Imágenes de páginas

of the highest development and most perfect organization. The division into classes, the most comprehensive groups, differ considerably in the two works : in the former, we have five-Exogens, Gymnosperms, Endogens, Rhizanths, and Acrogens; in the present work we have seven, which are as follows, beginning from the opposite extreme-Thullogens, Acrogens, Rhizogens, Endogens, Dictyogens, Gymnogens, Exogens. The groups, or alliances, into which these classes are themselves divided, likewise differ very much in these two works; characters esteemed of primary importance in establishing these alliances in the one case, being allowed merely a secondary value in the other. In the still further subdivision into orders, much greater coincidence, of course, presents itself; a large proportion of these being recognised alike by all modern systematists.

That Dr. Lindley finds reason to alter and modify his views of the true affinities of plants, as observation and study afford him enlarged and clearer views of the real nature of their more essential characters, can form no ground of objection against his works, but is the necessary consequence of persevering observations by an original and candid mind, in any branch of natural history.

In fact, there is no such thing as stability in these matters. Consistency is but another name for obstinacy. Every science is in a state of progression, and, of all others, the sciences of observation

The author cannot regard perseverance in error commendable, for the sake of what is idly called consistency; he would rather see false views corrected, as the proof of their error arises.'

To pretend to set forth a system which shall claim the merit of perfection, or as being the nearest possible approximation to perfection, would be an absurdity, both because our knowledge is at the best incomplete, and is constantly gaining fresh accessions; and because the plan observed in the creation of living • beings may be represented in many ways; and although the

order of nature is itself settled and invariable, yet human descriptions of it will vary with the mind of the describer.'

No doubt what Dr. Lindley has now published as the most natural arrangement of plants which he can devise, will prove no more permanent than other systems which have gone before it; we are of opinion, however, that it is the closest representation which has yet been given of the system upon which Nature has really proceeded in the development of her various forms, from the isolated cell of almost imperceptible minuteness to the lofty oak tree of the forest.

most so.

[ocr errors]


ART. VIII. - The Lands of the Bible visited and described, in an

extensive Journey, undertaken with special reference to the Promotion of Biblical Research, and the Advancement of the Cause of Philanthropy. By John Wilson, D.D., F.R.S., Honorary President of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Member of the Editorial Committee of the Asiatic Section of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquities at Copenhagen, Missionary of the Free Church of Scotland, &c. &c. With Maps and Illus

trations. 2 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh. 1847. HISTORY begins in Ancient Asia. On that soil the human mind presents its first development. Science, learning, policy, religion —all have their beginnings from that source. The civilization of Africa has an impress of its own; that of Europe is still more distinct; but, in both cases, the good has come by migration, and its origin has been oriental. To be unacquainted with early Asiatic history is to be ignorant as to the first bubblings of that marvellous stream of intelligence and onwardness, which has been ever in movement, and which is now diffusing itself more and more equally over the four quarters of the world.

Asia stretches so far north as to embrace wide unpeopled regions of everlasting ice and snow, and so far south as to send her peninsulas, which in themselves are almost continents, far within the tropics, nearly touching the equator. Viewed in its depth or width, it embraces more than half the old worldEurope is not more than a fourth of its size, while, in respect to variety, fertility, and beauty, the surface of Europe, and even that of Africa, cannot be brought into comparison with the pretensions of the greater, we may almost call it the parent, continent. The fairest and richest provinces of Asia are in the same latitude with the Mediterranean, and it is only as men diverge from those regions, to others more northward or southward, that they become materially inconvenienced either by cold or heat. The entire continent is naturally divided into three departments. Two grand chains of mountains, and at something like equal distances from each other, cross its territory, from west to east. The Tauric chain takes its rise near the shores of the Mediterranean, in Asia Minor, and extends, like a mighty wall of separation, eastward, as far as the desert of Cobi, and the walls of China. The Altaic chain takes its rise northward of the Caspian, and sends its main line in the same direction. Northern Asia lies north of the Altaic mountains, and in a line with Russia ; Central Asia lies between the two chains of mountains just named, and in a line with Germany; while Southern


Asia, the seat of all the old Asiatic empires, is, as we have stated, in the same latitude with Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. This grand division by mountains is further subdivided by rivers. In Southern Asia, by the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Indus; in Central Asia, by the Oxus and Jaxartes; and in Northern Asia, by the Irtish, the Lena, and the Yenesei; the last named, little known to Europeans,-send their flood of waters, without ceasing, into the unexplored solitudes of the Arctic Sea.

We touch on these peculiarities in the geography of Ancient Asia because they are intimately connected with the general history of that quarter of the globe. Northern Asia, indeed, can hardly be said to have a history. But Central Asia, with its wide table lands, has been the hive of population to the East the territory from which the Mongolians and Tartars, in later time, and the shepherd kings,' in earlier time, have come down like a flood on the corrupt civilization of the south, setting up new empires, to become as corrupt, in their turn, as their predecessors, and to be crushed, in their turn, by new insurgent hordes, from the same pastoral regions. Such, in fact, has been the perpetual round of Asiatic history. Its empires have all commenced in comparative rudeness, have become corrupt as the means of indulgence have multiplied, and have fallen under the shock of ruder and less effeminate assailants. Three stages have secmed to embrace their destiny-from barbarism to corruptness, from corruptness to decay.

But from the regions where human greatness has been at once so gorgeous and so unstable, influences have proceeded of a nature to produce the strongest and the most permanent impression on the condition of humanity. In those regions we find

the Lands of the Bible,' and by that fact alone a charm is thrown over Asiatic history, that cannot be said to belong to any other. The volumes before us abound with much that should be interesting to the scholar and the historian, but with more that will find its way readily to the imagination and the heart of the Christian. "Dr. Wilson, compelled by a much impaired state of health to leave, for a while, the scene of his missionary labours in India, has endeavoured to render his voyage and journey to Britain as conducive as possible to the interests of religion and humanity. The result is before us in the present publicationon the claims of which the author himself shall be allowed to speak.

'I respectfully claim a place for my work, from certain classes of readers at least, because of the extent of the journey which it narrates, and the objects which it was designed to subserve; because part of the land and ocean over which it is my wish to conduct my reader, has


been but partially, if at all, noticed in late publications; and because, even on frequented tracks, I have exercised my own visual organs, and made my own observations and inquiries, without anything like a slavish deference either to my predecessors or contemporaries. Most travellers who have entered the countries which I ask the reader to traverse with me have approached them from the distant West; and almost everything connected with them has presented itself to their view in an aspect of entire novelty, and called forth a burst of fresh European feeling. I betook myself to them from the distant East, in which I had resided about fifteen years, and not altogether a stranger to the nature of their climes, and the manners and customs and languages of their inhabitants, with many of whom I had been brought in contact; and if I have laboured under some disadvantages by my lengthened sojourn in the exsiccating regions of the sun, I have enjoyed certain facilities for movement, and inquiry, and comparison, to which some importance may be attached. In my associates, too, I was peculiarly favoured. I allude especially to John Smith, Esq., and Dbanjibháí Naurojí of Bombay, to the Rev. William Graham, of Damascus, and to the other friends, to whom I have expressed my great obligations in the body of my book, and whose assistance and friendship I shall long remember with the deepest gratitude.

* The work, which, as it regards one of the great objects which I kept particularly in view throughout my travels, comes nearest to my own, is the ‘Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai, and Arabia Petræa,' of the Rev. Edward Robinson, D.D. That most able and learned book has entirely exhausted many subjects of inquiry connected with Biblical Geography. It is remarkably accurate, as a whole, in its original descriptions; and it contains historical notices of many localities which evince the most diligent and successful research, being, in fact, a valuable epitome of the results of ancient and modern travel in the Holy Land. It is a matter of congratulation, that it at once took, and will long maintain, its place as a standard authority. If it has not met with all the popular favour which it merits, this is owing as much to the gravity of the subjects of which it treats, as to the disadvantage to the reader of the union of the more lively personal narrative, with the duller, though still valuable, historical and antiquarian inquiries. In some matters of great interest, I have seen reason to differ from the conclusions of Dr. Robinson,-as the place and circumstances of the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, the mount of communion at Sinai, the route of the Israelites immediately after the giving of the Law, the use of some of the ancient excavations at Petra, and various questions connected with the topography of the Holy Land.

The reasons of my judgment I have endeavoured to state without dogmatism, and in a spirit, I trust, equally remote from the dangerous extremes of credulity and rationalism. In travelling through the land of Israel, my companions and myself were guided in the identification of Scripture sites principally by the coincidence of the ancient Hebrew and modern Arabic names, and their visible agreement with the localization of Scripture, and the notices of Eusebius and Jerome. It was, generally speaking, rather for purposes of confirmation than information respecting them, that we consulted the various works which we had in our possession. Except in a few cases, the grounds of judgment lie within very narrow bounds.'— Vol. i. pp. vi.-ix.

'I devoted a great deal of my attention, when travelling, to the implementing of a commission which I had received from one of the Committees of the Church of Scotland, relative to the prosecution of research among the Eastern Jews. Circumstances much favoured me in my intercourse with these people, who are so much beloved for their fathers' sakes; and I have been enabled, both in the first and second parts of my work, to bring to notice some matters connected with them, which, I trust, will be found not altogether devoid of interest and originality. A similar observation I may make, perhaps with more confidence, connected with the remnant of the Samaritans still sojourning at Shechem or Nábulus. The Eastern Christians, the nominal representatives of our holy faith in the glorious lands in which it originated, and sojourning on the frontiers, or within the territories of Muhammadanism and Heathenism, and peculiarly exposed to the intrigues of crafty conclaves at Rome and Lyons, called forth special notice, and excited much of my sympathy; and I have devoted a considerable number of pages to an exposition of their creed and condition, and their more general historical connexions. In doing this, I have availed myself of two Lectures, which, in anticipation of the appearance of this work, I have laid before the public since my arrival in Scotland, abridging and enlarging them according to convenience. I have of course formed my judgment of these Eastern churches from a comparison of them with the evangelical principles which we hold as the truth of God. I extremely regret that I could not take a more favourable view of them than I have done. I trust that what I have said of them may conduce somewhat to extend the too feeble interest which is felt in their behalf by the Protestant Churches of Europe.'— Vol. i. pp. ix.-xi.

Dr. Wilson embarked in a steamer at Bombay, in January, 1843—the first point to be touched by the vessel being our Arabian colony at 'Aden. After sailing six days, the coast of Arabia became visible, and two days later the small curved peninsula, the seat of the British settlement, was distinctly seen. The general aspect of the southern shore of Arabia, from the sea, is that of a mountainous, rocky, and sterile region, with little to make it welcome to man or beast. The neighbourhood of 'Aden is not an exception in this respect. The peninsula on which our colony is situated is not five miles square, but is connected with a good bay, and strong natural means of defence.

The population of the town is nearly 20,000, of which something less

« AnteriorContinuar »