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If the reader be not fatigued with this continued jargon, which is actually necessary for the exposition of my subject, and which I have endeavoured to submit in as intelligible a manner as the nature of it will allow, I will proceed to investigate the meaning of another symbol, which I hope will better repay his attention than what I have lately discussed. I allude to the ladder : but here I am again obliged to dissent from Passeri, who for want of a better explanation was content to consider it an emblem of fortune. “ Quis fortunæ manentis imaginem, apud “ Etruscos inveniri reputasset ? et quidem nacti sumus.”— Vol. i. p. 7. But notwithstanding the authority of Ælian, which is ingeniously attached to this declaration of discovery, I venture to affirm that the antiquary was deceived in his conjecture. “ Sustulit tamen hæsitationem (he continues) Ælianus de Var. “ Hist. ii. 29. hæc scribens, IittaHO'S €v Motuai un XATETXEÚWO E Tois lepois
κλίμακα, εις ουδεμίαν μεν χρησιν επιτήδειοι, αυτό δε τουτο ανάθημα είναι.
αινιττόμενος την εκ της τύχης, άνω, και κάτω μετάπτοσιν. Τρόπον τινα « των μεν ευτυχούντων ανιόντων, κατιόντων δε των δυστυχούντων.” “Pittacus “ of Mitylene introduced a ladder into the temples of his country, “ not designing it for any particular use, but simply as a vote or
offering, implying thereby the rise and fall in the vicissitudes of “ fortune, according to which the prosperous might be said to “ climb upwards, the unfortunate to descend.” All this may be very true of Pittacus, but as I speak of allegories which were not devised by the celebrated Lesbian sage, I must decline accepting this emblein in the sense assigned to it by Passeri. Nor will that country, to which I have occasionally betaken myself for the origin of symbols and a solution of such difficulties as impeded my way, avail me in the present case; the meritorious historiographer of Hindustan directs me to Chaldæa for the genuine sense of this allegory, “ to that grand theological school, in which “ the metempsychosis was first divulged ; in which the sidereal
“ ladder and gates were first erected.”. * Mr. Maurice has left me no doubt as to the signification of the ladder, I therefore advance with confidence, that this symbol refers to the Metempsychosis, of which the different stages are represented by its steps. t I am further inclined to suggest, that the window denotes perfection or the highest stage of it. In the Monumenti Inediti of Winckelmann, is inserted a grotesque illustration of the story of Jupiter and Alcmene. She is seated at a window, and Jupiter, conducted by Mercury, ascends by a ladder to the feigned character, who (might I be pardoned for an etymological transgression) seems in this place to be no more than Axp-ın, denoting the summit, or perfection.
Similar with the preceding is a vase I, where a grotesque figure, attended by an agent with the torch and situla, and the emblematical chaplet, ascends by a ladder to a female at a window, to whom he offers the Hesperian fruit and the mystic girdle. That the ladder is emblematical of life, we are assured by its being occasionally impregnated by the mysterious dots Ø ; and as the steps denote the Metempsychosis, it is fair to conclude that the window is the highest stage.
But, perhaps, the curiosity of the reader may not rest here. He may
desire to look in at this window, and ascertain what may be passing within this elevated apartment. I scruple not to gratify him in his wish, and in doing so, I apprehend I shall
* Dissertation on the Oriental Trinities, p. 257.
+ D'Hancarville was mistaken when he referred that gem of ancient rudesculpture, Antiq. Etrusques, vol. iii. p. 195. plate xxviii. fig. 19, to the potter Choræous, and the bee, which, as he supposed, denoted him to be one of those Athenian tribes, which occupied Mount Hymettus. It represents the Dioscurus with a vase in each hand, ascending the ladder of the Metempsychosis, above the upper end of which is the Psyche, or butterfly.
# Passeri, vol. iii. plate ccvi. § Ibid. vol. i. plate XLVII.
reach the utmost limits to which these disquisitions can be extended. On a marble bas relief of the Townley collection, now in the British Museum, is a representation of a banquet, with the whimsical device of a horse looking through a window. This, then, is that Feast of the Blessed which I alluded to in the beginning of this treatise, by which was implied the utmost object of pagan hopes. To this the apparatus in the tomb of Cyrus, described by Strabo, had reference, as also that in the upper chamber of the pagoda of Belus at Babylon, in the first book of Herodotus. The horse, as was shown respecting the Sicilian and
denoted the procession of spirit from water, and in the present case it probably implies
it probably implies a similar vehicle, and the arrival of another guest at this metaphysical banquet.
But what, if extending our view beyond the limits of Chaldæa, we enter the courts of the Lirman and other Buddhistical kings, and witness ceremonies in every respect similar to the allegories depicted on Greek vases? We shall scarcely fear to incur the charge of rashness or wanton misapplication of authorities, if we presume to reduce them to such principles, as those which the Chaldæan theologians professed, who imparted their mystic emblems to Egypt and Greece. Whoever has perused the account of La Loubére of the kingdom of Siam, and the more recent narrative of our accomplished countryman, the late Colonel Symes, respecting the court of Ava, will remember that the kings of those countries appear at court only from a window * and that the hall of audience below (for this opening is many feet from the ground) is decorated with umbrellas. † The eminence of the
* Dr. Kæmpfer was thus received by the governors of Osacca and Miaco, the residence of the ecclesiastical Emperor of Japan, appearing to him from an adjoining apartment, after the shutters of lattice windows had been flung open. P. 479. and
+ See the plate in the work of La Loubére, vol. i. p. 331.
prince above his people is hereby implied, he thus appearing perfect, or in the highest stage of the Metempsychosis, while his courtiers below are shaded by the umbrellas, as if in Inferis, unpurified, or to suit my expression to the vase of Winkelmann, at the bottom of the ladder.
The palace of the king of Siam is covered with seven roofs * : the king resides under the seventh, nor dares any mortal climb or walk above his head. * What are these roofs but the ladder of the Metempsychosis, with its seven steps, illustrated by Mr. Maurice ț, of which the king of Siam flatters himself he has ascended to the highest round ? whilst, to show the grovelling impurity, the gross and abject state of his courtiers, they are compelled to enter beneath the lowest roof, creeping upon all-fours. S In the same spirit the Rajah of Bootan is described || residing on the highest floor of his palace or dwelling, and the English ambassador and his suite were obliged to mount by ladders through different floors to arrive in his presence.
Other singularities which occur in the narrative of Captain Turner may be referred to the influence of the same religious opinion : such as the houses at Buxadewar, erected on props, although in a hilly country, above the danger of reptiles or torrents, p. 28. ; Captain Turner being conducted to the upper floor, upon his visit to a recluse, p. 103; and particularly in p. 91., in the citadel of Tassisudon, the seventh ladder leading to the temple of Mahamoonie.
* A view of this is given by La Loubére in a plate to vol. i. p. 95.
+ Thus, in the embassy of Colonel Symes to Ava, may be noticed the offence given to the boatmen, upon certain of our countrymen walking over their heads on the deck beneath which they slept. P. 451.
I 'Ettanópou o úpwv xata Baguidos. Dissertation on the Oriental Trinities, p. 271. The course of lustration by the Metempsychosis was supposed to be through the seven planets.
9 La Loubére de Siam, vol. i. p. 94. Ed. Amst. 1713.
I wish the coincidences I have brought into one point of view might prove at least acceptable, if not of use, to those who have the opportunity of mixing with the different Asiatic nations whose customs afford such various subject for admiration and curious enquiry. I offer them, at all events, in grateful acknowledgement of the pleasure I have received from those who, to the benefit of their country, have already accomplished such visits, and who have communicated them with so much elegance to the improvement of their countrymen.