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est at this time, when the proscription of everlasting ignorance is taken off from the multitude, and knowledge is become as much the birthright of the people of Britain as liberty. This Lamech, who, if not the inventor of poesy, was one of the earliest of poets, had three sons; of whom Jabal, the father of such as dwell in tents, followed agriculture; Jubal, the father of all such as handle the harp and organ, cultivated music; while Tubal-Cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron, practised handicraft. Thus, in the seventh generation of man, in one family we find poetry, music, agriculture, and the mechanical arts. Hence literature, which is connected with the two first, is not incon. sistent with the pursuits of the two latter. There are two traditions respecting the second and third of these brethren, each of which may, without impropriety, be introduced here. Of Tubal-Cain, it is said, to borrow the homely verse of Sylvester's Du Bartas,
com While through a forest Tubal, with his yew,
There is a classical tradition of the discovery of iron, by à volcanic eruption of Mount Ida, so nearly allied to this that it may be concluded the one was borrowed from the other; or, if both had a common origin, thé coincidence would almost stamp the authenticity of the fact itself.
Jubal, on the other hand, is reported to have found
the upper shell of a tortoise, in which, though the flesh of the animal had perished, the integuments remained. These at his touch trembled into music, giving forth sounds which suggested the idea of a stringed instrunient. He mused a while, then set his fingers to work, and forthwith came the harp out of his hands. This invention has also been celebrated in British verse, but of a higher mood than the strain already quoted:
“When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
DRYDEN. To return to the general subject: the hemistichs of Lamech, on which we have commented, are only verse in form ; neither the voice nor the soul of poetry are there. The next specimen which occurs in Sacred Writ are the words of Noah, when he awoke from his wine, and knew what his children had respectively done unto him
“ Cursed be Canaan ;
This quotation, in the closing triplet, rises into genuine poetry, by the introduction of a fine pastoral metaphor illustrative of the manner of living among the ancient patriarchs :
“God shall enlarge Japheth,
But these lines are more striking, as exhibiting the first example of the union of poesy and prophecy; for in those primitive days,
“ the sacred name
I have passed over the reputed prophecies of Enoch before the flood, because, though we hav quotation from them in the Epistle of St. Jude, the original language in which they were uttered is either itself extinct, or, if it were the Hebrew, has lost the words that imbodied them. It may be observed, however, that the translated extract in the Greek Testament bears tokens of the original hav. ing been rhythmical, which is specially indicated by the use of one emphatical word four times in as many lines—a pleonasm that would hardly have occurred in prose composition, even in the age of Adam, but might be gracefully adapted to the cadence and character of the most ancient mode of verse.
Isaac's benedictions on Esau and Jacob are at least presumptive evidence of the advanced state of oral literature (for writing was probably not yet invented) in his age. The critics, I believe, do not allow the language to have the decided marks of Hebrew rhythm. If so, the passage may be, without hesitation, set down as the oldest specimen of prose in the world.
Of the words of dying Jacob, however, there is no question that the structure of them is verse, and the substance of them at once poetry and prophecy of the highest order. It might seem, from the power of the sentiments and the brilliancy of the illustrations, as though the patriarch on his dying couch, surrounded by his mourning family, were again caught up into the visions of God-as when in his youth
he lay alone on the earth in the wilderness and saw the angels of God ascending and descending upon a ladder, that reached from his stone pillow into the heavens; for here, in his last accents, it is even as if he had learned the language, and spake with the tongues, of angels-so fervent, pure, and abundant in wisdom and grace are the words of his lips and the aspirations of his heart. One extract will suffice :
“ Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of the people be.
“Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine ; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes with the blood of grapes.
“ His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk."
The whole of this imagery might be engraven in hieroglyphics ; but not one of the sister arts alone can do it justice, for it combines the excellences of all three ---picture to the eye, music to the ear, poetry to the mind.
Early Eloquence. The death of Jacob brings us to the year 2315 from the creation, and consequently includes the earliest era in profane history of which any authentic records remain, concerning those celebrated nations of antiquity among whom arts and sciences flourished while Greece and Italy were yet unpeopled or unknown. It has been intimated that verse was antecedent to prose in the progress of literature. It is true, that in the book of Genesis many conversations are given'; and in various instances, no doubt, the very words employed by the speakers have been preserved; but none of these having been artificially constructed for the purpose of identifying and perpetuating the sentiments with the phraseology, they come not under that definition of literature which has been assumed in this essay; in fact, they are themselves integral portions of a literary work ; namely, the first book of Moses, which belongs to a later period. Undoubtedly traditions of what had been said, as well as what had been done, by patriarchs and eminent personages were perpetuated in families through all generations, from Adam downward; but as it was enough for the purposes of tradition that events and discourses should be substantially true, every one who repeated either would do so in his own language, rudely or eloquently, according to his taste or talent. Indeed, to sum up in a few sentences what had been delivered in a long dialogue, it was so far from being necessary, that it was obviously impossible to use the actual words of the speakers, even if they had been remembered.
In one instance, however, without violating probability, an exception may be made in favour of the speech of Judah to Joseph, when he and his brethren had been brought back to Egypt by the stratagem of putting the silver cup into Benjamin's sack. This address is perhaps the finest piece of pleading ever reported, though nothing can be more simple and inartificial than the diction and arrangement of the whole. In truth, it is little else than a family history, with the principal incidents of which Joseph himself was well acquainted, and in the most afflictive of which he had borne his bitter part. There is, moreover, a dramatic interest in the scene, arising from the reader's being in the secret of Joseph's consciousness; and thence knowing that the force of every fact and argument was far more searching and heart-melting to the hearer than the speaker himself could imagine, from his ignorance of the person whom he was addressing. I must not quote