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the impressive and humbling language, "Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?"
A total eclipse, being of less frequent occurrence, may be looked upon as an especial messenger; and the venerable tower of a ruined abbey is, for such an occasion, a peculiarly appropriate observatory.
A very favourable opportunity, of which we availed ourselves, to view the late lunar eclipse from the ruins, "great in decay," of Furness Abbey, has induced this train of reflection.
The district of Furness, which comprises the southern portion of the north-west peninsula of Lancashire, is justly famed for its richness and fertility; and, underground, is no less remarkable for the abundance of its iron ore. The ruins were formerly the palace and temple of the then paramount Abbot of Furness*, paramount both in things spiritual and temporal.
In that district, the day on which the eclipse occurred, namely, the last day of May, was as fine as could be desired; the sun shining brilliantly, with but little interruption. We had luxuriated in the morning from the head to the foot of the then tranquil waters of Windermere, just running into the lovely Cove of Bowness, and touching at the sequestered Ferryhouse. We had then encountered a blazing sun, and a dusty road, from the lake to Ulverston, and thence onward to the quiet town of Dalton and intending to visit the extensive ruins of Furness Abbey, we thought that such an opportunity to see these relics of the past, by daylight, by moonlight, and in the gloom of a lunar eclipse, would not, could not again occur. We therefore resolved to rest ourselves in the shade of these cloistered ruins, and there to watch the progress of the occultation: so, "leaving it to time and the curious," to calculate when another total eclipse of the moon would occur on an equally beautiful evening in the lovely month of May, we sauntered down to these stupendous ruins.
It was evening as we passed along this narrow fertile valley, formerly called the Glen of the Deadly Nightshade. The sun was in the west; the wind, if there was any, was from the east; and the heavens were of a cloudless blue. We wandered through the cloistered walls, the ivied columns, the ruined aisles, the pointed arches, and the lofty towers, of this far-famed abbey. The whole scene on earth was in unison with the expected scene in the heavens.
It was now half-past eight o'clock. To us the sun had been some time gone down; for we were in a narrow glen, surrounded by hills. We ascended the high knoll on the eastern side of the abbey: Venus was in the west, shining with more than common lustre; and we first saw the moon peeping over the hill in the southeast, at 37 minutes past 8; her whole disc being visible at 42 minutes past. She quickly assumed an unusual redness of colour, more resembling the tint of the sun during a pale sunset, than the usual appearance of a rising moon; and this tint continued for some time.
The eclipse commenced at about 2 minutes after 9, but it was difficult to note the exact time with precision. Just then an owl began to hoot, and in a tone so like a human being that we thought some notice of the commencement of the eclipse; but the was giving noise continued, and we afterwards had ocular proof that it was one of Minerva's birds; though whether
When the dise was
the lessening disc of the moon. about half darkened, the eclipsed portion of the moon became visible, and it continued to become more and more so till the total obscuration, which was 9 minutes after 10. The whole face of the moon was then quite of a coppery hue, much darker to the left, which would be the centre of the earth's shadow, than to the right, which was nearer the edge of the shadow.
Just as the moon was totally obscured, a solitary cuckoo raised its voice, and seemed to bid us adieu. Ít was a late hour for such a visitor.
From yonder ivy-mantled tower,
or whether this hooting was not in accordance with its usual custom, we certainly failed to inquire.
The daylight and the moonlight seemed now to be about equal, and continued so till the moon was wholly eclipsed, neither of them at this time appearing to cast a shadow, and the daylignt or twilight lessening, with
*See an engraving and description of Furness Abbey, in the Saturday Magazine, Vol. XX., p. 161.
We were now reclining in the ancient dormitory. We had wandered about and watched the progress the eclipse through the windows and openings of these ivied walls, in the midst of a solitude and stillness deep and intense, disturbed only by the cawing of the rooks, the hooting of the solitary owl, or the occasional flitting
of a bat.
Such a sight, from such an observatory, will not soon be forgotten. Under the feelings impressed on us by the scene, we slowly wended our way back. The cop. pery hue of the moon's disc still continued, but after some time it grew lighter and lighter on the left side, as the centre of the earth's shadow travelled on to the right. This increasing light continued until there was a luminous appearance round a considerable of the part again became visible, on the side opposite to that which edge of the moon, and at 20 minutes past 11, her face was first darkened.
The moon was now considerably higher in the hea vens; daylight had departed, and of course her light was much greater than at the commencement of the eclipse, increasing and still increasing as the coppery forth once again in all her silvery brightness. veil was slowly and gradually unlifted, and she came
We hope some of our readers may have an equally favourable view of the total eclipse in November. The peculiar tint assumed by the moon previous the eclipse, suggested the following lines:
THE end of all reading should teach thee to be patient with those manners around thee thou canst not cure, and to leave unto the world the remedies thereof; to embrace love, to reverence the worthy, and mildly to overpass the rest as so many flies, who, if thou dost not mind, they will not have the power to annoy thee; that thy life is for the care of thy own proper business, not for the care over the lives of others: so shalt thou neither fear any, nor will any have cause to fear thee.-PETRARCH.
THE ASYLUM, OR RIGHT OF SANCTUARY. | benevolent character of the Divine Author of the law of
But the same law when adopted by the Greeks, quickly became subjected to alterations which destroyed At first, the oratory of the purity of its nature. Theseus was proclaimed by Plutarch as a place of refuge for servants and persons of mean condition from the oppression of the higher classes, whom they had unwittingly injured; but this soon extended not merely to the reception of those who had committed acts of unpremeditated violence, but also to such as had wilfully and deliberately committed crimes deserving severe punishment: in fact, these asyla were eventually opened to fugitives of all kinds, and thus the purpose of the institution was destroyed, and justice outraged. Criminals, instead of being brought to trial, were permitted to assemble and to live in open vice in places devoted to the worship of the Greek deities, and thus the religion of the nation became still further debased by the association with the customs of these evil men. In general these sanctuaries were, as their name implied, places of safety, but instances sometimes occurred of malefactors being dragged from the protection of the altar, and made to suffer the consequences of their crimes; or if this extremity was not resorted to, means of making them leave the sanctuary were not unknown. Thus, Demosthenes hinted that Antipater and the Macedonians would not scruple to profane his place of Cases also occurred in which the refuge with murder. Greeks made the sanctuary of no avail to the individual by starving him, unroofing the building, or setting it on fire. The evil tendencies of sanctuaries, in this debased form, became so apparent, that Augustus totally abolished that at Ephesus, and finally, the Emperor Tiberius either put an end to them everywhere, or, according to other authorities, regulated them entirely.
The depraved system of the Greeks with respect to the law of sanctuary, appears to have been followed out by the Romans. The Rev. Samuel Pegge, from whose sketch of the history of sanctuaries we have gained much of our information, says "Evander was a Greek of Arcadia, and Eneas came from Troy, where Juno, one of Romulus's goddesses, had an asylum, if that be not a prolepsis. When therefore the great founder of Rome had formed in his mind that obvious stroke of policy, the proclaiming an asylum for the purpose of filling his empty and newly-erected city with inhabitants, what plan was he more likely to adopt than that delivered down to him by his princely predecessors, Evander and Eneas, which included all subjects, even the vilest and the worst of men. Servius and the Scholiast on Juvenal say expressly, that he embraced the model of the Asylum at Athens. Livy speaks very tenderly and favourably of this business, as he may well be expected to do, only saying that no regard was had to the condition of the refugee, but that all were admitted, whether bond or free, and so Dionysius Halicarnassensis spoke as if only slaves oppressed by their masters and no doubt more truly, namely, that the asylum was open had resorted thither. Others, however, speak more freely, to the most abandoned and profligate. Juvenal calls it infame asylum, and reproaches his Romans with their base and ignoble descent from it; and Plutarch declares that all fugitives were received; that they would neither deliver up the slave to his master, the debtor to his creditor, nor the murderer to the magistrate."
THE SATURDAY MAGAZINE
THE OLD SANCTUARY, AT WESTMINSTER.
THE right of sanctuary, now fallen into disuse, was originally an institution of Divine appointment, and mercifully designed to restrain the vindictive passions of mankind; but in the course of ages, it became perverted from its true use, and made the instrument of injustice and violence, and the cloak for all sorts of wickedness and vice.
The Bible student is well aware, that on the establishment of the Israelites in the promised land, Moses was commanded to provide cities of refuge, to which those unfortunate persons might flee for safety, who through accident, not maliciously, had been the cause of a fellowcreature's death, and had thus incurred the enmity and revenge of the relatives of the deceased. There were six of these cities, three on one side of Jordan, three on the other, and they were chosen out of the forty-eight cities allotted to the Levites, which circumstance, to a certain extent, connected them with religion. Subsequently, there were three more cities added, and the temple of Solomon, with the altar of burnt-offerings, enjoyed the same privilege. The access to these places of sanctuary was made as easy as possible, and the individual taking refuge was not to stir beyond his limits, but to remain in his city till the death of the high-priest.
The institution thus established preserved the necessary and essential distinction between manslaughter and murder, and proved a blessing to the families of Israel, restraining the rash and violent spirit of revenge, sheltering the unfortunate, and ever exhibiting the wise and
The establishment of Christianity in the Roman empire did not lead to a reformation of the law of sanctuary. The Christian emperors, far from suppressing the old sanctuaries, increased their number, and made a transfer of them to the Christian churches. This was a kindly-meant but most ill-judged gift, and led to many and grievous abuses. The power and influence of ecclesiastics were indeed increased, but the churches became, to use the words of Stowe, "dens of thieves, traitors, murderers, parricides, in a word, of all kinds of villains," while evil-minded men were encouraged to the commission of wickedness by the certain prospect of safety and protection.
The right of sanctuary was conferred by the emperors | he took him within the town, he forfeited "four hunand Pope Boniface, on churches and monasteries, but dredh;" if within the walls of the churchyard, “six not on private chapels or oratories. The inferior or hundredh;" if within the church, "twelve hundredh;" parish churches were not so often visited by fugitives as if within the choir, then "eighteen hundredh," besides the more important edifices, and for this cogent reason, penance; but if the party dared to take the criminal out that individuals could not be so well accommodated, of the stone chair near the altar called fridstol, or from so comfortably maintained, nor so powerfully protected, among the relics behind the altar, the offence was then in the former as in the latter. The clergyman belong- past redemption, and nothing but the utmost severity of ing to each church was obliged to lodge and accommodate the offended church was to be expected, besides secular the criminals who took refuge in his precincts, and was punishments for the misdemeanour. The “hundredh” also bound to maintain them in food and clothing. The contained eight pounds, so that the last penalty was an clergymen of small benefices were scarcely able to do enormous sum in those times. The bounds of the this, and in some cases we may suppose the allowance of sanctuary at Beverley were nearly a mile every way, food to have fallen short, for there is evidence of the as were those of Ripon*. From the charter of one of friends and relations of the sanctuary-man sending in the Saxon kings to Crolyand Abbey†, it appears that victuals for his use, and of their being obstructed in persons taking refuge were sometimes reduced to a state their task by enemies. The evils likely to result from of slavery, for this charter expressly declares that this pensioning of criminals, and the manifold induce- criminals resorting to those precincts shall become the ments thus held out, especially to the poorer classes, slaves of the abbot. to the commission of crime, are too evident to require
The law of sanctuary was observed in Wales with great strictness and superstition. All descriptions of criminals were allowed to take refuge in their churches, and security was provided, not only for the criminals themselves, but for their servants and cattle, "to feed which last," says Lord Lyttleton, "considerable tracts of pasture land were assigned, in the whole compass whereof they were sacred and inviolable, nay, with relation to some of the principal churches, the right of sanctuary was extended as far as the cattle could range in a day and return at night."
The Sanctuary at Westminster was a very important one, and included the old church, churchyard, and close. The church was called The Sanctuary, and was com posed of two churches one over the other, each in the form of a cross. This extraordinary building was examined by Dr. Stukely in 1750, at which time it was in the course of being taken down to make room for a new market-house. He says that the workmen were a long time in demolishing it, with great labour and expense. It consisted mostly of rag-stone from Sussex, with the mortar made of the same, burnt into lime. No rock could be harder than the walls; so that the workmen were obliged to sever portions of the edifice with blasts of gunpowder. The ground plan of the church was a square of seventy feet; the lower church formed a double cross, and three of its angles were built solid, sixteen feet square. There was a large staircase in the south-east angle, containing seventeen steps, which originally led to the upper church, but was afterwards appropriated to a new bell tower, built by Edward the Third. At the same time, probably, a little circular staircase towards the east, and on the outside of the church, was added, as a mode of access to the upper church, in lieu of the greater staircase.
The angles, which were built solid in the lower church, were in the upper occupied by square rooms, one of which seems to have been a lodging room for the sacristan, and a second the revestry. The door of the lower church, or principal entrance of the fabric, was covered with plates of iron, probably to secure it from fire, and from the violence of such as would attempt to carry off any person who had fled thither for sanctuary. There was an esplanade at the top the building paved with flat stones, and having many tenements built upon it. In these, probably, many a criminal has been compelled to pass his life.
It would take too long to describe the various regulations and alterations which, at different periods, took place in the Roman law of sanctuary; we therefore turn to a similar law as observed in our own country. To mount no higher than the year of our Lord 690, (it is a disputed point whether the right of sanctuary existed in England prior to that period,) the king of Wessex enacted, that "if a person who has committed a capital offence shall fly to a church he shall preserve his life, and make satisfaction according as right requires. If any one deserving of stripes shall fly to a church, the punishment shall be forgiven him." In 872 Alfred the Great ascended the throne, and instituted the right of sanctuary, commencing his edict in the very words of Scripture. His laws, however, limited the period of sanctuary to three days, during which the fugitive was expected to seek a reconciliation with the offended party. This term was by Athelstan extended to nine days for thieves and robbers, and again to nine or more, at the king's pleasure, by Ethelred: it was further added to by succeeding monarchs; but was always intended chiefly for giving the culprit time to effect a reconciliation. Nevertheless, the Scripture precept was so far departed from, that sanctuary was afforded for all sorts of crimes. In the year 937, when Athelstan came into possession of the city of York, the church of Beverley Minster* had acquired great celebrity on account of the preaching of John of Beverley, who was buried in the church porch, and from an extraordinary veneration for the saint, the king bestowed very uncommon immunities and privileges on that church. Thus we find that from a very early period this immunity was admitted in England. But it was at the coming of the Normans that the institution was embraced in its utmost latitude. William, in founding Battle Abbey, gave the abbot the power of saving any malefactor, if he (the abbot) happened to come to the place of execution; moreover, he made the abbey church a place of safety for any felon or murderer. Camden gives the words of the charter thus: "If any thief, or murderer, or person guilty of other crime, fly for fear of death, and come to this church, let him have no harm, but be freely dismissed."
The date of this remarkable fabric is left very to conjecture. Dr. Stukely is inclined to judge that it was built by Edward the Confessor, when he built the first abbey at Westminster. In 1751, while the work of demolishing the Sanctuary was still going on, a stone was found in the north-west angle, near the floor of the lower church, with the date MCCCXXIII fairly cut. This
As some churches were deemed more desirable as places of refuge than others, so the fine or punishment upon the violation of the right of sanctuary was greater or less according to circumstances. The limits of the asylum were sometimes very extensive. At Hexham there were four crosses set up at a certain distance from the church in the four roads leading thereto, and if a malefactor flying for refuge to that church was taken or apprehended within the crosses, the party that took or laid hold of him there was fined "two hundredh;" if * See Saturday Magazine, Vol. XXIV., p. 226.
* See Saturday Magazine, Vol. VIII., p. 234.
was at the end of the reign of Edward the Second; but | it can only be understood as the date of some minor repairs, since the building exhibited indubitable marks of high antiquity. The belfry added by Edward the Third, was for the use of the canons of St. Stephen, and was built of stone and timber, covered with lead. This belfry was afterwards demolished, and the bells carried away elsewhere.
THE ORACLES OF THE ANCIENTS.
I. THE ORACLE OF JUPITER AT DODONA, in ancient Greece. In the neighbourhood of Dodona was a small hill, called Imarus, on which was located, from earliest antiquity, this celebrated oracle, which was supposed to be the most ancient of any one in Greece. The town of Dodona and the temple of Jupiter are said to have been first built by Deucalion, after the deluge which inundated Greece, about 1500 B.C. According to the traditions of the Egyptians, which are furnished us by Herodotus, the oracle itself was instituted by a dove. Two black doves, as he relates, took their flight from the city of Thebes, in Egypt, one of which flew to the temple of Jupiter Ammon, in another part of Africa, and the other to Dodona. At these places, the doves, with human voices respectively, enjoined the worshippers at the temples to institute there oracles in honour of Jupiter. Hence, these doves were considered as interpreters of the will of the gods.
However absurd this story may seem, it appears to have had some foundation in fact. Herodotus leads us to an explanation of the circumstances, by telling us that he learnt in Egypt that some Phoenicians carried away two priestesses from Egypt, one of whom fixed her residence at Dodona, and set up an oracle; and further, that, in the dialect of the country round Dodona, the word signifying old women, also meant doves or pigeons in the general language of Greece.
The lapse of a short time, however, was sufficient to impress the simple and ignorant population of the surrounding country with the belief, that the extensive grove which encircled the temple of Jupiter, was endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and that oracles were delivered as well by the sacred oaks as by the doves which inhabited the place. In the early times of the oracle, the answers were delivered by men, but afterwards by women. Three priestesses were then the authorized expounders of the divine will in the temple of Dodona; and this will they pretended to ascertain in various ways. Sometimes the divine answers were said to be delivered by the murmuring of a neighbouring fountain, which issued from the roots of a hollow oak in the forest. At other times the priestesses prognosticated by means of brazen kettles suspended round the temple; which, when vibrating, struck one against another, so as to produce a sound throughout the building. The first impulse was given to the kettles by a brazen statue, which held a whip of brass in its hand. By the clattering and discordant din which was thus raised, and continued for a while, the artifice of the priests drew their predictions. The noises occasioned by the shaking of the leaves and boughs of the oaks, were likewise received as celestial answers: to which it may be added that the circumstance of the trees speaking with a human voice was due to the priests artfully concealing themselves in or behind the oaks, and delivering the oracles themselves, which made the superstitious multitude believe that the trees were endowed with the power of prophecy. The oracle was also sometimes consulted by lot, which was done by
We come now to enter into a few details respecting three of the most celebrated oracles of the ancients.
putting scrolls, or dice, into an urn, whence they were fortuitously drawn.
Near the temple also were two columns, on one of which was a brazen pan, and on the other the figure of a boy holding a whip with three brass chains with a knob at the end of each. These chains, carried by the wind, struck against the pan, and produced a sound of considerable duration, which the priestess would calculate the continuance of, and make subservient to her purposes.
The place was indebted for its wealth and fame to the strangers who frequented the oracle from all parts of Greece. The temple of Jupiter, and the porticoes around it, were decorated with statues, and with offerings from almost every nation of the then known world. This oracle is said to have ceased about the time of Augustus Cæsar.
II. THE ORACLE OF APOLLO AT DELPHI. This place was situated at the top of one of the heights of Mount Parnassus, in ancient Greece, in the region of Phocis. It was a little to the north of the modern Gulf of Lepanto, and is now called Castri. The oracle which existed here vied with that of Dodona in antiquity, in the truth and perspicuity of its answers, in the magnificence of its structures, in the number of its presents, and the multitudes that resorted to it for counsel. The city of Delphi was thought to be situated in the middle of the earth; to prove which, Jupiter let loose two doves, one from the east and the other from the west. These doves met at the city of Delphi.
This oracle is said to have been first discovered by some goats; for which reason, a goat was usually offered to the god, when his counsel was asked by oracle. We are told that, as some goats were straying among the rocks of Mount Parnassus, they approached a cleft in the earth that emitted some unwholesome exhalations; whereupon, becoming suddenly affected with extraordinary and convulsive motions, they uttered strange sounds. The goatherd observing this, and wondering at the cause, went to explore the cavern, and was seized with a similar frenzy, in which he leaped and danced, and uttered strange and foreboding expressions. This being noised abroad, the inhabitants, of the neighbourhood flocked to the place, and breathing the same vapour or gas, experienced the like effects, and in their delirium pronounced broken and unconnected phrases. These words were taken as predictions; and the vapour of the cave was supposed to be a divine breath, which unveiled the secrets of futurity. A priestess was ordered to sit on a tripod, or three-legged stool, over the mouth of the cavern; and receiving the inspiration from below, to deliver the answers of the god.
This oracle was flourishing 1300 years B.C., in the time when the government of Israel was committed to judges, before regal dominion was established. The Trojan war took place about 1200 years B.C.; and from this oracle the Greeks are said to have received the celebrated answer, that Troy should be taken by them in the tenth year.
For some time, the oracle was consulted during only one month of the year; afterwards, one day in every month was appointed, to suit general convenience. Those who consulted the god were obliged to make large and valuable presents, and perform many sacrifices. After this, if the omens were favourable, they who consulted the oracle went into the temple with their heads crowned, and bearing in their hands a branch encircled with a narrow fillet of white wool. With this symbol the suppliants approached the altars: they delivered their questions in writing, and as briefly as possible, and waited till their turn for approaching the priestess was decided by lot.
Before the priestess ascended the tripod to deliver the divine answers, she washed herself in the Castalian fountain at the foot of Mount Parnassus. Afterwards,
she drank of the water which flowed into the sanctuary, | Cakes made with honey, which he was obliged to hold, and which was said to possess the virtue of disclosing prevented him from touching the springs used to hasten futurity. When she first sat down upon the tripod, she his descent or return; but to remove suspicions of shook the laurel tree that grew near it, and sometimes trickery, the priests told him that the cave was full of ate the leaves. Both she and the tripod were covered dreadful serpents, from the bites of which he could with chaplets and branches of laurel, which was called secure himself only by throwing them cakes of honey. the prophetic plant. As soon as the priestess became inspired or excited by the effluvia of the vapour from beneath, she became distorted, foamed at the mouth, tore her hair, mangled her flesh, and appeared like one distracted. Sometimes the paroxysm was such as to deprive her of life. It is said, that under the tripod sometimes appeared a serpent or dragon, which returned answers, and which once killed the priestess. Whatever was uttered by the priestess during the continuance of this fit, was taken for an answer, in each particular case of inquiry, an answer divinely rendered.
For purposes of their own, the priests permitted an applicant to enter the cavern only in the night, and after long preparations and a strict examination. The applicant who was determined to descend into the cave of Trophonius, had to pass a certain number of days in a chapel dedicated to Good Fortune and Good Genius. During his stay here, he went through various purifications, and offered numberless sacrifices, which being auspiciously performed, he prepared for his descent. He was conducted to the banks of the river Hercyne, where two youths called Mercuries rubbed him with oil, and made ablutions over him. He was then led to drink of the fountain of Oblivion, and of that of Remem brance; oblivion of the past, and remembrance of what he should see and hear in the cave. He was next introduced alone into the chapel of Trophonius, which contained an ancient statue of the prophet, never shown except to those who consulted the oracle. Here he prayed to the statue, and advanced towards the cavern, clad in a linen habit adorned with ribands, and carrying in his hands the cakes of honey.
The oracles were at first usually given in verse; but, when it had been sarcastically observed that Apollo, the reputed god and patron of poetry, was the most imperfect poet in the world, the answers were given in prose. The temple of Delphi was built and destroyed several times. This sacred repository of opulence was often the subject of plunder; the people of Phocis once seized ten thousand talents from it, and the Emperor Nero carried away five hundred statues of brass, of the gods and illustrious men. In a subsequent age, Constantine the Great removed its most splendid ornaments to his new capital.
III. THE CAVE OF TROPHONIUS, at Lebadea, a city of Boeotia. This subterranean abode was the haunt of a person named Trophonius, who, retiring to the cave, which was not far from Delphi, pretended to be inspired with an extraordinary knowledge of future events; but at length, probably from a design of making men suppose that he was translated to the gods, he perished in the cave.
Some writers say that Trophonius and his brother Agamedes, being architects, and having built the temple of Delphi, contrived a secret passage, in order to steal during the night the treasures deposited in the temple; and that Agamedes being caught in a trap, Trophonius, to prevent suspicion, cut off his head, and was himself swallowed up by the earth for his impiety. Others say, that the two brothers having finished building the temple, entreated Apollo that, for a recompense of their labour, he would bestow on them the best thing that could happen to man. The god promised that they should receive it on the third day after; and on the third day they were together recompensed with death, in a peaceful slumber.
The oracle came first into repute, we are told, when there had been no rain in Boeotia for two years, and ambassadors were sent to Apollo at Delphi, to request his advice and assistance. The god commended their piety, and told them to return home and consult Trophonius at Lebadea. By observing a swarm of bees they were directed to the cave, where they received an auspicious answer, and were informed in what manner, and with what rites and ceremonies, he wished to be approached in future by those who should seek his advice.
The place of the oracle was under the surface of the earth. The cave first presented a vestibule surrounded with a balustrade of white marble, on which stood obelisks of brass. Then appeared a grotto hewn out with a chisel, eight cubits high, and four wide. In this was the entrance of the cavern, which was descended by a ladder. When the person who descended, had arrived at a certain depth, he found a narrow aperture through which he passed his feet; and when with much difficulty he had introduced the rest of his body, he felt himself hurried along with the rapidity of a torrent to the bottom of the cave. When he returned, he was thrown back, with his head downwards, with the same velocity.
Having descended into the cave in the manner before described, some applicants saw nothing, but heard an oracular response; others heard nothing, but saw appear ances, which served as an answer. Some remained in the cavern a longer, some a shorter time; but one person, whom the priests suspected of being a spy, never returned alive; his body was thrown out of the cave by an outlet different from that by which he entered.
After the return of the person who had consulted the oracle, he was compelled to sit down on the seat of Remembrance, where he related what he had seen and heard in the cave. He was then re-conducted to the chapel of Good Fortune and Good Genius, in order to recover his spirits from the dreadful impression of the terrors, which was visible upon him after his return from the cave. The pensive countenance and melancholy air with which people always returned from the cave, gave rise to a proverbial expression with reference to a person looking gloomy and dejected: "He has been consulting the oracle of Trophonius."
There were some other oracles of a minor character among the ancients; but the general course of their system and pretensions was similar to the three principal oracles in the heathen world, of which we have thus given a detailed account. The modern reader will remember that they were all associated with, and formed part of the established religion or superstition of the country where they flourished, before the Gospel of Christ came to deliver both us and them from "the devices of the crafty," and to lead us to a "hope "which we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil of futurity, not by the permission or ability of man, but of God. Hebrews vi. 19.
GOETHE, when young, having heard that he was considered exactly the opposite reputation for his experience: "all as very inexperienced, applied to an old officer who had that I could gather, (says Goethe,) was nearly this, that we learn by experience that it is a folly to hope for the accomplishment of our wishes, our dearest projects, our best ideas; and that whoever suffers himself to be caught by such baits, and warmly expresses his hopes, is considered as singularly inexperienced."
JOHN W. PARKER, Publisher, WEST STRAND, LONDON.