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BIBLICAL, LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC MISCELLANIES.
The investigations set on foot by the London Jews' Society, respecting the remnant of Abraham's seed in the Chinese empire, have been followed up by a second visit to Kae-fung-foo of the two natives employed on the first occasion. They purchased from the Jewish community in that place six of the twelve rolls of the law belonging to their synagogue, and ob tained besides about 40 smaller books, which may possibly contain some records of their early history and migrations to China. Two of the rolls have been already sent to England. The Bishop of Victoria writes 22d of last August: "The last important circumstance is the arrival of two native Jews, who are now diligently studying Hebrew under Dr. Medhurst's roof. They seem alive to the humiliation of having lost Hebrew from among them."
At the Syro-Egyptian Society, January 11th, a description was read of a cylinder which is considered by Mr. Abington, as well as by Colonel Rawlinson, to have been a public signet. On this cylinder is a majestic figure, clothed in a tunic and robe, richly embroidered and fringed, in the fashion of the kings of Assyria. The helmet upon his head is decorated with one pair of horns, the symbols of regal power. His body is furnished with four wings, indicating the extent of dominion to the four quarters of the heavens. Mr. Sharpe exhibited lithographic drawings of the inscriptions on the great sarcophagus in the Louvre in Paris, which he is about to pub lish in his "Egyptian Inscriptions." He pointed out the conquest of the eternal Serpent, the enemy of the human race; a sacrifice of men to Osiris, who sits with a pair of scales before him to weigh their conduct. The sarcophagus Mr. Sharpe considered not more ancient than the Ptolemies. The writing was not, as in the ancient inscriptions, so that the reader met the points of the letters, but, as in other alphabets, he follows the backs of the characters.
At the same society, March 8th, the Rev. Mr. Turnbull read a paper "On Damascus." The extraordinary antiquity of this city, combined with its peculiarly beatiful situation, render it an object of universal interest. It is mentioned in Gen. xiv. The author derived its name from Damak and Mashkah, a watered plain. Uz, eldest son of Aram, was probably the founder; his brother Hul settling on the streams of Hermon, and giving his name to the land Huleh to this day; Gether or Theger and Mash, the other sons of Aram, giving their names to the Tigris and the Masian mountains. The city is in length about two and a half miles, and in
breadth three quarters of a mile, beautifully situated in an extensive plain. The author suggested that at some future period the foundations of Damascus might afford instructive additions to the ancient remains of Ninevah and Babylon.
At the Asiatic Society, February 5th, the assistant secretary read extracts of letters received from Colonel Rawlinson, communicating the finding of a large number of inscriptions in real bona fide Scythian languages. These inscriptions are all more ancient than those of the Achaemenian kings. The Colonel is satisfied that all the Hamite nations, Cush, Mizraim, Nimrod and Canaan, were Scythian, the two former, perhaps, mixed up with races of Shemite origin. We believe that, at the period when these inscriptions were first written, that is to say, about the 18th century B. C. the Scythians and the Shemites were so completely mingled together in Syria that they cannot now be distinguished, but that the Scyths were the first settlers, followed by the race of Shem after a long interval. This clears up most of the difficulties in the patriarchal genealogies, and accounts for the confusion of Greek tradition.
At the Syro-Egyptian Society, December 14th, there were read "Some Inscriptions on Bricks from Koyunjik," by Dr. Grotefend, translated by the Rev. G. Renonard. The inscriptions are in the works of Mr. Layard, published by the trustees of the British Museum. Dr. Grotefend says that those who refer the original inscriptions to Sennacherib will believe that by Nergal Sharezer his murder is signified; but seeing that in the word Framatarákh, a Median title with a Babylonian formative syllable is applied to him, he thinks he must be identified with the prophet Daniel's Darius the Mede.
Miss Fanny Corbaux exhibited drawings of the principal figures painted on the tombs Seti Menephtah I. and Rameses III., regarding these subjects not as an ethnographical classification of the human race, as commonly conjectuted, but as strictly commemorative, like the historical temple sculptures. The various people whom the Theban king claimed as vassals are tendering their homage in his tomb. The Egyptian race leads the procession; the nations acquired by conquest follow. The latter bear descriptive epithets. I. Nehasu, or rebellious race--the aboriginal blacks of Cush; II. Temahu, or Northern race- -the Rephaim; III. Shemu, or Shemite race-the Aramites, among whom the Edomite colonists of the Horite valley are also included. In support of these positions, Miss Corbaux referred to the drawings, shewing the costumes of the two latter people taken from the historical sculptures, where the names of their lands are given, and all of which she had identified. She concluded by suggesting that the well known subject on the tombs of Beni Hassan; an embassy of 37 foreigners, headed by their Hyk or chief; which was once thought to represent the arrival of the Jews, might present an early type of the Rephaim nations, prior to their establishment in Egypt; prior, perhaps, to their subdivisions into the tribes mentioned in Deut. II.
At the Asiatic Society, January 15th, Professor Wilson delivered a lecture on the Vedas. The existence of these books became known to Europe about the middle of the last century. In 1789 a copy obtained by Colonel Polier from Jeypúr was presented to the British Museum. Of the four Vedas, the texts of three and the translations of two are either printed or in the course of publication. The Vedas consist of two parts, the Mantra and the Brahmana, or the practical and the speculative, the former consisting of hymns, and the latter chiefly of directions for the applications of the hymns to the principal religious ceremonies; the metaphysical treatises called Upanishads are included in the Brahmanas. The whole of the hymns, as grouped together, form what is called the Sanhita of the Veda; that of Rigveda contains about 10,000 stanzas; and the shortest, that of the Sama, or third Veda, about 1600. Of the four Vedas, the Rigveda is certainly the most ancient, for parts of that are found in each of the others. The chief value of the Vedas depends upon their high antiquity, the Rig veda being probably compiled about the 14th or 15th century B. C. No warrant is found in the Vedas for any of the principal dogmas and institu tions of modern Hinduism. The real character of their sacred writings bas hitherto been hidden from the Hindús by the difficulties of the language; but through the English language, a medium of which multitudes are already able to avail themselves, the Hindus will become acquainted with these works, which they deem the basis of their faith, and will see the utter hollowness of this foundation.
Recent letters from Egypt report the discovery, in that country, of a buried city. It is alleged to be situated about five hours' journey from Cairo, near the first cataract. It is said that an Arab, having observed what appeared to be the head of a sphynx appearing above the ground near this spot, drew the attention of a French gentleman to this circumstance, who commenced excavating, and laid open a long-buried street, which contained 38 granite sarcophagi, each of which weighed 68 tons, and which formerly held evidently the ashes of sacred animals. The French gentleman, it is added, has got a grant of the spot from the Egyptian Pasha, and has exhumed great quantities of curiosities, some of them ancient earthenware vessels of a diminutive size. This street, when lighted up at night, forms a magnificent sight. It is upwards of 1600 yards in length. Many of the curiosities dug out have, it is added, to be kept buried in sand to preserve them from perishing.
At the Royal Society of Literature, February the 5th, the Rev. Churchill Babington gave an interesting account of the orations of Hyperides, which he has been engaged in editing. Mr. Babington stated that in 1847 Mr. Harris of Alexandria discovered at Thebes, in Upper Egypt, three fragments of a Greek papyrus, containing the part of an oration of Hyperides against Demosthenes, charging him with having accepted a bribe. These were edited first in Germany, and subsequently in England by Mr. Babington, the edi tors in both countries agreeing that the fragments were parts of different
orations. About the same time Mr. Arden was travelling in Egypt, and obtained from the Arabs another papyrus, which has been committed to Mr. Babington's care, and which is now executed in fac-simile and ready to be published. This papyrus contains one complete oration of Hyperides, in favor of Euxenippus, and fifteen columns of another. The oration in favor of Euxenippus is interesting, as relating to a dispute about some lands granted by Philip of Macedon to the Athenians after the battle of Cheronea. There is a good deal of historical matter in it, and some notice of the silver mines of Laurium. The style is perspicuous, and the Greek very elegant, and there are some words in it of very rare occurrence.
From the Bishop of Victoria's letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, it appears that the new buildings at St. Paul's College, Hong-Kong, have been completed, in which the bishop now resides as warden of the college, together with a full staff of tutors and students. This institution was founded by the Rev. Vincent Stanton, by whose exertions an Anglo-Chinese school was opened in 1849. By a munificent private donation and a grant of £2000 from the society for the promotion of Christian knowledge, the Bishop of Victoria has been enabled to complete all the requisite buildings of a collegiate establishment. The senior tutor is the Rev. E. T. R. Moncrief.
The report of the Rev. E. Jones, principal of the Fousah-Bay Institution, . Sierra Leone, presents an interesting view of the advancing character of the studies which are prosecuted by the students, who are negro youths, whose Christian character and suitableness in other respects afford the promise of their becoming suitable teachers amongst their countrymen. The following is the amount of work which the first class, containing four pupils, has accomplished in four years. Commencing with the elements of Greek and Hebrew, they have read the whole of the New Testament, with Arnold's two works on Greek prose composition. They have mastered the five books of Euclid, with a knowledge of quadratic equations in Algebra. Keightley's Reformation, Nicholl's Help, Horne's Introduction, the first 28 articles in Burnet, English Grammar, Geography, and Composition, Barth's Church History, and Spanheim's Ecclesiastical Annals to the end of the fifth century have all been acquired. In Hebrew, they have read the whole of Genesis, 34 Psalms, and 50 chapters of Isaiah, and are, therefore, prepared to pursue the study themselves. The progress of the second and third classes is equally pleasing. The total number of students is 17, and their conduct in and out of class is orderly and respectful.
Just above the square, and near the Greek church, at Alexandria, there has been laid open very recently the foundation of what is believed to be that of the once famous library of Alexandria, destroyed by the Caliph Omar. The ruins dug from this spot, which consist principally of bricks, are being sold for ordinary purposes. During the stay of the mail steamer Ripon at Alexandria recently, the Admiralty agent, Lieut. Newenham,
visited this spot; and he states that he saw there large quantities of calcined earth and blackened bricks, the effects of fire. Lieut. Newenham brought away with him, and has now at Southampton, a drawing from a handsome sculptured blue granite stone, found amongst the rubbish on this spot. The drawing represents a winged sphere, underneath which is a figure like a baboon, in a sitting posture, with uplifted hands. Below this are the figures of what are believed to be kings, over the heads of which are a quantity of hieroglyphics, seemingly a record of their names and titles.
At the Syro-Egyptian Society, February 8th, a paper was read on the Zend-Avesta by Dr. W. Camps. The conclusion at which the writer arrived was, that the Zend was the ancient language of Media, and that the books preserved in it were the genuine works of Zerduscht or Zoroaster, who appeared as a religious reformer in the reign of Gushtap, who is by most historians identified with Darius Hystaspes.
At the same society, March 8th, extracts from a letter by Mr. H. Rassam, dated Nimrúd, November 20, 1852, were read. The excavations at Nimrúd had been re-opened, and a fine bas relief, with Assyrian warriors hunting a lion, had been found. It is so well preserved as to look like the work of yesterday. Fragments of other bas reliefs of superior workmanship had also been found. Also several ivory heads most beautifully cut, one of them gilt over with gold. Excavations were also being carried on at Koyunjik, (Ninevah,) but the excavators were only rewarded by tablets of clay covered with small cuneiform character. The French are very zealous in their researches. They believe that they have found at Khorsabad the very chariot of Asshur! They are excavating in four or five different mounds. The Turkish government has also, strange to say, turned arche ological, and commenced excavating the mounds called Nebbi Yunus, or of the prophet Jonah, to the great annoyance of the more devout Mussul
A foreign correspondent of Kitto's Journal of Sacred Literature," to which we are chiefly indebted for the foregoing items of this article, gives a very melancholy account of the state of theology and religion in Ger many. He says, "If Schleiermacher may be charged with setting an example to the Pantheists, Neander cannot be held wholly guiltless of encouraging the hypocrites. The former went some way to destroy religion by excessive refinements, and the latter threw around the truth such mists as could not fail to be perilous to ordinary wayfarers. The influence of the latter still operates in the affections of the Berlin school, who look one way and go another. The influence of the former has issued in the nega tions of Tübingen, where religion is resolved into mere naturalism. The only believing element (on a large scale) in Germany is Romanism; alas! that we must say so. We do not believe that the belief of the Romanists is well grounded. We deny that it is healthy; but at least it is active; it