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RUINS OF MANY LANDS.
A DESCRIPTIVE POEM.
BY NICHOLAS MICHELL,
" THE TBADUCED," " THE EVENTFUL EPOCH," ETC.
WILLIAM TEGG AND CO., PANCR.\S-LANE, CHEAPSIDE.
JOHN K. CHAPMAN AND COMPANY, PRINTERS, 5, SHOE-LANE, AND
HIS WIFE, MARIA,
London, Januar)', 1849.
RUINS OF MANY LANDS.
P RE FACE
To be called upon to write a preface to a new
edition of liis work must ever be to an author an
ajrreeable task. As the first edition of "Ruins of
Many- Lands" has now been exhausted for some
months, the present issue would have appeared
earlier but for one circumstance : Aware that in
the poem, as it was at first published, many of the
descriptions were extremely brief, while the in-
formation conveyed was scanty, we have wished
not only thoroughly to revise it, but to make ad-
ditions ; these additions principally consist of the
introduction of remarks on the discoveries made
by Mr. Layard on the site of Nineveh ; of an ex-
tended space being given, both as regards the
poetry and notes, to the ruins in Nubia and
Egypt, ā a chronological table of the reigns of the
Pharaohs having been compiled from the best au-
thorities with much care; of more ample obser-
vations relative to the ruined cities of Central
America, the Rock- Temples of India, and the
classic antiquities of Greece and Italy ; while the
very interesting Roman remains in the South of
France are now described, and additional notices
o-iven of the ruins on the African coast, and
in the Holy Land.
Still we do not presume to suppose that in
a limited work like the present, which treats
of the greater portion of the ruins in the Old
and New World, anything like justice can be
done to the subject. AVe can only, as it
were, catch the saHent points, the more pro-
minent features, or fix those colours on our
canvass which appear to us most attractive, novel,
In respect to the study of antiquity, the rise
and fall of nations, and all the great convul-
sions which have agitated the by-gone world,
many, no doubt, there are who regard these
things with indifference. The mass of man-
kind is imbued with the utilitarian principle.
The matter-of-fact man prefers enjoying the
present, and speculating on the future, to
looking back on the past : his motto is " Pro-
gress!" and his cry, "Forward!" To a certain
extent he acts wisely; but we submit that
this principle may be carried too far. Ex-
perience is the daughter of Time; and the
knowledge of what our ancestors achieved, both
in a physical and moral sense, cannot but be
productive of good ; while a study of the beau-
tlful in art, whether it be apparent in a statue
or an ivy-covered ruin, elevates the sentiments
and refines the taste, enabling us to be better
judges of the performances of our contempo-
raries, and to appreciate the excellences or
detect the faults which may distinguish the
erections from time to time springing up in our
own Metropolis. Yes, depend upon it, the past
is the great text-book in which the present
should con its lessons.
We have intimated that the subject attempted
in this poem is a very comprehensive one. There
is scarcely a country which does not boast some
remain of architectural beauty associated with
its earlier history, and pointing, like a finger-
post, to the shadowy and eventful days that
are gone. We visit Greece less to survey her
mountains, her olived valleys, and sparkling
seas, than to gaze on the marble relics of her
departed glory, speaking of refinement, civilisa-
tion, and matchless genius ; and we traverse
the valley of the Nile, not to contemplate the
inhabitants, the degenerate race of to-daj, but
to stand witliin the shadow of the mighty piles
erected there by a people whose intellects were
developed, and who had attained to an extra-
ordinary degree of power and learning, before
Rome was thought of, and when Europe was
only a wide hunting-ground for barbarians.
The theme is one calculated to awaken poetic
ardour, and to exercise a fascinating influence
on the mind. But as the mere love of art
will not always make an artist, so whatever
devotion we bring to the task, we may, never-
theless, have failed in the execution.
It only remains to be said that we have en-
deavoured to give a systematic arrangement to
a work which, owing to the research necessary
to the undertaking, has been the study of some
years. The writer has striven within a limited
space to press as much information as pos-
sible in elucidation of the subject, the best
authorities having been consulted, and the steps
of the most intelligent travellers followed. Epi-
sodes, or short stories connected with some of
the remains, have been introduced, and it is
thought that they may be characteristic of the
respective eras treated of, and lend an addi-
tional interest to the scenes through which the
RUINS OF THE DARK ERA.
Ruined Cities of Ameeica 87
Rock-Temples of Elloea, Elephanta, &c.,
in India 110
RUINS OF THE CLASSIC ERA.
Ruined Theatee neae Epidaurus 168
Ruins of Sparta 171
Maeathon 1 77
Ruins of Old Bceotian Cities 183
Ruins on Mounts Helicon and Parnassus 185
The Greek Isles 189
Remains on the Field of Teoy 199
Rome, and its Environs 204
Temple of Vesta, or the Sibyl, at Tibuk. . 217
Virgil's Tomb 221
Ruins near the Bay of Naples 222
Pompeii and Herculaneum 223
Temples of P^stum 237
Roman Amphitheatres at Pola and Verona 238
Roman Remains at Vienne, Orange, Arles,
NiMES, kc, in the South of France . . 247
RUINS OF MISCELLANEOUS AGES.
Towers of Persian Fire- Worshippers 317
Ctesiphon and Seleucia 318
Ruined Palace of Khosru 319
Mounds of Susa 321
Ruins of Geraza, in Gilead 344
Ruined Towns of Galilee 348
Tombs of Abraham and Rachel 359
RUINS OF MANY LANDS.
Ye who in fancy love to wander back,
With pensive step, o'er Time's dim shadowy track ;
Whose souls the magic Present hath not bound ;
Who live to think, and dare to gaze around ;
Who fain would read Man's history, hopes, and fears.
Writ on the dark remains of vanished years,
Can beauty see in forms laid waste and low,
And o'er Art's past creations bum and glow, ā
'Tis you we ask to share the Pilgrim's way,
Cross Ocean's foam, and other climes survey.
Old scenes to visit, and old dreams to dream,
Shall not to us a task of labour seem ;
Though cloud-capped Alps uprear their rugged pride.
With lightsome foot we'll scale their hoary side ;
10 KUmS OF MANY LANDS.
Though sands may rise, and burn the withering gale.
We'll tread enraptured Egypt's templed vale ;
In Indian woods though tigers make their lair,
We'll pierce their depths, and view Art's wonders there.
Ours it shall be to trace what lingers still
Of early glory, and of ancient skill ;
To mark how empires rose by might of mind.
And scan the wrecks those empires leave behind :
Oh ! yes, o'er mount and wild we'll wander far,
Now lit by History's sun, now Memory's star,
Traverse each land where Time his bolt hath hurled.
And view, deep charmed, the Ruins of the world.
EUINS OF MANY LANDS
THE DARK ERA.
Bright stream ! whose wavelets flowed through Eden's
Watering its trees, and incense-breathing flowers,
Soothing with murmurs Eve's enraptured ear,
And all her heavenlj^ charms reflecting clear :
River ! whose mountain-born and rapid flood
Swept Shinar's plain, where sky-topped Babel stood,
Wound, like a huge snake glittering in the sun,
Through Earth's first city, mighty Babylon !
And saw, along those wild and palmy banks,
The first dread conqueror range his blood-stained ranks!*
All hail, Euphrates ! stream of hoary time.
Fair as majestic, sacred as subUme !
Ā» Nimrod, by uniting the heads of families and tribes, and gradu-
ally extending his influence, was enabled about 200 years after
the Deluge to found a monarchy ; and thns he became the first
subjugator of his species.
12 KUINS OF MANY LANDS. [bOOK I.
What thoughts of Earth's young morning dost thou bring !
What hallowed memories to thy bright waves cling ! ā
The bowers are crushed where Eve in beauty shone.
The woods are wastes, the towers are overthrown ;
Ages have whelmed, beneath their ruthless tide,
Assyria's glory and Chaldsea's pride ;
But thou, exhaustless river ! rollest still,
Raising thy lordly voice by vale and hill ;
Sparkling through palm-groves, washing empires' graves,
And gladdening thirsty deserts with thy waves ;
Mirroring the heavens, that know no change, like thee,
A glittering dream, a bright-leaved history !
The pilgrim stands on famed Chaldeea's plain,
Th' immortal fields of Glory's ancient reign :
Hillah's small town is humming far away.
And o'er the desert dies the golden day.
What meets the eye ? No stately- waving trees.
No sweet-lipped flowers that scent the passing breeze :
Stern Desolation here hath reared her throne,
And darkly calls this fated land her own.
Vast mounds sweep near us, clothed with stunted grass,
Or strewn with shattered urns, and rings of brass ;
And on, and on they wind, and cross, and meet,
Wrecks of proud towers, and many a gorgeous street.
But who shall say where dwelt, in former age.
The high or low, the warrior, prince, or sage }
Wild asses browse where stood the Ninian gate.
The lizard crawls where monarchs moved in state ;
In Beauty's rosy garden Avormwood springs ;
Where cooed Love's ring-doves, vultures flap their
To trace the walls' vast round, skill vainly tries,
And o'er each shapeless ruin History sighs ;
PART I.] BABYLON, 13
Man's last poor pride, the very tombs are gone ā
And this was famed, earth-conquering Babylon ! *
Albeit though doubt and mystery round us spread,
Each mark of ancient grandeur hath not fled.
Far in the Western wild, begirt by sands,
A rugged pile, like some grim giant, stands :
Rude stones, that once, perchance, with beaming grace
Had glowed in statues, strew its circling base ;
Though crushed the halls that Time's dread secrets keep.
Still, stage on stage, the crumbling platforms sweep :
High on its brow a dark mass rears its form,
Defying ages, mocking fire and storm :
Struck by a thousand lightnings, still 'tis there,
As proud in ruin, haughty in despair.
Oh ! oldest fabric reared by hands of man !
Built ere Art's dawn on Europe's shores began !
Rome's mouldering shrines, and Tadmor's columns gray,
Beside yon mass, seem things of yesterday !
In breathless awe, in musing reverence, bow,
'Tis hoary Babel glooms before you now ;
The tower at which th' Almighty's shaft was hurled,
The mystery, fear, and wonder of the world ! (1)
* On the eastern bank of the Euphrates, a few miles above the
modem town of HiUah, are immense mounds formed of decayed
buildings, and covered with bricks, broken pottery, and masses of
bitumen. They lie in various positions ; some are round, others
square, while they measure from 000 to 1,000 yards in circum-
ference; long ridges also branch away from these, and intersect
each other, strongly suggesting the idea that they are tlie remains
of former streets. Niebuhr, Ifennell, Porter, and Kich, followed by
many other travellers and antiquaries, have come to the conclusion
that these mounds are no less than the mouldered ruins of the
once famous city of Babylon.
(1) Eeferences marked thus ( ) to Notes not introduced at the
foot of the page, imply that they will be found at the end of the
respective books ; and the reader's attention is particularly directed
to such Notes, wliich are designed to convey information that cau-
tno be given through the medium of poetry.
14 KUINS OF MANY LANDS. FbOOK I
See, Northward, too, in slow and stern decay,
Like Egypt's piles, but older e'en than they.
Yon high-peaked ruin ; dim Oblivion's wings
Shroud there the dust of Babylonia's kings.
She who with War's red crest, and glittering sword,
Led armies forth, and fought beside her lord,*
Conquered from Shinar's plains to Lidus' shore.
In Death's dark chambers sounds her trump no more :
There he who caused the captive Hebrews' tears.
Sleeps his long sleep of thrice a thousand years : f
Silence and mystery wrap each royal brow,
Dust their sole throne, a vault their kingdom now ;
Of all they swayed, no slave to bend the knee ā
Such as they are. Earth's mightiest kings shall be I (2)
But lo ! where dun Euphrates murmurs by,
The noblest wreck, the Palace, courts the sky ;
The brick-built walls with Cufic emblems set.
Buttress and massy pier, ye gaze on yet.
Vast is the mound we climb with reverent tread ā
Oh ! days of glory, power for ever fled !
A hundred kings have swayed their sceptres here.
Warriors have bowed, and princes quailed with fear ;
Through gorgeous halls below, when Earth was young.
What feasts have blazed ! what strains of music rung ! J
Dark tree of ages ! crowning yonder steep,
Waving in sighs, and drooping as to weep,
+ Nebuchadnezzar. He captured Jerusalem b.c. 606 years,
and caiTied the Jews into captivity.
(2) For remarks on the supposed burial place of the Babylonian
kings, see Note at the end of this Book.
+ Perhaps the most interesting of the three great Babylonian
remains is the heap of ruins called by the Arabs the Kasr, one
mile south of the Mujelibe, and close by the Euphrates, which is
PAKT I.] BABYLON. 15
What doth it there ? its brethren all are gone,
A hermit now, it blooms and mourns alone ;
Float, balmiest breezes ! round those thin gray leaves,
Where her last song some lingering spirit weaves ;
Sun ! veil thy fire ā ye storms ! forbear to swell,
And, dews of evening ! nurse this relic well.
Time-honoured tree, it marks the Hanging Bowers, (3)
Boast of a queen in pomp and pleasure's hours ;
Yes, here Nitocris built her famed parterre,
Terrace on terrace raised, in upper air :
Trees of all bloom, and flowers of every hue,
Founts that aloft bright perfumed waters threw.
Arcades of roses screening sultry skies.
Birds, lutes, soft airs, half rivalled Paradise. (4)
As now the desert landscape meets our gaze,
A vision dawns of glory's radiant days :
In yon green arbour fair Nitocris sits,
A band of dark-eyed maidens near her flits ;
Some deck her form with gems from Bactria's mine,
And 'round her brow sweet Syrian roses twine ;
Some wreath in braids her soft far-floating hair.
And tinge her eyes to aid the witchery there :
here about 500 feet wide. The Royal Palace, beautified by
Nitocris, but built by some previous monarch, as described by
Herodotus, and Quiuius Curtius, must buve stood in tbis place.
On the opposite side arose another palace, the two being connected
by a bridge ; no remains, however, exist on tlie western bank; the
tunnel, also, which, according to Diodorus, Semiramis excavated
here beneath the Euphrates, is nowhere to be found. The brick
ruiu on tlie Kasr is a very remarkable one; it cousists of several
walls and piers, eiglit feet in thickness, and so surprisingly fresii
that Mr. Kicli, who, in his " Memoirs," gives a minute account of it,
could scarcely at first persuade himself of its being in reality a
Babylonian remain. Were the Kasr to be examined on the system
pursued by Mr. Layard in his investigation of the mounds of
Nineveh, there is every reason to believe that many valuable and
extraordinary relics would be brought to light.
16 EUINS OF MANY LANDS. [bOOK I.
Others by jasper-fount and garden bed,
Chaldsea's dance so light and graceful tread,
High raise their arms the soft slow strains to suit,
That breathe from Persian pipe and Lydian lute ;
Then, Peri-like, they swim in measures fleet ;
Twinkle like stars their silver-sandalled feet ;
Now at each graceful bound they scatter flowers,
Their low sweet laughter ringing through the bowers.
Oh ! beautiful those bright, fair, joyous things ā
What want they, to be angels, but their wings ?
Yet sad, 'midst all, Chaldsea's *' queen appears ;
Her fair brow droops, her cheek is wet with tears ;
She mourns her absent lord, who leads his host
'Gainst savage tribes, on Euxine's wintry coast.
Far from the bloomy bowers, her fancy flies
To War's dread plain, and horrors round her rise.
For lutes' soft tones, loud shouts assail her ear,
And for the dance, hosts charge in mad career.
Cleaving the sky, she marks the feather'd dart ;
It comes ā she shrinks ā it quivers in his heart !
Yes, in her arms he leans, the fond and true ;
He cannot speak, but looks a sad adieu ;
And fast she showers her kisses on that brow,
Where Valour sits, though Death is darkening now ;
Catches the fluttering breath, the last faint moan.
And feels his pulseless heart, while breaks her own.
List ! on the walls that trumpet's sudden blast !
See ! o'er the plain those troops careering fast I
Gleams the rich standard, brays the sackbut out ;
" He comes ! the conqueror comes !" ten thousand shout.
* Chaldsea, at this period, according to Ptolemy, formed the
south-western portiou of the Babylonian empire. The Babylonians
spoke the Chaldaean language ; hence the terms Chaldsan and
Babylonian had almost become synonymous.
PART I.] BABYLON. 17
Up from her tear-damp couch the mourner springs,
Back from her brow the raven tresses flings ;
Strength nerves her frame, and joy illumes her eye.
Forth from her bower she darts, with rapturous cry,
Hastes to those arms, past all her fear and woe.
And sinks upon that breast, her heaven below ! *
'Twas here, beneath this dark and silent mound,
"Where ages heap their nameless wrecks around,
That he, the last great king, before his fall,
Spread his famed feast, and lit his gorgeous hall.
Oh ! ne'er in Babylon did blaze a sight
More richly grand, magnificently bright !
Bearing his crown, and dressed in robe of state,
High on his throne of gold Belshazzar sate.
In shining rows, and stretching far away,
Like billows quivering 'neath the sunset ray,
Chiefs, nobles stood, the red lamps flashing o'er
The golden chains and purple robes they wore.
In gilded gall'ries damsels, too, were seen.
Like night thick set with stars, their jewels' sheen ;
With rose-crowned locks, white hands, and radiant eyes.
Too fair for earth, too earthly for the skies.
The banquet speeds ; the harp and psaltery sound,
And all is splendour, joy, enchantment round.
* This famous Queen Nitocris, daughter-in-law of Nebuchad-
nezzar, ordered her subjects to bury her under one of the gates of
the citj', with an inscription on her tomb to the effect that none
should seek for the treasures hidden there, unless under circum-
stances of the most urgent necessit)-. Darius, the Persian, at
length opened it, but, instead of the anticipated treasure, found the
following sentence graven on the marble : ā " If tliou hadst not an
insatiable thirst after money, and a most sordid soul, thou wouldst
never have broken open the monuments of the dead." ā Vid. Bollin,
on the authority of Herodotus.
18 KUINS OF MANY XANDS. [bOOK I.
Wreathed with rich flowers, and crowned with rosy wine,
The golden cups from Salem's Temple shine.*
Joined by his chiefs, th' exulting monarch drinks,
Nor at thy voice, condemning conscience ! shrinks,
But mocks the Hebrews' God, and, with vain boast.
Extols their Bel, and Heaven's unnumbered host.f
'Twas then, while pleasure held each heart in thrall,
A sudden light illumed the pillar'd hall ;
No lamp, no earthly fire, could pour such beams ā
From sun or comet no such splendour streams.
Up sprang the king, and backward swayed the crowd;
Mute was the harp, and hushed their laughter loud.
See ! where in flame, yet dazzling, strong and clear,
That shadowy hand doth trace its words of fear !
It writes ! ā the king still stands with lips apart,
While terror's thrill runs shivering to his heart ;
It writes! ā and all veil there, in dread amaze,
Their dazzled eyes from that portentous blaze !
* The Temple of Jerusalem had been rifled, and the sacred ves-
sels cai'ried off to Babylon, just sixty-nine years before this memor-
able night. In the first year of Cyrus's reign, b. c. 536, the Jews
returned from their captivity.
t Though Belus was the gi-eat God of the Babylonians, they
were also confirmed Sabaians, or worshippers of the stars. At
this period, six centuries before Christ, the civilised world, with
regard to religious systems, appears to have been divided into five
families ā namely, those who cultivated Sabaism or star-worship,
being the inhabitants of Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Phoenicia, the
last superadding the worship of Baal or Moloch; the people of
Iran (Persia), and Bactria, who adored fire as the visible emblem
of the Deity ; those who reared temples to the innumerable gods
tliat swell the Greek and Egyptian mythology ; the Brahmins
beyond the Indus, whose deities were Brahm, Vishnu, and Siva,
and who maintained transmigration of souls, being called by the
Greeks Gymnosophists; and, lastly, the small remnant of Hebrews,
who alone, amidst the darkness that shrouded mankind, retained
the true religion, and bowed down to Him who created Heaven
PABT I.] BABYLON. 19
No sage was found to read those words of flame,
Till he, the exile, Salem's prophet came.*
He stood before them all, with noble mien,
Bold as unshrinking, lofty as serene.
Age marked his brow, but in his deep clear eye
Still burned the fire of glorious days gone by.
So hushed each voice, that hall appeared a tomb ā
He stretched his hand, and spoke the monarch's doom !
Yes, on that night the foe, whose hosts in vain
Had fought so long those stately towers to gain,
Bowed deep Euphrates from his wonted course,
Poured to the city's heart with whirlwind force.
Slew the last king ā Assyria's rule was o'er !
And Babylon, the mighty, was no more ! (5)
Oh, man ! proud, fragile thing! who dream'st of power,
Founding thy laws, and rearing dome and tower,
Hoping to wage successful war with Time,
Great in thy schemes, and in thy aims sublime.
Pause, nursling of an hour ! and child of clay !
Read on thy mightiest works that word ā decay !
A little while on Earth's uncertain scene,
Pride's arm is strong, and Glory's bays are green ;
A little while do thrones and empires claim,
From crouching thousands, homage and a name ;
But, like the waves, still shifting as they glide,
Power onward rolls her ever-changing tide.
Ay, deem not, Man ! eternal fate to brave.
For all things earthly yawns Destruction's grave :
Sure as the writing on Belshazzar's wall,
Thy schemes shall fail ā thy Titan hopes shall fall ;
ā¢ Daniel, a child when carried into captivity, b. c. COG, whs
row above eighty years of age.
20 EUINS OF MANY LANDS, [bOOK I.
Mind only lives for ever ; amaranths bloom,
And Time but breaks his scythe, beyond the tomb !
Fi'om Babel's site we Northward bend our way,
O'er desert heaths, where Ishmael's wanderers stray;
Scorners of cities, law hath failed to buid,
Children of rapine, foes to all mankind !
No change in this wild race do ages see,
Savage, yet courteous ā ignorant, yet free.
Doomed by God's fiat evermore to roam.
The waste their only world, the tent their home.*
Now as the sun goes down, and zephyr brings
Balm in its breath, and freshness on its wings,
'Tis as enchantment thus to yield the rein.
And like a wild bird skim the level plain.
The cai'avan from Herat's bowers of bloom,
The pilgrim train from All's sainted tomb,f
Swift we dash by ; the camel's tinkling bell
And guide's low song the breeze a moment swell,
Then both are gone, our courser tireless yet,
Though foam, like snow-wreaths, streaks his sides of jet :
* A notion lias obtained with some writers that all the Arabs
are descended from Ishmsel, the son of the bond-woman Hagar ;
but Arabs existed in the great Peninsula long before Ishmael was