicable indulgence with which this scandalous 
partition is treated by Pope's biographers. It is simply the lowest 
act of self -degradation ever connected with literature. 



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848 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

naturalist of something resembling it in the habits of buffaloes. 
Dampier mentions a case which he witnessed in some oriental 
island with a Malay population, where a herd of buffiedoes 
continued to descrilDe concentric circles, continually narrow- 
ing around a party of sailors, and at last submitted only to 
the control of children not too far beyond the state of infancy. 
The white breed of wild cattle, once so well known at Lord 
Tankerville's, in Northumberland, and at one point in the 
south-west of Scotland, had a similar instinct for regulating 
the fury of their own attack; but it was understood that 
when the final circle had been woven the spell was perfect, 
and that the herd would '*do business" most effectually. 
As respects the Homeric case, "I," says Mr. Mure, "am 
*' probably not the only reader who has been puzzled to under- 
" stand the object of this manoeuvre [the sitting down] on the 
^^ part of the hero. I was first led to appreciate its full value 
'^ in the following manner : — ^At Argos one evening, at the 
" table of General Gordon [then commanding-in-chief through- 
out the Morea, and the best historian of the Greek Revolu- 
tion, but who subsequently resigned, and died in the spring 
^' of 1841 at his seat in Aberdeenshire] the conversation 
" happened to turn, as it frequently does where tourists are 
" in company, on this very subject of the number and fierce- 
'' ness of the Grecian dogs, when one of the company 
" remarked that he. knew of a very simple expedient for 
" appeasing their fury. Happening on a journey to miss his 
'' road, and being overtaken by darkness, he sought refage 
^' for the night at a pastoral settlement by the wayside. As 
" he approached, the dogs rushed out upon him, and the 
^' consequences might have been serious had he not been 
" rescued by an old shepherd (the Eumeus of the fold), who, 
^^ after pelting off his assailants, gave him a hospitable recep- 
" tion in his hut The guest made some remark on the zeal 
^^ of his dogs, and on the danger to which he had been ex- 
** posed from their attack. The old man replied that it was 
^^ his own fault, from not taking the customary precaution in 
" such an emergency : that he ought to have stopped, and 
*' sate down until some person came to protect him." Here 
we have the very act of Ulysses, with the necessary circum- 
stance that he laid aside his arms: after which the two 



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MODERN GREECE 349 

parties were under a provisional treaty. And Adam Smith's 
doubtful assumption that dogs are incapable of exchange, or 
of any reciprocal understanding, seems still more doubtful. 
As this expedient was new to the traveller, " he made some 
*^ further inquiries ; and was assured that, if any person in 
" such a predicament will simply seat himself on the ground, 
*^ laying aside his weapon of defence, the dogs will also squat 
" in a circle round him ; that, as long as he remains quiet, 
*^ they will follow his example ; but that, as soon as he rises 
" and moves forward, they will renew their assault. This 
" story, though told without the least reference to the Odyssey, 
" at once brought home to my own mind the scene at the 
" fold of Eumeus with the most vivid reality. The existence 
" of the custom was confirmed by other persons present, 
" from their own observation or experience." Yet, what if 
the night were such as is often found even in Southern Greece 
during winter — a black frost ; and that all the belligerents 
were found in the morning symmetrically grouped as petri- 
factions ? However, here again we have the Homer qui nil 
moVUwr inepte, who addressed a people of known habits. Yet 
qv>CBre — as a matter of some moment for Homeric disputes — 
Were these habits of Ionian colonies, or exclusively of Greece 
Proper, on which Homer may, after all, not be so good an 
authority as Murray, price 8a 6d. ? 

But enough of the repulsive features in Greek travelling. 
We, for our part, have endeavoured to meet them with 
remedies both good and novel. Now let us turn to a different 
question. What are the positive attractions of Greece? 
What motives are there to a tour so costly ? What are the 
prosj supposing the cons dismissed ? This is a more difficult 
question than is imagined : so difficult that most people set 
out without waiting for the answer ; they travel first and 
leave to providential contingencies the chance that, on a 
review of the tour in its course, some adequate motive may 
surest itself. Certainly it may be said that the word Greece 
already in itself contains an adequate motive ; and we do 
not deny that a young man, full of animal ardour and high 
classical recollections, may, without blame, give way to the 
mere instincts of wandering. It is a fine thing to bundle up 
your traps at an hour^s warning, and, fixing your eye upon 



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350 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

some bright particular star, to say, " I will travel after thee ; 
I will have no other mark ; I will chase thy rising or thy 
setting " ; that is, on Mr. Wordsworth's hint derived from a 
Scottish lake, to move on a general object of stepping west- 
wards or stepping eastwards. But there are few men qualified 
to travel who stand in this free ** unhoused " condition of 
licence to spend money, to lose time, or to court periL In 
balancing the pretensions of different regions to a distinction 
so costly as an effectual tour, money it is, simply the con- 
sideration of cost, which furnishes the chief or sole ground of 
administration. Having but XlOO disposable in any one 
summer, a man finds his field of choice circumscribed at 
once ; and rare is the household that can allow twice that 
sum annually. He contents himself with the Rhine, or 
possibly, if more adventurous, he may explore the passes of 
the Pyrenees ; he may unthread tiie mazes of romantic 
Auvergne, or make a stretch even to the Western Alps of 
Savoy. 

But, for the Mediterranean, and especially for the Levant 
— ^these he resigns to richer men ; to those who can com- 
mand from £300 to £500. And next, having submitted to 
this preliminary limitation of radius, he is guided in select- 
ing from what remains by some indistinct prejudice of his 
early reading. Many are they in England who start with a 
blind faith, inherited from Mrs. Radcliffe's romances and 
thousands beside, that in Southern France or in Italy, from 
the Milanese down to the furthest nook of the Sicilies, it is 
physically impossible for the tourist to go wrong. And thus 
it happens that a spectacle somewhat painful to good sense 
is annually renewed of confiding households leaving a real 
Calabria in Montgomeryshire or Devonshire, for dreary, sun- 
burned flats in Bavaria, in Provence, in Languedoc, or in the 
"Legations" of the Papal territory. "Vintagers", — at a 
distance how romantic a sound 1 Hops, on the other hand, 
how mercenary, nay, how culinary, by the feeling connected 
with their use, or their taxation ! Arcadian shepherds again, 
or Sicilian from the " bank of delicate Galesus ", — can these be 
other than poetic ? The hunter of the Alpine ibex — can he 
be other than picturesque ? A sandalled monk mysteriously 
cowled, and in the distan^ce (but be sure of that t) a band of 



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MODERN GREECE 351 

robbers reposing at noon amidst some Salvator-Rosa-looking 
solitudes of Calabria — how often have such elements, semi- 
consciously grouped, and flashing upon the indistinct mirrors 
lighted up by early reading, seduced English good sense into 
undertakings terminating in angry disappointment ? We 
acknowledge that the English are the only nation under this 
romantic delusion ; but, so saying, we pronounce a very 
mixed censure upon our country. In itself it is certainly 
a folly which other nations (Germany excepted) are not above, 
but very far below ; a folly which presupposes a most re- 
markable distinction for our literature, significant in a high 
moral degree. The plain truth is that Southern Europe has 
no romance in its household literature; has not an organ 
for comprehending what it is that we mean by Radcliffian 
romance. The old ancestral romance of knightly adventure, 
the ScmgrScU, the Bound Table, &c., exists for Southern 
Europe as an antiquarian subject ; or, if treated aesthetically, 
simply as a subject adapted to the ludicrous. And the 
secondary romance of our later literature is to the south un- 
intelligible. No Frenchman, Spaniard, or Italian, at all 
comprehends the grand poetic feeling employed and nursed 
by narrative fictions through the last seventy years in 
England, though connected by us with their own foolishly 
exaggerated scenery. 

Generally, in speaking of Southern Europe, it may be 
affirmed that the idea of heightening any of the grander 
passions by association with the shadowy and darker forms 
of natural scenery, heaths, mountainous recesses, '* forests 
drear," or the sad desolation of a silent sea-shore, of the 
desert, or of the ocean, is an idea not developed amongst 
them, nor capable of combining with their serious feelings. 
By the evidence of their literature, — viz. of their poetry, 
their drama, their novels, — it is an interest to which the 
whole race is deaf and blind. A Frenchman or an Italian 
(for the Italian, in many features of Gallic insensibility, will 
be found ultra-Gallican) can understand a state in which the 
moving principle is sympathy with the world of conscience. 
Not that his own country will furnish him with any grand 
exemplification of such an interest ; but, merely as a human 
being, he cannot escape from a certain degree of human 



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362 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

sympathy with the dread tumults going on in that vast 
theatre — a conscience-haunted mind. So far he stands on 
common ground with ourselves ; but how this mode of 
shedding terror can borrow any alliance from chapels, from 
ruins, from monastic piles, from Inquisition dungeons in- 
scrutable to human justice, or dread confessionals, — ^all this 
is unfathomably mysterious to Southern Europe. The 
Southern imagination is passively and abjectly dependent 
on sodal interests ; and these must conform to modem 
types. 

Hence, partly, the reason that only the British travel 
The German is generally too poor. The Frenchman desires 
nothing but what he finds at home : having Paris at hand, 
why should he seek an inferior Paris in distant lands 1 To 
an Englishman this demur could seldom exist He may 
think, and, with introductions into the higher modes of 
aristocratic life, he may know, that London and St Peters- 
burg are far more magnificent capitals than Paris ; but that 
will not repel his travelling instincts. A superior London 
he does not credit or desire ; but what he seeks is not a 
superior, it is a different, life : not new degrees of old things, 
but new kinds of experience, are what he asks. His scale of 
conception is ampler ; whereas, generally, the Frenchman is 
absorbed into one ideaL Why else is it that, after you have 
allowed for a few Frenchmen carried of necessity into foreign 
lands by the diplomatic concerns of so vast a country, and 
for a few artists travelling in quest of gain or improvement, 
we hear of no French travellers as a class? And why 
is it that, except as regards Egypt, where there hap- 
pens to lurk a secret political object in reversion for 
France, German Literature builds its historic or anti- 
quarian researches almost exclusively upon English tra- 
vellers ? Our travellers may happen or not to be professional ; 
but they are never found travelling for professional objects. 
Some have been merchants or bankers, many have been 
ecclesiastics ; but neither commercial nor clerical or religious 
purposes have furnished any working motive, unless where, 
as express missionaries, they have prepared their readers to 
expect such a bias to their researchea Colonel Leake, the 
most accurate of travellers, is a soldier ; and in reviewing 



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MODERN GREECE 853 

the field of Marathon, of Platsea, and others deriving their 
interest from later wars, he makes a casual use of his soldier- 
ship. Captain Beaufort, again, as a sailor, uses his nautical 
skill where it is properly called for. But in the larger pro- 
portions of their works even the professional are not 
professional ; whilst such is our academic discipline that all 
alike are scholars. And in this quality of merit the author 
before us holds a distinguished nmk. He is no artist, though 
manifesting the eye learned in art and in landscape. He is 
not professionally a soldier ; he is so only by that secondary 
tie which, in our island, connects the landed aristocracy with 
the landed militia; yet, though not, in a technical sense, 
military, he disputes, with such as wre^ difficult questions of 
Greek martial history. He is no regular agriculturist ; yet 
he conveys a good general impression of the Greek condition 
with relation to landed wealth or landed skill, as modified at 
this moment by the unfortunate restraints on a soil handed over, 
in its best parts, by a Turkish aristocracy that had engrossed 
them to a Bavarian that cannot use them. In short, Mr. 
Mure is simply a territorial gentleman : elevated enough to 
have stood a contest for the representation of a great Scottish 
county ; of general information : and, in particular, he is an 
excellent Greek scholar ; which latter fact we gather, not 
from anything we have heard, but from these three indica- 
tions meeting together : — 1, That his verbal use of Greek, in 
trying the true meaning of names (such as Mycene, the 
island of Asteris, &c.), is original as well as accurate. 2, 
That his display of reading (not volunteered or selected, but 
determined by accidents of local suggestion) is ample. 3, 
That the frugality of his Greek citations is as remarkable as 
their pertinence. He is never tempted into trite references ; 
nor ever allows his page to be encumbered by more of such 
learning than is severely needed. 

With regard to the general motives for travelling, )m for 
Greece had naturally some relation to his previous reading ; 
but perhaps an occasional cause, making his true motives 
operative, may have been his casual proximity to Greece at 
starting — ^for he was then residing in Italy. Others, how- 
ever, amongst those qualified to succeed him, wanting this 
advantage, will desire some positive objects of a high value, 
VOL. vn 2 a 



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854 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

in a tour both difficult as regards hardships, and costly and too 
tedious, even with the aids of steam, for those whose starting- 
point is England. These objects, real or imaginary, in a 
Qreek tour co-extensive with the new limits of Greek juris- 
diction, let us now review : — 

I. The Greek People, — It is with a view to the Greeks per- 
sonally, — the men, women, and children who, in one sense at 
least, viz. as occupants of the Greek soil, represent the 
ancient classical Greeks, — ^that the traveller will undertake 
this labour. Representatives in one sense ! Why, how now ? 
are they not such in ^ senses ? Do they not trace their 
descent from the classical Greeks ? We are sorry to say not ; 
or in so doubtful a way that the interest derived from that 
source is too languid to sustain itself against the opposing con- 
siderations. Some authors have peremptorily denied that one 
drop of genuine Grecian blood, transmitted from the country- 
men of Pericles, now flows in the veins of any Greek subject 
Falmereyer, the German, is at the head (we believe) of those 
who take that view. And many who think Falmereyer in 
excess make these unpleasant concessions : viz. 1^, That in 
Athens and throughout Attica, where, by special preference, 
one would wish to see the Grecian cast of face predominat- 
ing, therey to a single family almost, you may a^rm all to 
be Albanian. Well ; but what is Albanian ? For the 
Albanian race, as having its head-quarters in regions once 
undoubtedly occupied by a Greek race, — ^Epirus, for instance, 
Acamania^ &c., — may still be Grecian by desert But 
unfortunately it is not so. The Albanians are no more 
Grecian, and notoriously no more represent the old legiti- 
mate Greeks who thumped the Persians and whom the 
Eomans thumped, than the modem English represent the 
Britons, or the modem Lowland Scotch represent the Scoti, 
of the centuries immediately following the Christian era. 
Both English and Lowland Scotch, for the first five centuries 
after the Christian era, were ranging the forests of North 
Germany or of Southern Sweden. The men who fought 
with CfiBsar, if now represented at all, are so in Wales, in 
Cornwall, or other western recesses of the island. And the 
Albanians are held to be a Slavonic race — such at least is 
the accredited theory ; so that modem Greece is connected 



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MODERN GREECE 856 

with Russia not merely by the hond of a common Churchy 
but also by blood, since the Russian people is the supreme 
branch of the Slavonic race. This is ^e first concession 
made which limits any remnant of the true Greek blood to 
parts of the ancient Hellas not foremost in general interest, 
nor most likely to be visited. 

A second is that, if any claim to a true Grecian descent 
does exist extensively, it must be looked for amongst Maho- 
metan dans, descended from renegades of former days, now 
confounded with our Mussulmans ejected from Greece, and 
living in Thrace or other regions under the Sultan's sceptre. 
But even here the purity of the descent is in the last degree 
uncertain. 

This case is remarkable. From the stationary character 
of all things in the East, there was a probability beforehand 
that several nations — as in particular, four that we will men- 
tion : the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Affghans — 
should have presented the same purity of descent, untainted * 
by alien blood, which we find in the children of Ishmael, and 
the children of his half-brother, the patriarch Isaac. Yet, in 
that case, where would have been the miraculous unity of 
race predicted for these two nations exclusively by the Scrip- 
tures ? The fact is, the four nations mentioned have been so 
profoundly changed by deluges of foreign conquest or foreign 
intrusion, that at this day, perhaps, no solitary individual 
could be found whose ancestral line had not been confounded 
with other bloods. The Arabs only, and the Jews, are 
under no suspicion of this hybrid mixture. Vast deserts, 
which insulate one side of the Arabian peninsula, — the sea, 
which insulates the other sides, — have, with other causes, pre- 
served the Arab blood from all general attaint of its purity. 
Ceremonies, institutions, awful scruples of conscience, and, 
through many centuries, misery and legal persecution, have 
maintained a still more impassable gulf between the Jews 
and other races. Spain is the only Christian land where the 
native blood was at any time intermingled with the Jewish ; 
and hence one cause for the early vigilance of the Inquisition 
in that country more than elsewhere ; hence also the horror 
of a Jewish taint in the Spanish hidalgo. Judaism masking 
itself in Christianity was so keenly suspected, or so haughtily 



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866 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

disclaimed, simply because so largely it existed. It was, 
however, under a very peculiar state of society thatj even 
during an interval, and in a comer, Jews could have inter- 
married with Christians. Generally, the intensity of reci- 
procated hatred, long oppression upon the one side, deep 
degradation upon the other, perpetuated the alienation, had 
the repulsion of creeds even relaxed. And hence, at this 
day, the intense purity of the Jewish blood through probably 
more than six millions of individuals. 

But, with respect to the Grecians, as no barrier has ever 
existed between them and any other race than the Turks ^ — 
and these only in the shape of religious scruples, which on 
one side had the highest political temptation to give way, — 
there was no pledge stronger than individual character, 
there could be no national or corporate pledge, for the main- 
tenance of this insulation. As, therefore, in many recorded 
cases, the strongest barrier (viz. that against Mahometan 
' alliances) is known to have given way, — as in other cases 
(innumerable, but forgotten) it must be presumed to have 
given way, — this inference follows, viz. that, if anywhere the 
Grecian blood remains in purity, the fact will be entirely 
without evidence, and for us the result wiU be the same as 
if the fact had no existence. Simply as a matter of curiosity, 
if our own opinion were asked as to the probability that in 
any situation a true-blooded population yet survives at this 
day, we should answer that, if anywhere, it will be found in 
the most sterile of the Greek Islands. Yet, even there the 
bare probability of such a result will have been open to many 
disturbances ; and especially if the island happen to be much 
in the way of navigators, or the harbours happen to be con- 
venient, or if it happen to furnish a good stage in a suc- 
cession of stages (according to the ancient usages of 
Mediterranean seamanship), or if it possessed towns 
containing accumulations of provisions or other stores, or 
offered good watering-places. Under any of these endow- 

^ Some will urge the intolerance of the Greeks for Christians of the 
Latin Church. But that did not hinder alliances, and ambitious 
attempts at such alliances, with their Venetian masters in the most 
distinguished of the Greek houses. Witness the infernal atrocities by 
which the Venetian Government avenged at times what they viewed 
as unpardonable presumption. See their own records. 



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MODERN GREECE 857 

ments, an island might be tempting to pirates, or to roving 
adventurers, or to remote over-peopled parts of Italy, Africa, 
Asia Minor, &c. ; in short, to any vicious city where but one 
man amongst the poorer classes knew the local invitations to 
murderous aggressions. Under so many contingencies 
operative through so many centuries and revolutions so vast 
upon nations so multiplied, we believe that even a poor 
unproductive soil is no absolute pledge for non-molestation 
to the most obscure of recesses. 

For instance, the poorest district of the large island Crete 
might (if any could) be presumed to have a true Greek 
population. There is little to be found in that district 
beyond the means of bare subsistence ; and (considering the 
prodigious advantages of the ground for defensive war) little 
to be looked for by an invader but hard knocks, " more kicks 
than halfpence," so long as there was any indigenous popula- 
tion to stand up and kick. But often it must have happened 
in a course of centuries that plague, smallpox, cholera, the 
sweating-sickness, or other scourges of universal Europe and 
Asia, would absolutely depopulate a region no larger than an 
island ; as, in fact, within our brief knowledge of the New 
Hollanders, has happened through smallpox alone to entire 
tribes of those savages ; and, upon a scale still more awful, 
to the American Indians.. In such cases, mere strangers 
would oftentimes enter upon the lands as a derelict. The 
Sfakians, in that recess of Crete which we have noticed, are 
not supposed by scholars to be a true Grecian race ; nor do 
we account them such. And one reason of our own, super- 
added to the common reasons against allowing a Greek origin, 
is this : — The Sfakians are a large-limbed, fine-looking race, 
more resembling theWallachianswhom we have already noticed 
than the other races of Crete, or the other Greek Islanders, 
and, like the Wallachians, are often of colossal stature. But 
the classical Greeks, we are pretty certain, were a race of 
little men. We have more arguments than one for this 
belief. But one will be sufficient 

The Athenian painter who recorded the Battle of Marathon 
in fresco upon the walls of a portico was fined for represent- 
ing the Persians as conspicuously taller than the Greeks. 
But why ? Why should any artist have ascribed such an 



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358 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

advantage to the enemy, unless because it was a fact ? What* 
plausible motive, other than the notoriety of the fact, can be 
imagined in the painter ? In reality, this artist proceeded on 
a general rule amongst the Greeks, and a rule strictly, if not 
almost superstitiously, observed, and of ancient establishment, 
— which was that all conquerors in any contest, or at any 
games, Olympic, or whatsoever they might be, were memori- 
alized by statues exactly representing the living man in the 
year of victory, taken even with their personal defects. The 
dimensions were preserved with such painful fidelity, as 
though the object had been to collect and preserve for 
posterity a series from every generation of those men who 
might be presumed by their trophies to have been the models 
by natural prefiguration for that particular gymnastic accom- 
plishment in which they had severally excelled. (See the 
Acad, des Inscriptions, about the year 1725.) At the time 
of Marathon, fought against the lieutenant of Darius, the 
Olympic games had existed for two hundred years, minvs 
thirteen ; and at the closing battle of PlatsDa, fought against 
the lieutenant of Xerxes, for two hundred, minus only two. 
During aU this period, it is known for certain, perhaps even 
from far older times, that this rule of exact portraiture, a 
rigid demand for duplicates or facsimiles of the individual 
men, had prevailed in Greece. The enormous amount of 
Persian corpses buried by the Greeks (or perhaps by Persian 
prisoners) in the Polyandrium on the field of battle, would 
be measured and observed by the artists against the public 
application for their servicea And the armour of those 
select men-at-arms, or oTrXirai, who had regular suits of 
armour, would remain for many centuries suspended as con- 
secrated dvaOrjfiara in the Grecian temples ; so that Greek 
artists would never want sure records of the Persian dimen- 
sions. Were it not for this rule, applied sternly to all real 
conflicts, it might have been open to imagine that the artist 
had exaggerated the persons of the enemy by way of exalting 
to posterity the terrors which their ancestors had fiaced, — a 
more logical vanity than that inverse artifice imputed to 
Alexander, of burying in the Punjab gigantic mangers and 
hyperbolical suits of armour, under the conceit of impressing 
remote ages with a romantic idea of the bodily proportions 



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MODERN GREECE 859 

in the men and horses composing the ^ite of the Macedonian 
army. This was the true secret for disenchanting the 
martial pretensions of his army. Were you indeed such 
colossal men ? In that case, the less is your merit ; of which 
most part belongs manifestly to a physical advantage : and in 
the ages of no gunpowder the advantage was less equivocal 
than it is at present. In the other direction, the logic of the 
Greek artist who painted Marathon is more cogent. The 
Persians were numerically superior, though doubtless this 
superiority has been greatly exaggerated, — not wilfully so 
much as from natural mistakes incident to the oriental com- 
position of armies, and still more, on the Grecian side, from 
extreme inaccuracy in the original reports; which was so 
great that even Herodotus, who stood removed from Plataea 
at the time of conmieucing his labours by pretty much the 
same interval as we in 1842 from Waterloo, is rightly 
observed by Colonel Leake {Travels in Greece) to have stated 
the Greek numbers on the great day of Platsoa rather from 
the basis of fixed rateable contingents which each state was 
bound to furnish than of any positive return that he could 
allege. However, on the whole, it seems undeniable that 
even at Plataea, much more at Marathon, the Persians had 
the advantage in numbers. If, besides this numerical advan- 
tage, they had another in qualities of bodily structure, the 
inference was the greater to the Grecian merit So far from 
slighting a Persian advantage which really existed, a Greek 
painter might rather be suspected of inventing one which did 
not We apprehend, however, that he invented nothing. 
For, besides that subsequent intercourse with Persians would 
have defeated the effect of his representation had it reposed 
on a fiction, it is known that the Greeks did not rightly 
appreciate tallness. "Procerity," to use Dr. Johnson's tall 
word in speaking of the Prussian regiment^ was underrated 
in Greece : perhaps for this reason, that in some principal 
gymnastic contests, running, leaping, horsemanship, and 
charioteering, it really vxm a disadvantage. The best jockeys 
at Newmarket and Doncaster are always little men. And 
hence possibly arose a fact which has been often noticed with 
surprise, viz. that the legendary Hercules was never delineated 
by the Greek artists as more than an athletic man of the 



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860 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

ordinary standard with respect to height and bulk. The 
Qreek imagination was extravagantly mastered by physical 
excellence ; this is proved by the almost inconceivable value 
attached to gymnastic merit. Nowhere, except in Greece, 
could a lyrical enthusiasm have been made available in such 
a service. But amongst physical qualities they did not 
adequately value that of lofty, stature. At all events, the 
rule of portraiture — the whole portrait and nothing but the 
portrait — which we have mentioned as absolute for Greece, 
coerced the painter into the advantageous distinction for the 
Persians which we have mentioned. And this rule, as servile 
to the fact, is decisive for the Greek proportions of body in 
comparison with the Persian. 

But were not some tribes amongst the Greeks celebrated 
for their stature ? Yes ; the Daulians, for instance, both 
men and women : and in some modem tourist we remember 
a distinction of the same kind claimed for the present occu- 
pants of Daulis. But the ancient claim had reference only 
to the Grecian scale. Tall, were they ? Yes, but tall for 
Grecians. The Romans were possibly a shade taller than 
the Greeks, but they also were a little race of men. This is 
certain. And, if a man were incautious enough to plead in 
answer the standard of the modem Italians, who are often 
both tall and athletic, he must be reminded that to Tramon- 
tanes, in fact, — such as Goths, Hemli, Scythae, Lombards, and 
other tribes of the Rhine, Lech, or Danube, — Italy is indebted 
for the improved breed of her carcases.^ Man, instead of 
degenerating, according to the scandalous folly of books, very 
slowly improves everywhere ; and the carcases of the existing 

^ It may be remarked, as a general prevailing tendency amongst the 
great Italian masters of painting, that there is the same conspicuous 
leaning to regard the gigantic as a vulgar straining after effect. Witness 
St Paul before Agrippa and St. Paul at Athens, Alexander the 
Great, or the Archangel Michael. Nowhere throughout the whole 
world is the opposite defect carried to a more intolerable excess than 
amongst the low (but we regret to add — and in all but the very highest) 
of London artists. Many things which the wretched Von Raumer said 
of English art were abominable and malicious falsehoods ; circulated 
not for London, but for Berlin and Dresden, where English engravers 
and landscape-painters are too justly prized by the wealthy purchasers 
not to be hated by the needy sellers. Indeed, to hear Von Raumer's 



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MODERN GREECE 861 

generation, weighed off, million for million, against the 
carcases of any pre-Christian generation, we feel confident, 
would be found to have the advantage by many thousands 
of stones (the butcher's stone is eight pounds) upon each 
million. And universally the best prima fade title to a pure 
Greek descent will be an elegantiy formed, but somewhat 
under-sized, person, with .a lively, animated, and intelligent 
physiognomy ; of which last may be said that, if never in 
the highest sense rising to the noble, on the other hand it 
never sinks to the brutal. At Liverpool we used to see in 
one day many hundreds of Greek sailors from all parts of 
the Levant : these were amongst the most probable descend- 
ants from the children of Ion or of (Eolus, and the character 
of their person was what we describe : short but symmetrical 
figures, and faces, upon the whole, delicately chiselled. These 
men generally came from the Greek Islands. 

Meantime, what is Mr. Mure's opinion upon this much- 
vexed question ? Into the general problem he declines to 
enter ; not, we may be sure, from want of ability to treat it 
with novelty and truth. But we collect that he sees no 
reason for disputing the general impression that an Albanian 
or hybrid population is mainly in possession of the soil, and 
that perhaps he would b&j Us est de paupere regno ; for, if 
there is no beauty concerned in the decision, nor any of the 
quality of physical superiority, the less seems the value of 
the dispute. To appropriate a set of plain faces, to identify 
the descent of ordinary bodies, seems labour lost. And in 
the race now. nominally claiming to be Grecian Mr. Mure 
evidently finds only plain faces and ordinary bodies. Those 
whom at any time he commends for beauty or other advan- 

account of our water-colour ezhibitions, you would suppose that such 
men as Turner, De¥dnt, Ptout, and many others, had no merit what- 
ever, and no name except in London. Raumer is not an honest man. 
But, had he fixed his charges on the book-decorators amongst us, what 
an unlimited field for ridicule the most reasonable ! In most senti- 
mental poems the musing young gentlemen and ladies usually run to 
seven and eight feet high. And, in a late popular novel, connected 
with the Tower of London, by Mr. Ainsworth (which really pushes its 
falsifications of history to an unpardonable length, as e.g, in the case of 
the gentle victim Lady Jane Grey), the Spanish ambassador seems to 
us at least fourteen feet high, and his legs meant for some ambassador 
who happened to be twenty-seven feet high. 



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862 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tages of person are tribes confessedly alien ; and, on the other 
hand, with respect to those cLdming to be Greek, he pro- 
nounces a pointed condemnation by disparaging their women. 
It is notoriously a duty of the female sex to be beautiful, if 
they can, with a view to the recreation of us msdes — whom 
Lily's Grammar affirms to be "of the worthier gender." 
Sitting at breakfast (which consisted <* of red herrings- and 
Gruy^re cheese") upon the shore of Megara, Mr. Mure 
beheld the Megarensian lasses mustering in force for a general 
ablution of the Megarensian linen. The nymphs had not 
turned out upon the usual principles of female gatherings — 

" Spectatum yeniant, yeniunt spectentur nt ipsa " ; 

and yet, between them, the two parties reciprocated the 
functions. Each to the other was a true spectacle. A long 
Scotsman, 

** Qui sicca solos secom spatiatur arena,*' 

and holding in his dexter mauley a red herring, whilst a 
white table-cloth (the centre of his motions) would proclaim 
some mysterious rite, must to the young ladies have seemed 
a merman suddenly come up from the sea, without sound of 
conch ; whilst to him the large deputation from female 
Megara furnished an extra theatre for the inspection of Greek 
beauty. " There was no river mouth visible, the operatioh 
being performed in the briny sea itself " ; and, so far from 
-this being unusual, Mr. Mure notices it as a question of 
embarrassment to the men of Plutarch's age why the Phseacian 
princess in the Odyssey did not wash in the sea, but mysteri- 
ously preferred the river {Sympos. L qu, 9) ; but as to beauty, 
says Mr. Mure, " I looked in vain for a figure which either 
" as to face or form could claim even a remote resemblance 
" to Nausicaa. The modem Greek woman indeed appeared 
" to me, upon the whole, about the most ill-favoured I have 
** met with in any country." And it attests the self- con- 
sistency of Mr. Mure that in Ardcova, the only place where 
he notices the women as having any pretensions to beauty, 
he and others agree that their countenances are not true to 
the national type ; they are generally reputed to oflfer some- 
thing much nearer to the bloom and the efm^xmpoint of female 



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MODERN GREECE 868 

rustics in Germany ; and, accordingly, it is by the Bavarian 
officers of King Otho*s army that these fair Ardcovites have 
"been chiefly raised into celebrity. We cannot immediately 
find the passage in Mr. Mnre's book relating to Ardcova ; 
but we remember that, although admitting the men to be a 
tolerably handsome race, he was disappointed in the femsdes. 
Tall they are, and stout, but not, he thinks, beautiful 

Yet, in dismissing this subject of personal appearance, as 
the most plausible test now surviving for the claim of a pure 
Greek descent, we must not forget to explain that it is far 
from our design to countenance the hypothesis of any abrupt 
supersession, at any period or by any means, to the old Grecian 
blood. The very phrase of " national type,'* which we used 
in the last paragraph, and the diffusion of a language 
essentially Greek, argue at once a slow and gradational 
transition of the population into its present physical con- 
dition. Mr. Mure somewhere describes, as amongst the 
characteristics of the present race, swarthiness and leanness. 
These we suspect to have been also characteristic of the old 
original ton cP apamdlxymenoi Greeks. If so, the fact would 
seem to argue that the changes, after all, had not been on a 
scale sufficient to obliterate the primitive type of Hellenic 
nature; whilst the existence of any diffused tyj^ marks a 
tendency to national unity, and shows that some one element 
has so much predominated as to fuse the rest into a homo- 
geneous whole. Indeed, it is pretty certain that a powerful 
cross in any human breed, whatever effects it may have in 
other respects, leaves the intellect improved — if not in the 
very highest qualities, yet in mobility, activity, and pertinacity 
of attention. The Greek nation has also shown itself morally 
improved. Their Revolutionary War evoked and tried, as in 
a furnace, the very finest qualities of courage, both adventurous 
and enduring ; and we heartily agree in the sentiment, 
delivered so ably by Mr. Mure, that the struggles of these 
poor shepherds and herdsmen, driven into caves and thickets, 
and having no great rallying principle but the banner of the 
Cross against the Crescent, were as much more truly sub- 
lime in suffering and in daring than the classical struggles 
against the Persians as they are and will be more obscure in 
the page of General History. We do not at aU question 



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364 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

great stamina and noble elements in the modem Greek char- 
acter — generations of independence will carry this character 
to excellence ; but still we affirm that he who looks for direct 
descendants from the race of Miltiades, Pericles, or Epami- 
nondas is likely to be disappointed ; and most disappointed 
in that Athens, which for all of ns alike (as appealing to our 
imaginative feeKngs) still continues to be what it was for 
Cicero— true and very Greece ; in which, therefore, of all 
cities locally recalling the classical times, we can least brook 
a disappointment 

II. — If not the People of Greece, is it then the natural 
BOBNBBT of Greece which can justify the tourist in this pre- 
ference ? Upon this subject it is difficult to dispute. What 
a man is likely to relish in scenery, what style or mode of 
the natural picturesque, and, secondly , what weight or value 
he will allow -to his own preferences — are questions exceed- 
ingly variable. And the latter of these questions is the 
more important ; for the objection is far less likely to arise 
against this mode of scenery or that, since every cha/racterietic 
mode is relished as a chauge, than universally against all 
modes alike as adequate indemnifications for the toils of 
travelling. Female travellers are apt to talk of " scenery " 
as all in all, but men require a social interest superadded. 
Mere scenery palls upon the mind where it is the sole and 
ever-present attraction relied on. It should come unbidden 
and unthought of, like the warbling of birds, to sustain itself 
in power. And at feeding-time we observe that men of all 
nations and languages, Tros Tyriusve, grow savage if, by a 
fine scene, you endeavour to make amends for a bad beef- 
steak. The scenery of the Himalaya will not ** draw houses " 
till it finds itself on a line of good hotels. 

This difference, noted above, between the knowledge and 
the power of a scenery-hunter may be often seen illustrated 
in the fields of art. How common is the old sapless con- 
noisseur in pictures who retains his learned eye and his 
distinguished skill, but whose sensibilities are as dry as 
summer dust to the interests of the art ? On the other hand, 
daily you see young people whose hearts and souls are in the 
forests and the hills, but for whom the eye is perfectly un- 
tutored. If, now, to the differences in this respect you add the 



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MODERN GREECE 865 

extensive differences which prevail as to the kinds of scenery, 
it is easy to understand how rich in the materials for schism 
must be every party that starts up on the excitement of 
mere scenery. Some laud the Caucasus ; some the northern 
and eastern valleys of Spain ; some the Alpine scenery ; some 
the Pyrenean. All these are different ; and from all alike 
differs again what Mr. Mure classes as the classical character 
of scenery. For this he thinks a regular education of the 
eye requisite. Such an education he himself had obtained 
from a residence in Italy. And, subject to that condition, 
he supposes the scenery on the Eurotas (to the eastern side 
of the Peloponnesus) the most delightful in Europe. We 
know not It may be so. For ourselves, the obscure sense 
of being or moving under a vast superincumbency of some 
great natural power, as of a mighty forest or a trackless 
succession of mountainous labyrinths, has a charm of secret 
force far better than any distinct scenes to which we are 
introduced. Such things ought not to be ; but still so it is, 
that tours in search of the picturesque are particularly apt to 
break up in quarrels, — perhaps on the same principle which 
has caused a fact generally noticed, viz. that eonchologists, 
butterfly-fanciers, &c., are unusually prone to commit felonies, 
because too little of a human interest circulates through their 
arid pursuits. The morbid irritation accumulates until the 
amateur rushes out with a knife, lets blood in some quarter, 
and so restores his own connexion with the vitalities of 
human nature. In any case, we advise the Qreek tourist to 
have at least two strings to his bow besides scenery. 

III. — Is it, then, the monuments of the antique, the 
memorials of Pericles and Phidias, which a man should seek 
in Greece ? If so, no great use in going beyond Athens. 
Because, though more solemn images survive in other places, 
associated with powers more mysterious and ages more remote, 
as the gate of Lions at Mycenae, or the relics yet standing 
(and perhaps to stand for ever) of Cyclopean cities, — forms of 
art that for thousands of years have been dying away through 
dimness of outlines and v^etable overgrowth into forms of 
nature, — jej; in Athens only is there a great open museum of 
such monuments. The Athenian buildings, though none of 
them Homeric in point of origin, are old enough for us. 



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866 HISTORICAL BSSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Two-and-a-half millennia satisfy our grovelling aspirations. 
And Mr. More himself, whilst insisting on their too youthful 
character, admits that they are ^* superior in number, variety, 
and elegance to those which the united cities of Qreece can 
now show." Yet even these pure monuments have been 
combined with modem aftergrowths, as in the case of the 
Propylaea, of which multitudes doubt (Mr. Mure in par- 
ticular) whether they can now be detached from the 
connexion with effect For more reasons than one, it will, 
perhaps, be advisable to leave them in their present condition ; 
and that is as hybrid as the population. But, with respect 
to Athenian buildings, it strikes our feelings that finish and 
harmony are essential conditions to their effect Buins are 
becoming to Qothic buildings ; decay is there seen in a 
graceful form ; but to an Attic building decay is more ex- 
pressive of disease: it is scrofula; it is phagedsBuic ulcer. 
And, unless the Bavarian government can do more than is 
now held out or hoped towards the restoration and disengage- 
mefnJt of the public buildings surmounting the city, we doubt 
whether there will not be as much of pain as of an artist's 
pleasure in a visit to the Athenian capital, though now raised 
to the rank of metropolis for universal Greece. 

lY. — There are, however, mixed monuments, not artificial 
in their origin, but which gradually come to act upon the 
feelings as such from their use and habitual connexion with 
human purposes. Such, for instance, is the Acro-Corinthus ; 
of which Mr. Mure says that it '^ is by for the most striking 
" object that I have ever seen, either abroad or at home. 
" Neither the Acropolis of Athens, nor the Larissa of Argos, 
" nor even Gibraltar, can enter into the remotest competition 
'' with this gigantic citadeU' Indeed, when a man is aware 
of the impression produced by a perpendicular rock over six 
hundred feet high, he may judge of the stupendous effect 
from a citadel rising almost insulated in the centre of a plain 
sloping to the sea and ascending to the height of nineteen 
hundred feet 

Objects of this class, together with the mournful Pelasgic 
remains, the ruins or ruined plans which point back to Egypt, 
and to Phoenicia, — these may serve as a further bribe to the 
tourist in Greece. If a collection of all the objects in every 



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MODERN GREECE 867 

class, according to the best order of succession for the traveller, 
were arranged skilfully, we believe that a maritime circuit of 
Greece, with a few landings and short excursions, would bring 
the whole of what is first-rate within a brief period of weeks 
and an easy effort. As to the people, they will become more 
or less entitled to a separate interest, according to the im- 
provement and improved popularity of their government 
And upon that will depend much of the comfort, much even 
of the safety, to be looked for by tourists. The prospects at 
present are not brilliant. A Government and a Court drawn 
from a needy aristocracy like the Bavarian are not suited to 
a needy people, struggling with the difficulties of a new colony. 
However, we will hope for the best And, for the tourist in 
Greece as it w, perhaps Mr. Mure's work is the best fitted for 
popularity. He touches all things sufficiently, but exhausts 
none. And we add, very sincerely, this antithesis, as due to 
him : that of what may be called personal guides, or those 
who maintain a current of personal interest in their adventures, 
or in the selecting from their private experience, he is the 
most learned ; whilst of learned guides he is, in the sense 
explained, the most amusingly personal. 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 

OR, FLIGHT OF THB KALMUCK KHAN AND HIS FEOPLB FROM 
THB RUSSIAN TERRITORIES TO THB FRONTIERS OF CHINA ^ 

There is no great event in modem history, or, perhaps it 
may be said more broadly, none in all history from its 
earliest records, less generally known, or more striking to the 
imagination, than the flight eastwards of a principal Tartar 
nation across the boundless steppes of Asia in the latter half 
of the last century. The terminus a quo of this flight, and 
the terminus ad quem^ are equally magnificent ; the mightiest 
of Christian thrones being the one, the mightiest of Pagan the 
other. And the grandeur of these two terminal objects is 
harmoniously supported by the romantic circumstances of the 
flight. In the abruptness of its commencement, and the 
fierce velocity of its execution, we read the wild barbaric 
character of those who conducted the movement In the 
unity of purpose connecting this myriad of wills, and in the 
blind but unerring aim at a mark so remote, there is some- 
thing which recalls to the mind those almighty instincts that 
propel the migrations of the swallow and the leeming,^ or the 
life-withering marches of the locust Then, again, in the 
gloomy vengeance of Russia and her vast artillery, which 
hung upon the rear and the skirts of the fugitive vassals, we 
are reminded of Miltonic images — such, for instance, as that 

^ From Blackwood's Magaaine for July 1837 : reprinted by De 
Quincey, with bnt slight verbal changes, in 1854, in the fourth volume 
of his Collected Writings.— M. 

^ " And the leeming " : — These words are an addition in the reprint 
of 1864.— M. 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 369 

of the solitary hand pursuing through desert spaces and 
through ancient chaos a rehellious host, and overtaking with 
volleying thunders those who believed themselves already 
within the security of darkness and of distance. 

I shall have occasion, farther on, to compare this event 
with other great national catastrophes as to the magnitude of 
the suffering. But it may also challenge a comparison with 
similar events under another relation, viz. as to its dramatic 
capabilities. Few cases, perhaps, in romance or history, can 
sustain a close collation with this as to the complex/Uy of its 
separate interests. The great outline of the enterprise, taken 
in connexion with the operative motives, hidden or avowed, 
and the religious sanctions under which it was pursued, give 
to the case a triple character : — Ist, That of a conspiracy y with 
as close a unity in the incidents, and as much of a personal 
interest in the moving characters, with fine dramatic con- 
trasts, as belongs to " Venice Preserved," or to the " Fiesco " 
of Schiller. 2dly, That of a great milita/ry ejepediUony offer- 
ing the same romantic features of vast distances to be 
traversed, vast reverses to be sustained, untried routes, 
enemies obscurely ascertained, and hardships too vaguely pre- 
figured, which mark the Egyptian expedition of Cambyses — 
which mark the anabasis of the younger Cyrus, and the sub- 
sequent retreat of the ten thousand — which mark the 
Parthian expeditions of the Romans, especially those of 
Crassus and Julian — or (as more disastrous than any of them, 
and, in point of space as well as in amount of forces, more 
extensive) the Russian anabasis and katabasis of Napoleon.^ 
3dlyj That of a religious Exodus, authorised by an oracle 
venerated throughout many nations of Asia, — an Exodus, 
therefore, in so far resembling the great Scriptural Exodus 
of the Israelites, under Moses and Joshua, as well as in the 
very peculiar distinction of carrying along with them their 
entire families, women, children, slaves, their herd of cattle 
and of sheep, their horses and their camels. 

This triple character of the enterprise naturally invests it 
with a more comprehensive interest. But the dramatic 
interest which I have ascribed to it, or its fitness for a stage 

^ Anabasis, an ascent or expe'dition inwards ; katahasis, a descent 
or (in this case) retreat or expedition backwards. — M. 

VOL. VII 2 B 



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870 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

representatioD, depends partly upon the marked variety and 
the strength of the personal agencies concerned, and partly 
upon the succession of soenical situation& Even the gteppea, 
the camels, the tents, the snowy and the sandy deserts, are 
not beyond the scale of our modem representative powers, as 
often called into action in the theatres both of Paris and 
London ; and the series of situations unfolded, — ^beginning 
with the general conflagration on the Wolga — ^passing thence 
to the disastrous scenes of the flight (as it literaUy was in its 
commencement) — ^to the Tartar siege of the Russian fortress 
Koulagina — the bloody engagement with the Cossacks in the 
mountain passes at Ouchim — ^the surprisal by the Bashkirs, 
and the advanced posts of the Russian army at Torgau — the 
private conspiracy at this point against the Khan — the long 
succession of running fights — the parting massacres at the 
Lake of Tengis under the eyes of the Chinese — and, finally, 
the tragical retribution to Zebek-Dorchi at the hunting lodge 
of the Chinese Emperor ; — all these situations communicate a 
scenical animation to the wild romance, if treated dramatically ; 
whilst a higher and a philosophic interest belongs to it as a 
case of authentic history, commemorating a great revolution for 
good and for evil in the fortunes of a whole people — a people 
semi-barbarous, but simple-hearted, and of ancient descent. 

On the 21st of January 1761 the young Prince Oubacha 
assumed the sceptre of the Kalmucks upon the death of his 
father. Some part of the power attached to this dignity he 
had already wielded since his fourteenth year, in quality of 
Vice-Khan, by the express appointment and with the avowed 
support of the Russian Government He was now about 
eighteen years of age, amiable in his personal character, and 
not without titles to respect in his public character as a 
sovereign prince. In times more peaceable, and amongst a 
people more entirely civilised, or more humanised by religion, 
it is even probable that he might have discharged his high 
duties with considerable distinction. But his lot was thrown 
upon stormy times, and a most diflBcult crisis amongst tribes 
whose native ferocity was exasperated by debasing forms of 
superstition, and by a nationality as well as an inflated con- 
ceit of their own merit absolutely unparalleled, whilst the 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 871 

circumstances of their hard and trying position under the 
jealous svrveUlance of an irresistible lord paramount, in the 
person of the Russian Czar, gave a fiercer edge to the natural 
unamiableness of the Kalmuck disposition, and irritated its 
gloomier qualities into action under the restless impulses of 
suspicion and permanent distrust No prince could hope for 
a cordial allegiance from his subjects or a peaceful reign under 
the circumstances of the case ; for the dilemma in which a Kal- 
muck ruler stood at present was of this nature : wanting the 
sanction and support of the Czar, he was inevitably too weak 
from without to command confidence from his subjects, or 
resistance to his competitors ; on the other hand, ioUh this 
kind of support, and deriving his title in any degree from 
the favour of the Imperial Court, he became almost in that 
extent an object of hatred at home, and within the whole 
compass of his own territory. He was at once an object of 
hatred for the past^ being a living monument of national 
independence ignominiously surrendered, and an object .of 
jealousy for the future, as one who had already advertised 
himself to be a fitting tool for the ultimate purposes (whatso- 
ever those might prove to be) of the Russian Court. Coming 
himself to the K^Jmuck sceptre under the heaviest weight of 
prejudice from the unfortunate circumstances of his position, 
it might have been expected that Oubacha would have been 
pre-eminently an object of detestation ; for, besides his known 
dependence upon the Cabinet of St. Petersburg, the direct line 
of succession had been set aside, and the principle of inherit- 
ance violently suspended, in favour of his own father, so 
recently as nineteen years before the era of his own accession, 
consequently within the lively remembrance of the existing 
generation. He therefore, almost equally with his father, 
stood within the full current of the national prejudices, and 
might have anticipated the most pointed hostiKty. But it 
was not so : such are the caprices in human affairs that he 
was even, in a moderate sense, popular — a benefit which wore 
the more cheering aspect^ and the promises of permanence, in- 
asmuch as he owed it exclusively to his personal qualities of 
kindness and affability, as well as to the beneficence of his 
government. On the other hand, to balance this unlooked- 
for prosperity at the outset of his reign, he met with a rival 



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872 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

in popular favour — almost a competitor — in the person of 
Zebek-Dorchi, a prince with considerable pretensions to the 
throne, and perhaps, it might be said, with equal pretensions. 
Zebek-Dorchi was a direct descendant of the same royal 
house as himself, through a different branch. On public 
grounds, his claim stood, perhaps, on a footing equally good 
with that of Oubacha, whilst his personal qualities, even in 
those aspects which seemed to a philosophical observer most 
odious and repulsive, promised the most effectual aid to the 
dark purposes of an intriguer or a conspirator, and were 
generally fitted to win a popular support precisely in those 
points where Oubacha was most defective. He was much 
superior in external appearance to his rival on the throne, 
and so far better qualified to win the good opinion of a semi- 
barbarous people ; whilst his dark intellectual qualities of 
Machiavelian dissimulation, profound hypocrisy, and perfidy 
which knew no touch of remorse, were admirably calculated 
to susti^in any ground which he might win from the simple 
hearted people with whom he had to deal, and from the 
frank carelessness of his unconscious competitor. 

At the very outset of his treacherous career, Zebek-Dorchi 
was sagacious enough to perceive that nothing could be 
gained by open declaration of hostility to the reigning 
prince : tiie choice had been a deliberate act on the part of 
Russia, and Elizabeth Petrowna ^ was not the person to recall 
her own favours with levity, or upon slight grounds. Openly, 
therefore, to have declared his emnity towards his relative on 
the throne could have had no effect but that of arming 
suspicions against his own ulterior purposes in a quarter 
where it was most essential to his interest that^ for the 
present, all suspicion should be hoodwinked. Accordingly, 
after much meditation, the course he took for opening his 
snares was this : — He raised a rumour tjiat his own life was 
in danger from the plots of several Saissang (that is, Kalmuck 
nobles), who were leagued together, under an oath, to assas- 
sinate him ; and immediately after, assuming a well-counter- 
feited alarm, he fled to Tcherkask, followed by sixty-five 
tents. From this place he kept up a correspondence with 

^ Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, was Empress of Russia 
from 1741 to ]762.— M. 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 373 

the Imperial Court ; and, by way of soliciting his cause more 
effectually, he soon repaired in person to St Petersbuig. 
Once admitted to personal conferences with the cabinet, he 
found no difficulty in winning over the Russian counsels to a 
concurrence with some of his political views, and thus 
covertly introducing the point of that wedge which was 
finally to accomplish his purposes. In particular, he per- 
suaded the Russian Government to make a very important 
alteration in the constitution of the Kalmuck State Council 
which in effect reorganised the whole political condition of 
the state, and disturbed the balance of power as previously 
adjusted. Of this council — in the Kalmuck language called 
Sai^a — there were eight members, called Sargatchi; and 
hitherto it had been the custom that these eight members 
should be entirely subordinate to the Khan ; holding, in fact, 
the ministerial character of secretaries and assistants, but in 
no respect acting as co-ordinate authorities. That had pro- 
duced some inconveniences in former reigns ; and it was easy 
for Zebek-Dorchi to point the jealousy of the Russian Court 
to others more serious, which might arise in future circum- 
stances of war or other contingencies. It was resolved, 
therefore, to place the Sargatchi henceforwards on a footing 
of perfect independence, and therefore (as regarded responsi- 
bility) on a footing of equality with the Khan. Their 
independence, however, had respect only to their own 
sovereign ; for towards Russia they were placed in a new 
attitude of direct duty and accountability, by the creation in 
their favour of small pensions (300 roubles a-year), which, 
however, to a Kalmuck of that day were more considerable 
than might be supposed, and had a farther value as marks of 
honorary distinction emanating from a great empress. Thus 
far the purposes of Zebek-Dorchi were served effectually for 
the moment : but, apparently, it was only for the moment ; 
since, in the further development of his plots, this very 
dependency upon Russian influence would be the most 
serious obstacle in his way. There was, however, another 
point carried which outweighed all inferior considerations, as 
it gave him a power of setting aside discretionally whatsoever 
should arise to disturb his plots : he was himself appointed 
President and Controller of the Sargatchi. The Russian 



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374 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Court had been aware of his high pretensions by birth, and 
hoped by this promotion to satisfy the ambition which, in 
some degree, was acknowledged to be a reasonable passion for 
any man occupying his situation. 

Having thus completely blindfolded the Cabinet of Russia, 
Zebek-Dorchi proceeded in his new character to fulfil his 
political mission with the Khan of the E^lmucks. So artfully 
did he prepare the road for his favourable reception at the 
court of this prince that he was at once and universally 
welcomed as a benefactor. The pensions of the councillors 
were so much additional wealth poured into the Tartar 
exchequer; as to the ties of dependency thus created, 
experience had not yet enlightened these simple tribes as to 
that result. And that he himself should be the chief of 
these mercenary councillors was so far from being charged 
upon Zebek as any offence or any ground of suspicion 
that his relative the Khan returned him hearty thanks for 
his services, under the belief that he could have accepted 
this appointment only with a view to keep out other and 
more unwelcome pretenders, who would not have had the 
same motives of consanguinity or friendship for executing its 
duties in a spirit of kindness to the Kalmucks. The first 
use which he made of his new functions about the Khan's 
person was to attack the Court of Russia, by a romantic 
villainy not easy to be credited, for those very acts of inter- 
ference with the council which he himself had prompted 
This was a dangerous step : but it was indispensable to his 
further advance upon the gloomy path which he had traced 
out for himself. A triple vengeance was what he meditated : 
1, upon the Russian Cabinet for having undervalued his own 
pretensions to the throne ; 2, upon his amiable rival for having 
supplanted him ; and, 3, upon all those of the nobility who had 
manifested their sense of his weakness by their neglect, or their 
sense of his perfidious character by their suspicions. Here was 
a colossal outline of wickedness ; and by one in his situation, 
feeble (as it might seem) for the accomplishment of its humblest 
parts, how was the total edifice to be reared in its compre- 
hensive grandeur ? He, a worm as he was, could he venture to 
assail the mighty behemoth of Muscovy, the potentate who- 
counted three hundred languages around the footsteps of his 



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REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 875 

throne, and from whose " lion ramp " recoiled alike " baptized 
and infidel " — Christendom on the one side, strong by her in- 
. tellect and her organisation, and the " Barbaric East " on the 
other, with her unnumbered numbers ? The match was a mon- 
strous one ; but in its very monstrosity there lay this germ of 
encouragement^ that it could not be suspected. The very 
hopelessness of the scheme grounded his hope, and he resolved 
to execute a vengeance which should involve, as it were, in 
the unity of a well-kid tragic fable, all whom he judged 
to be his enemies. That vengeance lay in detaching from 
the Russian Empire the whole Kalmuck nation, and breaking 
up that system of intercourse which had thus far been 
beneficial to both. This last was a consideration which 
moved him but little. True it was, that Russia to the 
Kalmucks had secured lands and extensive pasturage ; true 
it was, that the Kalmucks reciprocally to Russia had furnished 
a powerful cavalry. But the latter loss would be part of his 
triumph, and the former might be more than compensated in 
other climates under other sovereigns. Here was a scheme 
which, in its final accomplishment, would avenge him bitterly 
on the Czarina, and in the course of its accomplishment 
might furnish him with ample occasions for removing his 
other enemies. It may be readily supposed, indeed, that he 
who could deliberately raise his eyes to the Russian autocrat 
as an antagonist in single duel with himself was not likely 
to feel much anxiety about Elalmuck enemies of whatever 
rank. He took his resolution, therefore, sternly and irre- 
vocably, to effect this astonishing translation of an ancient 
people across the pathless deserts of Central Asia, intersected 
continually by rapid rivers, rarely furnished with bridges, 
and of which the fords were known only to those who might 
think it for their interest to conceal them, through many 
nations inhospitable or hostile : frost and snow around them 
(from the necessity of commencing their flight in winter), 
famine in their front, and the sabre, or even the artillery of 
an offended and mighty empress, hanging upon their rear for 
thousands of miles. But what was to be their final mark — 
the port of shelter after so fearful a course of wandering ? 
Two things were evident : it must be some power at a great 
distance from Russia, so as to make return even in that view 



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376 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

hopeless ; and it must be a power of sufficient rank to insure 
them protection from any hostile efforts on the part of the 
Czarina for reclaiming them, or for chastising their revolt 
Both conditions were united obviously in the person of Kien 
Long, the reigning Emperor of China,^ who was further 
recommended to them by his respect for the head of their 
religion. To China, therefore, and, as their first rendezvous, 
to the shadow of the great Chinese Wall, it was settled by 
Zebek that they should direct their flight. 

Next came the question of time — when should the flight 
commence ? and, finally, the more delicate question as to the 
choice of accomplices. To extend the knowledge of the con- 
spiracy too far was to insure its betrayal to the Russian 
Gk)vernment Yet, at some stage of the preparations, it was 
evident that a very extensive confidence must be made, 
because in no other way could the mass of the Kalmuck 
population be persuaded to furnish their families with the 
requisite equipments for so long a migration. This critical 
step, however, it was resolved to defer up to the latest possible 
moment, and, at all events, to make no general communica- 
tion on the subject until the time of departure should be 
definitely settled. In the meantime, Zebek admitted only 
three persons to his confidence ; of whom Oubacha, the 
reigning prince, was almost necessarily one ; but him, from 
his yielding and somewhat feeble character, he viewed rather 
in the light of a tool than as one of his active accomplices. 
Those whom (if anybody) he admitted to an unreserved 
participation in his counsels were two only : the great Lama 
among the Kalmucks,^ and his own fj^ther-in-law, Erempel, 
a ruling prince of some tribe in the neighbourhood of the 
Caspian Sea, recommended to his favour not so much by 
any strength of talent corresponding to the occasion as by 
his blind devotion to himself, and his passionate anxiety to 
promote the elevation of his daughter and his son-in-law to 

^ Klen-long, Emperor of China from 1735 to 1796, was the fourth 
Chinese Emperor of the Mantchoo-Tartar dynasty, and a man of the 
highest reputation for ability and accomplishment. — M. 

* Lama is a Tibetan word for " spiritual lord " ; the clergy of the 
Tibetans and other Mongolians are called Lmnaa ; and their religion, 
which is a kind of Buddhism, is called Lamais^n. — M. 



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REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 877 

the throne of a sovereign prince. A titular prince Zebek 
already was : but this dignity, without the substantial ac- 
companiment of a sceptre, seemed but an empty sound to 
both of these ambitious rebels. The other accomplice, whose 
name was Loosan-Dchaltzan, and whose rank was that of 
Lama, or Kalmuck pontiff, was a person of far more dis- 
tinguished pretensions ; he had something of the same 
gloomy and terrific pride which marked the character of 
Zebek himself, manifesting also the same energy, accompanied 
by the same unfaltering cruelty, and a natural facility of 
dissimulation even more profound. It was by this man 
that the other question was settled, as to the time for giving 
effect to their designs. His own pontifical character had 
suggested to him that, in order to strengthen their influence 
with the vast mob of simple-minded men whom they were 
to lead into a howling wilderness, after persuading them to 
lay desolate their own ancient hearths, it was indispensable 
that they should be able, in cases of extremity, to plead the 
express sanction of Qod for their entire enterprise. This 
could only be done by addressing themselves to the great 
head of their religion, the Dalai-Lama of Tibet.^ Him they 
easily persuaded to countenance their schemes : and an oracle 
was delivered solemnly at Tibet, to the effect that no ultimate 
prosperity would attend this great Exodus unless it were 
pursued through the years of the tiger and the hao'e. Now, 
the Kalmuck custom is to distinguish their years by attach- 
ing to each a denomination taken from one of twelve 
animals, the exact order of succession being absolutely fixed, 
so that the cycle revolves of course through a period of a 
dozen year& Consequently, if the approaching year of the 
tiger were suffered to escape them, in that case the expedition 
must be delayed for twelve years more ; within which period, 
even were no other unfavourable changes to arise, it was 
pretty well foreseen that the Russian Government would 
take the most effectual means for bridling their vagrant pro- 
pensities by a ring-fence of forts or military posts ; to say 
nothing of the still readier plan for securing their fidelity (a 

1 There are nomiually two Popes of the Lamaist religion ; but the 
really supreme Pope is the Dalai-Lamaj i.e. " Ocean Priest," residing 
at Potala, near Lassa, in Tibet. — M. 



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878 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

plan already talked of in all quarters) by exacting a large 
body of hostages selected from the families of the most 
influential nobles. On these cogent considerations, it was 
solemnly determined that this terrific experiment should be 
made in the next year of the tiger, which happened to fall 
upon the Christian year 1771. With respect to the month, 
there was, unhappily for the Kalmucks, even less latitude 
allowed to their choice than with respect to the year. It 
was absolutely necessary, or it was thought so, that the 
different divisions of the nation which pastured their flocks 
on both banks of the Wolga should have the means of 
effecting an instantaneous junction ; because the danger of 
being intercepted by flying colunms of the imperial armies 
was precisely the greatest at the outset Now, from the 
want of bridges, or sufficient river craft for transporting so 
vast a body of men, the sole means which could be depended 
upon (especially where so many women, children, and camels 
were concerned) was ice : and this, in a state of sufficient 
firmness, could not be absolutely counted upon before the 
month of January. Hence it happened that this astonish- 
ing Exodus of a whole nation, before so much as a whisper of 
the design had begun to circulate amongst those whom it 
most interested, before it was even suspected that any man's 
wishes pointed in that direction, had been definitely appointed 
for January of the year 1771. And almost up to the Christ- 
mas of 1770 the poor simple Kalmuck herdsmen and their 
families were going nightly to their peaceful beds, without 
even dreaming that the fi(U had already gone forth from 
their rulers which consigned those quiet abodes, together 
with the peace and comfort which reigned within them, to a 
withering desolation, now close at hand. 

Meantime war raged on a great scale between Russia and 
the Sultan ; ^ and, until the time arrived for throwing off 
their vassalage, it was necessary that Oubacha should con- 
tribute his usual contingent of martial aid. Nay, it had 
unfortunately become prudent that he should contribute 
much more than his usual aid. Human experience gives 
ample evidence that in some mysterious and unaccountable 

1 The war was begun in 1768, when Mustapha III was Sultan of 
Turkey ; and it was continued till 1774. — M. 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 379 

way no great design is ever agitated, no matter how few or 
how faithful may be the participators, but that some pre- 
sentiment — some dim misgiving — ^is kindled amongst those 
whom it is chiefly important to blind. And, however it 
might have happened, certain it is that already, when as yet 
no syllable of the conspiracy had been breathed to any man 
whose very existence was not staked upon its concealment, 
nevertheless, some vague and imeasy jealousy had arisen in 
the Eussian Cabinet as to the future schemes of the Kalmuck 
Khan : and very probable it is that, but for the war then 
raging, and the consequent prudence of conciliating a very 
important vassal, or, at least, of abstaining from what would 
powerfully alienate him, even at that moment such measures 
would have been adopted as must for ever have intercepted 
the Kalmuck schemea Slight as were the jealousies of the 
Imperial Courts they had not escaped the Machiavelian eyes 
of Zebek and the Lama. And imder their guidance Oubacha, 
bending to the circumstances of the moment, and meeting 
the jealousy of the Eussian Court with a policy corresponding 
to their own, strove by unusual zeal to efface the Czarina's 
unfavourable impressions. He enlarged the scale of his con- 
tributions, and diat so prodigiously that he absolutely carried 
to head-quarters a force of 35,000 cavalry fully equipped : 
some go further, and rate the amount beyond 40,000 ; but 
the smaller estimate is, at all events, witMn the truth. 

With this magnificent array of cavalry, heavy as well as 
light) the E^han went into the field imder great expectations ; 
and these he more than realised. Having the good fortune 
to be concerned with so ill-organised and disorderly a descrip- 
tion of force as that which at all times composed the bulk of 
a Turkish army, he carried victory along with his banners ; 
gained many partial successes ; and at last, in a pitched battle, 
overthrew the Turkish force opposed to him with a loss oi 
6000 men left upon the field.^ 

These splendid achievements seemed likely to operate in 
various ways against the impending revolt Oubacha had 
now a strong motive, in the martial glory acquired, for con- 
tinuing his connexion with the empire in whose service he 

^ It will be difficult, I think, to find record, in the history of the 
Rus8o-Turkish war begun in 1768, of any battle answering to this. — M. 



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380 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

had won it, and by whom only it could be fully appreciated. 
He was now a great marshal of a great empire, one of the 
Paladins around the imperial throne ; in China he would be 
nobody, or (worse than that) a mendicant alien, prostrate at 
the feet, and soliciting the precarious alms, of a prince with 
whom he had no connexion. Besides, it might reasonably 
be expected that the Czarina, grateful for the really efficient 
aid given by the Tartar prince, would confer upon him such 
eminent rewards as might be sufficient to anchor his hopes 
upon Russia, and to wean him from every possible seduction. 
These were the obvious suggestions of prudence and good 
sense to every man who stood neutral in the case. But they 
were disappointed. The Czarina knew her obligations to the 
Khan, but she did not acknowledge them. Wherefore ? 
That is a mystery, perhaps never to be explained. So it 
was, however. Tlie Elhan went unhonoured ; no vhiie ever 
proclaimed his merits ; and perhaps, had he even been 
abundantly recompensed by Russia, there were others who 
would have defeated these tendencies to reconciliation. 
Erempel, Zebek, and Loosang the Lama, were pledged life- 
deep to prevent any accommodation ; and their efforts were 
unfortunately seconded by those of their deadliest enemies. 
In tlie Russian Court there were at that time some great 
nobles preoccupied with feelings of hatred and blind malice 
towards the Kalmucks, quite as strong as any which the 
Kalmucks could harbour towards Russia, and not, perhaps, 
so well founded. Just as much as the Kalmucks hated the 
Russian yoke, their galling assumption of authority, the 
marked air of disdain, as towards a nation of ugly, 
stupid, and filthy barbarians, which too generally marked 
the Russian bearing and language, but, above all, the 
insolent contempt, or even outrages, which the Russian 
governors or great military commandants tolerated in their 
followers towards the barbarous religion and superstitious 
mummeries of the Kalmuck priesthood — precisely in that 
extent did the ferocity of the Russian resentment, and their 
wrath at seeing the trampled worm turn or attempt a feeble 
retaliation, react upon the unfortunate Kalmuck& At this 
crisis, it is probable that envy and wounded pride, upon 
witnessing the splendid victories of Oubacha and Momot- 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 381 

bacha over the Turks and Baahkira, contributed strength to 
the Russian irritatiou. And it must have been through the 
intrigues of those nobles about her person who chiefly smarted 
under these feelings that the Czarina could ever have lent 
herself to the unwise and ungrateful policy pursued at this 
critical period towards the Kalmuck Khan. That Czarina 
was no longer Elizabeth Petrowna ; it was Catherine II ^ — a 
princess who did not often err so injuriously (injuriously for 
herself as much as for others) in the measures of her govern- 
ment. She had soon ample reason for repenting of her false 
policy. Meantime, how much it must have co-operated with 
the other motives previously acting upon Oubacha in sustain- 
ing his determination to revolt, and how powerfully it must 
have assisted the effort» of all the Tartar chieftains in pre- 
paring the minds of their people to feel the necessity of this 
difl&cult enterprise, by arming their pride and their suspicions 
against the Russian Government, through the keenness of 
their sympathy with the wrongs of their insulted prince, 
may be readily imagined. It is a fact, and it has been 
confessed by candid Russians themselves, when treating of 
this great dismemberment^ that the conduct of the Russian 
Cabinet throughout the period of suspense and during the 
crisis of hesitation in the Kalmuck Council was exactly such 
as was most desirable for the purposes of the conspirators ; 
it was such, in fact, as to set the seal to all their machina- 
tions, by supplying distinct evidences and official vouchers 
for what could otherwise have been, at the most, matters of 
doubtful suspicion and indirect presumption. 

Nevertheless, in the face of all these arguments, and even 
allowing their weight so far as not at all to deny the injustice 
or the impolicy of the imperial ministers, it is contended by 
many persons who have reviewed the affair with a command 
of all the documents bearing on the case, more especially the 
letters or minutes of council subsequently discovered in the 
handwriting of Zebek-Dorchi, and the important evidence of 

^ Elizabeth had been succeeded in 1762 by her nephew Peter III, 
who had reigned but a few months when he was dethroned by a con- 
spiracy of Russian nobles headed by his German wife Catherine. She 
became Empress in his stead, and reigned ft*om 1762 to 1796 as 
Catherine II. -^M. 



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382 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

the Russian captive Weseloff, who was carried off by the 
Kalmucks in their flight, that beyond all doubt Oubacha 
was powerless for any purpose of impeding or even of delay- 
ing the revolt. He himself, indeed, was under religious 
obligations of the most terrific solemnity never to flinch 
from the enterprise, or even to slacken in his zeal : for 
Zebek-Dorchi, distrusting the firmness of his resolution under 
any unusual pressure of alarm or difficulty, had, in the very 
earliest stage of the conspiracy, availed himself of the Khan's 
well-known superstition to engage him, by means of previous 
concert with the priests and their head the Lama, in some 
dark and mysterious rites of consecration, terminating in 
oaths under such terrific sanctions as no Kalmuck would 
have courage to violate. As far, therefore, as regarded the 
personal share of the Khan in what was to come, Zebek was 
entirely at his ease ; he knew him to be so deeply pledged 
by religious terrors to the prosecution of the conspiracy that 
no honours within the Czarina's gift could have possibly 
shaken his adhesion : and then, as to threats from the same 
quarter, he knew him to be sealed against those fears by 
others of a gloomier character, and better adapted to his 
peculiar temperament. For Oubacha was a brave man as 
respected all bodily enemies or the dangers of human warfare, 
but was as sensitive and as timid as the most superstitious of 
old women in facing the frowns of a priest, or under the 
vague anticipations of ghostly retributions. But^ had it 
been otherwise, and had there been any reason to apprehend 
an unsteady demeanour on the part of this prince at the 
approach of the critical moment, such were the changes 
already effected in the state of their domestic politics amongst 
the Tartars, by the undermining arts of Zebek-Dorchi and 
his ally the Lama, that very little importance would have 
attached to that doubt. AH power was now effectually 
lodged in the hands of Zebek-Dorchi. He was the true and 
absolute wielder of the Kalmuck sceptre ; all measures of 
importance were submitted to his discretion ; and nothing 
was finally resolved but under his dictation. This result he 
had brought about, in a year or two, by means sufficiently 
simple : first of all, by availing himself of the prejudice in 
his favour, so largely diffused amongst the lowest of the 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 383 

Kalmucks, that his own title to the throne, in quality of 
great-grandson in a direct line from Ajouka, the most 
illustrious of all the Kalmuck Khans,^ stood upon a better 
basis than that of Oubacha, who derived from a collateral 
branch ; secondly, with respect to that sole advantage which 
Oubacha possessed above himself in the ratification of his 
title, by improving this difference between their situations 
to the disadvantage of his competitor, as one who had not 
scrupled to accept that triumph from an alien power at the 
price of his independence which he himself (as he would 
have it understood) disdained to court ; thirdly, by his own 
talents and address, coupled with the ferocious energy of his 
moral character ; fourthly — and perhaps in an equal degree 
— ^by the criminal facility and good - nature of Oubacha ; 
finally (which is remarkable enough, as illustrating the 
character of the man), by that very new modelling of the 
Sarga or Privy Council ^ich he had used as a principal 
topic of abuse and malicious insinuation against the Eussian 
Government, whilst, in reaUty, he first had suggested the 
alteration to the Empress, and he chiefly appropriated the 
political advantages which it was fitted to yield. For, as he 
was himself appointed the chief of the Sargatchi, and as the 
pensions to the inferior Sargatchi passed through his hands, 
whilst in effect they owed their appointments to his nomina- 
tion, it may be easily supposed thatj whatever power existed 
in the state capable^of controlling the Khan being held by 
the Sarga under its new organisation, and this body being 
completely under his influence, the final result was to throw 
all the functions of the state, whether nominally in the prince 
or in the council, substantially into the hands of this one 
man ; whilst, at the same time, from the strict league which 
he maintained with the Lama, all the thunders of the spiritual 
power were always ready to come in aid of the magistrate, or 
to supply his incapacity in cases which he could not reach. 

But the time was now rapidly approaching for the mighty 
experiment. The day was drawing near on which the signal 
was to be given for raising the standard of revolt, and by a 
combined movement on both sides of the Wolga for spreading 

^ See appended Editorial Note. — M. 



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884 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

the smoke of one vast conflagration, that should wrap in a 
common blaze their own huts and the stately cities of their 
enemfes, over the breadth and length of those great provinces 
in which their flocks were dispersed. The year of the Uger 
was now within one little month of its commencement ; ^e 
fifth morning of that year was fixed for the fatal day when ' 
the fortunes and happiness of a whole nation were to be put 
upon the hazard of a dicer's throw ; and as yet that nation 
was in profound ignorance of the whole plan. The Khan, 
such was the kindness of his nature, could not bring himself 
to make the revelation so urgently required. It was clear, 
however, that this could not be delayed ; and Zebek-Dorchi 
took the task willingly upon himself. But where or how 
should this notification be made, so as to exclude Eussian 
hearers 1 After some deliberation, the following plan was 
adopted : — Couriers, it was contrived, should arrive in 
furious haste, one upon the heels of another, reporting a 
sudden inroad of the Eirghises and Bashkirs upon the 
Kalmuck lands, at a point distant about 120 miles. Thither 
all the Kalmuck families, according to immemorial custom, 
were required to send a separate representative ; and there 
accordingly, within three days, all appeared. The distance, 
the solitary ground appointed for the rendezvous, the 
rapidity of the march, all tended to make it almost certain 
that no Russian could be present. Zebek-Dorchi then came 
forward. He did not waste many words upon rhetoric. He 
unfurled an immense sheet of parchment, visible from the 
uttermost distance at which any of this vast crowd could 
stand ; the total number amounted to 80,000 ; all saw, and 
many heard. They were told of the oppressions of Russia ; 
of her pride and haughty disdain evidenced towards them by 
a thousand acts ; of her contempt for their religion ; of her 
determination to reduce them to absolute slavery; of the 
preliminary measures she had already taken by erecting 
forts upon many of the great rivers in their neighbourhood ; 
of the ulterior intentions she thus announced to circumscribe 
their pastoral lands, until they would all be obliged to 
renounce their flocks, and to collect in towns like Sarepta, 
there to pursue mechanical and servile trades of shoemaker, 
tailor, and weaver, such as the free-bom Tartar had always 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 886 

disdained. "Then, again," said the subtle prince, "she 
increases her military levies upon our population every year ; 
we pour out our blood as young men in her defence, or more 
oft^ in support of her insolent aggressions ; and, as old men, 
we reap nothing from our suffering?, nor benefit by our 
survivorship where so many are sacrificed.'' At this point of 
his harangue, Zebek produced several papers (forged, as it is 
generally believed, by himself and the Lama), containing 
projects of the Russian court for a general transfer of the 
eldest sons, taken m masse from the greatest Kalmuck fami- 
lies, to the imperial court " Now let this be once accom- 
plished," he argued, "and there is an end of all useful 
resistance from that day forwards. Petitions we might 
make, or even remonstrances ; as men of words we might 
play a bold part ; but for deeds, for that sort of language 
by which our ancestors were used to speak — holdiug us by 
such a chain, Russia would make a jest of our wishes, know- 
ing full well that we should not dare to make any effectual 
movement." 

Having thus sufficiently roused the angry passions of his 
vast audience, and having alarmed their fears by this pre- 
tended scheme against their first-bom (an artifice which was 
indispensable to his purpose, because it met beforehand every 
form of amendment to his proposal coming from the more 
moderate nobles, who would not otherwise have failed to 
insist upon trying the effect of bold addresses to the Empress 
before resorting to any desperate extremity), 2iebek-Dorchi 
opened his scheme of revolt, and, if so, of instant revolt ; 
since any preparations reported at St Petersburg would be a 
signal for the armies of Russia to cross into such positions from 
all parts of Asia as would effectually intercept their march. 
It is remarkable, however, that, with all his audacity and his 
reliance upon the momentary excitement of the Kalmucks, 
the subtle prince did not venture, at this stage of his seduc- 
tion, to make so startling a proposal as that of a flight to 
China. All that he held out for the present was a rapid 
march to the Temba or some other great river, which they 
were to cross, and to take up a strong position on the feurther 
bank, from which, as from a post of conscious security, they 
could hold a bolder language to the Czarina, and one which 
VOL. vii 2 c 



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386 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

would haye a better cliance of winaing a favourable 
audience. 

These things, in the irritated condition of the simple 
Tartars, passed by acclamation ; and all returned homewards 
to push forward with the most furious speed the preparations 
for their awful undertaking. Kapid and energetic these of 
necessity were ; and in that degree they became noticeable 
and manifest to the Eussians who happened to be intermingled 
with the different hordes, either on commercial errands, or as 
agents officially from the Russian Qovemment, some in a 
financial, others in a diplomatic character. 

Amongst these last (indeed at the head of them) was a 
Russian of some distinction, by name Kichinskoi, a man 
memorable for his vanity, and memorable also as one of the 
many victims to the Tartar revolution. This Kichinskoi 
had been sent by the Empress as her envoy to overlook the 
conduct of the Kalmucks ; he was styled the Grand Pristaw, 
or Great Commissioner, and was universally known amongst 
the Tartar tribes by this title. His mixed character of 
ambassador and of political sturveiUant, combined with the 
dependent state of the Kalmucks, gave him a real weight in 
the Tartar councils, and might have given him a far greater, 
had not his outrageous self-conceit, and his arrogant confi- 
dence in his own authority as due chiefly to his personal 
qualities for command, led him into such harsh displays of 
power, and menaces so odious to the Tartar pride, as very 
soon made him an object of their profoundest malice. He 
had publicly insulted the Khan ; and, upon making a com- 
munication to him to the effect that some reports began to 
circulate, and even to reach the Empress, of a design in 
agitation to fly from the imperial dominions, he had ven- 
tured to say, " But this you dare not attempt ; I laugh at 
such rumours ; yes, Khan, I laugh at them to the Empress ; 
for you are a chained bear, and that you know." The Khan 
turned away on his heel with marked disdain; and the 
Pristaw, foaming at the mouth, continued to utter, amongst 
those of the Khan's attendants who staid behind to catch his 
real sentiments in a moment of unguarded passion, all that 
the blindest frenzy of rage could suggest to the most pre- 
sumptuous of fools. It was now ascertained that suspicions 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 887 

had arisen ; but at the same time it was ascertained that the 
Pristaw spoke no more than the truth in representing himself 
to have discredited these suspicions. The fact was that the 
mere infatuation of vanity made him believe that nothing 
could go on undetected by his all-piercing sagacity, and that 
no rebellion could prosper when rebuked by his commanding 
presence. The Tartars, therefore, pursued their preparations, 
confiding in the obstinate blindness of the Grand Pristaw 
as in their perfect safeguard ; and such it proved — ^to his 
own ruin as well as that of myriads beside. 

Christmas arrived ; and, a little before that time, courier 
upon courier came dropping in, one upon the very heels of 
another, to St Petersburg, assuring the Czarina that beyond 
all doubt the Kalmucks were in the very crisis of departure. 
These despatches came &om the Governor of Astrachan, and 
copies were instantly forwarded to Kichinskoi. Now, it 
happened that between this governor — a Kussian named 
Beketoff — and the Pristaw had been an ancient feud. The 
very name of Beketoff inflamed his resentment ; and no 
sooner did he see that hated name attached to the despatch 
than he felt himself confirmed in his former views with ten- 
fold bigotry, and wrote instantly, in terms of the most pointed 
ridicule, against the new alarmist, pledging his own head 
upon the visionariness of his alarms. Beketoff, however, 
was not to be put down by a few hard words, or by ridicule : 
he persisted in his statements ; the Eussian ministry were 
confounded by the obstinacy of the disputants ; and some 
were beginning even to treat the Governor of Astrachan as a 
bore, and as the dupe of his own nervous terrors, when the 
memorable day arrived, the fatal 5th of January, which for 
ever terminated the dispute, and put a seal upon the earthly 
hopes and fortunes of unnumbered myriads. The Governor 
of Astrachan was the first to hear the news. Stung by the 
mixed furies of jealousy, of triumphant vengeance, and of 
anxious ambition, he sprang into his sledge, and, at the rate 
of 300 miles a-day, pursued his route to St. Petersburg — 
rushed into the Imperial presence — announced the total 
realisation of his worst predictions ; and, upon the confirma- 
tion of this intelligence by subsequent despatches from many 
different posts on the Wolga, he received an imperial corn- 



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888 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

mission to seize the person of his deluded enemy, and to 
keep him in strict captivity. These orders were eagetly 
fulfilled ; and the unfortunate Kichinskoi soon afterwards 
expired of grief and mortification in the gloomy solitude of a 
dungeon — a victim to his own immeasurable vanity, and the 
blinding self-delusions of a presumption that refused all 
warning. 

The Governor of Astrachan had been but too faithful a 
prophet. Perhaps even ke was surprised at the suddenness 
with which the verification followed his reports. Precisely 
on the 5th of January, the day so solemnly appointed under 
religious sanctions by the Lama, the Kalmucks on the east 
bank of the Wolga were seen at the earliest dawn of day 
assembling by troops and squadrons, and in the tumultuous 
movement of some great morning of battle. Tens of thou- 
sands continued moving oflf the ground at every half-hour's 
interval. Women and children, to the amount of two 
hundred thousand and upwards, were placed upon waggons, 
or upon camels, and drew off by masses of twenty thousand 
at once — placed under suitable escorts, and continually 
swelled in numbers by other outlying bodies of the horde, 
who kept falling in at various distances upon the first and 
second day's march. From sixty to eighty thousand of 
those who were the best mounted staid behind the rest of the 
tribes, with purposes of devastation and plunder more violent 
than prudence justified, or the amiable character of the Khan 
could be supposed' to approve. But in this, as in other 
instances, he was completely overruled by the malignant 
counsels of Zebek-Dorcld. The first tempest of the desolating 
fury of the Tartars discharged itself upon their own habita- 
tions. But this, as cutting off all infirm looking backward 
from the hardships of their march, had been thought so 
necessary a measure by aU the chieftains that even Oubacha 
himself was the first to authorise the act by his own 
example. He seized a torch previously prepared with 
materials the most durable as well as combustible, and 
steadily applied it to the timbers of his own palace. 
Nothing was saved from the general wreck except the 
portable part of the domestic utensils, and that part of the 
wood-work which could be applied to the manufacture of the^ 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 889 

long Tartar lances. This chapter in their memorable day's 
work being finished, and the whole of their villages through- 
out a district of ten thousand square miles in one simul- 
taneous blaze, the Tartars waited for further orders. 

These, it was intended, should have taken a character of 
valedictory vengeance, and thus have left behind to the 
Czarina a dreadful commentary upon the main motives of 
their flight. It was the purpose of Zebek-Dorchi that all the 
Russian towns, churches, and buildings of every description, 
should be given up to pillage and destruction, and such treat- 
ment applied to the defenceless inhabitants as might naturally 
be expected from a fierce people already infuriated by the 
spectacle of their own outrages, and by the bloody retalia- 
tions which they must necessarily have provoked. This part 
of the tragedy, however, was happily intercepted by a provi- 
dential disappointment at the very crisis of departure. It 
has been mentioned already that the motive for selecting the 
depth of winter as the season of flight (which otherwise was 
obviously the very worst possible) had been the impossibility 
of effecting a junction sufficiently rapid with the tribes on the 
west of the Wolga, in the absence of bridges, unless by a 
natural bridge of ice. For this one advantage, the Kalmuck 
leaders had consented to aggravate by a thousandfold the 
calamities inevitable to a rapid flight over boundless tracts 
of country, with women, children, and herds of cattle — ^for 
this one single advantage ; and yet, after all, it was lost. 
The reason never has been explained satisfactorily, but the 
fact was such. Some have said that the signals were not 
properly concerted for marking the moment of absolute 
departure — that is, for signifying whether the settled inten- 
tion of the Eastern Kalmucks might not have been suddenly 
interrupted by adverse intelligence. Others have supposed 
that the ice might not be equally strong on both sides of the 
river, and might even be generally insecure for the treading 
of heavy and heavily-laden animals such as camels. But the 
prevailijig notion is that some accidental movements on the 3d 
and 4th of January of Russian troops in the neighbourhood of the 
Western Kalmucks, though really having no reference to them 
or their plans, had been construed into certain signs that all 
was discovered ; and that the prudence of the Western chief- 



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390 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

tains, who, from situation, had never been exposed to those 
intrigues by which Zebek-Dorchi had practised upon the 
pride of the Eastern tribes, now stepped in to save their 
people from ruin. Be the cause what it might, it is certain 
that the Western Kalmucks were in some way prevented 
from forming the intended junction with their brethren of 
the opposite bank; and the result was that at least one 
hundred thousand of these Tartars were left behind in Russia. 
This accident it was which saved their Eossian neighbours 
universally from the desolation which else awaited them. 
One genewd massacre and conflagration would assuredly have 
surprised them, to the utter extermination of their property, 
their houses, and themselves, had it not been for this dis- 
appointment But the Eastern chieftains did not dare to put 
to hazard the safety of their brethren under the first impulse 
of the Czarina's vengeance for so dreadful a tragedy ; for, as 
they were well aware of too many circumstances by which 
she might discover the concurrence of the Western people in 
the general scheme of revolt, they justly feared that she 
would thence infer their concurrence also in the bloody 
events which marked its outset 

Little did the Western Kalmucks guess what reasons they 
also had for gratitude on account of an interposition so unex- 
pected, and which at the moment they so generally deplored. 
Could they but have witnessed the thousandth part of the 
sufferings which overtook their Eastern brethren in the first 
month of their sad flight, they would have blessed Heaven 
for their own narrow escape ; and yet these sufferings of the 
first month were but a prelude or foretaste comparatively 
slight of those which afterwards succeeded. 

For now began to unroll the most awful series of calami- 
ties, and the most extensive, which is anywhere recorded to 
have visited the sons and daughters of men. It is possible 
that the sudden inroads of destroying nations, such as the 
Huns, or the Avars, or the Mongol Tartars,^ may have in- 

^ The inroads of the JSwis into Europe extended from the third 
century into the fifth ; those of the Avars from the sixth century to 
the eighth or ninth ; the first great conquests of the M<mgol Tcurtars 
were by Genghis-Khan, the founder of a Mongol empire which stretched, 
in the beginning of the thirteenth century, from China to Poland. — M. 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 891 

flicted misery as extensive ; but there the misery and the 
desolation would be sudden, like the flight of volleying 
lightning. Those who were spared at first would generally 
be spared to the end ; those who perished at all would perish 
at once. It is possible that the French retreat from Moscow 
may have made some nearer approach to this calamity in 
duration, though still a feeble and miniature approach ; for 
the French sufferings did not commence in good earnest until 
about one month from the time of leaving Moscow ^ ; and, 
though it is true that afterwards the vials of wrath were 
emptied upon the devoted army for six or seven weeks in 
succession, yet what is that to this Kalmuck tragedy, which 
lasted for more than as many months ? But the main 
feature of horror by which the Tartar march was distin- 
guished from the French lies in the accompaniment of 
women ^ and children. There were both, it is true, with the 
French army, but not so many as to bear any marked pro- 
portion to the total numbers concerned. The French, in 
short, were merely an army — a host of professional destroyers, 
whose regular trade was bloodshed, and whose regular 
element was danger and suffering. But the Tartars were a 
nation carrying along with them more than two hundred and 
fifty thousand women and children, utterly unequal, for the 
most part, to any contest with the calamities before them. 
The Children of Israel were in the same circumstances as to 
the accompaniment of their families ; but they were released 
from the pursuit of their enemies in a very early stage of 
their flight ; and their subsequent residence in the Desert 
was not a march, but a continued halt, and under a continued 
interposition of Heaven for their comfortable support 

^ Napoleon's retreat from Moscow began on the 19th of October 
1812, when his army consisted of 120,000 men. At Smolensk, on 
the 14th of November, he had about 40,000 fighting meiileft ; and he 
crossed the Beresina on the 27th of that month with no more than 
26,000.— M. 

^ Singular it is, and not generally known, that Grecian women 
accompanied the anabasis of the younger Gyrus and the subsequent 
Retreat of the Ten Thousand. Xenophon affirms that there were 
**many" women in the Greek army — iroXXai 1j<rap frai/xu iy rtp 
<rTpaT€i5fmTi; and in a late stage of that trying expedition it is 
evident that wonaen were amongst the survivors. 



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392 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

Earthquakes, again, however comprehensive in their ravages, 
are shocks of a moment's duration. A much nearer approach 
made to the wide range and the long duration of the Kal- 
muck tragedy may have been in a pestilence such as that 
which visited Athens in the Peloponnesian War, or London 
in the reign of Charles II. There also the martyrs were 
counted by myriads, and the period of the desolation was 
counted by months. But^ after all, the total amount of 
destruction was on a smaller scale ; and there was this feature 
of alleviation to the conscwus pressure of the calamity — that 
the misery was withdrawn from public notice into private 
chambers and hospitals. The siege of Jerusalem by Ves- 
pasian and his son, taken in its entire circumstances, comes 
nearest of all — for breadth and depth of suffering, for dura- 
tion, for the exasperation of the suffering from without by 
internal feuds, and, finally, for that last most appalling ex- 
pression of the furnace-heat of the anguish in its power to 
extinguish the natural affections even of maternal love. But, 
after all, each case had circumstances of romantic misery 
peculiar to itself — circumstances without precedent, and 
(wherever human nature is ennobled by Christianity), it may 
be confidently hoped, never to be repeated. 

The first point to be reached, before any hope of repose 
could be encouraged, was the river Jaik. This was not 
above 300 miles from the main point of departure on the 
Wolga ; and, if the march thither was to be a forced one, and 
a severe one, it was alleged, on the other hand, that the 
suffering would be the more brief and transient ; one sum- 
mary exertion, not to be repeated, and all was achieved. 
Forced the march was, and severe beyond example : there 
the forewarning proved correct ; but the promised rest proved 
a mere phantom of the wilderness — a visionary rainbow, 
which fled before their hope-sick eyes, across tiiese inter- 
minable solitudes, for seven months of hardship and calamity, 
without a pause. These sufferings, by their very nature, and 
the circumstances under which they arose, were (like the 
scenery of the steppes) somewhat monotonous in their colour- 
ing and external features ; what variety, however, there was 
will be most naturally exhibited by tracing historically the 
successive stages of the general misery, exactly as it unfolded 



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REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 393 

itself under the double agency of weakness still increasing 
from within and hostile pressure from without Viewed in 
this manner, under the real order of development, it is 
remarkable tiiat these sufferings of the Tartars, though under 
the moulding hands of accident, arrange themselves almost 
with a scenical propriety. They seem combined as with the 
skill of an artist ; the intensity of the misery advancing 
regularly with the advances of the march, and the stages of 
the calamity corresponding to the stages of the route ; so that, 
upon raising the curtain which veils the great catastrophe, we 
behold one vast climax of anguish, towering upwards by 
regular gradations, as if constructed artificially for picturesque 
effect — a result which might not have been surprising had it 
been reasonable to anticipate the same rate of speed, and even 
an accelerated rate, as prevailing through the later stages of 
the expedition. But it seemed, on the contrary, most reason- 
able to calculate upon a continual decrement in the rate of 
motion according to the increasing distance from the head- 
quarters of the pursuing enemy. This calculation, however, 
was defeated by the extraordinary circumstance that the 
Bussian armies did not begin to close in very fiercely upon 
the Kalmucks until after they had accomplished a distance 
of full 2000 miles : 1000 miles farther on the assaults be- 
came even more tumultuous and murderous : and already the 
great shadows of the Chinese Wall were dimly descried when 
the frenzy and <icha/me7nent of the pursuers, and the bloody 
desperation of the miserable fugitives, had reached its utter- 
most extremity. Let us briefly rehearse the main stages of 
the misery, •and trace the ascending steps of the tragedy, 
according to the great divisions of the route marked out by 
the central rivers of Asia. •« 

The first stage, we have already said, was from the Wolga 
to the Jaik ; the distance about 300 miles ; the time allowed 
seven days. For the first week, therefore, the rate of march- 
ing averaged about 43 English miles a-day. The weather 
was cold, but bracing ; and, at a more moderate pace, this part 
of the journey might have been accomplished without much 
distress by a people as hardy as the Kalmucks : as it was, 
the cattle suffered greatly from over-driving ; milk began to 
fail even for the children ; the sheep perished by wholesale ; 



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394 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

and the children themselves were saved only by the innumer- 
able camels. 

The Cossacks, who dwelt upon the banks of the Jaik, were 
the first among the subjects of Russia to come into collision 
with the Kalmucks. Great was their surprise at the sudden- 
ness of the irruption, and great also their consternation ; for, 
according to their settled custom, by far the greater part of 
their number was absent during the winter months at the 
fisheries upon the Caspian. Some who were liable to surprise 
at the most exposed points fled in crowds to the fortress of 
Koulagina, which was immediately invested and summoned 
by Oubacha. He had, however, in his train only a few light 
pieces of artillery ; and the Russian commandant at Koula- 
gina, being aware of the hurried circumstances in which the 
Khan was placed, and that he stood upon the very edge, as 
it were, of a renewed flight, felt encouraged by these con- 
siderations to a more obstinate resistance than might else 
have been advisable, with an enemy so little disposed to 
observe the usages of civilised warfare. The period of his 
anxiety was not long : on the fifth day of the siege he 
descried from the walls a succession of Tartar couriers, 
mounted upon fleet Bactrian camels, crossing the vast plains 
around the fortress at a furious pace, and riding into the 
Kalmuck encampment at various points. Great agitation 
appeared immediately to follow : orders were soon after 
despatched in all directions : and it became speedily known 
that upon a distant flank of the Kalmuck movement a bloody 
and exterminating battle had been fought the day before, in 
which one entire tribe of the Khan's dependants, numbering 
not less than 9000 fighting men, had perished to the last 
man. This was the otUoss, or clan, called Feka-Zechorr, 
between whom and the Cossacks there was a feud of ancient 
standing. In selecting, therefore, the points of attack, on 
occasion of the present hasty inroad, the Cossack chiefs were 
naturally eager so to direct their efforts as to combine with 
the service of the Empress some gratification to their own 
party hatreds : more especially as the present was likely to 
be their final opportunity for revenge, if the Kalmuck evasion 
should prosper. Having, therefore, concentrated as large a 
body of Cossack cavalry as circumstances allowed, they attacked 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 895 

the hostile ouloss with a precipitation which denied to it all 
means for communicating with Oubacha ; for the necessity 
of commanding an ample range of pasturage, to meet the 
necessities of their vast flocks and herds, had separated this 
otbloss from the Khan's head-quarters by an interval of 80 
miles ; and thus it was^ and not from oversight^ that it came 
to be thrown entirely upon its own resources. These had 
proved insufficient : retreat, from the exhausted state of their 
horses and camels, no less than from the prodigious encum- 
brances of their live stock, was absolutely out of lie question : 
quarter was disdained on the one side, and would not have 
been granted on the other : and thus it had happened that 
the setting sun of that one day (the thirteenth from the first 
opening of the revolt) threw his parting rays upon the final 
agonies of an ancient otUoss, stretched upon a bloody field, 
who on that day's dawning had held and styled themselves 
an independent nation. 

Universal consternation was diffused through the wide 
borders of the Khan's encampment by this disastrous intelli- 
gence ; not so much on account of the numbers slain, or the 
total extinction of a powerful ally, as because the position of 
the Cossack force was likely to put to hazard the future 
advances of the Kalmucks, or at least to retard and hold 
them in check until the heavier columns of the Russian army 
should arrive upon their flanks. The siege of Koulagina 
was instantly raised ; and that signal, so fatal to the happi- 
ness of the women and their children, once again resounded 
through the tents — the signal for flight, and this time for a 
flight more rapid than ever. About 160 miles ahead of their 
present position, there arose a tract of hilly country, forming 
a sort of margin to the vast sea-like expanse of champaign 
savannahs, steppes, and occasionally of sandy deserts, which 
stretched away on each side of this margin both eastwards 
and westwards. Pretty nearly in the centre of this hilly 
range lay a narrow deflle, through which passed the nearest 
and the most practicable route to the river Torgai (the fsurther 
bank of which river offered the next great station of security 
for a general halt). It was the more essential to gain this 
pass before the Cossacks, inasmuch as not only would the 
delay in forcing the pass give time to the Russian pursuing 



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896 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

columns for combining their attacks, and for bringing up 
their artillery, but also because (even if all enemies in pursuit 
were thrown out of the question) it was held by those beat 
acquainted with the difficult and obscure geography of these 
pathless steppes — that the loss of this one narraw strait 
amongst the hills would have the effect of throwing them (as 
their only alternative in a case where so wide a sweep of 
pasturage was required) upon a circuit of at least 500 miles 
extra ; besides that, after cdl, this circuitous route would carry 
them to the Torgai at a point ill fitted for the passage of 
their heavy baggage. The defile in the hills, therefore, it 
was resolved to gain ; and yet, unless they moved upon it 
with the velocity of light cavalry, there was little chance but 
it would be found preoccupied by the Cossacks. They also, 
it is true, had suffered greatly in the bloody action with the 
defeated otUoss ; but the excitement of victory, and the intense 
sympathy with their unexampled triumph, had again swelled 
their ranks, and would probably act with the force of a vortex 
to draw in their simple countrymen from the Caspian. The 
question, therefore, of preoccupation was reduced to a race. 
The Cossacks were marching upon an oblique line not above 
50 miles longer than that which led to the same point from 
the Kalmuck head-quarters before Eoulagina ; and therefore, 
without the most furious haste on the part of the E^almucks, 
there was not a chance for them, burdened and " trashed " ^ 
as they were, to anticipate so agile a light cavalry as the 
Cossacks in seizing this important pass. 

Dreadful were the feelings of the poor women on hearing 
this exposition of the case. For they easily understood that 
too capital an interest (the swrwrna rervm) was now at stake, to 
allow of any regard to minor interests, or what would be 
considered such in their present circumstances. The dreadful 
week already passed — their inauguration in misery — was yet 
fresh in their remembrance. The scars of suffering were 
impressed not only upon their memories, but upon their very 
persons and the persons of their children. And they knew 

^ " Trashed " : — ^This is an expressive word used by Beaumont and 
Fletcher in their *' Bondnca," &c., to describe the case of a person 
retarded and embarrassed in flight, or in pursait, by some enci^mbrance, 
whether thing or person, too valuable to be left behind, 



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KBVOLT OF THE TARTARS 897 

that^ where no speed had much chance of meeting the cravings 
of the chieftains, no test would be accepted, short of absolute 
exhaustion, that as much had been accomplished as could 
have been accomplished. Weseloff, the Russian captive, has 
recorded the silent wretchedness with which the women and 
elder boys assisted in drawing the tent-ropes. On the 5th of 
January all had been animation, and the joyousness of in- 
definite expectation ; now, on the contrary, a brief but bitter 
experience had taught them to take an amended calculation 
of what it was that lay before them. 

One whole day and far into the succeeding night had the 
Tenewed flight continued ; the suflerings had been greater 
than before ; for the cold had been more intense ; and many 
perished out of the living creatures through every class, 
except only the camels — whose powers of endurance seemed 
equally adapted to cold and to heat The second, morning, 
however, brought an alleviation to the distress. Snow had 
begun to fall, and, though not deep at present, it was easily 
foreseen that it soon would be so ; and that, as a halt would 
in that case become unavoidable, no plan could be better 
than that of staying ^vhere they were ; especially as the same 
cause would check the advance of the Cossacks. Here then 
was the last interval of comfort which gleamed upon the 
unhappy nation during their whole migration. For ten days 
the snow continued to fall with little intermission. At the 
end of that time keen, bright, frosty weather succeeded ; the 
drifting had ceased ; in three days the smooth expanse became 
firm enough to support the treading of the camels ; and the 
flight was recommenced. But during the halt much domestic 
comfort had been enjoyed ; and for the last time universal 
plenty. The cows and oxen had perished in such vast 
numbers on the previous marches that an order was now 
issued to turn what remained to account by slaughtering the 
whole, and salting whatever pwi; should be found to exceed 
the immediate consumption. This measure led to a scene of 
general banqueting and even of festivity amongst all who 
were not incapacitated for joyous emotions by distress of 
mind, by grief for the unhappy experience of the few last 
days, and by anxiety for the too gloomy future. Seventy 
thousand persons of i>ll ages had already perished, exclusively 



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398 HISTORICAL BSSAYS AND RBSBARCHES 

of the many thousand allies who had been cut down by the 
Cossack sabre. And the losses in reversion were likely to be 
many more. For rumours began now to arrive from all 
quarters, by the mounted couriers whom the Khan had 
despatched to the rear and to each flank as well as in 
advance, that large masses of the imperial troops were con- 
verging from all parts of Central Asia to the fords of the 
River Torgai, as the most convenient point for intercepting 
the flying tribes ; and it was by this time well known that 
a powerful division was close in their rear, and was retarded 
only by the numerous artillery which had been judged 
necessary to support their operations. New motives were 
thus daily arising for quickening the motions of the wretched 
Kalmucks, and for exhausting those who were already but 
too much exhausted. 

It was not until the 2d day of February that the Khan's 
advanced guard came in sight of Ouchim, the defile among 
the hills of Mougaldchares, in which they anticipated so 
bloody an opposition from the Cossacks. A pretty large 
body of these light cavalry had, in fact, preoccupied the 
pass by some hours ; but the Khan, having two great advan- 
tages — ^namely, a strong body of infantry, who had been 
conveyed by sections of five on about 200 camels, and some 
pieces of light artillery which he had not yet been forced to 
abandon — soon began to make a serious impression upon 
this unsupported detachment ; and they would probably at 
any rate have retired ; but at the very moment when they 
were making some dispositions in that view Zebek-Dorchi 
appeared upon the rear with a body of trained riflemen, 
who had distinguished themselves in the war with Turkey. 
These men had contrived to crawl unobserved over the cliffs 
which skirted the ravine, availing themselves of the dry beds 
of the summer torrents, and other inequalities of the ground, 
to conceal their movement. Disorder and trepidation ensued 
instantly in the Cossack files ; the Khan, who had been 
waiting with the ^Ue of his heavy cavalry, charged furiously 
upon them ; total overthrow followed to the Cossacks, and a 
slaughter such as in some measure avenged the recent bloody 
extermination of their allies, the ancient ouloss of Feka- 
Zechorr. The slight horses of the Cossacks were unable to 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 399 

support the weight of heavy Polish dragoons and a body of 
trained cameleers (that is, cuirassiers mounted on camels) ; 
hardy they were, but not strong, nor a match for their 
antagonists in weight ; and their extraordinary efforts 
through the last few days to gain their present position had 
greatly diminished their powers for effecting an escape. 
Very few, in fact, did escape ; and the bloody day at Ouchim 
became as memorable amongst the Cossacks as that which, 
about twenty days before, had signalised the complete anni- 
hilation of the Feka-Zechorr.^ 

The road was now open to the river Irgitch, and as yet 
even far beyond it to the Toi^au ; but how long this state 
of things would continue was every day more doubtful. 
Certain intelligence was now received that a large Kussian 
army, well appointed in every arm, was advancing upon the 
Torgau, under the command of General Traubenberg. This 
officer was to be joined on his route by ten thousand Bash- 
kirs, and pretty nearly the same amount of Kirghises — both 
hereditary enemies of the Kalmucks, both eacasperated to a 
point of madness by the bloody trophies which Oubacha and 
Momotbacha had, in late years, won from such of their com- 
patriots as served under the Sultan. The Czarina's yoke 
these wild nations bore with submissive patience, but not 
the hands by which it had been imposed ; and, accordingly, 
catching with eagerness at the present occasion offered to 
their vengeance, they sent an assurance to the Czarina of 
their perfect obedience to her commands, and at the same 
time a message significantly declaring in what spirit they 

^ There was another otUoss equally strong with that of Feka- 
Zechorr, viz. that of Erketnnn, under the government of Assarcho and 
Machi, whom some obligations of treaty or other hidden motives drew 
into the general conspiracy of revolt; But fortunately the two chief- 
tains found means to assure the Governor of Astrachan, on the first 
outbreak of the insurrection, that their real wishes were for maintain- 
ing the old connection with Russia. The Cossacks, therefore, to 
whom the pursuit was intrusted, had instructions to act cautiously 
and according to circumstances on coming up with them. The result 
was, through the prudent management of Assarcho, that the clan, 
without compromising their pride or independence, made such moderate 
submissions as satisfied the Cossacks ; and eventually both chiefs and 
people received from the Czarina the rewards and honours of exemplary 
fidelity. 



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400 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEABCHES 

meant to execute them, viz. " that they would not trouble 
her Majesty with prisoners.'' 

Here then arose, as before with the Cossacks, a race for 
the Kalmucks with the regular armies of Russia, and con- 
currently with nations as fierce and semi-humanised as them- 
selyes, besides that they had been stung into threefold 
activity by the furies of mortified pride and military abase- 
ment, under the eyes of the Turkish Sultan. The forces, 
and more especially the artillery, of Russia were fax too 
overwhelming to bear the thought of a regular opposition in 
pitched battles, even with a less dilapidated state of their 
resources than they could reasonably expect at the period of 
their arrival on the Torgau. In their speed lay their only 
hope — in strength of foot, as before, and not in strength of 
arm. Onward, therefore, the Kalmucks pressed, marking 
the lines of their wide-extending march over the sad soli- 
tudes of the steppes by a never-ending chain of corpses. 
The old and the young, the sick man on his couch, the 
mother with her baby — all were dropping fast. Such 
sights as these, with the many rueful aggravations incident 
to the helpless condition of infancy — of disease and of 
female weakness abandoned to the wolves amidst a howling 
wilderness, continued to track their course through a space 
of fiiU two thousand miles ; for so much, at the least, it was 
likely to prove, including the circuits to which they were 
often compelled by rivers or hostile tribes, from the point of 
starting on the Wolga, until they could reach their destined 
halting ground on the east bai^ of the Torgau. For the 
first seven weeks of this march their sufferings had been 
embittered by the excessive severity of the cold ; and every 
night — so loDg as wood was to be had for fires, either from 
the lading of the camels, or from the desperate sacrifice of 
their ba^age-waggons, or (as occasionally happened) from 
the forests which skirted the banks of the many rivers 
which crossed their path — ^no spectacle was more frequent 
than that of a circle, composed of men, women, and children, 
gathered by hundreds round a central fire, all dead and 
stiff at the return of morning light Myriads were left 
behind from pure exhaustion, of whom none had a chance, 
under the combined evils which beset them, of surviving 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 401 

through the next twenty-four hours. Frost, however, and 
snow at length ceased to persecute ; the vast extent of the 
march at length brought them into more genial latitudes, 
and the unusual duration of the march was gradually bring- 
ing them into more genial seasons of the year. Two thou- 
sand miles had at last been traversed ; February, March, 
April, were gone ; the balmy month of May had opened ; 
vernal sights and sounds came from every side to comfort 
the heart-weary travellers ; and at last, in the latter end of 
May, crossing the Torgau, they took up a position where 
they hoped to find liberty to repose themselves for many 
weeks in comfort as well as in security, and to draw such 
supplies from the fertile neighbourhood as might restore 
their shattered forces to a condition for executing, with less 
of wreck and ruin, the large remainder of the journey. 

Yes ; it was true that two thousand miles of wandering 
had been completed, but in a period of nearly five months, 
and with the terrific sacrifice of at least two hundred and 
fifty thousand souls, to say nothing of herds and flocks past 
all reckoning. These had all perished : ox, cow, horse, 
mule, ass, sheep, or goat, not one survived — only the camels. 
These arid and adust creatures, looking like the mummies of 
some antediluvian animals, without the affections or sensi- 
bilities of flesh and blood — these only stiU erected their 
speaking eyes to the eastern heavens, and had to all appear- 
ance come out from this long tempest of trial unscathed and 
hardly diminished. The Khan, knowing how much he was 
individually answerable for the misery which had been sus- 
tained, must have wept tears even more bitter than those of 
Xerxes when he threw his eyes over the myriads whom he 
had assembled : for the tears of Xerxes were unmingled with 
remorse. Whatever amends were in his power the Khan 
resolved to make, by sacrifices to the general good of all 
personal regards ; and, accordingly, even at this point of 
their advance, he once more deliberately brought under 
review the whole question of the revolt The question was 
formally debated before the Council whether, even at this 
point, they should untread their steps, and, throwing them- 
selves upon the Czarina's mercy, return to their old alle- 
giance. In that case, Oubacha professed himself willing to 

VOL. VII 2d 



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402 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

become the scapegoat for the general transgressioiL This, 
he argued, was no fantastic scheme, but even easy of accom- 
plishment ; for the unlimited and sacred power of the Khan, 
so well known to the Empress, made it absolutely iniquitous 
to attribute any separate responsibility to the people — ^upon 
the Khan rested the guilt, upon the Ehan would descend 
the imperial vengeance. This proposal was applauded for 
its generosity, but was energetically opposed by Zebek- 
Dordlii Were they to lose the whole journey of two thou- 
sand miles ? Was their misery to perish without fruit ? 
True it was that they had yet reached only the half-way 
house ; but, in that respect, the motives were evenly 
balanced for retreat or for advance. Either way they would 
have pretty nearly the same distance to traverse, but with 
this difference — that> forwards, their route lay through lands 
comparatively fertile ; backwards, through a blasted wilder- 
ness, rich only in memorials of their sorrow, and hideous to 
Kalmuck eyes by the trophies of their calamity. Besides, 
though the Empress might accept an excuse for the past, 
would she the less forbear to suspect for the future ? The 
Czarina's pa/rdon they might obtain, but could they ever 
hope to recover her confidence ? Doubtless there would now 
be a standing presumption against them, an immortal ground 
of jealousy ; and a jealous government would be but another 
name for a harsh one. Finally, whatever motives there ever 
had been for the revolt surely remained unimpaired by any- 
thing that had occurred. In reality, the revolt was, after 
all, no revolt, but (strictly speaking) a return to their old 
allegiance ; since, not above one hundred and fifty years ago 
(viz. in the year 1616), their ancestors had revolted from the 
Emperor of China. They had now tried both governments ; 
and for them China was the land of promise, and Russia the 
house of bondage.^ 

Spite, however, of all that Zebek could say or do, the 
yearning of the people was strongly in behalf of the Khan's 
proposal ; the pardon of their prince, they persuaded them- 
selves, would be readily conceded by the Empress : and there 
is little doubt that they would at this time have thrown 
themselves gladly upon the imperial mercy ; when suddenly 
* See appended Editorial Note. — M. 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 408 

all was defeated by the arrival of two envoys from Trauben- 
berg. This general had reached the fortress of Orsk, after a 
very painful march, on the 12th of April ; thence he set 
forwards towards Oriembourg ; which he reached upon the 
1st of June, having been joined on his route at various times 
during the month of May by the Eirghises and a corps of ten 
thousand Bashkirs. From Oriembourg he sent forward his 
official offers to the Khan, which were harsh and peremptory, 
holding out no specific stipulations as to pardon or impunity, 
and exacting unconditional submission as the preliminary 
price of any cessation from military operations. Tlie personal 
character of Traubenberg, which was anything but enei^etic, 
and the condition of his army, disorganised in a great 
measure by the length and severity of the march, made it 
probable that, ^th a little time for negotiation, a more con- 
ciliatory tone would have been assumed. But, unhappily 
for all parties, sinister events occurred in the meantime, such 
as effectually put an end to every hope of the kind. 

The two envoys sent forward by Traubenberg had re- 
ported to this officer that a distance of only ten days' march 
lay between his own head-quarters and those of the Khan. 
Upon this fact transpiring, the Kirghises, by their prince 
Nourali, and the Bashkirs, entreated the Russian general to 
advance without delay. Once having placed his cannon in 
position, so as to command the Kalmuck camp, the fate of 
the rebel Khan and his people would be in his own hands : 
and they would themselves form his advanced guard. 
Traubenberg, however {why has not been certainly explained), 
refused to march, grounding his refusal upon the condition 
of his army, and their absolute need of refreshment. Long 
and fierce was the altercation; but at length, seeing no 
chance of prevailing, and dreading above all other events 
the escape of their detested enemy, the ferocious Bashkirs 
went off in a body by forced marches. In six days they 
reached the Torgau, crossed by swimming their horses, and 
fell upon the Kalmucks, who were dispersed for many a 
league in search of food or provender for their camels. The 
first day's action was one vast succession of independent 
skirmishes, diffused over a field of thirty to forty miles in 
extent ; one party often breaking up into three or four, and 



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404 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

again (according to the accidents of ground) three or fonr 
blending into one ; flight and pursuit, rescue and total over- 
throw, going on simultaneously, under all varieties of form, 
in all quarters of the plain. The Bashkirs had found them- 
selves obliged, by the scattered state of the Kalmucks, to 
split up into innumerable sections ; and thus, for some hours, 
it had been impossible for the most practised eye to collect 
the general tendency of the day's fortune. Both the Khan 
and Zebek-Dorchi were at one moment made prisoners, 
and more than once in imminent danger of being cut down ; 
but at length Zebek succeeded in rallying a strong column of 
infantry, which, with the support of the camel-corps on each 
flank, compelled the Bashkirs to retreat Clouds, however, 
of these wild cavalry continued to arrive through the next 
two days and nights, followed or accompanied by the 
E^irghises. These being viewed as the advanced parties of 
Traubenberg's army, the Kalmuck chieftains saw no hope 
of safety but in flight ; and in this way it happened that a 
retreat, which had bo recently been brought to a pause, was 
resumed at the very moment when the unhappy fugitives 
were anticipating a deep repose without further molestation 
the whole summer through. 

It seemed as though every variety of wretchedness were 
predestined to the Kalmucks, and as if their sufEerings were 
incomplete unless they were rounded and matured by all 
that the most dreadful agencies of summer's heat could 
superadd to those of frost and winter. To this sequel of 
their story I shall immediately revert, after first noticing a 
little romantic episode which occurred at this point between 
Oubacha and his unprincipled cousin Zebek-Dorchi. 

There was at the time of the Kalmuck flight from the 
Wolga a Russian gentleman of some rank at the court of the 
Khan, whom, for political reasons, it was thought necessary 
to carry along with them as a captive. For some weeks his 
confinement had been very strict, and in one or two instances 
crueL But, as the increasing distance was continually 
diminishing the chances of escape, and perhaps, also, as the 
misery of the guards gradually withdrew their attention from 
all minor interests to their own personal sufferings, the vigilance 
of the custody grew more and more relaxed ; until at length, 



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REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 405 

upon a petition to the Khan, Mr. Weseloff was fonnally 
restored to liberty ; and it was understood that he might use 
his liberty in whatever way he chose, even for returning to 
Russia, if that should be his wish. Accordingly, he was 
making active preparations for his journey to St. Petersburg, 
when it occurred to Zebek-Dorchi that, not improbably, in 
some of the battles which were then anticipated with 
Traubenberg, it might happen to them to lose some prisoner 
of rank, — in which case the Russian Weseloff would be a 
pledge in their hands for negotiating an exchange. Upon 
this plea, to his own severe affliction, the Russian was de- 
tained until the further pleasure of the Khan. The Khan's 
name, indeed, was used through the whole affair ; l}ut, as it 
seemed, with so little concurrence on his part, that, when 
Weseloff in a private audience humbly remonstrated upon the 
injustice done him, and the cruelty of thus sporting with his 
feelings by setting him at liberty, and, as it were, tempting 
him into dreams of home and restored happiness only for the 
purpose of blighting them, the good-natured prince disclaimed 
all participation in the affair, and went so far in proving his 
sincerity as even to give him permission to effect his escape ; 
and, as a ready means of commencing it without raising 
suspicion, the Khan mentioned to Mr. Weseloff that he had 
just then received a message from the Hetman of the Bashkirs, 
soliciting a private interview on the banks of the Torgau at 
a spot pointed out That interview was arranged for the 
coming night ; and Mr. Weseloff might go in the Khan's 
suite, which on either side was not to exceed three persons. 
Weseloff was a prudent man, acquainted with the world, and 
he read treachery in the very outline of this scheme, as stated 
by the Khan — treachery against the Khan*s person. He 
mused a little, and then communicated so much of his 
suspicions to the Khan as might put him on his guard ; but, 
upon further consideration, he begged leave to decline the 
honour of accompanying the Khan. The fact was that three 
Kalmucks, who had strong motives for returning to their 
countrymen on the west bank of the Wolga, guessing the in- 
tentions of Weseloff, had offered to join him in his escape. 
These men the Khan would probably find himself obliged to 
countenance in their project ; so that it became a point of 



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406 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

honour with Weseloff to conceal their intentions^ and there- 
fore to accomplish the evasion from the camp (of which the 
first steps only would be hazardous) without risking the 
notice of the Khan. 

The district in which they were now encamped abounded 
through many hundred miles with wild horses of a docHe 
and beautiful breed. Each of the four fugitives had caught 
from seven to ten of these spirited creatures in the course of 
the last few days : this raised no suspicion, for the rest of 
the Kalmucks had been making the same sort of provision 
against the coming toils of their remaining route to China. 
These horses were secured by halters, and hidden about dusk 
in the thickets which lined the margin of the river. To 
these thickets, about ten at night, the four fugitives repaired ; 
they took a circuitous path, which drew them as little as 
possible within danger of challenge from any of the outposts 
or of the patrols which had been established on the quarters 
where the Bashkirs lay ; and in three-quarters of an hour 
they reached the rendezvous. The moon had now risen, 
the horses were unfastened, and they were in the act of 
mounting, when suddenly the deep silence of the woods 
was disturbed by a violent uproar and the clashing of arms. 
Weseloff fancied that he heard the voice of the Khan shouting 
for assistance. He remembered the communication made by 
that prince in the morning ; and, requesting his companions 
to support him, he rode off in the direction of the sound. 
A very short distance brought him to an open glade within 
the wood, where he beheld four men contending with a party 
of at least nine or ten. Two of the four were dismounted at 
the very instant of Weseloff's arrival ; one of these he recog- 
nised almost certainly as the Khan, who was fighting hand 
to hand, but at great disadvantage, with two of the adverse 
horsemen. Seeing that no time was to be lost, Weseloff fired 
and brought down one of the two. His companions dis- 
charged their carbines at the same moment^ and then all 
rushed simultaneously into the little open area. The thunder- 
ing sound -of about thirty horses all rushing at once into a 
narrow space gave the. impression that a whole troop of 
cavalry was coming down upon the assailants ; who accord- 
ingly wheeled about and fled with one impulse. Weseloff 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 407 

advanced to the dismounted cavalier, wlio, as lie expected, 
proved to be the Khan. The man whom Weseloff had shot 
was lying dead ; and both were shocked, though Weseloff at 
least was not surprised, on stooping down and scrutinising 
his features, to recognise a well-known confidential servant 
of Zebek-DorchL Nothing was said by either party ; the 
Khan rode off escorted by Weseloff and his companions, and 
for some time a dead silence prevailed. The situation of 
Weseloff was delicate and critical ; to leave the Khan at this 
point was probably to cancel their recent services; for he 
might be again crossed on his path, and again attacked by 
the very party from whom he had just been delivered. Yet, 
on the other hand, to return to the camp was to endanger 
the chances of accomplishing the escape. The Khan also 
was apparently revolving all this in his mind, for at length 
he broke silence, and said, " I comprehend your situation ; 
and under other circumstances I might feel it my duty to 
detain your companions. But it would ill become me to do 
so after the important service you have just rendered me. 
Let us turn a little to the left. There, where you see the 
watch-fire, is an outpost. Attend me so far. I am then safe. 
You may turn and pursue your enterprise ; for the circum- 
stances under which you will appear, as my escort^ are 
sufficient to shield you from all suspicion for the present. I 
regret having no better means at my disposal for testifying 
my gratitude. But tell me before we part — Was it accident 
oxily which led you to my rescue ? Or had you acquired 
any knowledge of the plot by which I was decoyed into this 
snare?" Weseloff answered very candidly that mere acci- 
dent had brought him to the spot at which he heard the 
uproar, but that, having heard i1^ and connecting it with the 
Khan's conmiunication of the morning, he had then designedly 
gone after the sound in a way which he certainly should not 
have done at so critical a moment, unless in the expectation 
of finding the Khan assaulted by assassins. A few minutes 
after they reached the outpost at which it became safe to 
leave the Tartar chieftain ; and immediately the four fugi- 
tives commenced a flight which is perhaps without a parallel 
in the annals of travelling. Each of them led six or seven 
horses besides the one he rode ; and, by shifting from one to 



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408 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RBSEABCHBS 

the other (Like the ancient Desultors of the Boman circuB), so 
as never to burden the same horse for more than half an 
hour at a time, they continued to advance at the rate of 200 
miles in the 24 hours for three days consecutively. After 
that time, conceiving themselves beyond pursuit, they pro- 
ceeded less rapidly; though still with a velocity which 
staggered the belief of Weseloff's friends in after years. He 
was, however, a man of high principle, and always adhered 
firmly to the details of his printed report One of the 
circumstances there stated is that they continued to pursue 
the route by which the Kalmucks had fled, never for an 
instant finding any difficulty in tracing it by the skeletons 
and other memorials of their calamities. In particular, he 
mentions vast heaps of money as part of the valuable property 
which it had been found necessary to sacrifice. These heaps 
were fotmd lying still untouched in the deserts. From these 
Weseloff and his companions took as much as they could 
conveniently carry ; and this it was, with the price of their 
beautiful horses, which they afterwards sold at one of the 
Russian military settlements for about £l5 apiece, which 
eventually enabled them to pursue their journey in Russia. 
This journey, as regarded Weseloff in particular, was closed 
by a tragical catastrophe. He was at that time young, and 
the only child of a doating mother. Her affliction under 
the violent abduction of her son had been excessive, and 
probably had undermined her constitution. Still she had 
supported it.* Weseloff, giving way to the natural impulses 
of his filial affection, had imprudently posted through Russia 
to his mother's house without warning of his approach. He 
rushed precipitately into her presence ; and she, who had 
stood the shocks of sorrow, was found unequal to the shock 
of joy too sudden and too acute. She died upon the spot 



I now revert to the final scenes of the Kalmuck flight 
These it would be useless to pursue circumstantially through 
the whole two thousand miles of suffering which remained ; 
for the character of that suffering was even more monotonous 
than on the former half of the flight, and also more severe. 
Its main elements were excessive heat, with the accompani- 
ments of famine and thirst, but aggravated at every step by 



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REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 409 

tlie murderous attacks of their cruel enemies the Bashkirs 
and the Kirghises. 

These people, ^ more fell than anguish, hunger, or the 
sea,'' stuck to the unhappy Kalmucks like a swarm of en- 
raged hornets. And very often, whilst they were attacking 
them in the rear, their advanced parties and flanks were 
attacked with almost equal fury by the people of the country 
which they were traversing ; and with good reason, since the 
law of self-preservation had now obliged the fugitive Tartars 
to plunder provisions, and to forage wherever they passed. 
In this respect their condition was a constant oscillation of 
wretchedness ; for sometimes, pressed by grinding famine, 
they took a circuit of perhaps a hundred miles, in order to 
strike into a land rich in the comforts of life ; but in such a 
land they were sure to find a crowded population, of which 
every arm was raised in imrelenting hostility, with all the 
advantages of local knowledge, and with constant preoccupa- 
tion of aU the defensible positions, mountain passes, or 
bridges. Sometimes, again, wearied out with this mode of 
suffering, they took a circuit of perhaps a hundred miles, in 
order to strike into a land vdth few or no inhabitants. But 
in such a land they were sure to meet absolute starvation. 
Then, again, whether with or without this plague of starva- 
tion, whether with or without this plague of hostility in 
front, whatever might be the "fierce varieties** of their 
misery in this respect, no rest ever came to their unhappy 
rear ; post eqwUem sedd aJtra cwra ; it was a torment like the 
undying worm of conscience. And, upon the whole, it pre- 
sented a spectacle altogether unprecedented in the history of 
mankind. Private and personal malignity is not unfre- 
quently immortal ; but rare indeed is it to find the same 
pertinacity of malice in a nation. And what embittered the 
interest was that the malice was reciprocal. Thus far the 
parties met upon equal terms ; but that equality only 
sharpened the sense of their dire inequality as to other 
circumstances. The Bashkirs were ready to fight '^from 
mom to dewy eve.** The Kalmucks, on tiie contrary, were 
always obliged to run. Was it from their enemies as creatures 
whom they feared ? No ; but totpards their friends — ^towards 
that final haven of China — as what was hourly implored by 



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410 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

the prayers of their wives, and the tears of their children. 
But, though they fleJ unwillingly, too often they fled in vain 
— being unwillingly recalled. There lay the torment. Every 
day the ^Bashkirs fell upon them ; every day the same un- 
profitable battle was renewed ; as a matter of course, the 
Kalmucks recalled part of their advanced guard to fight 
them ; every day the battle raged for hours, and uniformly 
with the same result For no sooner did the Bashkirs find 
themselves too heavily pressed, and that the Kalmuck march 
had been retarded by some hours, than they retired into the 
boundless deserts, where all pursuit was hopeles& But, if the 
Kalmucks resolved to press forward, regardless of their 
enemies, in that case their attacks became so fierce and over- 
whelming that the general safety seemed likely to be brought 
into question ; nor could any effectual remedy be applied to 
the case, even for each separate day, except by a most em- 
barrassing halt^ and by countermarches, that^ to men in their 
circumstances, were almost worse than death. It will not 
be surprising that the irritation of such a systematic persecu- 
tion, superadded to a previous and hereditary hatred, and 
accompanied by the stinging consciousness of utter impotence 
as regarded all effectual vengeance, should gradually have 
inflamed the Elalmuck animosity into the wildest expression 
of downright madness and frenzy. Indeed, long before the 
frontiers of China were approached, the hostility of both 
sides had assumed the appearance much more of a warfisure 
amongst wild beasts than amongst creatures acknowledging 
the restraints of reason or the claims of a common nature. 
The spectacle became too atrocious ; it was that of a host of 
lunatics pursued by a host of fiends. 



On a fine morning in early autumn of the year 1771, 
Kien Long, the Emperor of China, was pursuing his amuse- 
ments in a wild frontier district lying on the outside of the 
Great Wall. For many hundred square leagues the country 
was desolate of inhabitants, but rich in woods of ancient 
growth, and overrun with game of every description. In a 
central spot of this solitary region the Emperor had built a 
gorgeous hunting lodge, to which he resorted annually for 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 411 

recreation and relief from the cares of government Led 
onwards in pursuit of game, he had rambled to a distance of 
200 miles or more from this lodge, followed at a little 
distance by a sufficient military escort, and every night 
pitching his tent in a different situation, until at length he 
had arrived on the very margin of the vast central deserts of 
Asia.1 Here he was standing by accident at an opening of 
his pavilion, enjoying the morning sunshine, when suddenly 
to tiie westwards there arose a vast cloudy vapour, which 
by degrees expanded,^ mounted, and seemed to be slowly 
diffusing itself over the whole face of the heavens. By and 
by this vast sheet of mist began to thicken towards the 
horizon, and to roll forward in billowy volumes. The 
Emperor's suite assembled from all quarters. The silver 
trumpets were sounded in the rear, and from all the glades 
and forest avenues began to trot forward towards the pavilion 
the yagers — ^half cavalry, half huntsmen — who composed the 
imperial escort. Conjecture was on the stretch to divine the 
cause of this phenomenon, and the interest continually in- 
creased, in proportion as simple curiosity gradually deepened 
into the anxiety of uncertain danger. At first it had been 
imagined that some vast troops of deer, or other wild animals 
of the chase, had been disturbed in their forest haunts by 
the Emperor's movements, or possibly by wild beasts prowl- 
ing for prey, and might be fetching a compass by way of re- 
entering the forest grounds at some remoter points secure 
from molestation. But this conjecture was dissipated by the 
slow increase of the cloud, and the steadiness of its motion. 
In the course of two hours the vast phenomenon had 
advanced to a point which was judged to be within five 
miles of the spectators, though all calculations of distance 
were difficult, and often fallacious, when applied to the 
endless expanses of the Tartar deserts. Through the next 
hour, during which the gentle morning breeze had a little 

^ All the circumstances are learned from a long state paper upon 
the subject of this Kalmuck migration drawn up in the Chinese 
language by the Emperor himself. Parts of this paper have been 
translated by the Jesuit missionaries. The Emperor states the whole 
motives of his conduct and the chief incidents at great length. [See 
appended Editorial Note.] 



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412 mSTORIGAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

freshened, the dusty vapour had developed itself far and 
wide into the appearance of huge aerial draperies^ hanging 
in mighty volumes from the sky to the earth ; and at par- 
ticular points, where the eddies of the breeze acted upon the 
pendulous skirts of these aerial curtains, rents were perceived, 
sometimes taking the form of regular arches, portals, and 
windows, through which began dimly to gleam tiie heads of 
camels " indorsed " ^ with human beings — and at intervals 
the moving of men and horses in tumultuous array — and 
then through other openings or vistas at &r distant points 
the flashing of polished arms. But sometimes, as the wind 
slackened or died away, all those openings, of whatever 
form, in the cloudy pall would slowly close, and for a time 
the whole pageant was shut up from view ; although the 
growing din, the clamours, shrieks, and groans, ascending 
from infuriated myriads, reported, in a language not to be 
misunderstood, what was going on behind the cloudy 
screen. 

It was in fact the Kalmuck host^ now in the last ex- 
tremities of their exhaustion, and very fast approaching to 
that final stage of privation and killing misery, beyond 
which few or none could have lived, but also, happily for 
themselves, fast approaching (in a literal sense) that final 
stage of their long pilgrimage at which they would meet 
hospitality on a scale of royal magnificence, and full protec- 
tion from their enemies. These enemies, however, as yet, 
were still hanging on their rear as fiercely as ever, though 
this day was destined to be the last of their hideous persecu- 
tion. The Khan had, in fact, sent forward couriers with 
all the requisite statements and petitions, addressed to the 
Emperor of China. These had been duly received, and pre- 
parations made in consequence to welcome the Kalmucks 
with the most paternal benevolence. But, as these couriers 
had been despatched from the Torgau at the moment of 
arrival thither, and before the advance of Traubenberg had 
made it necessary for the Khan to order a hasty renewal of 
the flight, the Emperor had not looked for their arrival on 
his frontiers until full three months after the present time. 

^ Camels ** indorsed " : — "And elephants indorsed with towers." 
—Milton in " Paradise Regained " [iiu 329]. 



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. REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 418 

The Khan had indeed expressly notified his intention to pass 
the summer heats on the banks of the Torgau, and to recom- 
mence his retreat about the beginning of September. The 
subsequent change of plan, being unknown to Kien Long, left 
him for some time in doubt as to the true interpretation to 
be put upon this mighty apparition in the desert ; but at 
length the savage clamours of hostile fury, and the clangour 
of weapons, unveiled to the Emperor the true nature of those 
unexpected calamities which had so prematurely precipitated 
the Kalmuck measures. 

Apprehending the real state of affairs, the Emperor 
instantly perceived that the first act of his fatherly care for 
these erring children (as he esteemed them), now returning 
to their ancient obedience, must be — ^to deliver them from 
their pursuers. And this was less difficult than might have 
been supposed. Not many miles in the rear was a body of 
well-appointed cavalry, witii a strong detachment of artillery, 
who always attended the Emperor's motions. These were 
hastily summoned. Meantime it occurred to the train of 
courtiers that some danger might arise to the Emperor's 
person from the proximity of a lawless enemy ; and accord- 
ingly he was induced to retire a little to the rear. It soon 
appeared, however, to those who watched the vapoury shroud 
in the desert, that its motion was not such as would argue 
the direction of the march to be exactly upon the pavilion, 
but rather in a diagonal line, making an angle of full 45 
degrees with that line in which the imperial coii^e had 
been standing, and therefore with a distance continually 
increasing. Those who knew the country judged that the 
Kalmucks were making for a large fresh-water lake about 
seven or eight miles distant. They were right ; and to that 
point the imperial cavalry was ordered up ; and it was pre- 
cisely in that spot, and about three hours after, and at noon- 
day on the 8th of September, that the great Exodus of the 
Kalmuck Tartars was brought to a final close, and with a 
scene of such memorable and hellish fury as formed an 
appropriate winding up to an expedition in all its parts and 
details so awfully disastrous. The Emperor was not pei^^n- 
ally present, or at least he saw whatever he did see from too 
great a distance to discriminate its individual features ; but 



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414 HISTORICAL ESSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

he records in his written memorial the report made to him 
of this scene by some of his own officers. 

The lake of Tengis, near the dreadful desert of Kobi, lay 
in a hollow amongst hills of a moderate height, ranging 
generally from two to three thousand feet high. About 
eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the Chinese cavalry reached 
the summit of a road which led through a cradle-lie dip in 
the mountains right down upon the margin of the lake. 
From this pass, elevated about two thousand feet above the 
level of the water, they continued to descend, by a very 
winding and difficult road, for an hour and a half; and 
during the whole of this descent they were compelled to be 
inactive spectators of the fiendish spectacle below. The 
Kalmucks, reduced by this time from about six hundred 
thousand souls to two hundred and sixty thousand, and after 
enduring for so long a time the miseries I have previously 
described — outrageous heat, famine, and the destroying 
scimitar of the Kirghises and the Bashkirs — had for the last 
ten days been traversing a hideous desert, where no vestiges 
were seen of vegetation, and no drop of water could be 
found. Camels and men were already so overladen that it 
was a mere impossibility that they should carry a tolerable 
sufficiency for the passage of this frightful wilderness. On 
the eighth day, the wretched daily allowance, which had 
been continually diminishing, failed entirely ; and thus, for 
two days of insupportable fatigue, the horrors of thirst had 
been carried to the fiercest extremity. Upon this last 
morning, at the sight of the hills and the forest scenery, 
which announced to those who acted as guides the neigh- 
bourhood of the lake of Tengis, all the people rushed along 
with maddening eagerness to the anticipated solace. The 
day grew hotter and hotter, the people more and more 
exhausted, and gradually, in the general rush forwards to 
the lake, all discipline and command were lost — all attempts 
to preserve a rearguard were neglected — the wild Bashkirs 
rode in amongst the encumbered people, and slaughtered 
them by wholesale, and almost without resistance. Screams 
and tumultuous shouts proclaimed the progress of the 
massacre ; but none heeded — ^none halted ; all alike, pauper 
or noble, continued to rush on with maniacal haste to the 



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REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 415 

waters — all with faces blackened by the heat preying upon 
the liver, and with tongue drooping from the mouth. The 
cruel Bashkir was aflfected by the same misery, and mani- 
fested the same symptoms of his misery as the wretched 
Kalmuck ; the murderer was oftentimes in the same frantic 
misery as his murdered victim — many indeed (an ordinary 
effect of thirst) in both nations had become lunatic, and in 
this state, whilst mere multitude and condensation of bodies 
alone opposed any check to the destroying scimitar and the 
trampling hoof, the lake was reached ; and into that the 
whole vast body of enemies together rushed, and together 
continued to ru^, forgetful of all things at that moment but 
of one almighty instinct This absorption of the thoughts in 
one maddening appetite lasted for a single half-hour ; but in 
the next arose the final scene of parting vengeance. Far 
and wide the waters of the solitary lake were instantly dyed 
red with blood and gore : here rode a party of savage 
Bashkirs, hewing off heads aj3 fast as the swathes fall before 
the mower^s scythe; there stood unarmed Elalmucks in a 
death-grapple with their detested foes, both up to the middle 
in water, and oftentimes both sinking together below the 
surface, from weakness or from struggles, and perishing in 
each other's arms. Did the Bashkirs at any point coUect 
into a cluster for the sake of giving impetus to the assault ? 
Thither were the camels driven in fiercely by those who 
rode them, generally women or boys ; and even these quiet 
creatures were forced into a share in this carnival of murder, 
by trampling down as many as they could strike prostrate 
with the lash of their fore-legs. Every moment the water 
grew more polluted ; and yet every moment fresh myriads 
came up to the lake and rushed in, not able to resist their 
frantic thirst, and swallowing large draughts of water, 
visibly contaminated with the blood of their slaughtered 
compatriots. Wheresoever the lake was shallow enough to 
allow of men raising their heads above the water, there, for 
scores of acres, were to be seen all forms of ghastly fear, of 
agonising struggle, of spasm, of death, and the fear of death 
— revenge, and the lunacy of revenge — until the neutral 
spectators, of whom there were not a few, now descending 
the eastern side of the lake, at length averted their eyes in 



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416 HISTOBIGAL ESSAYS AND KESEABOHES 

horror. This horror, which seemed incapable of further 
addition, was, however, increased by an unexpected inci- 
dent The Bashkirs, beginning to perceive here and there 
the approach of the Chinese cavalry, felt it prudent — where- 
soever they were sufficiently at leisure from the passions of 
the murderous scene — to gather into bodies. This waj9 
noticed by the governor of a small Chinese fort, built upon 
an eminence above the lake ; and immediately he threw in 
a broadside, which spread havoc amongst the Bashkir tribe. 
As often as the Bashkirs collected into "globes" and " turms" 
as their only means of meeting the long lines of descending 
Chinese cavalry — so often did the Chinese governor of the 
fort pour in his exterminating broadside; until at length 
the lake, at its lower end, became one vast seething caldron 
of human bloodshed and carnage. The Chinese cavalry had 
reached the foot of the hills : the Bashkirs, attentive to their 
movements, had formed ; skirmishes had been fought : and, 
with a quick sense that the contest was henceforwards rapidly 
becoming hopeless, the Bashkirs and Eirghises began to 
retire. The pursuit was not as vigorous aj9 the Kalmuck 
hatred would have desired. But, at the same time, the very 
gloomiest hatred could not but find, in their own dreadful 
experience of the Asiatic deserts, and in the certainty that 
these wretched Bashkirs had to repeat that same experience 
a second time, for thousands of miles, as the price exacted by 
a retributory Providence for their vindictive cruelty — ^not 
the very gloomiest of the Kalmucks, or the least reflecting, 
but found in all this a retaliatory chastisement more com- 
plete and absolute than any which their swords and lances 
could have obtained, or human vengeance have devised. 



Here ends the tale of the Kalmuck wanderings in the 
Desert ; for any subsequent marches which awaited them 
were neither long nor painful. Every possible alleviation 
and refreshment for their exhausted bodies had been already 
provided by Kien Long with the most princely munificence ; 
and lands of great fertility were immediately assigned to 
them in ample extent along the river Ily, not very fax from 
the point at which they had first emerged from the wilder- 



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REVOLT OP THE TARTARS 417 

ness of Kobi. But the beneficent attention of the Chinese 
Emperor may be best stated in his own words, as translated 
into French by one of the Jesuit missionaries : — " La nation 
des Torgotes {sa/Doir les Kdlmugues) arriva h, Ily, tonte delabr^e, 
n'ayant ni de quoi vivre, ni de quoi se vetir. Je Tavais 
pr^vu ; et j'avais ordonn^ de faire en tout genre les pro- 
visions n^cessaires pour pouvoir les secourir promptement : 
c'est ce qui a ^t4 ex4cut^. On a fait la division des terres ; 
et on a assign^ k chaque famille une portion suffisante pour 
pouvoir servir k son entretien, soit en la cultivant, soit en y 
nourissant des bestiaux. On a donn^ k chaque particulier 
des ^toffes pour ITiabiller, des grains pour se nourrir pendant 
Tespace d*une ann^e, des ustensiles pour le manage, et 
d'autres choses n^cessaires : et outre cela plusieurs onces 
d'argent, pour se pourvoir de ce qu'on aurait pu oublier. 
On a design^ des lieux particuliers, fertiles en p^turages ; et 
on leur a donn6 des boeufs, moutons, etc., pour qu'ils pussent 
dans la suite travailler par eux-m^mes k leur entretien et k 
leur bien-^tre." ^ 

These are the words of the Emperor himself speaking in 
his own person of his own parental cares ; but another 
Chinese, treating the same subject, records the munificence 
of this prince in terms which proclaim still more forcibly 
the disinterested generosity which prompted, and the delicate 

^ "The nation of the Torgouths {to vnt the Kodnmcka) arrived at 
Ily wholly shattered, having neither victuals to live on nor clothes to 
wear. I had foreseen this, and had given orders for making every 
kind of preparation necessary for their prompt relief ; which was duly 
done. The distribution of lands was made ; and there was assigned 
to each family a portion sufficient to serve for its support, whether by 
cultivating it or by feeding cattle on it. There were given to each 
individual materials for his clothing, corn for his sustenance for the 
space of one year, utensils for household purposes, and other things 
necessary ; besides some ounces of silver wherewith to provide himself 
with anything that might have been forgotten. Particular places 
were marked out for them, fertile in pasture ; and cattle and sheep, 
etc., were given them, that they might be able for the future to work 
for their own support and well-being." — This is a note of Kien-long 
subjoined to his main narrative ; and De Quincey, I find, took the 
above transcript of it from the French translation of Bergmann's book. 
That transcript, it is worth observing, is not quite exact to the 
original French text of the Pekin missionaries. — See appended 
Editorial Note.— M. 

VOL. VII 2 K 



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418 HISTORICAL ESSSAYS AND RESEARCHES 

considerateness which conducted, this extensive bounty. He 
has been speaking of the Kalmucks, and he goes on thus : — 
"Lorsqu'ils amv4rent sur nos fronti^res (au nombre de 
plusieurs centaines de mille, quoique la fatigue extreme, la 
faim, la soif, et toutes les autres incommodit^ inseparables 
d'une tr^longue et tr^ p^nible route, en eussent fait p6rir 
presque autant), ils ^taient reduits k la demi^re mis^re ; ils 
manquaient de tout. II" [viz. TEmpereur, Kien Long] 
" leur fit preparer des logemens conformes k leur mani^re de 
vivre ; il leur fit distribuer des alimens et des habits ; il leur 
fit donner des boeufs, des moutons, et des ustensiles,* pour les 
mettre en ^tat de former des troupeaux et de cultiver la 
terre, et tout cela k ses propres frais, qui se sont mont^ k 
des sommes immenses, sans compter Targent qu'il a donn4 k 
chaque chef-de-feunille, pour pourvoir k la subsistance de sa 
femme et de ses enfans." ^ 

Thus, after their memorable year of misery, the Kalmucks 
were replaced in territorial possessions, and in comfort equal 
perhaps, or even superior, to that which they had enjoyed in 
Russia, and with superior political advantages. But, if equal 
or superior, their condition was no longer the same ; if not 
in degree, their social prosperity had altered in quality ; for, 
instead of being a purely pastoral and vagrant people, they 
were now in circumstances which obliged them to become 
essentially dependent upon agriculture ; and thus far raised 

^ " When they arrived on our frontiers (to the number of some 
hondreds of thousands, although nearly as many more had perished 
by the extreme fatigue, the hunger, the thirst, and all the other 
hardships inseparable from a very long and very toilsome march), 
they were reduced to the last misery, they were in want of every- 
thing. The Emperor supplied them with everything. He caused 
habitations to be prepared for them suitable for their manner of 
living ; he caused food and clothing to be distributed among them ; 
he had cattle and sheep given them, and implements to put them in a 
condition for forming herds and cultivating, the earth ; and all this at 
his own proper charges, which mounted to immense sums, without 
counting the money which he gave to each head of a family to 
provide for the subsistence of his wife and children." — This is from 
a eulogistic abstract of Eien-long's own narrative by one of his Chinese 
ministers, named