Page images

Dutch or German, premising that, before every word, they put the article tho or the. We shall select such of the words as resemble the English.

"Broe, bread; plut, blood; stul, stool; hus, house; reghen, rain; bruder, brother; schwester, sister; alt, old; silvir, silver; goltz, gold; cor, corn; salt, salt; fisct, fish; stern, star; sune, sun; mine, moon; tag, day; handa, hand; boga, bow; rinck, or ringo, ring; waghen, waggon; upel, apple; schlipen, to sleep; commen, to come; singhen, to sing; lachen, to laugh; criten, to cry; geen, to go. Their numerals are ita, tua, tria, fyder, fyuf, seis, sevene."

Busbequius is doubtful, whether they are of Saxon or Gothic origin; if Saxons, he thinks they must have settled in the Tauric Chersonesus, in the time of Charlemagne, who scattered the Saxons every where; hence, he adds, “ many towns in Transylvania, which, even to this day, are inhabited by Saxons." If they were Goths, he thinks they must, at a very remote period, have inhabited the country of the Getæ; evidently implying, that he regarded the Geta and Goths as the same people and he inclines to the supposition, that the Goths, at one time, inhabited the whole district between the island Gothia and Procopia. Hence, the various appellations of Goths, Westgoths, and Ostrogoths.

The Goths of the Chersonesus are particularly mentioned by two travellers before Busbequius: by William de Rubruquis, who visited Tartary in the middle of the thirteenth century; and by Josaphat Barbaro, who went as ambassador from Venice to Tanna (Azof,) in the middle of the fifteenth century. We subjoin an abstract of the information they, respectively, gave on the subject of these Goths.

According to Rubruquis, there were, in his time, forty castles between Kersona (Cherson) and Soldaia, at almost each of which a distinct language was spoken; and, among these, were many Goths, who spoke the Teutonic language. Barbaro, after mentioning Kaffa, and several other places, adds, "farther in from Kaffa, lies Gothia, the place mentioned by Busbequius; and, still farther, Alania. The Goths of these places speak a dialect of the German language, as I learned from a German servant, who accompanied me in my travels; for he conversed with them, and they understood each other tolerably well, just as a native of Friuli, in the pope's dominions, might understand a Florentine. From the vicinity, or intermixture, of the Goths and Alanians, originates the denomination of Gotitalani. The Alanians were the first inhabitants of the country: the Goths came at another period, and made a conquest of part of the country inhabited by the Alanians; and as the two nations mingled together, this mixed name came, like

[ocr errors]

wise, into use." Forster, in his note on this passage, informs us, that Father Mohndorf met with many slaves in the gallies, at Constantinople, who were descended from the Goths, and spoke a dialect of German.

Busbequius, also, received some curious information respecting Cathay, in the northern parts of China, from a Turk. This man was of a sect which is bound by vow to visit distant regions, and to worship the Deity on the highest mountains, and in the most desert places. Under this vow, he had wandered over the greatest part of the East; and, at last, having been seized with a desire to explore Cathay, he had joined some merchants who were going thither. The route he described as difficult and dangerous, and only to be undertaken in safety by a number in company the danger arises chiefly from the savage hordes, who inhabit the intervening districts, and plunder all passengers who are not numerous enough to protect themselves. After crossing the frontiers of Persia, the route lies through Samarcand, Borchaia, Tascan, and other places inhabited by the successors of Tamerlane's soldiers. Immense tracts next occur; some, quite desert, or filled with barbarians and inhospitable people; others, inhabited by such as are civilized and kind in their manners; but through the whole of this part of the route, there is a scarcity of provisions: hence, it is absolutely necessary for the caravan to carry its provisions along with it; this is done on the backs of camels. After travelling several months, the barriers of Cathay are reached; for the greater part of this empire is protected by lofty and rugged mountains, and cannot be entered, unless through certain narrow passes in them, all of which are strongly garrisoned. Here, the merchants are asked, What they bring? whence they come? and what is their number? The answers to these questions are communicated, in the day-time, by smoke, at night by fires, to the next watch-tower, and thence, by the same means, to a succession of watch-towers, so that, in a few hours, information reaches the king in his capital, and thus is accomplished, what, in the common mode of communication, would require an interval of several days. The determination of the king to admit all, or none, or part, or to delay their admittance, is transmitted by the same means, and in as short a space of time. When admitted, the merchants are placed under the guidance and control of certain persons, who find them quarters, and supply them, at a fixed and moderate price, with what they need, till they arrive at the capital. Here, each merchant specifies the particular articles he has brought, and makes a present from them to the king, who has also the privilege of purchasing, at a fair price, whatever other articles he chuses; the rest they sell or exchange: but they must have

finished all their business, and be ready to depart, by a certain fixed day; for the people of Cathay will not permit strangers to abide long in their country, lest their manners and morals should be changed, or corrupted, by such intercourse. The merchants are conducted to the frontiers, in the same manner, and with the same attendance, as they proceeded from them to the capital. The Turk, from whom Busbequius received this information, represented the inhabitants of Cathay as very crafty, as far advanced in the arts of life, and in political institutions, and as professing a religion quite different from the Christian, Mahomedan, or Jewish: in some ceremonies, however, not unlike the Jewish. For many ages, they have been acquainted with the art of printing: books are numerous: the paper is made from the outward parts of the cocoons of the silk worm; that it can be printed upon only on one side. In the capital are many houses, where that aromatic is sold which is called musk: it is the blood of an animal about the size of a goat. For nothing will the inhabitants give a higher price than for a lion this animal is not found in their country, and is, by them, greatly admired.

Busbequius inquired of the Turk, whether he had brought from Cathay any root, fruit, or rare kind of precious stone? The Turk replied, nothing of the kind, except a small root, which he always carried about with him, the least particle of which, when chewed, gave him strength and warmth, whenever he was languid or cold. Busbequius tasted it, being cautioned not to put much into his mouth: his physician also, who was alive at this time, tasted, and, from the flavour, judged it to be some kind of turnip.

Another Turkish travelling monk waited on our author: he was clothed in a white robe, reaching to his feet; and his hair was long, and hanging down, as it is represented in the pictures of the apostles. Busbequius thought he saw the impostor stamped in his features. The Turks, however, venerated him as a saint and a miracle-monger. He dined with Busbequius, and behaved in a becoming manner: after dinner, he went into the court, from which he soon returned with a large stone; with this, he gave himself blows on his naked breast, such as would have knocked down an ox. He, next, placed his hand on a bar of iron red hot; and then put it into his mouth, where he kept it some time, the saliva hissing with the heat. The bar of iron was oblong, thicker at one end than at the other, four cornered, and heated to such a degree, that it could not be distinguished from burning charcoal. Having done these feats, and received a present, he made his obeisance, and departed. The servants of Busbequius were astonished at what they saw; one of them, however, who thought himself

[ocr errors]

wiser than the rest, sneered at their surprise, and asserted it was all a trick. To convince them of this, he took the bar of iron, which the Turk, on his departure, had put into the fire, and placed his hand on the heated part of it. No sooner had he done this, than he flung it from him, his hands being so much burnt, that he could not use them for several days. Busbequius supposes, that, when the Turk went into the court for the stone, he applied some ointment to his hands and mouth; and he relates, that he saw a mountebank, at Venice, take up molten lead, and wash his hands with it.

We could add considerably, to our selections, other passages of equal curiosity and interest to those we have already given; but our limits forbid it, and we trust we have given more than sufficient to convince our readers, that Gibbon's praise of Busbequius is by no means unmerited. Indeed, we are decidedly of opinion, that a translation of his four epistles would present to the English reader a book much better worthy of his purchase, perusal, and library, than nine tenths of the travels of the present day.

We shall conclude this article with one untranslated extract, in order to enable our classical readers to determine for themselves, whether Gibbon's opinion, that Busbequius's latinity is eloquent, is not as well founded as the other parts of his commendation. The extract, they will perceive, contains a spirited remonstrance to the powers of Christendom on their suffering the classical regions of Greece and Asia Minor to remain in the power of infidels and barbarians, and an eloquent contrast between the liberal and patriotic feelings of former days, and the mercenary and selfish policy of the men of his own generation.

"Oh Nympharum, domos! oh sedes Musarum! oh loca literatis apta secessibus! ea mehercle (ut paulo ante dixi) lugere nunc videntur et operam cultumque Christianorum requirere. Sed multo magis ipsa Constantinopolis, vel tota potius Græcia: quæ quondam florentissima, nunc indigna premitur servitute: bonarum olim artium omnisque liberalioris doctrinæ inventrix humanitatem, quam nobis tradidit, reposcere videtur, et opem pro jure communium sacrorum adversus Scythicam barbariem implorare: sed frustra, euntibus in alia omnium Principum Christianorum animis. Neque vero graviore imperio Turcæ Græcos premunt, quam nobis dominantur vitia, luxus, crapula, desidia, libido, superbia, ambitio, avaritia, odium, invidia, æmulatio: quæ nostros animos ita depressos et sepultos tenent ut neque cœlum suspicere, neque præclarum quicquam meditari, et ad rem magnam adspirare valeant. Debuerat quidam nos pietas et officium impellere, ut afflictis sociorum rebus succurreremus. Sed si nec laudis nec honesti pulchritudo animos torpentes inflammavit; certe utilitas, cujus hodie prima ratio ducitur, movere potuit, ut loca tam præclara tantisque commoditatibus et opportunitatibus plena,

Barbaris erepta a nobis potius, quam ab illis vellemus possideri. Nunc per immensa maris spatia Indiæ petuntur et Antipodes. Quia enim facilis ibi præda opimæque exuviæ sine sanguine hominibus incallidis et simplicibus detrahuntur, pietas obtenditur, aurum quæritur. Longe aliter majores nostri: qui nequaquam sibi, tanquam si mercatores essent, ea loca duxerunt quærenda, ubi auri plurimum; sed ubi virtutis officiique exercendi major facultas offerebatur. Laboris et periculorum et longinquæ expeditionis præmium non utilitas erat, sed honor. Neque illis é bellis locupletior quisquam, sed gloria cumulatior domum revertebatur. Sed hæc tibi, ne quis sit fortasse qui nefas esse existimet, quicquam in sæculi nostri moribus desiderare. Utcumque tamen erit, acui sagittas in nostram perniciem video; metuoque futurum, ut si pro gloria nolimus, de salute tandem cogamur dimicare."

ART. V.-Assizes et bons usages du Royaume de Jerusalem, tirés d'un Manuscrit de la Bibliothèque Vaticane, par Messire Jean d'Ibelin, Comte de Japhe, et d'Ascalon, Seigneur de Rames et de Baruth, ensemble les coutumes de Beauvoisis, par Messire de Beaumanoir et par Gaspard Thaumes de la Thaumassier. Bourges et Paris, 1690.

The laws which regulated the different countries of Europe, during the middle ages, agree with each other in numerous instances. In order to understand these laws completely, it is necessary to trace their progress in the different nations which adopted them. It is by this laborious research, that Mr. Hallam has been able to draw a picture, as complete as it is rapid, of that interesting period of history; and the perusal of his book may give some idea of the assistance he has derived from collections of the ancient feudal laws.

Among these collections, there are few so deserving of particular attention as the "Assises de Jerusalem," known, likewise, by the name of the "Letters of St. Sepulchre," from their having been kept in a chest, in the church of St. Sepulchre; whence, on occasion of a dispute on any article of these laws, they were taken in the presence of the king, or of his delegate, of the patriarch, or, in his absence, of the prior of the Sepulchre, two canons, and the vicomte.

Under the title of Assizes of Jerusalem, are to be found collected, the laws, statutes, usages, and customs, given to the kingdom of Jerusalem, by Godfrey, Duke of Boulogne, in 1099.

« PreviousContinue »