Puslapio vaizdai

heaviest penalty of the sinneris deadness to his own degradation, the loss of that moral sense which would have made him recoil with loathing and horror, from impurities in which he now finds his only gratification. This doctrine, it is true, wants relief in his system, and is not easily reconcilable with the simple employment of memory as an engine of punishment.-In his disposal of infants torn prematurely from earth, he reminds one of some sweet fancies of our poets. They are under the especial care of the Lord, who preserves their innocence by a constant influx from the inmost heaven. They are committed to the charge of female angels who wait on them and instruct them in the midst of beautiful gardens.* The progress of the virtuous in that glorious Future he represents as an unceasing tendency towards more perfect and joyous Youth.

There was indeed a childlike innocence and purity in the spirit of Swedenborg himself. All his sentiments and aspirations breathe the freshness and sweetness of an unsullied mind, as if he had passed his days in Eden in unbroken converse with God, or had only seen enough of sin to shrink from it in disgust. The images and comparisons with which his writings abound, like those of our own Milton, betray an exquisite sense of the music and brightness and fragrancy of Creation, as if he were habitually familiar with the hour of prime, when the breath of opening flowers goes up to heaven, and the dewdrops hang on the glittering leaves, and the throats of nightingales are pouring their rich melody on the silent ear of morn. Yet in spite of his visions—and some of them are really beautiful-his genius was rather scientific than poetical, more formal than creative. He sets about his descriptions with the methodical precision of a surveyor, and never leaves anything untold which he intends you to see.-We have looked on landscapes from the hand of a master, where the magic play of light and shade buried the eye in trackless depths of sylvan loveliness, and bore it over a wide expanse of hazy distance, which it tried in vain to grasp. The mind itself was balf


* We recal here a stanza, learned in childhood :

“'Tis there in amaranthine bowers,

To infant innocence assigned,
You fondly pluck immortal flowers,

Nor dream of ills you left behind.”

the creator of what it beheld. But this effect is never produced by one of Swedenborg's pictures. The simple scene lies before you, and nothing more. It is exhausted at a glance. And this experience we deem conclusive against his high poetic faculty. In strange contrast with the solemn earnestness of his general tone, are now and then intermingled sly touches of quiet irony and sarcastic humour.* Of the ancient prophets, he reminds one more of the sharp outline and strong colouring, the apocalyptic rigidity and definiteness, of Ezekiel and Daniel, than of the wavy contour and luminous hues of Isaiah. His style in his earlier writings is said by Wilkinson to have been rhetorical. In those of his Latin pieces that we have read, it is bald and formless almost beyond description. The comparative smoothness and continuity of the English translation can convey no idea of it. It is wearisome from its repetitions. The actual matter of his works cannot be estimated by their voluminousness. A single volume, if we except perhaps the Arcana Cælestia, might contain everything that he has written. His later style seems to have no other function, than that of barely reporting visions. It is as though in intercourse with angels, he had almost forgotten the speech of men; and gathering his ideas as best he could with stammering tongue, was content to let them stand, simply visible through the plainest transparency of human words. Swedenborg's original genius fitted him for abstract speculation. It was his religious earnestness which gave it in his latter years another turn. Imagination which he thenceforth so freely used, never however became his ruling faculty; it always remained the servitor of his understanding.- In the moral relations of life, he was a devout, benevolent, simple-hearted, honest and good man. His profound conviction of spiritual intercourse, which has exposed his character to such various interpretation, in its practical influence on himself, seems only to have enveloped his life in a spirit of rarer sanctity and profounder devotion; and as respects others, may have the effect of alluring some to the study of his writings,

* See the various definitions of Conscience given by Politicians, Scholars, Physicians and Clergymen, in a Memorable Relation, “True Christian Religion,' 666, and the anecdote reported by Wilkinson, p. 202.


whom their hidden veins of gold might never have attracted, and the rough ore of their exterior would probably have repelled.

There is some boldness in predicting the fate of a religious system. To us the Swedenborgian doctrines seem too mystical in their conception, and too scientific in their form, to enlist the sympathies of the multitude; while those who are sufficiently enlightened and cultivated, to appreciate the occasional glimpses of great and noble truths which they reveal, will in a great majority of cases reject in toto the miraculous pretensions with which they are recommended to the world. For what is humane and elevating in their tendency, these doctrines have our best wishes, that they may accomplish their allotted work effectually in the great warfare of good and evil that is dividing the world. Our hope is, that whatever they possess of the essence of immortal truth, may speedily dissolve and long survive the mythic vessel in which they are now enclosed. We have no more ardent desire for mankind, than that by every intermediate process which the state of Society or the demands of peculiar temperaments shall for a time render inevitable, the issue of all speculations and the euthanasia of all sects may finally merge in the profounder realisation of a Sovereign Intelligence, the infinite Prototype of all that is best and noblest in ourselves—whose holiest service here is to grow like Him in the virtuous use and enjoyment of his works—whose clearest intimation of an hereafter is the longing that he has breathed into us, and the capacity of which he has made us dimly conscious, to worship Him and to work with Him for ever.



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1. Manetho und die Hundssternperiode, ein Beitrag zur

Geschichte der Pharaonen von August. Böckh.
Manetho and the Cynic Period, a Contribution to the

History of the Pharaohs. Berlin, 1815. 8vo. 2. Chronologie des Rois d'Egypte, Euvrage courmonné par

ľ Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres de l'Institut de France au Concours de l'Année, 1846, par J. B. Lesueur, Architecte de l'Hotel de Ville de Paris, Membre de l'Institut. Paris a l'Imprimerie Nationale,

1848. 4to. 3. Die Chronologie der Ægypter, bearbeitet von Richard

Lepsius. Einleitung und erster Theil. Kritik der Quellen.- Chronology of the Egyptians,—Introduction and Part. I. Criticism of its Sources. 4to. Berlin

and London, 1849. The appearance of these three works, full of learning and research, besides the great work of Bunsen, formerly reviewed by us (Vol. II., N. S., p. 1), within a few years, are a sufficient proof of the interest which the History of Egypt continues to excite. The Chronology is indeed the least interesting part of the subject; full of inherent difficulties and others created by the intermixture of questions that do not properly belong to it: but there can be no history without chronology, and it is important that from time to time some account should be rendered of the result of the labour and ingenuity bestowed upon it. Our own public particularly needs to be informed what is the state of the argument; for of the limited number of those who occupy themselves among us with Egyptian chronology, the greater part set out with the assumption that the Jewish chronology is inspired and infallible, and whatever contradicts it necessarily false.

The authority of Manetho is the point most fiercely debated between those who are willing to admit any claim of antiquity that can be made good by evidence on behalf of the Egyptians, and those who will admit nothing at variance with the received chronology. If his thirty dy


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nasties from Menes to Nectanebus, occupying 3,555 years, be authentic and successive, there is an end of the ques

the Egyptian monarchy must have been in existence at least 1,000 years before even the Septuagint's date of the Deluge. Hence some have simply called him an impostor, and his lists fabrications; others have supposed that he mistook contemporaneous for successive dynasties; others that months or even days may have been reckoned for years in Egyptian chronology, and thus the annals of the kingdom stretched out to such immeasurable length.

The eminent author of the work which stands first on our list, who unites perhaps of all living scholars the greatest variety of those endowments which constitute a critic, rejects the chronology of Manetho, but not on the grounds on which it is usually impugned. He thinks that it is factitious, and that it owes its origin to the author's desire to bring civil history into relation with astronomy, and especially with the celebrated Cynic or Sothiac period. This Sothiac period is 1,460 Egyptian or 1,461 Julian years, being the time which would elapse before the brilliant star Sirius, called Sothis and consecrated to Isis, having risen heliacally on the first day of the Egyptian year, would again rise in a similar manner. This is owing to the want of intercalation in the Civil Calendar of Egypt for the six hours by which the year exceeds 365 days. In consequence of this the true commencement of the year travelled in succession through all the days and months; and it was not till after 1,460 (365 X 4) years that it came back to its former place, and the rising of Sirius again coincided with the first day of the month Thoth. This, if not the original significance of the Phænix, was at least one of the cycles which that fabulous bird symbolized. It is therefore a real astronomical phænomenon, but from it a factitious period was derived of 36,525 years, produced by multiplying 1,461 by 25, the allotted lifetime of the moon-god Apis, and a remarkable lunar cycle,* being the time in which, after 509 mean synodical months, the new and full moons fall again within lh. 8m. 33s., on the same day of the year.

Now Boeckh argues that Manetho has grounded his chronology upon this Sothiac cycle, and that the chronology

* Lepsius, Einleitung, 161.

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