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THE

HISTORICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL AND POETICAL

READER.

LESSON FIRST.

THE WALLS OF BABYLON.

These walls were built of large bricks, cemented together with bitumen, a glutinous slime arising out of the earth of that country, which binds in buildings much stronger and firmer than lime, and soon grows much harder than the bricks or stones which it cements together. They were of a square form, each side of which was fifteen miles. Their breadth was eighty-seven feet, and their height three hundred and fifty.

The walls were surrounded on the outside with a vast ditch, full of water, and lined with bricks on both sides. The earth that was dug out of it, made the bricks wherewith the walls were built; and therefore, from the vast height and breadth of the walls, may be inferred the greatness of the ditch.

On every side of this great square were twenty-five gates, that is, a hundred in all. These gates were made of solid brass. Hence it is, that when the Supreme Being promised to Cyrus the conquest of Babylon, he tells him,

That he would break in pieces before him the gates of brass."

Between every two of the gates were three towers, and four more at the four corners of this great square, and three between each of these corners and the next gate on either side. Every one of these towers was ten feet higher than the walls. But this is to be understood only of those parts of the wall where there was need of towers.

From these twenty-five gates, on each side of this great square, went twenty-five streets, in straight lines to the gates, which were directly opposite to them on the other side; so that the number of streets was fifty, each fifteen

miles long, whereof twenty-five went one way, and twentyfive the other, crossing each other at right angles.

And besides these, there were four half streets, which had houses only on one side, and the wall on the other. These went round the four sides of the city next the walls, and were each of them two hundred feet broad. The rest were about one hundred and fifty. By these streets thus crossing each other, the whole city was divided into six hundred and seventy-six squares, each of them four furlongs and a half on every side, that is, two miles and a quarter in circumference.

Round these squares, on every side, towards the streets, stood the houses, which were not contiguous, but had void spaces between them. They were built three or four storeys high, and beautified with all manner of ornament towards the streets. The space within, in the middle of each square, was employed for yards, gardens, and other such uses ; so that Babylon was greater in appearance than reality, nearly one half of the city being taken up in gardens and other cultivated lands.

LESSON SECOND.

THE TEMPLE OF BELUS.

Another of the great works of Babylon was the temple of Belus, which was most remarkable for a prodigious tower that stood in the middle of it. At the foundation, it was a square, of a furlong on each side; and, according to Strabo, it was a furlong in height. It consisted of eight towers, built one above the other; and, because it decreased gradually to the top, Strabo calls the whole a pyramid.

It is not only asserted, but proved, that this tower much exceeded the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt in height. Therefore, we have very good reason to believe, that it was the very same tower which was built there at the confusion of languages; and the rather, because it is attested by several profane authors, that this tower was all built of bricks and bitumen, as the Scriptures tell us the Tower of Babel was.

The ascent to the top was by stairs, on the outside, round it; that is, there was an easy sloping ascent on the side of

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