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For when his rage began to cool,
He found the bird was flown, Without a feather pluck’d, altho'
Such mettle had been shown.
This did the hero sorely vex;
And sorely vex it might, For well he knew, that he should be
Set off in “ black and white."
With resolutions such as these,
A youth he chanc'd to spy, Who, with his horse, was passing round
Great Billy's house, hard by. Stop! stop! cries Billy, you're the man,
I long have wish'd to meet,
I'll soon thy napper greet.
As off his coat he tore,
I'll soon thy body floor. With atitude quite à la Crib,
He now the nearer drew; . But all that he could do or say,
Would not the youth bring to.
My Billy Galpin, now farewell,
Still may you loyal be,
R. H. * Billy had forgotten Mr. Martin's Act.
TO RICHARD CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL.
Saturday, July 24. HAVING stated in my former letters how the pretended Fall of Man may be explained by a reference to the physical effects of Winter, I shall now proceed to the consideration of the method in which these Evils are repaired. Let us turn therefore to the Saviour of the world, even to the Solar Deity Christ, who is said to be the Light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world. At the birth of this Sun of Righteousness the dayspring from on high visiteth us; and, in consequence of the death of this kind and merciful Being, we are rescued from the fatal dominion of the Evil Principle.
As the influence of the great Luminary appeareth gradually to increase and decrease with the length of the days, it was supposed, when personified by its worshippers, to be in its youth during spring, to enjoy the strength of manhood during summer, to fall into old age during autumn, and to be born again when the days began to lengthen. Hence the infant Sun made his appearance in the world at the first instant of the first day, that is, at midnight, from which time many nations, like ourselves, count the beginning of their day. The Priests no doubt consulted the horoscope of the new-born Deity, or in other words observed what sign of the Zodiac rose above the horizon at the moment of his birth. I believe, Richard Carlile, that in common horoscopes the planets were more consulted than the fixed stars; but as there is probably no reason why the Sun should rather be born in one year than another, the planets, whose position is of course perpe. tually varying, could not enter into a general formula for the horoscope of a Being, whose nativity is annual. It was enough therefore to look at the stars which were there rising in the East; and from BC 2428 till BC 268, these stars were, I imagine, the middle and the end of the large constellation Virgo. It is no wonder therefore that any prophet should have announced to the people “ Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son." We may indeed reasonably ask: What Virgin, except the one represented on the spheres, could bring forth a son and yet retain her virginity? At any rate we need not be surprised, if any Astro- · loger should have traced upon the celestial globe the image of the infant Deity in the arms of the constellation that produced him; and if the images of the celestial Virgin, which have since been proposed to the adoration of the people, should represent her as suckling the mystical child, who was to overcome Evil, to regenerate Nature, and to reign over the Universe.
But I may here mention, Richard Carlile, that it is impossible
to form a proper idea of ancient Christianism, till we have been in the temples of the Roman Catholics. There we shall see the Virgin, seated in the clouds, holding the infant Jesus in her arms, and treading upon the Serpent, the emblem of the Evil Principle. The “ Cranmerians," and such other miserable sectaries, have removed a variety of the symbols, rites, &c. of former idolatry, and have imposed upon us a mongrel superstition, blasphemously compounded of Reason and Christianism. We no longer celebrate the birth of Christ at midnight; we neglect the fète of the Assumption; we have no fire of St. John; no illuminttion at Candlemas; no tomb of Christ; no representation of a Lamb reposing on the book of seven seals; in short nothing, but what a set of Demi-Reformers have thought proper, in their sublime ignorance, to consider worthy of the primitive ages of the church. I know that in the opinion of most persons the Symbols and Ceremonies of the Romanists are considered as very modern inventions; but in that case I should like to know, by what accident it hath happened, that these symbols, &c, have so Pagan, or rather so astrological and Apocalyptical a character. For my own part I profess a most entire ignorance of the origin of Christianism; though I might conjecture, that after an oriental origin many centuries previous to the vulgar æra, this branch of solar worship, taking advantage of the general expectation of an universal monarch, assumed an historical form during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. This opinion, as it is very much that of the great Volney, may possibly be true; but as Dupuis doth not deign, or perhaps doth not dare, to offer us any hypothesis, I have no business to enter upon the subject.
But to return from this digression. Macrobius, after relating the different ages of the Solar Deity Bacchus, telleth us, that this God appeareth at the winter Solstice as an infant, such as the Egyptians on a certain day bring out of the sanctuary. It was at the winter Solstice, that, according to Plutarchus, Isis brought forth a son a weak and feeble infant. Hence the Goddess Isis, who is probably the same as the chaste Minerva, said, in the inscription of her temple at Saïs: “ The fruit whom I have produced became a Sun,” or “ was the Sun," for it may be doubied which is the best translation. Proclus mentioneth, among the places appropriated to the virgin Minerva in the heavens, one at the Ram, and another at Virgo; Eratosthenes saith, that among a variety of opinions, some persons imagined the celestial Virgin to be Isis; and according to Hours Apollo the symbolical image of the year itself was a woman called Isis. It was in honour of this great Goddess of the Egyptians, that there was celebrated at the famous festival of Light, which the Christians have imitated in their Candlemas, or Purification.
From the Egyptians let us come next to the Romans. On the 25th of December the inhabitants of the great city honoured the
No. 7, Vol. X.
birth of the God of Light by the Solar festivals and the games of
the Circus. It is on that day, that, according to Servius, the Sun 'is properly speaking new; and that, according to the elder Plinius, the festivals, called Brumalia, are celebrated.
Now I am well aware, Richard Carlile, that the day of the birth of Christ is considered very uncertain; and that while some persons celebrated it as we do, and some at the same time as the Epiphany, others placed it whole mouths sooner or later. But Cotelerius, Baronius, and Tillemont, decide in favour of the 25th of December; and the church of Rome from a very early period hath fixed the birth of Christ on that day. The subject however seemeth involved in great difficulties. We need not be surprised indeed, that many of the Oriental Christiars, and particularly those of Egypt, being loath to celebrate the birtlı of Christ on the birth day of the Sun; and with reference to a personification of the great Luminary, it is no wonder if his birth were confounded, with his Epiphany or his appearance, and with his Baptism, which may be considered as his passing through the aqueous realms of darkness into the celestial Enipire of Light. This however is a mere conjecture of my own; and I only offer it as an explanation of a difficulty, which Dupuis, satisfied perhaps with finding the time of the festival now firmly established, hath passed over with very slight notice.
Assuming therefore that the 25th of December is the real birthday of Christ, we may remark, that according to certain persons in the time of Pope Leo the first, what rendered this festival venerable, was not so much the birth of Jesus Christ, as the return, and, as they expressed it, the new birth of the Sun. In the Roman Calender published during the reign of Constantinus we read opposite this day N. INVICTI, which is explained, the “ Birth-day of the Invincible.” The Emperor Julianus saith : “ Some days before the beginning of the year, we celebrate magnificent games in honour of the Sun, to whom we give the title of “ Invincible." Why can I not have the pleasure of celebrating them often, O Sun! King of the Universe! thou whom from all Eternity the first of the Gods engendered out of his pure substance?"
The Jesuit Petavius, in his notes upon this hymn, Jayeth a great stress upon the exact correspondence between the birth-day of Christ and the ancient festivals of the birth of the Great Luminary. He observeth moreover, that the Romans called their Jupiter “ Invincible;” and we find on some ancient coins the reprepresentation of a little boy riding on a Goat (probably Capricornus, in which sign the Sun begineth his career from the Solstice) with this inscription IOVI CRESCENTI.
The epithet “ Invincible" is also peculiarly applied to the solar Deity Mithra. Indeed Christianism, like Judaism, seemeth to be a branch of the Religion of Zoroaster.
Tertullianus, in two different treatises, after mentioning that some