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labelled, therefore this plan is attended with little inconvenience.
Who, in a flower-garden, would go round every bed in regular succession? why, it would take away the better half of the gratification. Sweeter far it is to roam and to revel at liberty; to gaze on the gaudy tulip, the stately hollyhock, and the blushing rose; and to inhale the grateful perfume of the honey-suckle, the sweetbrier, and the violet, without restriction. It is the same in a museum, and, therefore, I will find my way through the present one, taking the path that seems for the moment the most attractive.
But, first, let me ask what has given birth to this museum? The time is not distant when Britain had no possession in India, and now, wonderful to tell, a company of British merchants bear rule, either directly or by the influence of their allies, over a million square miles of territory, and more than a hundred millions of people. They have stretched the strong arms of power over a country seven or eight thousand miles distant from their own, and subjected the inhabitants to their control. The museum principally contains curiosities from this far distant land ; natural and artificial productions, mingled with the spoils of warfare.
Here is the squatting; cross-legged Boodha Gaudama, the object of worship with the Boodhic sects of India; and here are a score or two of household gods, as hideous as heathen hands could make them; and these miserable stocks and stones have received that adoration which is due to God alone. What is man without a knowledge of God? Yea, what is he, even with that knowledge, unless restrained by Divine grace? While the heathen holds an idol in his hand, we may have one in our hearts. We may not bow down to the Indian Apollo, Krishna, nor mingle in the sanguinary rites of the infernal Kali. The obscenities of Seva and Mahadeva may be unknown to us, and the bacchanalian orgies required by the goddess Doorga may be unacknowledged and unpractised; but the leprosy of sin has spread among us from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, and the purifying waters of the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, can alone make us whole.
The capture of Seringapatam, the capital of the Mysore country, was an event of great importance to the India Company, and every relic which has been obtained of Tippoo Saib, the cruel tyrant who reigned there, is preserved with great care.
There are many of his silken banners, decorated with the blazing sun, ment by the ravages of war; his helmet, his mantle, his armour, and the foot of his throne, as well as his waistcoast, a handkerchief, and a fragment of the slab of stone upon which he was wont to kneel in offering up his adoration. His helmet is made of cork, covered with silk; his mantle bears an inscription in Persian, setting forth that it had been dipped in the holy well at Mecca, and rendered invulnerable. Desperate was the attack made on Seringapatam by the British and native troops, and desperate the defence of Tippoo, his guards, and his tiger grenadiers: had not a stray shot severed the chain of the drawbridge, the siege might have been prolonged. Tippoo had French engineers; he fought bravely, and his body was found under an archway covered with slain.
This musical tiger is a proof of the tyrant's ferocity. It was a favourite pastime of Tippoo's to turn round the handle of this machine, that the tiger might spring on the prostrate soldier, as if to tear out his heart: the piteous moans of the soldier, and the yell of the tiger, were sweet music to him. The machine or organ, for such it may be called, is getting much out of repair, and does not altogether realize the expectation of the visitor.
I have been looking at the ship made of cloves, the spinning-wheel used by the ladies of Cashmere, and the Chinese tomb-stones; each has an interest of its own. When will the day arrive when the walls of ignorance and superstition that gird the cities of China shall fall flat before the ram's horn blast of the gospel of peace ? When will Chinese tomb-stones bear the Christian inscription, “ Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord ?”
The paintings up above there are not likely to be taken for Claude Lorraine's; and yet, as Chinese pictures, they are not without interest. They represent events that correspond with the different seasons. The feast of lanterns, in spring; the Chinese wedding, in summer; the funeral, in autumn; and the mandarin hall of audience, in winter. Some visitors seem much taken with these paintings, while others pass them by as things of no consequence.
The dagger with the inlaid hilt, the sword of a Gorkha chief, and the khookri, or pioneer's knife, remind one of desperate deeds, when the cold steel and the heart's warm blood hold fearful communion. The sight of them conjures up scenes of oriental contention, and the fierce attack, the death grapple, and the last gasp of the expiring combatant succeed each other.
Those who have recently witnessed the splendid collection of classified birds in the British Museum, will perhaps think that these cases of Bombay and Java birds have but a sombre appearance: but the true lover of natural objects, under all circumstances, will admire the varied form and plumage of the feathered race. The animals, the birds, and the butterflies of the museum, will not be disregarded. What a sweet and encouraging thought is that of the poet respecting birds of passage, when applied to the weakest believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ !
“ Birds, through the wastes of the trackless air,
Ye have a guide, and shall we despair ?
With what force must the sword-fish have darted forward through the briny deep to pierce the ship's timber to this extent! Whatever was the cause of quarrel, the finny combatant had cause to rue its displeasure. The loss of its formidable weapon must have been irreparable.
The antiquary will not pass by the handwriting of Oliver Cromwell unheeded; he will ponder, too, on the Chinese abacus, or counting board; and still longer will he linger over the Babylonish bricks, and the arrowheaded characters in stone, which have hitherto baffled the attainments of the linguist and the learned. No one has yet been able to decipher this ancient inscription.
These are from the banks of the Euphrates, and are relics of ancient Babylon, and some would fain regard them as portions of the Tower of Babel; but without investing them with so remote an antiquity, they take us back to the days when “ Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came unto Jerusalem, and besieged it," when “ Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand," and when Daniel was cast into the den of lions." And am I in reality gazing on what was then in ex
Were these fragments of perishable earth coeval with great and mighty Babylon? Yet why should I gaze astonished at the lesser wonder, and remain unimpressed by the greater. The sun that is en now gilding the roof above
the moon and stars that to-night will adorn the canopy of the skies, were in existence before Adam walked erect upon the earth, and ever since have they performed their daily and nightly courses, issuing through the boundless immensity, the voiceless proclamation, “ The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
"And what, in yonder realms ahove
Is ransom'd man ordain'd to be }
No seraph more adorn'd than he.
“Nearest the throne, and first in song,
Man shall his hallelujahs raise ;
And swell the chorus of his praise." The pillow used in the Friendly Isles is enough to put luxurious ease to the blush, while the Chinese rockwork in bronze-wood casts a spell over the curious visitor. These ivory temples, these mother-of-pearl and embossed-silver men, and trees, and birds, are beautifully executed, and the admirer of art will be in no haste to leave them.
These punkahs, or large fans, must be very useful in the sultry clime of Hindoostan. Their waving to and fro must give a breeze like that occasioned by a winnowing machine; but we in England can hardly estimate their value. The cup of water that we throw