Order Of The Solar Star
The Indian Prophecy
Queen of Sheba
Sermon on Sheba
THE QUEEN OF SHEBA’S VISIT TO SOLOMON.
“And when the Queen of Sheba and seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servant, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cup-bearing, and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. And she said it was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts, and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servant, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.” I Kings x. 4-8.
The prosperity of the peaceful reign and the magnificence of the temple, of the king’s house, and the house for his queen, the daughter of Pharaoh, spread the fame of Solomon though the surrounding kingdoms. The Queen of Sheba, or Ethiopia, excited by what she had heard of his great wisdom, and pressed by many anxious questions which she thought he might possibly solve, made the long journey from her country to his. Her labour was not in vain. She was astonished and delighted with all she saw, and she heard. She contrasted the grandeurs she beheld with the very modest structures of the native land, poor then as now in noble building, and the splendour of art, and she felt no comparison could be made. The interesting and beautiful language of our text informs us of her increasing admiration until she could no longer contain her ardent and astonished feelings, and exclaimed, “It was a true report I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me.”
We may view this divine history in many ways. It may be regarded as a manifestation of the will of the all wise, that beauty and goodness should exist together among men, as they do in His Glorious work, and in heaven.
We sometimes meet with good people who suppose that the surrounding of religion cannot be too plain. They shrink from anything but the veriest simplicity in place of worship, and fear that anything but the most modest appearance there is unbecoming, and tends to draw the soul away from devotion. Yet, if we consider that all beauty and all true art from God, who is himself the Infinite Beautiful, as well as the Infinitely Good and true, we may see that real beauty like real blessing should raise the soul to Him. “Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. O worship the Lord, in the beauty are in His sanctuary. O worship the Lord, in the beauty (the beautiful things) of holiness: fear before Him, all the earth.”
The splendid tabernacle, and the still more magnificent temple, constructed by directions of inspiration, will certainly be beauties of the heart and mind are kept supreme within us, in our devotions, it is becoming also to adorn our piety with such forms as may suggest that true beauty and true goodness are from the same source, and should, as far as circumstances permit, go hand in hand together. The Christian in a cottage should make it as neat and pretty as they can. The Christian of ampler means should not neglect to surround himself with graceful forms of art, which are the blending of loveliness in mind and matter from the source of grace and grandeur. And the Christian should not be slow to make his church beautiful flowers and beautiful sights and sounds, as well as by His lessons of holiness and wisdom, prepares the soul for the land of living loveliness and everlasting peace.
The King of the spiritual Israel is the Lord Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of lords. This Divine Prince of peace was represented by Solomon, the peaceful king. And, the three houses which Solomon built, the House of the Lord, the house of the king and the house of Pharaoh’s daughter, were types of the Church, as it exists amongst the celestially-minded, where heavenly gold or love is the chief feature, as it exists among the spiritual-minded. In which truth is the leading characteristic, as cedar was in the house of the King; and the condition of the Church amongst those whose delight is mainly engaged in the art and science of religion, which was portrayed by the house of the daughter of Pharaoh. The Lord Jesus, when He had redeemed man by conquering the powers of darkness, and was fully glorified was represented by Solomon
When, therefore, we read of Solomon’s great wisdom, of the peace of his kingdom. And the abundance of gold in his time, we must remember that in the supreme sense “a greater than Solomon is here.” He is meant who high, above all, who imparts in abundance the blessed gold of the celestial love, and who diffuses over the soul interior peace. Hence in the 72 nd Psalm, which is said to be for Solomon, it is evident that the language can only be fitly and fully applied to the glorified Saviour. Of this Solomon it can alone be true that “he shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth (ver. 6, 7.). For, He shall deliver the needy when he crieth: the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall the souls of the needy (ver. 12, 13). His name shall endure forever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: and nations shall call him blessed” (ver. 17). These words can only be true of the Lord Jesus, the Divine Solomon. Of Him only can it be said, he shall save the souls of the needy, and men shall be blessed in Him. When, therefore, the psalm is said to be for Solomon, it is to Solomon as the type of Him, in whom is all wisdom. And from whom alone we can derive true peace.
The queen of Sheba, who had heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, and who came to prove him with hard questions, represented those who yearn for the Lord Jesus, who seek for communion with Him, and desire to lay their perplexities before Him. The soul, when it turns to its Saviour, has many hard questions. Can the selfish become humble; the sinful become really pure? What shall I do to be saved? Is the Lord indeed a friend above all others, or is he only an avenging God? How is it so many good people are tried and straitened in the world, and so many wicked flourish? How is it after death? How is it in heaven? Will the Lord speak to me and whisper peace? These and a thousands other hard question move the minds of those who are represented by the Queen of Ethiopia, and who commune with the Saviour, the Divine Solomon.
These are represented by a female, because in the Word of the Lord, they who can be received into the Church, because they are in the affection for truth, are represented usually by a virgin, a bride, and a wife. Hence we read of the virgin daughter of Zion, the virgin daughter of Jerusalem, the bride, the Lambs wife, and other expression involving the idea that those are meant who love the truth, as a maiden loves the object of her choice, and who will be faithful to the truth, as a genuine wife is faithful to her husband, this real and earnest affection for truth constitutes the central point, the fulcrum on which all spiritual progress turns. If the affection cherished for truth be deep, then the good seed of the Word will sink deeper and grow, and bring forth fruit. If there be no affection for the truth, there is nothing to lay hold of the means of salvation. The Lord calls but there is no response. The Divine Love invites, but the heartless object of His affection throws the priceless boon of his Love away.
Not so with those meant by the queen of Sheba. They come and open their hearts to the Chief among ten thousand. The Lord displays to them His Church, they see the house that He has built. They behold its proportions, and its adornments. Its glorious truths of every kind are like gems, shining on every side. It is the house of which it is written; I will lay thy stone of fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of gates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of precious stones.” Of the same house the apostle says, “These things I write unto thee…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God; the pillar and the ground of the truth.” The Lord’s Church is a home for all who desire to live for heaven; it is indeed a heaven below, a vestibule to that above.
When one who has been troubled with hard question, cast down, dismayed sometimes, with doubts and difficulties, comes to see how complete a provision the Lord has made in His Church for all the soul’s wants, even beyond all its hopes and wishes, like the queen of Sheba he is lost in wonder and delight, and exclaims---
“Here will I take my joyful rest,
Nor ere from Salem roam;
For ever, and for ever blest,
In this my happy home.”
What next excited the admiration of the queen of Sheba was the “meat of his table.” The soul has appetites as well as the body. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. The varied assortments of Divine Wisdom which afford food for meditation, for comfort, and for joy, are so many dishes of heavenly meat on which the spiritual appetite may feed and indeed enjoy a sacred banquet. “When I found thy words,” the prophet exclaimed, “I did eat them, and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” The Word is a divine table on which there is prepared an unlimited supply of all that the soul can want. The Book of Psalms may be truly called the Christian’s Daily Bread. He who will devoutly in the morning extract heavenly nourishment from one psalm will find himself strengthened for the day. There is that heavenly good which is the bread of life, the holy wisdom which is the wine that cheers both God and man. There is every supply which can strengthen hope, impart consolation, and fortify the Christian for virtuous duty. It is the dinner of the King in the Gospel; the supper in which our Divine Friend will sup with us, and we with Him. He spreads a table before us in the presence of our enemies, and enables man to eat angels’ food. The meat of his table is sweeter than honey, or the droppings of the honeycomb. It is meat that endures to eternal life. Those, then, who are like the queen of Sheba, when they have seen and partaken of this bread of heaven, join with the disciple in saying, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.”
Another delightful feature of the arrangements of this palace, as we learn in the text, is, the “setting of the servants.” Sitting, in the spiritual sense, implies settlement and satisfaction. They who are at rest sit down in the kingdom of God. They are neither hesitating nor disquieted, but in repose. They have been pilgrims, but are now at home. They sit, as belonging to the household. Each has his place, his dignity, and his enjoyment. They sit as the guest of the king, each in order, and each satisfied, as forming part of the company of their heavenly Father, the highest and the best of beings. Some too were lower ministers, delighting to serve, but glorious in their apparel.
When doctrinal truth has been made the Christian’s own, and fitted to his soul, it is called, “a garment of salvation.” “a robe of righteousness.” The spirit walks in heavenly purity. Its dress is white, with a golden tinge. Thou hast a few names in Sadis, who have not defiled their garments: they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” Heavenly thoughts are heavenly clothing; for thoughts clothe affections, and words clothe thoughts, just as raiment clothes the body.
Some people have noble impulses, but cannot clothe them in suitable dress so as to bespeak for them attention and acceptance: others as wolves in sheep’s clothing. But when we behold angelic innocence and earnestness clothed with purity and wisdom, we see immortal excellences holily attired, and we understand those gracious words in the parable of the prodigal son, respecting the penitent returned: “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, the ring upon his finger, and the shoes upon his feet.” There are immortal thoughts for the whole immortal being. Thoughts of hallowed reverence which are constantly suggesting supreme gratitude to the Lord, who is the infinitely tender and all-Good, from the mitre for the spirit’s head dress, on which is written: Holiness to the Lord.”
Thoughts of charity and good-will are the clothing of the breast, or vest encircled with a golden girdle. Thoughts of Conjugial love and ever-increasing union are the clothing of the loins, and thoughts directing our daily life makes the lower portion of our raiment down to the feet. “Let your feet be shod,” said the apostle, “with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” (Eph. v. 16).
The queen of Sheba admired the apparel of the minister, and was stuck also with the cupbearers. When we remember that there is heavenly wine we shall understand there must be heavenly cupbearers. The Psalmist exultingly exclaimed, “My cup runneth over.” There are seasons when out of the abundance of the heart the mouth must speak. There are occasions likewise in which the wearied and tried spirit becomes faint and languid: strength and hope are flagging, and at a very ebb, and we greatly need counsel and support. In such states, when comforting friends come gently to us and administer in sympathising kindness themes of consolation and peace, we then, like the queen of Sheba, make note of the Cub-bearers. Our Lord desires that we should have ever ready the blessed cordial that strengthens the weak and cheers the swary, and should thus all be cupbearers. “They put new wine (He said) into new bottles, and both are preserved” (Matt. ix. 17)
The angels in their office of ministering spirits doubtless often exercise the office of Cupbearers. They infused the balm of the comfort into the bitterness and vexation, which have tried as deeply and well nigh multiplied our sorrows beyond what we can bear. A strange and wonderful peace will sometimes be imparted in our darkness hour, like a beautiful light in the gloom, and we feel our hearts cheered and our soul refreshed. No doubt, it is wine new from our heavenly father’s kingdom, gushing fresh from the Fountain of peace, which had thus suffused its blessed balm throughout our being: and the angels are the cup-bearers. While we acknowledge that the Lord’s mercy has held us up, and his comforts have delighted our souls, yet let us not forget to bless Him that He has made His ministers to be our cupbearers. Lastly, the queen observed with admiration and delight the ascent by which He went up into the House of the Lord. All creation is connected together by degrees above and below. Stage above stage, we rise at every point from Nature up to Nature’s God. The natural is surmounted by the Spiritual, the spiritual of God, like the word of God. Is a ladder whose foot is on earth, whose top reached to heaven and above which is Jehovah Himself. In each degree there are numerous subdivisions, having relations above and below and ramification on all sides.
“All are but parts of one stupendous whole.”
We live on the skin of the vast body of universal being and when we see the correspondence, analogies and relation of one grade of existence with another, of one stratum of life with the next above it, like the queen of Sheba, our spirits sink within us, and we are lost in wonder, love and praise.
And orderly and beautiful things on earth are images of things in heaven, and steps of ascent to them.
From the humblest forms, from mosses to fruits trees, from creeping things to the animals in immediate attendance upon man, there is a continual ascent of being. All have relation to man, a certain resemblance to him, even to his body. His body corresponds to his mind, which is a higher---a spiritual body. And this is in the image and likeness of the Lord, the Divine Man, and the Almighty. Man’s will is intended to be the receptacle of the Divine will, which is Infinite Goodness; man understands of the Divine Understanding, which is infinite Wisdom. Thus from the supreme there are degree downwards, all things in the universe having relation to His Goodness and truth. From the atom upwards, there is a constant ascent towards the Lord and all things are seen to be derived from Him, and to return through man’s acknowledgement and worship to Him. It is just so in the Word of the lord when understood in the Church, in it and by it, there is an ascent from the letter to the spiritual sense, from the spirit to the celestial, and from this to the Divine, for in its origin and highest essence the Word is God (John i. 1. Thus, everywhere in the Church, those represented by the queen of Sheba are shown the ascent by which they can go up into the House of the Lord, by which they can touched all around them, and see and feel this claim of being everywhere they, filled with awe and adoration, exclaim with the patriarch of God, “Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not. This is none other but the house of god: and this is the gate of heaven.” There is said to be no more spirit in her: that is, self was entirely humbled and abashed and could no more be seen, Yet these words are more fully and divinely true when uttered by the humblest Christian, than they were in the case of the queen of Sheba. By unregenerate nature we are, like the Ethiopian Queen, inhabitants of a far country, rough and poor. We have felt how dark we are and how much there is we would like to know. We have heard of the same of Solomon, and of the glory and peace of his kingdom. The Divine Saviour is known to be condescending, powerful, glorious, and full of wisdom. We are troubled with hard questions. Why are we tossed about on a sea of uncertainties? Whence are we? What are we to become? Can we really be made into angels? What are the monstrous propensities and lust, which press themselves upon us? Can our passions be subdued and our life in this world be made even in a feeble way to resemble the life of the blessed? Can we indeed find peace? What is death? what is there beyond the grave? These are hard questions, which have made us ponder, as they have perplexed those who have made us ponder as they the great Prince of peace in our gone before us. Let us go to the great Prince of Peace in our day and commune with Him of what is in our hearts. In prayer and meditation, he will speak to us, and give us replies; not only to what we have asked, but tell us much more that we have sought to know.
It is astonished that an immortal being, placed for a season between two seas as it were, THE PAST, of which he is a product, THE FUTURE, in which he is everlasting to live, can remain in apathy, nor ask whether he is everlasting to live, can remain in apathy, nor ask whether he is on the assured road, which will lead to eternal peace. A night of darkness may be around us, but let us not rest, let us not sit down in the valley of the shadow of death. Let us at least unceasingly inquire, watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? Let us rest assured that if we thus inquire earnestly and perseveringly the gracious Saviour, who intends to turn our darkness into day, will reply the morning cometh.
An Account of the Fall of Palmyra under Zenobia; and of that accomplished Princess herself, and her Secretary, the learned and sublime Longinus. From the History of the Decline and Fall of Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, Esq.;
AURELIAN had no sooner secured the person and provinces of Tetricus, than he turned his arms against Zenobia, the celebrated queen of Palmyra and the East, Modern Europe has produced several illustrious women who have sustained with glory and weight of empire; nor is our own age destitute of such distinguished characters. But Zenobia is perhaps the only female, whose, superior genius broke through the servile indolence imposed on her sex by the climate and manners of Asia. She claim her descent from the Macedonian kings of Egypt, equalled in beauty her ancestor Cleopatra, and far surpassed that princes in Chastity (She never admitted her husband’s embraces but for the sake of posterity. If her hopes were baffled, in the ensuing month she reiterated the experiment.) and valour. Zenobia was esteemed the most lovely as well as the most heroic of her sex. She was of a dark complexion (for in speaking of a lady, there trifles become important). Her teeth were of a pearly whiteness. And her large black eyes sparkled with uncommon fire, tempered by the most attractive sweetness. Her voice was strong and harmonious. Her manly understanding was strengthened and adorned by study. She was not ignorant of the Latin tongue, but possessed in equal perfection the Greek, the Syriac, and the Egyptian language. She had drawn up for her own use an epitome of compared the beauties of Homer and Plato under the tuition of the sublime Longinus. This accomplished woman gave her hand to Odenathus, who from a private station raised himself to the dominion of the East. She soon because the friend and companion of a hero. In the intervals of war, Odenathus passionately delighted in the exercise of hunting; he pursued with ardour the wild beast of the desert, lions, panthers, and bears; and the ardour of Zenobia in that dangerous amusement was not inferior to his own. She had insured her constitution to fatigue, disdained the use of a covered carriage, generally appeared on horseback in a military several miles on the foot at the head of the troops. The success of Odenathus was in a great measure ascribed to her incomparable prudence and fortitude. Their splendid victories over the Great King, whom they twice pursued as far as the gates of Ctesiphon, laid the foundations of their united fame and power.. The armies which they commanded and the provinces which they had saved, acknowledged not any other sovereigns than their invincible chiefs. The senate and people of Rome revered a stranger who had avenged their captive emperor. And even the insensible son of Valerian accepted Odenahtus for his legitimate colleague. After a successful expedition against the Gothic plunderers of Asia, the Palmyrenian prince returned to the city of Emefa in Syria. Invincible in war, he was there cut off by domestic treason, and his favourite amusement of hunting was the case, or at least the occasion, of his death. his nephew, Maeonius, presumed to dart his javelin before that of his uncle; and though admonished of his error, repeated the same insolence. As a monarch and as a sportsman, Odenathus was provoked: took away his horse, a mark of ignominy among the barbarians, and chastised the rash youth by a short confinement.
The offence was soon forget, but the punishment was remembered; and Maeonius, with a few daring associates, assassinated his uncle in the midst of a great entertainment. Herod, the son of Odenathus, though not of Zenobia, a young man of a soft and effeminate temper (Odenathus and Zenobia, often sent him from the spoils of the enemy presents of gems and toys, which he received with infinite delight.), was killed with his father. But Maeonius obtained only the pleasure of revenge by this bloody deed. He had scarcely time to assume the title of Augustus, before he was sacrificed by Zenobia to the memory of her husband. (Some very unjust suspicions have been cast on Zenobia, as if she was accessory to her husband’s death.) With the assistance of his most faithful friends, she immediately filled the vacant throne, and governed with manly counsels Palmyra, Syria, and the East, above five years. By the death of Odenathus, that authority was at an end which the senate had granted him only as a personal distinction; but his martial window, disdaining both the senate and Gallienus, obliged one of the Romans generals, who was sent against her, to retreat into Europe, with the loss of his army and his reputation. Instead of the little passions which so frequently perplex a female reign, the steady administration of Zenobia was guided by the most judicious maxims of policy. If it was expedient to pardon, she could calm her resentment: if it was necessary to punish, she could impose silence on the voice of pity. Her strict economy was a avarice; yet on every proper occasion she appeared magnificent and liberal. The neighbouring states of Arabia, Armenia and Persia, dreaded her enmity, and solicited her alliance. To the dominions of Odenathus, which extended from the Euphrates to the frontiers of Bithynia, his widow added the inheritance of her ancestors, the populous and fertile kingdom of Egypt. The Emperor Claudius acknowledged her merit, and was content, that, while he pursued the Gothic war, she should assert the dignity of the empire in the East. The
conduct, however, of Zenobia, was attended with some ambiguity; nor is it unlikely that she had conceived the design of erecting an independent and hostile monarchy. She blended with the popular manners of Roman princes the stately pomp of the courts of Asia, and exacted from her subjects the same adoration that was paid to the successors of Cyrus. She bestowed on her three sons a Latin education, and often shewed them to the troops adorned with the imperial purple. For herself she reserved the diadem, with the splendid but doubtful title of Queen of the East. When Aurelian passed over into Asia, against an adversary whose sex alone could render her an object of contempt, his presence restored obedience to the province of Bithynia, already shaken by the arms and intrigues of Zenobia. Advancing at the head of his legions, he accepted the submission of Ancyra, and was admitted into Tyana after an obstinate siege by the help of a perfidious citizen. . The generous though fierce temper of Aurelian abandoned the traitor to the rage of the soldiers: a superstitious reverence induced him to treat with lenity the countrymen of Apollonius the philosopher. Antioch was deserted on his approach, till the emperor, by his salutary edicts, recalled the fugitives, and granted a general pardon to all who, from necessity rather than choice, had been engaged in the service of the Palmyrenian queen. The unexpected mildness of such a conduct reconciled the minds of the Syrians, and, as far as the gates of Emefa, the wishes of the people seconded the terror of his arms. Zenobia would have ill deserved her reputation, had she indolently permitted the emperor of the West to approach within an hundred miles of her capital. The fate of the East was decided in two great battles; so similar in almost every circumstance, that we can scarcely distinguish them from each other, except by observing that the first was fought near Antioch, and the second near Emefa. In both, the queen of Palmyra animated the armies by her presence, and devolved the execution of her orders on Zabdas, who had already signalised his military talents by the conquest of Egypt. The numerous forces of Zenobia, consisted for the most part of light archers, and of heavy cavalry clothed in complete steel. The Moorish and Illyrian horse of Aurelian were unable to sustain the ponderous change of their antagonists. They fled in real or affected disorder, engaged the Palmyrenians in a laborious pursuit, harassed them by a desultory combat, and at length discomfited this impenetrable but unwieldy body of cavalry. The light infantry, in the mean time, when they had exhausted their quivers, remaining without protection against a closer onset, exposed their naked sides to the swords of the legions. Aurelian had chosen these veteran troops, who were usually stationed on the Upper Danube, and whose valour had been severely tried in the Allemannic war. After the defeat of Emesa, Zenobia found it impossible to collect a third army. As far as the frontier of Egypt, the nations subject to her empire had joined the standard of the conqueror, who detached Probus the braves of his general to profess himself of the Egyptian provinces, Palmyra was the last resource of the widow of Odenathus. She retired within the walls of her capital, made every preparation for a vigorous resistance, and declared with the intrepidity of a heroine, that the last moment of her reign and of her life should be the same. Amid the barren deserts of Arabia, a few cultivated spots rise like islands out of the sandy ocean. Even the name of Tadmor, or Palmyra, by its signification in the Syriac as well as in the Latin language, denote the multitude of palm trees which afforded shade and verdure to that temperate region. the air was pure, and the soil, watered by some invaluable springs, was capable of producing fruits as well as corn. A place possessed of such singular advantages, and situated at a convenient distance, between the gulf of Persia and the Mediterranean, was soon frequented by the caravans which conveyed to the nations of Europe a considerable part of the rich commodities of India. Palmyra insensibly increased into an opulent and independent city, and connecting the Roman and the Parthian monarchies by the mutual benefits of commerce, was suffered to observe an humble neutrality, till at length, after the victories of Trajan, the little republic sunk into the bosom of Rome, and flourished more than one hundred and fifty years in the subordinate though honourable rank of a colony. It was during that peaceful period, if we may judge from a few remaining inscriptions, that the wealthy Palmyrenians constructed those temples, places, and portions of Grecian architecture, whose reins, scattered over an extent of several miles, have deserved the curiosity of our travellers. The elevation of Odenathus and Zenobia appeared to reflect new splendour on their country, and Palmyra, for a while, stood forth the rival of Rome: but the competition was fatal, and ages of prosperity were sacrificed to a moment of glory (Some English travellers from Aleppo discovered the ruins of Palmyra, about the end of the last century. Our curiosity has been since gratified in a more splendid manner by Messieurs Wood and Dawkins. For the history of Palmyra, we may consult the unasterly dissertation of Dr. Halley in the Philosophical Transactions; Lowthorp’s Anridgment, Vol. iii. P. 518,). In his march over the sandy desert, between Emefa and Palmyra, the Emperor Aurelian was perpetually harassed by the Arabs; nor could he always defend his army, and especially his baggage, from those flying troops, of active and daring robbers, who watched the moment of surprise, and directed the slow pursuit of the legions. The siege of Palmyra was an object far more difficult and important, and the emperor, who with incessant vigour pressed the attacks in person, was himself wounded with a dart. “The Roman people,” says Aurelian, in an original letter, “Speak with contempt of the war which I am waging against a woman. They are ignorant both of the character and of the power of Zenobia. It is impossible to enumerate her warlike preparations, of stones, of arrows, and of every species of missile weapons. Every part of the walls is provided with two or three baliste, and artificial fires are thrown from her military engines. The fear of punishment has armed her with a desperate courage. Yet I trust still in the protecting deities of Rome, who have hitherto been favourable to all my undertakings.” Doubtful, however, of the protection of the siege, Aurelian judged it more prudent to offer terms of an advantageous capitulation: to the queen, a splendid retreat; to the citizens, their ancient privileges. His proposals were obstinately rejected, and the refusal was accompanied with insult. The firmness of Zenobia was supported by the hope, that in a very short time famine would compel the Roman army to repass the desert; and by the reasonable expectation that the kings of the east and particularly the Persians monarch, would arm in the defence of their most natural ally. But fortune and the perseverance of Aurelian overcame every obstacle. The death of Sapor, which happened about this time, distracted the council of Persia, and the inconsiderable succours that attempt to relieve Palmyra, were easily intercepted either by the arms or the liberality of the emperor. From every part of Syria, a regular succession of convoys safely arrived in the camp, which was increased by the return of Probus with his victorious troops from the conquest of Egypt. It was then that Zenobia resolved to fly. She mounted the fleetest of her dromedaries, (Though the camel is a heavy beast of burden, we may learn from Buffon and Shaw that the dromedary is swifter than the fleetest horse.) and had already reached the banks of the Euphrates, about sixty miles from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian’s light horse, seized, and brought back a captive to the feet of the emperor. Her capital soon afterwards surrendered, and was treated with unexpected lenity. The arms, horses, and camels, with an immense treasure of gold, silver, silk, and precious stones, were all delivered to the conqueror, who leaving only a garrison of six hundred archers, returned to Emefa, and employed some time in the distribution of rewards and punishments at the end of so memorable a war, which restored to obedience of Rome those provinces that had renounced their allegiance since the captivity of Valerian. When the Syrian queen was brought into the presence of Aurelian, he sternly asked her, how she had presumed to rise in arms against the emperors of Rome? The answer of Zenobia was a prudent mixture of respect and firmness. “Because I disdained to consider as Roman emperors an Aureolus or a Gallienus. You alone I acknowledge as my conqueror and my sovereign.” But as female fortitude is commonly artificial, so it is seldom steady or consistent. The courage of Zenobia deserted her in the hour of trial; she trembled at the angry clamours of the soldiers, who called aloud for her immediate despair of Cleopatra, which she had proposed as her models, and ignominiously purchased life by the sacrifice of her fame and her friends. It was to their counsels which governed the weakness of her sex, that she imputed the guilt of her obstinate resistance; it was on their heads that she directed the vengeance of the cruel Aurelian. The same of Longinus, who was included among the numerous and perhaps innocent victims of her fear, will survive that of the queen who betrayed, or the tyrant who condemned him. Genius and learning were incapable of moving a fierce unlettered soldier, but they had served to elevate and harmonise the soul of Longinus. Without uttering a complaint, he calmly followed the executioner, pitying his unhappy mistress, and bestowing comfort on his afflicted friends. Returning from the conquest of the east, Aurelian had already crossed the straights which divide Europe from Asia, when he was provoked by the intelligence that the Palmyrenians had massacred the governor and garrison which he left among them, and again erected the standard of revolt. Without a moment’s deliberation, he once more turned his face towards Syria. Antioch was alarmed by his rapid approach, and the helpless city of Palmyra felt the irresistible weight of his resentment. We have a letter of Aurelian himself, in which he acknowledges, that old men, women, children, and peasants, had been involved in that dreadful execution, which should have been confined to armed rebellion; and although his principal concern seems directed to the Sun, he discovers some pity for the remnant of the Palmyrenians, to whom he grants the permission of rebuilding and inhabiting their city. But it is easier to destroy than to restore. The seat of commerce, of arts and of Zenobia, gradually sunk into an obscure town, a trifling fortress, and at length a miserable village. The present citizens of Palmyra, consisting of thirty or forty families, have erected their mud cottages within the spacious court of a magnificent temple.
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