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continued since by Christians; who will have it our Hebrew tongue, as being the language of Adam. That this were true, were much to be desired, not only for the easy attainment of that useful tongue, but to determine the true and primitive Hebrew. For whether the present Hebrew be the unconfounded language of Babel, and that which, remaining in Heber, was continued by Abraham and his posterity; or
6 For whether the present Hebrew, &c.] On the subject of this passage, patient and learned ingenuity has been exercised in successive ages to afford us-only hypothesis and conjectures. And though it must be admitted that nothing more satisfactory can, in the nature of things, be expected, yet is it certain, that in order to constitute a thorough competency to propose even these, nothing less would suffice than the most profound acquaintance with history and geography from their remotest traces; and an erudition competent to the analysis and classification, not only of the languages of antiquity, but of those living tongues and dialects which now cover the earth, and to which modern discoveries are daily making additions. On the question, whether the confusion of tongues left one section or family the existing population in possession of the pure and unadulterated antediluvian language, I cannot perceive the materials for constructing even a conjecture. As to the theory here proposed, on which Abraham might understand those nations among whom he sojourned, by his own means of philological approximation, I cannot help feeling that it is almost like claiming for the patriarch an exemption from the operation of the confusion of tongues. Among the most recent works on this general class of questions, is Mr. Beke's Origines Biblica, a work in which some novel hypotheses have called down on their author the criticism of those who differ from him; while at the same time the tribute of praise has not been denied to the ability he has displayed, and especially to that spirit of reverence for scriptural authority which pervades his work.
Mr. Beke first states his opinion,-in opposition to the more usual hypothesis which considers the languages of the Jews, Arabians, and other nations of similar character, to be the Semitic or Shemitish family of languages, that this origin may more probably be assigned to those of Tibet, China, and all those nations of the east and south-east of Asia, which are manifestly distinct from the Japhthitish Hindoos and Tartars; including the islands of the Indian Archipelago and the South Seas. He subsequently gives the following reasons for attributing to the usually-called Semitic languages (namely, Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic of Abyssinia), a Mitzrite, and therefore Hamitish origin.' "When the Almighty was pleased to call Abraham from his native country, the land of the Arphaxidites, or Chaldees, first into the country of Aram, and afterwards into that of Canaan, one of two things must necessarily have had place; either that the inhabitants of these latter countries spoke the same language as himself, or else that he acquired the knowledge of the foreign tongues spoken by these people during his residence in the countries in which they were vernacular. That they
rather the language of Phoenicia and Canaan, wherein he lived, some learned men I perceive do yet remain unsatisfied.
all made use of the same language cannot be imagined. Even if it be assumed that the descendants of Arphaxad, Abraham's ancestor, and the Aramites, in whose territories Terah and his family first took up their residence, spoke the same language, or, at the furthest, merely dialects of the same original Shemitish tongue, we cannot suppose that this language would have resembled those which were spoken by the Hamitish Canaanites, and Philistines, in whose countries Abraham afterwards sojourned, unless we at the same time contend that the confusion of tongues at Babel was practically inoperative; a conclusion, I apprehend, in which we should be directly opposed to the express words of Scripture: Gen. xi. 1–9.
"We have no alternative, therefore, as it would seem, but to consider (as, in fact, is the plain and obvious interpretation of the circumstances), that Abraham having travelled from his native place (a distance of above 500 miles) to the 'south country,' the land of the Philistines, where he 'sojourned many days,' he and his family would have acquired the language of the people amongst whom they thus took up their residence. But it may be objected that Abraham and his descendants, although living in a foreign country, and necessarily speaking the language of that country in their communications with its inhabitants, would also have retained the Aramitish tongue spoken in Haran, and that the intercourse between the two countries having been kept up, first by the marriage of Isaac with his cousin Rebekah, and subsequently by that of Jacob also with his cousins Leah and Rachel, and more especially from the circumstance of Jacob's having so long resided in Padan-Aram, and of all his children, with the exception of Benjamin, having been born there, the family language of Jacob, at the time of his return into the 'south country,' must indisputably have beer the Aramitish. It may be argued farther, that although for the purpose of holding communication with the Canaanities and the Philistines, it was necessary to understand their languages also, yet that the language most familiar to Jacob and his household continued to be the Aramitish, until the period when they all left Canaan to go down into Mitzraim; and hence it might be coutended that no good reason exists for opposing the generally received opinion, that the Hebrew is the same Aramitish tongue which was taken by the Israelites into Mitzraim, it being only necessary to suppose that the language was preserved substantially without corruption during the whole time of their sojourning in that country.
"But even admitting this argument, which however I am far from allowing to be conclusive; how are we to explain the origin of the Arabic language? This is clearly not of Aramitish derivation. It is the language which was spoken by the countrymen of Hagar, amongst whom Ishmael was taken by her to reside, and with whom he and his descendants speedily became mixed up and completely identified. Among these people it is not possible that the slightest portion of the
Although I confess probability stands fairest for the former; nor are they without all reason, who think that at the confusion of tongues, there was no constitution of a new speech in every family, but a variation and permutation of the old; out of one common language raising several dialects, the primitive tongue remaining still entire; which they who retained, might make a shift to understand most of the rest. By virtue whereof in those primitive times and greener confu
Aramitish tongue of Abraham should have existed before the time of Ishmael; nor can it be conceived that the Mitzritish descendants of the latter would have acquired that language through him, even supposing (though I consider it to be far from an established fact) that the Aramitish had continued to be the only language which was spoken by Abraham's family during the whole of his residence in the south country among the Canaanites and Philistines; and supposing, also, that Ishmael acquired a perfect knowledge of that language, and of no other (which, however, is very improbable, his mother being a Mitzrite), from the circumstance of his childhood having been passed in his father's house.
"I apprehend, indeed, that the Mitzritish origin of the Arabic language is a fact which cannot be disputed; and if this fact be conceded, there remains no alternative but to admit-indeed it is a mere truism to say that the Hebrew, which is a cognate dialect with the Arabic, must be of common origin with that language, and consequently of Mitzritish derivation also... The fact of the striking coincidences which may be found in the language of the Berbers, in Northern Africa, with the languages of cognate origin with the Hebrew, is in the highest degree confirmatory of the Hamitish origin which I attribute to the whole of them; and it becomes the more particularly so, on the consideration that I derive the Berbers themselves directly from the country where I conceive the Israelites to have acquired their language."
As to the nature and degree of change which took place in the existing language at its confusion, Mr. Beke contends, "that the idea of an absolute and permanent change of dialect is more strictly in accordance with the literal meaning of the scriptural account of the confusion of tongues, than the supposition that the consequences of that miraculous occurrence were of a temporary nature only, and that the whole of the present diversities in the languages of the world are to be referred to the gradual operation of subsequent causes.'
In the foregoing sentence, and still more in the disquisition which precedes it, Mr. Beke's opinion is in opposition to a very high authority both as a natural historian and a philologist,-the Rev. W. D. Conybeare, who supports (in his Elementary Course of Lectures, on the Criticism, Interpretation, and Leading Doctrines of the Bible), the more usually received opinion, that Hebrew, and the cognate languages, are of Shemitish origin.
sions, Abraham, of the family of Heber, was able to converse with the Chaldeans, to understand Mesopotamians, Canaanites, Philistines, and Egyptians: whose several dialects he could reduce unto the original and primitive tongue, and so be able to understand them.
3. Though useless unto us, and rather of molestation, we commonly refrain from killing swallows, and esteem it unlucky to destroy them: whether herein there be not a Pagan relick, we have some reason to doubt. For we read in Ælian, that these birds were sacred unto the Penates or household gods of the ancients, and therefore were preserved.* The same they also honoured as the nuncios of the spring; and we find in Athenæus that the Rhodians had a solemn song to welcome in the swallow.
4. That candles and lights burn dim and blue at the apparition of spirits, may be true, if the ambient air be full of sulphureous spirits, as it happeneth ofttimes in mines, where damps and acid exhalations are able to extinguish them. And may be also verified, when spirits do make themselves visible by bodies of such effluviums. But of lower consideration is the common foretelling of strangers, from the fungous parcels about the wicks of candles; which only signifieth a moist and pluvious air about them, hindering the avolation of the light and favillous particles; whereupon they are forced to settle upon the snast.9
5. Though coral doth properly preserve and fasten the teeth in men, yet is it used in children to make an easier passage for them: and for that intent is worn about their *The same is extant in the 8th of Athenæus.
7 useless, &c.] This is a most undeserved censure. The swallows are very useful in destroying myriads of insects, which would be injurious.
8 and esteem it unlucky, &c.] A similar superstition attaches to the robin and the wren;-the tradition is, that if their nests are robbed, the cows will give bloody milk;-schoolboys rarely are found hardy enough to commit such a depredation on these birds, of which the common people in some parts of England have this legend
Robinets and Jenny Wrens,
Are God Almighty's cocks and hens.
9 snast.] The Norfolk (and perhaps other folk's) vulgar term, signifying the burnt portion of the wick of the candle; which, when sufficiently lengthened by want of snuffing, becomes crowned with a cap of the purest lamp-black, called here," the fungous parcels," &c.
necks. But whether this custom were not superstitiously founded, as presumed an amulet or defensative against fascination, is not beyond all doubt. For the same is delivered by Pliny;* Aruspices religiosum coralli gestamen amoliendis periculis arbitrantur; et surculi infantia alligati, tutelam habere creduntur.1
6. A strange kind of exploration and peculiar way of rhabdomancy is that which is used in mineral discoveries; that is, with a forked hazel, commonly called Moses' rod, which freely held forth, will stir and play if any mine be under it. And though many there are who have attempted to make it good, yet until better information, we are of opinion with Agricolat, that in itself it is a fruitless exploration,2 strongly scenting of Pagan derivation, and the virgula divina, proverbially magnified of old. The ground whereof were the magical rods in poets, that of Pallas in Homer, that of Mercury that charmed Argus, and that of Circe which transformed the followers of Ulysses. Too boldly usurping the name of Moses' rod, from which notwithstanding, and that of Aaron, were probably occasioned the fables of all the rest. For that of Moses must needs be famous unto the Egyptians; and that of Aaron unto many other nations, as being preserved in the ark, until the destruction of the temple built by Solomon.
* Lib. xxxii.
De Re Metallica, lib. ii.
That temperamental, &c.] The first five sections of this chapter were first added in the 2nd edition.
exploration.] This is worthy of note bycause itt is averred by manye authors of whom the world hath a great opinion.—Wr.
From a paper by Mr. Wm. Philips, in Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine, vol. xiii. p. 309, on the divining rod, it appears that it was ably advocated by De Thouvenel, in France, in the 18th century, and soon after-in our own country-by a philosopher of unimpeachable veracity, and a chemist, Mr. William Cookworthy, of Plymouth. Pryce also informs us, p. 123, of his Mineralogia Cornubiensis, that many mines have been discovered by means of the rod, and quotes several; but, after a long account of the mode of cutting, tying, and using it, interspersed with observations on the discriminating faculties of constitutions and persons in its use, altogether rejects it, because "Cornwall is so plentifully stored with tin and copper lodes, that some accident every week discovers to us a fresh vein," and because “a grain of metal attracts the rod as strongly as a pound," for which reason "it has been found to dip equally to a poor as to a rich lode."-See Trans. Geol. Soc. ii. 123.