Mythical Monsters, by Charles Gould, , at sacred-texts.com
IF we assume that the antiquity of man is as great, or even approximately as great, as Sir Charles Lyell and his followers affirm, the question naturally arises, what has he been doing during those countless ages, prior to historic times? what evidences has he afforded of the possession of an intelligence superior to that of the brute creation by which he has been surrounded? what great monuments of his fancy and skill remain? or has the sea of time engulphed any that he erected, in abysses so deep that not even the bleached masts project from the surface, to testify to the existence of the good craft buried below?
These questions have been only partially asked, and but slightly answered. They will, however, assume greater proportions as the science of archæology extends itself, and perhaps receive more definite replies when fresh fields for investigation are thrown open in those portions of the old world which Asiatic reserve has hitherto maintained inviolable against scientific prospectors.
If man has existed for fifty thousand years, as some demand, or for two hundred thousand, as others imagine, has his intelligence gone on increasing throughout the period? and if so, in what ratio? Are the terms of the series which involve the unknown quantity stated with sufficient precision to enable us to determine whether his development has been slow, gradual, and more or less uniform, as in arithmetical, or gaining at a rapidly increasing rate, as in geometric progression. Or, to pursue the simile, could it be more
accurately expressed by the equation to a curve which traces an ascending and descending path, and, though controlled in reality by an absolute law, appears to exhibit an unaccountable and capricious variety of positive and negative phases, of points darrêt, nodes, and cusps.
These questions cannot yet be definitely answered; they may be proposed and argued on, but for a time the result will doubtless be a variety of opinions, without the possibility of solution by a competent arbiter.
For example, it is a matter of opinion whether the intelligence of the present day is or is not of a higher order than that which animated the savans of ancient Greece. It is probable that most would answer in the affirmative, so far as the question pertains to the culture of the masses only, but how will scholars decide, who are competent to compare the works of our present poets, sculptors, dramatists, logicians, philosophers, historians, and statesmen, with those of Homer, Pindar, Æschylus, Euripides, Herodotus, Aristotle, Euclid, Phidias, Plato, Solon, and the like? Will they, in a word, consider the champions of intellect of the present day so much more robust than their competitors of three thousand years ago as to render them easy victors? This would demonstrate a decided advance in human intelligence during that period; but, if this is the case, how is it that all the great schools and universities still cling to the reverential study of the old masters, and have, until quite recently, almost ignored modern arts, sciences, and languages.
We must remember that the ravages of time have put out of court many of the witnesses for the one party to the suit, and that natural decay, calamity, and wanton destruction *
have obliterated the bulk of the philosophy of past ages. With the exceptions of the application of steam, the employment of moveable type in printing, * and the utilization of electricity, there are few arts and inventions which have not descended to us from remote antiquity, lost, many of them, for a time, some of them for ages, and then re-discovered and paraded as being, really and truly, something new under the sun.
Neither must we forget the oratory and poetry, the master-pieces of logical argument, the unequalled sculptures, and the exquisitely proportioned architecture of Greece, or the thorough acquaintance with mechanical principles and engineering skill evinced by the Egyptians, in the construction of the pyramids, vast temples, canals and hydraulic works.
Notice, also, the high condition of civilization possessed
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FIG. 22.ROYAL DIADEM OF THE CHEN DYNASTY. (From the San Li Tu.)
In looking back upon these, I think we can hardly distinguish any such deficiency of intellect, in comparison with ours, on the part of these our historical predecessors as to indicate so rapid a change of intelligence as would, if we were able to carry our comparison back for another similar period, inevitably land us among a lot of savages similar to
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FIG. 23.VASE. HAN DYNASTY
B.C. 206 to A.D. 23.
(From the Poh Ku Tu.)
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FIG. 24.CYATHUS OR CUP FOR
LIBATIONS. SHANG DYNASTY,
B.C. 1766 to B.C. 1122.
(From the Poh Ku Tu.)
those who fringe the civilization of the present period. Intellectually measured, the civilized men of eight or ten thousand years ago must, I think, have been but little inferior to ourselves, and we should have to peer very far back indeed before we reached a status or condition in which the highest type of humanity was the congener of the cave lion, disputing with him a miserable existence, shielded only from the elements by an overhanging rock, or the fortuitous discovery of some convenient cavern.
If this be so, we are forced back again to the consideration of the questions with which this section opened; where are the evidences of man's early intellectual superiority? are they limited to those deduced from the discovery of certain stone implements of the early rude, and later polished ages? and, if so, can we offer any feasible explanation either of their non-existence or disappearance?
In the first place, it may be considered as admitted by archæologists that no exact line can be drawn between the later of the two stone-weapon epochs, the polished Neolithic stone epoch, and the succeeding age of bronze. They are agreed that these overlap each other, and that the rude hunters, who contented themselves with stone implements of war and the chase, were coeval with people existing in other places, acquainted with the metallurgical art, and therefore of a high order of intelligence. The former are, in fact, brought within the limit of historic times.
A similar inference might not unfairly be drawn with regard to those numerous discoveries of proofs of the existence of ruder man, at still earlier periods. The flint-headed arrow of the North American Indian, and the stone hatchet of the Australian black-fellow exist to the present day; and but a century or two back, would have been the sole representatives of the constructive intelligence of humanity over nearly one half the inhabited surface of the world. No philosopher, with these alone to reason on, could have
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FIG. 25.INCENSE BURNER (1). CHEN DYNASTY, B.C. 1122 to B.C. 255.
(From the Poh Ku Tu.)
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FIG. 26.TRIPOD OF THE SHANG DYNASTY. Probable date, B.C. 1649.
(From the Poh Ku Tu.)
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FIG. 27.TRIPOD OF FU YIH, SHANG DYNASTY.
(From the Poh Ku Tu.)
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FIG. 28.TRIPOD OF KWAI WAN, CHEN DYNASTY, B.C. 1122 to B.C. 255
(From the Poh Ku Tu.)
imagined the settled existence, busy industry, and superior intelligence which animated the other half; and a parallel suggestive argument may be supported by the discovery of human relics, implements, and artistic delineations such as those of the hairy mammoth or the cave-bear. These may possibly be the traces of an outlying savage who co-existed with a far more highly-organized people elsewhere, * just as at the present day the Esquimaux, who are by some geologists considered as the descendants of Palæolithic man, co-exist with ourselves. They, like their reputed ancestors, have great ability in carving on bone, &c.; and as an example of their capacity not only to conceive in their own minds a
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FIG. 29. (From Sir John Ross Second Voyage to the Arctic Regions.)
correct notion of the relative bearings of localities, but also to impart the idea lucidly to others, I annex a wood-cut of a chart drawn by them, impromptu, at the request of Sir J. Ross, who, inferentially, vouches for its accuracy.
There is but a little step between carving the figure of a mammoth or horse, and using them as symbols. Multiply them, and you have the early hieroglyphic written language of the Chinese and Egyptians. It is not an unfair presumption that at no great distance, in time or space, either some generations later among his own descendants, or so many nations distance among his coevals, the initiative faculty of the Palæolithic savage was usefully applied to the communication of ideas, just as at a much later date the Kououen symbolic language was developed or made use of among the early Chinese. *
Such is, necessarily, the first stage of any written language, and it may, as I think, perhaps have occurred, been developed into higher stages, culminated, and perished at many successive epochs during man's existence, presuming it to have been so extended as the progress of geology tends to affirm.
May not the meandering of the tide of civilization westward during the last three thousand years, bearing on its crest fortune and empire, and leaving in its hollow decay and oblivion, possibly be the sequel of many successive waves which have preceded it in the past, rising, some higher, some lower, as waves will.
In comparison with the vast epochs of which we treat how
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FIG. 30.EARLY CHINESE HIEROGLYPHICS.
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FIG. 31.EARLY CHINESE HIEROGLYPHICS.
near to us are Nineveh, Babylon, and Carthage! Yet the very sites of the former two have become uncertain, and of the last we only know by the presence of the few scattered ruins on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Tyre, the vast entrepôt of commerce in the days of Solomon, was stated, rightly or wrongly, by Benjamin of Tudela, to be but barely discernible (in 1173) in ruins beneath the waves; and the glory of the world, the temple of King Solomon, was represented at the same date by two copper columns which had been carried off and preserved in Rome. It is needless to quote the cases of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and of many once famous cities, which have dissolved in ruin; except as assisting to point the moral that conquest, which is always recurring, means to a great extent obliteration, the victor having no sympathy with the preservation of the time-honoured relics of the vanquished.
When decay and neglect are once initiated, the hand of man largely assists the ravages of time. The peasant carts the marbles of an emperor's palace to his lime-kiln, * or an Egyptian monarch strips the casing of a pyramid to furnish the material for a royal residence.
Nor is it beyond the limits of possibility that the arrogant caprice of some, perhaps Mongol, invader in the future, may level the imperishable pyramids themselves for the purpose of constructing some defensive work, or the gratification of an inordinate vanity.
In later dates how many comfortable modern residences have been erected from the pillage of mediæval abbey, keep, or castle? and how many fair cities * must have fallen to decay, in Central and Eastern Asia, and how many numerous populations dwindled to insignificance since the days when Ghenghis and Timour led forth their conquering hordes, and Nadun could raise four hundred thousand horsemen to contest the victory with Kublai Khan.
The unconscious ploughman in Britain has for centuries guided his share above the remains of Roman villas, and the inhabitants of the later city of Hissarlik were probably as ignorant that a series of lost and buried cities lay below them, as they would have been incredulous that within a thousand years their own existence would have passed from the memory of man, and their re-discovery been due only to the tentative researches of an enthusiastic admirer of Homer. Men live by books and bards longer than by the works of their hands, and impalpable tradition often survives the material vehicle which was destined to perpetuate it. The name of Priam was still a household word when the site of his palace had been long forgotten.
The vaster a city is, the more likely is it to be constructed upon the site of its own grave, or, in other words, to occupy the broad valley of some important river beneath whose gravels it is destined to be buried.
Perched on an eminence, and based on solid rock, it may escape entombment, but more swiftly and more certainly will
it be destroyed by the elements, * and by the decomposition of its own material furnish the shroud for its envelopment. It is not altogether surprising then that no older discoveries than those already quoted have yet been made, for these would probably never have resulted if tradition had not both stimulated and guided the fortunate explorer.
It is, therefore, no unfair inference that the remains of equally important, but very much more ancient cities and memorials of civilization may have hitherto entirely escaped our observation, presuming that we can show some reasonable grounds for belief that, subsequent to their completion, a catastrophe has occurred of sufficiently universal a character to have obliterated entirely the annals of the past, and to have left in the possession of its few survivors but meagre and fragmentary recollections of all that had preceded them.
Now this is precisely what the history and traditions of all nations affirm to have occurred. However, as a variance of opinion exists as to the credence which should be attached to these traditions, I shall, before expressing my own views upon the subject, briefly epitomize those entertained by two authors of sufficient eminence to warrant their being selected as representatives of two widely opposite schools.
These gentlemen, to whom we are indebted for exhaustive papers, embracing the pith of all the information extant
upon the subject, have tapped the same sources of information, consulted the same authorities, ranged their information in almost identical order, argued from the same data, and arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions.
Mr. Cheyne, following the lead of Continental mythologists, deduces that the Deluge stories were on the whole propagated from several independent centres, and adopts the theory of Schirrer and Gerland that they are ether myths, without any historical foundation, which have been transferred from the sky to the earth.
M. Lenormant, upon the other hand, eliminating from the inquiry the great inundation of China in the reign of Yao, and some others, as purely local events, concludes as the result of his researches that the story of the Deluge "is a universal tradition among all branches of the human race," with the one exception of the black. He further argues: "Now a recollection thus precise and concordant cannot be a myth voluntarily invented. No religious or cosmogenic myth presents this character of universality. It must arise from the reminiscences of a real and terrible event, so powerfully impressing the imagination of the first ancestors of our race, as never to have been forgotten by their descendants. This cataclysm must have occurred near the first cradle of mankind and before the dispersion of families from which the different races of men were to spring."
Lord Arundel of Wardour adopts a similar view in many respects to that of M. Lenormant, but argues for the existence of a Deluge tradition in Egypt, and the identity of the Deluge of Yu (in China) with the general catastrophe of which the tradition is current in other countries.
The subject is in itself so inviting, and has so direct a bearing upon the argument of this work that I propose to re-examine the same materials and endeavour to show from them that the possible solutions of the question have not yet been exhausted,
We have as data:
2. That of Josephus.
3. The Babylonian.
4. The Hindu.
5. The Chinese.
6. The traditions of all nations in the northern hemisphere, and of certain in the southern.
It is unnecessary to travel in detail over the well-worn ground of the myths and traditions prevalent among European nations, the presumed identity of Noah with Saturn, Janus, and the like, or the Grecian stories of Ogyges and Deucalion. Nor is anyone, I think, disposed to dispute the identity of the cause originating the Deluge legends in Persia and in India. How far these may have descended from independent sources it is now difficult to determine, though it is more than probable that their vitality is due to the written Semitic records. Nor is it necessary to discuss any unimportant differences which may exist between the text of Josephus and that of the Bible, which agree sufficiently closely, but are mere abstracts (with the omission of many important details) in comparison with the Chaldæan account. This may be accounted for by their having been only derived from oral tradition through the hands of Abraham. The Biblical narrative shows us that Abraham left Chaldæa on a nomadic enterprise, just as a squatter leaves the settled districts of Australia or America at the present day, and strikes out with a small following and scanty herd to search for, discover, and occupy new country; his destiny leading him, may be for a few hundred, may be for a thousand miles. In such a train there is no room for heavy baggage, and the stone tablets containing the detailed history of the Deluge would equally with all the rest of such heavy literature be left behind.
The tradition, however reverenced and faithfully preserved at first, would, under such circumstances, soon get mutilated and dwarfed. We may, therefore, pass at once to the much more detailed accounts presented in the text of Berosus, and in the more ancient Chaldæan tablets deciphered by the late Mr. G. Smith from the collation of three separate copies.
The account by Berosus (see Appendix) was taken from the sacred books of Babylon, and is, therefore, of less value than the last-mentioned as being second-hand. The leading incidents in his narrative are similar to those contained in that of Genesis, but it terminates with the vanishing of Xisuthros (Noah) with his wife, daughter, and the pilot, after they had descended from the vessel and sacrificed to the gods, and with the return of his followers to Babylon. They restored it, and disinterred the writings left (by the pious obedience of Xisuthros) in Shurippak, the city of the Sun.
The great majority of mythologists appear to agree in assigning a much earlier date to the Deluge, than that which has hitherto been generally accepted as the soundest interpretation of the chronological evidence afforded by the Bible.
I have never had the advantage of finding the arguments on which this opinion is based, formulated in association, although, as incidentally referred to by various authors, they appear to be mainly deduced from the references made, both by sacred and profane writers, to large populations and important cities existing subsequently to the Deluge, but at so early a date, as to imply the necessity of a very long interval indeed between the general annihilation caused by the catastrophe, and the attainment of so high a pitch of civilization and so numerous a population as their existence implies.
Philologists at the same time declare that a similar inference may be drawn from the vast periods requisite for the divergence
of different languages from the parent stock, * while the testimony of the monuments and sculptures of ancient Egypt assures us that race distinction of as marked a type as occurs at the present day existed at so early a date as to preclude the possibility of the derivation of present nations from the descendants of Noah within the limited period usually allowed.
These difficulties vanish, if we consider the Biblical and Chaldean narratives as records of a local catastrophe, of vast extent perhaps, and resulting in general but not total destruction, whose sphere may have embraced the greater portion of Western Asia, and perhaps Europe; but which, while wrecking the great centres of northern civilization, did not extend southwards to Africa and Egypt. The Deluge legends indigenous in Mexico at the date of the Spanish conquest, combining the Biblical incidents of the despatch of birds from a vessel with the conception of four consecutive ages terminating in general destruction, and corresponding with the four ages or Yugas of India, supply in themselves the testimony of their probable origin from Asia. The cataclysm which caused what is called the Deluge may or may not have extended to America, probably not. In a future page
[paragraph continues] I shall enumerate a few of the resemblances between the inhabitants of the New World and of the Old indicative of their community of origin.
I refer the reader to M. Lenormant's valuable essay * for his critical notice on the dual composition of the account in Genesis, derived as it appears to be from two documents, one of which has been called the Elohistic and the other the Jehovistic account, and for his comparison of it with the Chaldean narrative exhumed by the late Mr. George Smith from the Royal Library of Nineveh, the original of which is probably of anterior date to Moses, and nearly contemporaneous with Abraham.
I transcribe from M. Lenormant the text of the Chaldean narrative, because there are points in it which have not yet been commented on, and which, as it appears to me, assist in the solution of the Deluge story:
I will reveal to thee, O Izdhubar, the history of my preservation and tell to thee the decision of the gods.
The town of Shurippak, a town which thou knowest, is situated on the Euphrates. It was ancient, and in it [men did not honour] the gods. [I alone, I was] their servant, to the great gods[The gods took counsel on the appeal of] Anu[a deluge was proposed by] Bel[and approved by Nabon, Nergal and] Adar.
And the god [Ea,] the immutable lord,repeated this command in a dream.I listened to the decree of fate that he announced, and he said to me:"Man of Shurippak, son of Ubaratututhou, build a vessel and finish it [quickly].By a [deluge] I will destroy substance and life.Cause thou to go up into the vessel the substance of all that has life.The vessel thou shalt build600 cubits shall be the measure of its lengthand 60 cubits the amount of its breadth and of its height[Launch it] thus on the ocean and cover it with a roof."I understood, and I said to Ea, my lord:"[The vessel] that thou commandest me to build thus,[when] I shall do ityoung and old [shall laugh at me]."[Ea opened his mouth and] spoke.He said to me, his servant:"[If they laugh at thee] thou shalt say to them: [Shall be punished] he who has insulted me, [for the protection of the gods] is over me. . . . . like to caverns . . . . . . . . I will exercise my judgment
on that which is on high and that which is below . . . . . . . Close the vessel . . . .. . . . At a given moment that I shall cause thee to know,enter into it, and draw the door of the ship towards thee.Within it, thy grains, thy furniture, thy provisions,thy riches, thy men-servants, and thy maid-servants, and thy young peoplethe cattle of the field and the wild beasts of the plain that I will assembleand that I will send thee, shall be kept behind thy door."Khasisatra opened his mouth and spoke;he said to Ea, his lord:"No one has made [such a] ship.On the prow I will fix . . . .I shall see . . . . and the vessel . . . .the vessel thou commandest me to build [thus]which in . . . . *
On the fifth day [the two sides of the bark] were raised.In its covering fourteen in all were its raftersfourteen in all did it count above.I placed its roof and I covered it.I embarked in it on the sixth day; I divided its floors on the seventh;I divided the interior compartments on the eighth. I stopped up the chinks through which the water entered in;I visited the chinks and added what was wanting.I poured on the exterior three times 3,600 measures of asphalte,and three times 3,600 measures of asphalte within.Three times 3,600 men, porters, brought on their heads the chests of provisions.I kept 3,600 chests for the nourishment of my family,and the mariners divided amongst themselves twice 3,600 chests.For [provisioning] I had oxen slain;I instituted [rations] for each day.In [anticipation of the need of] drinks, of barrels and of wine[I collected in quantity] like to the waters of a river, [of provisions] in quantity like to the dust of the earth.[To arrange them in] the chests I set my hand to. . . . . of the sun . . . . the vessel was completed.. . . . strong andI had carried above and below the furniture of the ship.[This lading filled the two-thirds.]
All that I possessed I gathered together; all I possessed of silver I gathered together; all that I possessed of gold I gatheredall that I possessed of the substance of life of every kind I gathered together.I made all ascend into the vessel; my servants male and female,the cattle of the fields, the wild beasts of the plains, and the sons of the people, I made them all ascend.
Shamash (the sun) made the moment determined, andhe announced it in these terms:"In the evening I will cause it to rain abundantly from heaven; enter into the vessel and close the door."The fixed moment had arrived, which he announced in these terms: "In the evening I will cause it to rain abundantly from heaven."When the evening of that day arrived, I was afraid,I entered into the vessel and shut my door.In shutting the vessel, to Buzurshadirabi, the pilot,I confided this dwelling with all that it contained.
Mu-sheri-ina-namari *rose from the foundations of heaven in a black cloud;Ramman thundered in the midst of the cloudand Nabon and Sharru marched before;they marched, devastating the mountain and the plain;Nergal the powerful, dragged chastisements after him;Adar § advanced, overthrowing before him;the archangels of the abyss brought destruction,in their terrors they agitated the earth.The inundation of Barman swelled up to the sky,and [the earth] became without lustre, was changed into a desert.
They broke . . . . of the surface of the [earth like . . . . ;[they destroyed] the living beings of the surface of the earth.The terrible [Deluge] on men swelled up to [heaven].The brother no longer saw his brother; men no longer knew each other. In heaventhe gods became afraid of the waterspout, andsought a refuge; they mounted up to the heaven of Anu. **The gods were stretched out motionless, pressing one against another like dogs.Ishtar wailed like a child,the great goddess pronounced her discourse: Here is humanity returned into mud, andthis is the misfortune that I have announced in the presence of the gods. So I announced the misfortune in the presence of the gods,for the evil I announced the terrible [chastisement] of men who are mine.I am the mother who gave birth to men, andlike to the race of fishes, there they are filling the sea;and the gods by reason of thatwhich the archangels of the abyss are doing, weep with me."The gods on their seats were seated in tears,and they held their lips closed, [revolving] future things.
Six days and as many nights passed; the wind, the waterspout, and the diluvian rain were in all their strength. At the approach of the seventh day the diluvian rain grew weaker, the terrible waterspout. which had assailed after the fashion of an earthquakegrew calm, the sea inclined to dry up, and the wind and the waterspout came to an end. I looked at the sea, attentively observingand the whole of humanity had returned to mud; like unto sea-weeds the corpses floated. I opened the window, and the light smote on my face. I was seized with sadness; I sat down and I wept;and my tears came over my face.
I looked at the regions bounding the sea; towards the twelve points of the horizon; not any continent.The vessel was borne above the land of Nizir,the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over.A day and a second day the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over;the third and
fourth day the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over;the fifth and sixth day the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over.At the approach of the seventh day, I sent out and loosed a dove. The dove went, turned, andfound no place to light on, and it came back. I sent out and loosed a swallow; the swallow went, turned, andfound no place to light on, and it came back. I sent out and loosed a raven; the raven went, and saw the corpses on the waters; it ate, rested, turned, and came not back.
I then sent out (what was in the vessel) towards the four winds, and I offered a sacrifice. I raised the pile of my burnt-offering on the peak of the mountain; seven by seven I disposed the measured vases, *and beneath I spread rushes, cedar, and juniper wood. The gods were seized with the desire of it,the gods were seized with a benevolent desire of it;and the gods assembled like flies above the master of the sacrifice. From afar, in approaching, the great goddess raised the great zones that Aim has made for their glory (the gods). These gods, luminous crystal before me, I will never leave them; in that day I prayed that I might never leave them. "Let the gods come to my sacrificial pile!but never may Bel come to my sacrificial pile! for be did nut master himself, and he has made the waterspout for the Deluge, and he has numbered my men for the pit."
From far, in drawing near, Belsaw the vessel, and Bel stopped;he was filled with anger against the gods and the celestial archangels: "No one shall come out alive! No man shall be preserved from the abyss!"Adar opened his mouth and said; he said to the warrior Bel:"What other than Ea should have formed this resolution?for Ea possesses knowledge and [he foresees] all."Ea opened his mouth and spake; he said to the warrior Bel:"O thou, herald of the gods, warrior,as thou didst not master thyself, thou hast made the waterspout of the deluge.Let the sinner carry the weight of his sins, the blasphemer the weight of his blasphemy.Please thyself with this good pleasure, and it shall never be infringed; faith in it never [shall be violated].Instead of thy making a new deluge, let hymnal; appear and reduce the number of men; instead of thy making a new deluge, let there be famine, and let the earth be [devastated];instead of thy making a new deluge, let Dibbara appear, and let men be [mown down].I have not revealed the decision of the great gods;it is Khasisatra who interpreted a dream and comprehended what the gods had decided."
Then, when his resolve was arrested, Bel entered into the vessel.He
took my hand and made me rise.He made my wife rise, and made her place herself at my side.He turned around us and stopped short; he approached our group."Until now Khasisatra has made part of perishable humanity;but lo, now, Khasisatra and his wife are going to be carried away to live like the gods,and Khasisatra will reside afar at the mouth of the rivers."They carried me away and established me in a remote place at the mouth of the streams.
This narrative agrees with the Biblical one in ascribing the inundation to a deluge of rain; but adds further details which connect it with intense atmospheric disturbance, similar to that which would be produced by a series of cyclones, or typhoons, of unusual severity and duration.
The intense gloom, the deluge of rain, terrific violence of wind, and the havoc both on sea and land, which accompany the normal cyclones occurring annually on the eastern coast of China, and elsewhere, and lasting but a few hours in any one locality, can hardly be credited, except by those who have experienced them. They are, however, sufficient to render explicable the general devastation and loss of life which would result from the duration of typhoons, or analogous tempests, of abnormal intensity, for even the limited period of six days and nights allotted in the text above, and much more so for that of one hundred and fifty days assigned to it in the Biblical account.
As illustrating this I may refer to a few calamities of recent date, which, though of trivial importance in comparison with the stupendous event under our consideration, bring home to us the terribly devastating power latent in the elements.
In Bengal, a cyclone on October 31, 1876, laid under water three thousand and ninety-three square miles, and destroyed two hundred and fifteen thousand lives.
A typhoon which raged in Canton, Hongkong, and Macao on September 22, 1874, besides much other destruction, destroyed several thousand people in Macao and the adjacent villages, the number of corpses in the town being so numerous that they had to be gathered in heaps and burnt with kerosene,
the population, without the Chinese who refused to lend assistance, being insufficient to bury them.
A tornado in Canton, on April 11, 1878, destroyed, in the course of a few minutes, two thousand houses and ten thousand lives.
In view of these few historical facts, which might be greatly supplemented, there appears to my mind to be no difficulty in believing that the continuance, during even only six days and six nights, of extraordinarily violent circular storms over a given area, would, especially if accompanied by so-called tidal or earthquake waves, be sufficient to wreck all sea-going and coasting craft, all river boats, inundate every country embraced within it to a very great extent, submerge each metropolis, city, or village, situate either in the deltas of rivers, or higher up their course, sap, unroof, batter down, and destroy all dwellings on the highlands, level forests, destroy all domestic animals, sweep away all cultivated soil, or bury it beneath an enormous thickness of débris, tear away the soil from the declivities of hills and mountains, destroy all shelter, and hence, by exposure, most of those wretched human beings who might have escaped drowning on the lower levels. The few survivors would with difficulty escape starvation, or death from subsequent exposure to the deadly malaria which would be liberated by the rooting up of the accumulated débris of centuries. This latter supposition appears to me to be directly indicated by the passage towards the end of the extract referring to famine, and to the devastation of the earth by Dibbara (the god of epidemics).
It is noticeable that in this account there is no suggestion of complete immersion, Khasisatra simply says there is not any continent (i.e. all the hill ranges within sight would stand out from the inundation like islands), while he speaks of his vessel being arrested by the mountain of Nizir, which must consequently have been above the surface of the water.
Neither is there any such close limitation of the number
of persons preserved, as in the Biblical story, for Khasisatra took with him his men-servants, maid-servants, and his young people, while the version transmitted by Berosus (see Appendix to this Chapter), states that Xisuthros embarked his wife, children, and his intimate friends, and that these latter subsequently founded numerous cities, built temples, and restored Babylon.
We have thus a fair nucleus for starting a fresh population in the Euphrates valley, which may have received accessions from the gradual concentration of scattered survivors, and from the enterprise of maritime adventurers from the African coast and elsewhere, possibly also nomads from the north, east, and west may have swelled the numbers, and a polyglot community have been established, which subsequently, through race distinctions, jealousies, and incompatibility of language, became again dismembered, as recorded in the history of the attempted erection of the Tower of Babel.
Confining our attention for the moment to this one locality, we may imagine that the young population would not be deterred by any apprehension of physical danger from re-inhabiting such of the old cities as remained recognizable; since we see that men do not hesitate to recommence the building of cities overthrown by earthquake shocks almost before the last tremblings are over; or, as in the case of Herculaneum and Pompeii, within the range of volcanoes which may have already repeatedly vomited destroying floods of lava. Yet, in this instance, they would probably invest the calamity with a supernatural horror, and regard it, as the text expresses it, as a chastisement from the gods for their impiety. If this were so, the very memory of such cities would soon be lost, and with it all the treasures of art and literature which they contained. *
The Hindu account is taken from the S´atapatha-Brâhmana, a work of considerable antiquity, being one of a series which Professor Max Müller believes to have been written eight hundred years before Christ. A literal translation of the legend, as given in this venerable work, is as follows:
"To Manu in the morning they brought water for washing, just as they bring it for washing the hands. As he was using the water, a fish came into his hand. This (fish) said to him, 'Preserve me, and I will save thee.' (Manu said), 'From what wilt thou preserve me?' (The fish replied), 'A flood will carry away all these creatures; from that I will preserve thee.' (Manu said), 'How is thy preservation (to be effected)?' (The fish replied), 'As long as we are small, there is great danger of our destruction; fish even devours fish: at first preserve me in a jar. When I grow too big for that, cut a trench, and preserve me in that. When I outgrow that, carry me to the sea; then I shall be beyond (the reach of) danger.' Soon it became a great fish; it increased greatly. (The fish said), 'In so many years the flood will come; make a ship and worship me. On the rising of the flood enter the ship, then I will preserve thee.' Having preserved the fish he brought it to the sea. In the same year indicated by the fish (Manu) made a ship and worshipped the fish. When the flood rose he entered the ship; the fish swam near him: he attached the cable of the ship to his (the fish's) horn. By this means the fish carried him over the northern mountain (Himalayas). (The fish said),
[paragraph continues] 'I have preserved thee: fasten the ship to a tree. But lest the water cut thee off whilst thou art on the mountain, as fast as the water subsides thou wilt descend with it.' Accordingly he descended (with the water); hence this became 'Manu's Descent' from the northern mountain. The flood had carried away all those creatures, Manu alone was left. He being desirous of offspring performed a sacred rite; there also he offered a pâka-sacrifice. With clarified butter, coagulated milk, whey, and curds, he made an offering to the waters. In a year a female was produced; and she arose unctuous from the moisture, with clarified butter under her feet. Mitra and Varuna came to her; and said to her, 'Who art thou?' (She said), 'The daughter of Manu.' (They said), 'Say (thou art) our (daughter).' 'No,' she replied, 'I am verily (the daughter) of him who begot me.' They desired a share in her; she agreed and did not agree. She went on and came to Manu. Manu said to her, 'Who art thou?' 'Thy daughter,' she replied. 'How, revered one, art thou my daughter?' (She replied), 'The offerings which thou hast cast upon the waters,clarified butter, coagulated milk, whey, and curds,from them thou hast generated me. I am a blessing. Do thou introduce me into the sacrifice. If thou wilt introduce me into the sacrifice, thou wilt be (blessed) with abundance of offspring and cattle. Whatever blessing thou shalt ask through me, will all be given to thee.' Thus he introduced her in the middle of the sacrifice; for the middle of the sacrifice is that which comes between the final and the introductory prayers. He, desirous of offspring, meditating and toiling, went with her. By her he begot this (offspring), which is (called) 'The offspring of Manu.'"
The correspondence of this legend with the Biblical and the other accounts is remarkable. We have the announcement of the Deluge, the construction of a ship, the preservation therein of a representative man, the settlement of
the vessel on a mountain, the gradual subsidence of the water, and the subsequent re-peopling of the world by the man thus preserved. The very scene of the cataclysm is in singular agreement with the other accounts; for the flood is said to carry Manu "over the northern mountain." This places the scene of the Deluge in Central Asia, beyond the Himalaya mountains, and it proves that the legend embodies a genuine tradition brought by the progenitors of the Hindus from their primæval home, whence also radiated the Semitic and Sinitic branches of mankind.
There has been much discussion as to whether the great inundation which occurred in China during the reign of Yao is identical with that of Genesis or not. The close proximity of date lends a strong support to the assumption, and the supposition that the scene of the Biblical Deluge was local in its origin, but possibly widespread in its results, further favours the view.
As the rise of the Nile at Cairo is the only intimation which the inhabitants of Lower Egypt have of the tropical rains of Central Africa, so the inundation of the countries adjacent to the head waters of the great rivers of China may alone have informed the inhabitants of that country of serious elemental disturbances, only reaching, and in a modified form, their western frontier; and it may well have been that the deluge which caused a national annihilation in Western Asia was only a national calamity in the eastern portion of it.
This view is strengthened if we consider that Chinese history has no record of any deluge prior to this, which could hardly have been the case had the Chinese migrated from their parent stock subsequent to an event of such importance; assuming that it had occurred, as there seems valid reason to suppose, within the limits of written history. The anachronism between the two dates assigned by Chinese authors (2297 B.C.)
and the Jewish historian's calculation (2104 B.C.) is only one hundred and ninety-three years, and this is not so great but that we may anticipate its being explained at some future date. Strauchius computation of 2293 B.C. for the date of the Biblical deluge is within four years, and Ussher's (2349-2348) within fifty-one of the Chinese one. The reason for supposing the deluge of Yao to be historically true, will be inferred from the arguments borrowed from Mr. Legge on the subject of the Shu-king, in another portion of this volume. It is detailed in the great Chinese work on history, the Tung-këen-kang-muh, by Choo He, of which De Mailla's History of China professes to be a translation.
This states that the inundation happened in the sixty-first year of the reign of Yao (2297 B.C.), and that the waters of the Yellow River mingled with those of the Ho-hi-ho and the Yangtsze, ruining all the agricultural country, which was converted into one vast sea.
But neither in the Bamboo Books nor in the Shu-king do we find that any local phenomena of importance occurred, with the exception of the inundation. In fact, the first work is singularly silent on the subject, and simply says that in his sixty-first year Yao ordered Kwan of Tsung to regulate the Ho, and degraded him in his sixty-ninth for being unable to effect it, as we learn elsewhere.
The Shu is more explicit. The Emperor, consulting one of his chief officials on the calamity, says: "O chief of the four mountains, destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the mountains and overtop the hills, threatening the heavens with their floods, so that the inferior people groan and murmur."
According to De Mailla's translation, Kwan laboured uselessly for nine years, the whole country was overrun with briars and brushwood, the people had almost forgotten the art of cultivating the groundthey were without the necessary
seedsand wild animals and birds destroyed all their attempts at agriculture.
In this extremity Yao consulted Shun, his subsequent successor, who recommended the appointment of Yu, the son of Kwan, in his father's place.
Yu was more successful, and describes his labours as follows:
The inundating waters seemed to assail the heavens, and in their vast extent embraced the mountains and overtopped the hills, so that people were bewildered and overwhelmed. I mounted my four conveyances, * and all along the hills hewed down the woods, at the same time, along with Yih, showing the multitudes how to get flesh to eat.
"I also opened passages for the streams throughout the nine provinces, and conducted them to the sea. I deepened, moreover, the channels and canals, and conducted them to the streams, at the same time, along with Tseih, sowing grain, and showing the multitudes how to procure the food of toil in addition to flesh meat."
Yu's success is simply chronicled in the Bamboo Books as, "In his seventy-fifth year Yu, the Superintendent of Works, regulated the Ho."
There was a legend extant in China in the times of Pinto, which he gives in his book, of the original Chinese having migrated from a region in the West, and, following the course of the Ho in boats, finally settling in the country adjacent to Pekin. That some such event took place is not unlikely. Its acceptance would explain much that is difficult.
The pioneers, pushing through a country infested with
hostile aborigines, who would immediately after their passage close up the road of communication behind thempioneers who may have been fugitives from their kindred through political commotions, or expelled by successful enemieswould have a further barrier against return, even were they disposed to attempt it, in the strong opposing current which had borne them safely to their new homes.
It is probable that such a journey would form an entirely new departure for their history, and that a few generations later it would resemble a nebulous chronological zone, on the far side of which could be dimly seen myths of persons and events representing in reality the history of the not very remote ancestors from whom they had become separated. The early arrivals would have been too much occupied with establishing themselves in their new dominions to be able to give much attention to keeping records or preserving other than the most utilitarian branches of knowledge which they had brought with them. The volumes of their ancestors were probably, like the clay tablets of the royal library of Babylon, not of a portable nature, at all events to fugitives, whose knowledge would, therefore, be rather of a practical than of a cultivated nature, and this would soon become limited for a while to their chiefs and religious instructors, the exigencies of a colony menaced with danger prohibiting any general acquisition or extension of learning.
In this way we can account for the community of the fables relating r.to the remote antiquity of the Chinese with those of Chaldean and Indian mythology, and with the highly civilized administration and astrological knowledge possessed by Yao and Shun as herediton of Fuh Hi, &c.
We can account for their possession of accurate delineations of the dragon, which would form an important decoration of the standards and robes of ceremony which were
companions of their flight, while their descriptions of the animal and its qualities would have already entered into the realms of fanciful exaggeration and myth.
The dragon of Yao and Shun's time, and of Yu's time was, in my opinion, an aquatic creature, an alligator; but the dragon of their ancestors was a land lizard, which may even have existed down to the time of the great cataclysm which we call the Deluge, and the memory of which is best preserved in the Chinese drawings which have been handed down from remote antiquity, and have travelled from the great Central Asian centre, which was once alike its habitat and that of their ancestors. Its history may perhaps become evolved when the great store of book knowledge contained in the cuneiform tablets, representing the culture of the other branch of their great ethnological family, has been more extensively explored.
Geologists of the present day have a great objection to the bringing in of cataclysms to account for any considerable natural changes, but this one I conceive to have been of so stupendous a nature as to have been quite capable of both extinguishing a species and confusing the recollection of it. The mere fact of the story of the dragon having survived such a period argues greatly, in my mind, for the reality of its previous existence.
Extending our consideration, we are brought face to face with another very important fact, namely, that a large proportion of the human race content themselves with ephemeral structures. Thus, for example, the Chinese neither have now, nor at any time have had, any great architectural works.
The finest building in China is a reproduction, on a large scale, of the tent; and the wooden construction is always imitated where the materials are stone or marble. The supports, often magnificent logs, brought, at great expense, specially from the Straits, represent tent-poles; and the roof has always the peaked ends and the curves that recall the
drooping canvas of the marquee. Architecture evidently died early; it never had life enough to assimilate the new material which it found when it migrated into China Proper. The yamen is a slightly glorified cottage; the temple is an improved yamen. Sculpture is equally neglected in this (æsthetically) benighted country. The human form is as dignified and sightly, to Chinese eyes at least, in China as in the West; but it never seems to have occurred, throughout so many hundreds of years, to any Chinaman to perpetuate it in marble or bronze, or to beautify a city with statues of its deities or great men." *
What holds good of the Chinese now, probably holds good of their ancestors and the race from which they parted company in Central Asia five thousand years ago, when they pierced their way eastwards through the savage aborigines of Thibet and Mongolia, pushing aside tribes which closed in again behind them, so as to intercept their return or communication with their mother countrya country which may have been equally careless of elaborating stupendous and permanent works of architecture such as other nations glory in possessing, and which, like the pyramids of Egypt and of Central America, stand forth for thousands of years as landmarks of the past.
We must, therefore, not be surprised if we do not immediately discover the vestiges of the people of ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand years ago. With an ephemeral architecture (which, as we have seen, is all that a highly populous and long civilized race actually possess), the sites of vast cities may have become entirely lost to recollection in a few thousands of years from natural decay, and how much more so would this be the case if, as we may reasonably argue, minor cataclysms have intervened, such as local inundations, earthquakes, deposition of volcanic ashes from even distant
sources, the spread of sandy deserts, destruction of life by exceptionally deadly pestilence, by miasma, or by the outpour of sulphurous fumes.
We have shown in another chapter how the process of extinction of species continues to the present day, and from the nature of this process we may deduce that the number of species which became extinct during the four or five thousand years preceding the era of exact history must have been considerable.
The less remarkable of these would expire unnoticed; and only those distinguished by their size, ferocity, and dangerous qualities, or by some striking peculiarity, would leave their impress on the mythology of their habitat. Their exact history would be lost as the cities of their epoch crumbled away, and during the passage through dark ages of the people of their period and their descendants, and by conquest or catastrophes such as we have referred to elsewhere; while the slow dispersion which appears to have obtained among all nations would render the record of their qualities the more confused as the myth which embalmed it spread in circling waves farther and farther from its original centre.
Amongst the most fell destroyer both of species and of their history must have been the widespread, although not universal, inundation known as the Biblical Deluge; a deluge which we think the evidence given in the foregoing pages, and gathered from divers nations, justifies us in believing to have really taken place, and not to be, as mythologists claim, a mere ether myth. As to its date, allowance being made for trifling errors, there is no reason for disputing the computation of Jewish chronology, especially as that is closely confirmed by the entirely independent testimony of Chinese history.
This interposes a vast barrier between us and the knowledge of the past, a barrier round which we pass for a short
distance at either end when we study the history of the two great streams of nations which have diverged from a common centre, the Chinese towards the East, the Accadian Chaldæans and Semites towards the West; a barrier which we may hope to surmount when we are able to discover and explore the lost cities of that common centre, with the treasures of art and literature which they must undoubtedly possess.
102:* Such as the destruction of the Alexandrine Library on three distinct occasions, (1) upon the conquest of Alexandria by Julius Cæsar, B.C. 48; (2) in A.D. 390; and, (3) by Amrou, the general of the Caliph Omar, in 640, who ordered it to be burnt, and so supplied the baths with fuel for p. 103 six months. Again, the destruction of all Chinese books by order of Tsin Shi Hwang-ti, the founder of the Imperial branch of the Tsin dynasty, and the first Emperor of United China; the only exceptions allowed being those relating to medicine, divination, and husbandry. This took place in the year 213 B.C.
103:* The Chinese have used composite blocks (wood engraved blocks with many characters, analogous to our stereotype plates) from an early period. May not the brick-clay tablets preserved in the Imperial Library at Babylon have been used for striking off impressions on some plastic material, just as rubbings may be taken from the stone drums in China: may not the cylinders with inscribed characters have been used in some way or other as printing-rollers for propagating knowledge or proclamations?
103: As, for example, the old canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, in reference to which Herodotus says (Euterpe, 158), "Neco was the son of Psammitichus, and became King of Egypt: he first set about the canal that leads to the Red Sea, which Darius the Persian afterwards completed. Its length is a voyage of four days, and in width it was dug so that two triremes might sail rowed abreast. The water is drawn into it from the Nile, and it enters it a little above the city Bubastis, passes near the Arabian city Patumos, and reaches to the Red Sea." In the digging of which one hundred and twenty thousand Egyptians perished in the reign of Neco.
103: The so-called tanks at Aden, reservoirs constructed one below the p. 104 other, in a gorge near the cantonments, are as perfect now as they were when they left the hand of the contractor or royal engineer in the time of Moses.
104:* In the 29th year of the Emperor Kwei [B.C. 1559] they chiselled through mountains and tunnelled hills, according to the Bamboo Books.
104: An interesting line of investigation might be opened up as to the origin of inventions and the date of their migrations. The Chinese claim the priority of many discoveries, such as chess, printing, issue of bank-notes, sinking of artesian wells, gunpowder, suspension bridges, the mariner's compass, &c. &c. I extract two remarkable wood-cuts from the San Li T'u, one appended here showing the origin of our college cap; the other, in the chapter on the Unicorn, appearing to illustrate the fable of the Sphynx.
I also give a series of engravings, reduced facsimiles of those contained in a celebrated Chinese work on antiquities, showing the gradual evolution of the so-called Grecian pattern or scroll ornamentation, and origination of some of the Greek forms of tripods.
109:* "The old Troglodytes, pile villagers, and bog people, prove to be quite a respectable society. They have heads so large that many a living person would be only too happy to possess such."A. Mitchell, The Past in the Present, Edinburgh, 1880."
110:* I have given in the annexed plates a few examples of the early hieroglyphics on which the modern Chinese system of writing is based, selected from a limited number collected by the early Jesuit fathers in China, and contained in the Mémoirs concernant lHistoire, &c. des Chinois, par les Missionaires de Pekin, vol. i., Paris, 1776. The modern Chinese characters conveying the same idea are attached, and their derivation from the pictorial hieroglyphics, by modification or contraction, is in nearly all cases obvious.
113:* "The Porcelain Tower of Nankin, once one of the seven wonders of the world, can now only be found piecemeal in walls of peasants huts."Gutzlaff, Hist. China, vol. i. p. 372.
113: The outer casing of the pyramid of Cheops, which Herodotus (Euterpe, 125) states to have still exhibited in his time an inscription, telling how much was expended (one thousand six hundred talents of silver) in radishes, onions, and garlic for the workmen, has entirely disappeared; as also, almost completely, the marble casing of the adjacent pyramid of Sen-Saophis. According to tradition the missing marbles in each instance were taken to build palaces with in Cairo.
114:* "The work of destruction was carried on methodically. From the Caspian Sea to the Indus, the Mongols ruined, within four years, more than four centuries of continuous labour have since restored. The most flourishing cities became a mass of ruins: Samarkand, Bokhara, Nizabour, Balkh, and Kandahar shared in the same destruction."Gutzlaff, Hist. China, vol. i. p. 358.
114: "An army of 700,000 Mongols met half the number of Mahommedans."Ibid. p. 357.
115:* Those interested in the subject may read with great advantage the section on dynamical geology in Dana's valuable manual. He points out the large amount of wear accomplished by wind carrying sand in arid regions, by seeds falling in some crevice, and bursting rocks open through the action of the roots developed from their sprouting, to say nothing of the more ordinarily recognized destructive agencies of frost and rain, carbonic acid resulting from vegetable decomposition, &c.
115: Darwin, in Vegetable Mould and Earth-worms, has shown that earthworms play a considerable part in burying old buildings, even to a depth of several feet.
115: Rev. T. K. Cheyne, Article "Deluge," Encyclopædia Britannica, 1877. François Lenormant, "The Deluge, its Traditions in Ancient Histories," Contemporary Review, Nov., 1879.
119:* Bunsen estimates that 20,000 years were requisite for the formation of the Chinese language, This, however, is not conceded by other philologists.
119: Rawlinson quotes the African type on the Egyptian sculptures as being identical with that of the negro of the present day.
119: "While the tradition of the Deluge holds so considerable a place in the legendary memories of all branches of the Aryan race, the monuments and original texts of Egypt, with their many cosmogenic speculations, have not afforded one, even distant, allusion to this cataclysm. When the Greeks told the Egyptian priests of the Deluge of Deucalion, their reply was that they had been preserved from it as well as from the conflagration produced by Phaeton; they even added that the Hellenes were childish in attaching so much importance to that event, as there had been several local catastrophes resembling it."Lenormant, Contemporary Review, November 1879.
120:* François Lenormant, "The Deluge; its Traditions in Ancient Histories," Contemporary Review, vol. xxxvi. p. 465.
121:* Here several verses are wanting.
122:* " The water of the twilight at break of day," one of the personifications of rain.
122: The god of thunder.
122: The god of war and death.
122:§ The Chaldæo-Assyrian Hercules.
122:** The superior heaven of the fixed stars.
123:* Vases of the measure called in Hebrew Seäh. This relates to a detail of the ritualistic prescriptions for sacrifice.
123: These metaphorical expressions appear to designate the rainbow.
123: The god of epidemics.
126:* It is probably as much from a superstitious sentiment as upon merely physical grounds that many of the deserted cities in Asia have p. 127 been abandoned; while, as a noticeable instance, we may quote Gour, the ruined capital of Bengal, which is computed to have extended from fifteen to twenty miles along the bank of the river, and three in depth. The native tradition is that it was struck by the wrath of the gods in the form of an epidemic which slew the whole population. Another case is the reputed presence of a ruined city, in the vicinity of the populous city of Nanking, and at some distance from the right bank of the river Yangtsze, of which the walls only remain, and of the history of which those in the vicinity profess to have lost all record.
131:* i.e. (according to the Historical Records) a carriage to travel along the dry land, a boat to travel along the water, a sledge to travel through miry places, and, by using spikes, to travel on the hills.
134:* Balfour, North China Daily News, Feb. 11, 1881.