Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

that had graced the mausoleum, and transferred them to St. John of the Lateran, and other Roman churches, where antiquarians, as they believe, even now can point them out. And when the Goths invaded Italy and besieged the city, the desperate citizens broke the statuary of Parian stone, and hurled the fragments on the heads of the besiegers. Thus was it stripped and diminished, until it seemed as if the Mole of Hadrian, too truly answering to its name,* would become a ruinous heap. Thus it frowned over the Tiber for centuries, an unsightly mass of masonry, covering the ashes of a builder, for whose memory, Pagan that he was, no man cared; and it is not unlikely that the deepening superstition of successive generations would people the ruin with figures of ghosts or angels. An illusion, however, or a fable, contributed to rescue the pile from utter demolition. An angel, it was reported, had appeared on the top, after a pestilence had been wasting the population, and by some gesture, or other signal, intimated that the plague was ended. The name of that angel no one was able to divine; and, in the lack of a more specific designation, they called him “the Holy Angel;" (il Sant'Angelo;) and as the building had been used as a castle, from the beginning of the Gothic invasion, it was thenceforth called "the Castle of the Holy Angel.” Those who fain would throw a veil over the follies of past ages, say that this name originated in the time of Benedict XIV., who placed in the castle an image of the angel Michael. But Benedict ascended the throne in 1740; and we have just read the legend in a book printed in Rome in 1652, when the Castle had been known from time of old by its present name. It is vain for the art of the present age to fling its robe over the superstitions of the past, too ample to be concealed by so scant a covering.

When Charles VIII. of France threatened to invade Italy, in order to recover the sovereignty of Naples, on the one hand, and when the Turk, on the other, was also threatening to overwhelm the divided and sinking states of Italy, Pope Alexander VI., one of the most warlike and licentious of all that ever wore the triple crown, repaired the walls in places where time and violence had made breaches. And when the

Moles, “ a heap."

French army had crossed the Alps, and, passing through the country, had taken possession of Ferrara without resistance, that Pope, forsaken by all his Cardinals, except two, who went with him, and perhaps hated by the people of Rome as bitterly as Pius IX. is hated now, shut himself up in the newly-repaired fortress, and refused to see Charles, who entered the Flaminian gate, and was welcomed with joy as if he had come to save them from the Papacy. But the King compelled him to come out; and some Priests, wishful to save Rome for their Church, managed to mediate between them, and adjust their differences.

For many ages this Castle of St. Angelo has served the Popes for the twofold use of a fortress and a prison. There, as in the Tower of London, in olden time, the Priest-Kings have laid up their ammunition, lodged a little garrison, overawed the city, and held fast state-prisoners. Within the dreary enclosure that you see pictured on our frontispiece, there are chambers with walls impenetrably thick, and small, very small windows opening inward, obscured with strong gratings of iron that no perseverance nor ingenuity of a captive could remove. There are dark dungeons, in which the man immured cannot see a ray of light. There are depths lower than the ashes of Hadrian, where living victims might be buried, and probably have often been buried. Some who have lately tenanted the less horrible cells, tell us of iron rings, and of chains, by which former occupants were bound, and of names and sentences written on the cold black walls, just as aforetime in the great state-prison of England. Within that inclosure, hostages have been detained, disgraced Cardinals laid in fetters ; Popes themselves have trembled, and Princes have perished, there. Every reader will remember that Dr. Giacinto Achilli, baving been seized by the Inquisitors, was imprisoned in the Castle of St. Angelo, the Roman citizens having dilapidated the cells of the Inquisition in 1849; and many who have heard him raise his voice in this free country to warn us against the artifice of Rome, will not be displeased to see a representation of the exterior of his prison. From the height of St. Angelo the cannon belch out their flames when the name of a newly-elected Pope is first proclaimed from a window of the neighbouring Vatican. Then, and at the great festivals, the artillery of St. Angelo makes the dome of St. Peter's vibrate with its peals. Now the French have possession of the fortress. They have filled it with men and ammunition, and could batter down the palace of the Popes, if the Pope that now is were to resist their pleasure. They keep him quiet, but they also keep the slaves of the Papacy in subjection. There it was that Arnold of Brescia hoisted his flag, while the Pope was disowned, and he ruled the commonwealth. Very lately, the tricolor of the Roman republic waved from that flag-staff; but what flag will be next unfurled thereon, is a question which the Care dinals are asking, as they sit within sight of it in Consistory, looking at each other. In January, 1852, we cannot hope to answer; but we, as our fathers, live in the confidence that the Lord God Omnipotent will, in His good time, take down the Papal standard, and the apocalyptic vision shall be fulfilled, when that huge sepulchre shall be restored to the use for which Hadrian built it,- to hide the dead,—and the avenging angel shall cry mightily over the Castle of St. Angelo, saying,

Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”

66

HEBREW DATES AND NUMBERS. One book of the New Testament, the Revelation of St. John the Divine, is written in a very remarkable style. It is not only, like the Gospel of St. Matthew more particularly, and all the other books to some extent, full of Hebrew allusions and Hebrew forms, but abounds, beyond them all, in both allusions and forms which are distinctively rabbinical. In proportion as a calm and non-controversial criticism is employed on this book, its Jewish character stands out with increasing clearness to the apprehension of the student, as distinct from the general Hebrew character which it also has, in common with all the writings of the same volume. And this is a fact in sacred literature which deserves far more serious and grateful

attention than it generally receives. The book which, as yet, Christians least understand; the book which awaits the solution of its prophecies by their fulfilment; the book which is not only last in order, but eminently belongs to the last times,—last in relation to the great events that shall usher in the full triumph of Christianity; this book might almost seem written for the synagogue, and cannot but be recognised by every learned Jew, when converted to the faith of Christ, as the writing of one who, like the beloved disciple, was familiarly known at the High-Priest's palace.

Borrowing, for a moment, the perception of a Jewish reader, and refraining from controversial disquisition as to the meaning of the passage, seeing that it has long taxed the ingenuity of the wisest commentators, let us note a literal peculiarity of the following sentences :-"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.” (Rev. xiii. 17, 18.)

Wisdom, or art, would be called by the same name (7937) in the lips of a Jew. The art now required is to count the number of a name, or, in other words, to find a name that shall contain the number given; and the name is, of course, to tally with a description contained in the context. The reader is recommended to peruse this description carefully; and if a Jew should see these observations, he is requested to consider whether there be any people in the world that has been subjected to the ban and to the persecution there predicted, so cruelly and so generally as his own. And there is only one people in the world that has continuously persecuted them; and that people, while we write, carries out the same persecution in Rome itself, to the very letter of the Apocalypse. What language do these oppressors use? For it is by their sacred and universal language that they are here distinguished. They use Latin, suffering no other to be employed in the highest solemnities of their worship, and in the authoritative documents of their Pontiffs. This is Latin. Latin, not as an adjective, but as the name of a language, is

,In the year NoNE BESIDEs ME * : בשנת אין זולתי לפ"ק

called in the synagogue 1917-and the number of this name, that is to say, the numerical value of its component letters, is 666. This computation is not new, nor is it presented to the readers of the “ Youth's Instructer" as a discovery, for it has been current for more than a century, and was suggested centuries before; but it recalls the fact that this manner of combining words and numbers is in daily practice with the Jews. This appears on the title-pages of their books; where, instead of exhibiting numbers, either at length or by figures, they find a word that will contain the date, and must frequently have to exercise great ingenuity in making such a choice as will not only serve the first purpose, but be in itself elegant, and even highly suggestive. Out of many Hebrew title-pages lying within reach, we take the following:

A book printed at Leghorn in the year 1753, or, as the Jews count, 5513-14. The date is thus given :

: “ , lesser computation.” The two middle words are

to be counted letter by letter, * (1) * (10) 7 (50) 7 (7) 7 (6) 3 (30) 7 (400) (10), making 514, the thousands being dropped in “ lesser coinputation.” The Christian date being also put, in obedience to the civil or ecclesiastical authority of Leghorn, it results that the book was printed some time between the middle of September and the end of the year 1753. A Prayer-book is printed in London, in the year “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may see WONDERS." The symbolic word

Saswonders, indicates the year 5567; from which deducting 3760, as must always be done, to reduce the Jewish to the Christian year, it turns out that the book belongs to 1807. The same principle of indicating, rather than expressing, numbers, prevails in all notation of dates ; and thus you may find the notices hung up in the synagogues for a Sabbath, or for a week, distinguished by the first word of the parashah, or appointed lesson for that Sabbath, instead of the name of the month, and number of the day. A similar custom prevailed in other Eastern countries. This being once remembered, we cease to wonder at the strangeness of the passage before us, and understand that it is written for a

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »