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a copyist. We might bring forward many proofs of this, but content ourselves this month with an example, the more startling, because it comes to us under sanction of a great and good name—that of Dr. Macleod, who, by inserting it in his Good Words for May last, appears to endorse its very grave heterodoxy.
“The Oldest Story in the World” is the title of this choice brochure, which is nothing if not old; and if old, silly, drivelling, and indecent, as
as such bibliographical treasures not uncommonly are. But we will let the narrative speak for itself.
Anepu and Batau were brothers. The elder “had a house and a wife;" the younger was engaged with him in husbandry. Anepu was peculiarly happy in his cattle; they were so remarkably intelligent—"they always told him where the good herbage was." The younger brother being sent home one day for seed, is treated by the wife of Anepu much as Joseph was treated by the wife of Potiphar, with the same result. On the husband's return home, poor Batau is traduced by the wicked wife, and his brother naturally makes up his mind to kill him without judge or jury. But before this younger brother puts up his cattle, on his return home, one of the heifers tells tales, and a second “follows on the same side.” Batau takes the hint, peeps under the door, and, seeing his brother's legs there, sagaciously concludes that the owner of them is lying in wait for him. He accordingly gives chase across the country, followed by his brother. But before the latter can come up with the fugitive, the sun-god, Harmachis, spoils the game by interposing a great stream full of crocodiles. On the morrow Batau clears himself of the scandal, and pacifies his brother, telling him that he and his soul are about to part company, for he is going to place his better part in the topmost blossom of a certain cedar, of which he tells him, with all the sublime magniloquence of an oracle, “as soon as ever the cedar tree shall be cut down, then will it fall to the earth !”. Anepu, who must be in very easy circumstances, to spare the time, is to spend seven years in looking for it, and, on finding it, is to plunge it into cold water, and restore his lost brother to life. Anepu returns home in ill-humour, kills his wife, and casts her to the dogs.
In his solitude, Batau meets with the nine gods, who, like sensible fellows, think he should have a wife, which consummation is soon brought about. But, according to the seven
Hathors, she is too beautiful to be trusted alone, and her fond husband consequently cautions her against going abroad, lest she should meet the Sea! She yields only a qualified submission, but directs her ramble towards the Cedar Mountains, thinking, no doubt, in her simplicity, that the Sea is not likely to find her there. But Love laughs at impossibilities, and, sure enough, Old Ocean is strolling on the hilltop. He sees her, but she escapes him, though he succeeds in getting a lock of her hair, which fills all Egypt with fragrance, and at length reaches the hands of Pharaoh. He immediately sends out scouts in all directions to find the owner, and she is ultimately brought before him, and becomes his wife. On assuming this new position, she betrays the soul of poor Batau, her husband : the cedar-blossom is cut off, and “he falls away and dies.” No matter : his brother tries the cold-water cure, and restores him, but not very cleverly, for, contrary to all precedent, his heart is the last thing to move. The meeting of the brothers is a joyful one, but shortlived. Batau, at his own request, is turned into a sacred bullock, and his brother rides home upon his back. He makes himself known to his beautiful wife, who most unnaturally wants to eat his liver, and an attempt is consequently made to kill him ; but he has as many dodges as Paupukcewis, and escapes by a miracle. Ultimately she bears the king a son, whom he makes Prince of Ethiopia and viceroy of the whole country, and then, like a good king, “flies to heaven.” Then “the other,” presumed to be Batau, narrates the whole history and mystery of his life, takes his brother into favour, puts him into his place, and assumes the throne, reigning thirty years as King of Egypt.
We have nothing to say against those dotards who love antiquity for its own sake alone. Let them read and print any nonsense they please, merely because they believe it to have been written, when literature was rare, if not precious. Let them even admire, if they can, " the simplicity, the freshness, the almost biblical style" of this extremely silly narrative. But never let them attempt to do it at the expense of revelation, We are not prepared to give up the claims of the Bible to that superlative antiquity which we believe to be its right, and look upon that man as a traitor who, when he talks of the oldest story in the world, ignores the magnificent poem of Job, or the venerable books of Moses.
Before touching therefore upon graver matters, let us look for a moment at the claims of this “ tale of three thousand years ago" to the honourable distinction assigned to it. It purports to have been written for a son of Pharaoh Ramses Miamun, and was regarded as "good enough to be associated with the name of Pharaoh's scribe Kagabu”—“an Egyptian Burke, or Gibbon,” according to Mr. Perowne, who stands sponsor for the story!
We have not seen the original manuscript, though we hear it is in the British Museum; but presume it is mainly written in the enchorial or common character of the country, interspersed probably with a few hieroglyphics, phonetic, symbolic, figurative, or demonstrative. We are willing, therefore, to believe that the translation fairly represents the original; and is not so wildly guessed at as in the majority of cases of this kind.
Of the material, we can speak much more confidently. It is written on papyrus, an article unknown in Egypt or anywhere else, until the fourth century B.C. Herodotus describes 'the use made of this byblos or papyrus plant; but gives no hint that it was employed in the manufacture of paper, and his annotator, Beloe, says that this art was unknown before the founding of Alexandria. Pliny describes the process with all the circumstantiality of a new invention; and it was not until after his time that it reached its climax as a manufacture, or a staple product of the country. We must therefore altogether disallow the assumed antiquity of this papyrus.
Then as to the time of Ramses Miamun, we have a large margin left us. Those who know anything of Egypt, know that this name is “ plentiful as blackberries” upon almost all its monuments from the age of the Greek and Roman rule in that country, backwards through several centuries. Ramses Miamun, Ramses Miamun, Ramses Miamun—which is simply Ramses the beloved of Ammon, no very characteristic distinction in the land of Ammon-is inscribed again and again, usque ad nauseam, in the Tablet of Abydus—ten times consecutively amongst the latest names--and in so many other places, that it would be more puzzling to say where it is not to be found than where it is. Not that this frequent occurrence of the name proves anything, as there is precisely the same evidence of the real existence of Osiris, Horus, Anubis, or any other of the “ brutish gods of Nile."
The only fact, therefore, to be learned from it is, that the old priests of Egypt were at variance with Mr. Perowne in supposing him to have lived “two and thirty centuries ago, their pretensions never rising nearly so high, or fixing with any approach to accuracy, the age of this literary Augustusthis great patron of the slipshod novelists of ancient Egypt. We
e are inclined to suspect Dr. Macleod of a hoax in this matter; we hope it may be so, but the wut is so infini. tesimally small, or perhaps only so essentially Scotch, that we cannot see it at present. Is it possible that any baby of a larger growth, say five feet ten in his stockings, can really see anything to admire in this silly story? If it be otherwise, we could have been content to leave Mr. Perowne " alone in his glory," had he not made it the occasion of attack on the originality and majesty of the inspired writings. resemblance,” says be,“ between some portions of the narrative in Genesis and the style of the Egyptian writer, may be accounted for by the fact that Moses was trained by men like Annanna and Kagabu in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” We have heard of men growing wiser than their teachers certainly. But in making this insidious side-thrust, our author gives us no hint of the kind. Nay, he repeats the blow. Writings, such as these, may have contributed to his education! They help us, at least, to realize more vividly the fact that the great laugiver was prepared for his mission, not first in the solitudes of Horeb, but in the court of Pharaoh and in the schools of Egypt !”
Farewell, then, to the old fallacy that it was the great I AM, who raised up this signal deliverer and schooled him for the work. According to Mr. Perowne and Dr. Macleod, He did but finish the work of education, by developing into action the lessons learned by Moses in the lowest of the low dame-schools of precocious Egypt.
MATERIALS OF SERMONS.
Reasons are the pillars of the fabric of a sermon, but similitudes are the windows which give the best light. The faithful minister avoids such stories whose mention may suggest bad thoughts to the auditors, and will not use a light comparison to make thereof a grave application, for fear lest his poison go further than his antidote.-FULLER.
The Preacher's Finger-Post.
UNPARALLELED LOVE. shed, that make up a large “For scarcely for a righteous portion of the history of the man will one die: yet peradven world. Notwithstanding the ture for a good man some would
Pharaohs, Herods, Neros, even dare to die. But God conmendeth his love toward us, in Napoleons, Lauds, Bonners, that, while we were vet sinners, of the world, there is a spring Christ died for us."-Rom. v. 7, 8. of kindness in human nature. THE grand doctrine of the First: The tendency of sin is Bible is this :-that God loves to destroy this element. Had apostate man. Nowhere else sin not entered into the world, do we learn this. Nature this element of kindness teaches that God loves His would have united all the creatures, but the volume of races of mankind in the bonds nature was written before the of a loving brotherhood. Fall, and it says nothing as to Secondly: The tendency of his affection towards man as Christianity is to develop a sinner. This is the exclu this element. Christianity sive mission, and this the recognises it, appeals to it, glory of the Bible. In almost strengthens it. Blessed be every conceivable form of ex God, bad as the world is, pression the Bible endeavours there is a fountain of love in to impress us with the fact its heart. that God loves man though a II. THAT SOME CHARACTERS sinner. In illustrating this passage, we shall state the
EXCITE THIS AFFECTION THAN leading facts which it suggests.
“Scarcely for a I. THAT MAN HAS, CUN righteous man will one die : STITUTIONALLY,
yet peradventure for a good
man some would even dare to The Apostle is speaking here die.” First, the righteous man of men generally, and he says is not likely to excite it. that in some cases the gener “Scarcely." Who is a righous instincts of human nature teous man? He is one who would prompt to the utmost conforms rigorously to the self-sacrifice. That man has outward forms of morality; in him this inherent element he
pays all that is demanded of social kindness, I maintain of him, and he will be paid in face of all the facts of to the utmost fraction of his oppression, cruelty, blood-due. He is what the cold
GREATER POWER TO