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Envy, is often discernible in the Writings of those who otherwise are the best natured Men; when they think themselves to be the freest, and the most unbiass'd, they are many Times the most deeply tinged; and when they are so, like IEteric Persons, they see every Thing dy'd with that Colour with which their Eyes, and not the Objects, had been before infected.
These, Sir, are melancholy Reflections, and such as keep back a World of People from labouring to excel in any Part of Learning that does not bring in immediate Profit. Whoever would do that, must be contented to bear with the Jests of those who set up for the great Masters of polite Learning, and who by the Help of Dictionaries, Prefaces
, Translations, and Abridgements, (which are a sort of Hot Beds to raise Scholars in) dictate to those who know less than themselves, and so pass for able Men.
But I confess it has been a Rule with me, that Truth, as such, without any View to the immediate Application, is worth knowing; and tho' I am not obliged to take Pains to know it my self, yet I praise those that do, and defire them to commit their Observations to Writing; for tho' perhaps I can make no Use
I am confirmed very much in this Opinion, by a Story I heard many Years ago of the famous Galileo, which I shall here take the Freedom of telling you.
of them, yet
5) Galileo being one Day at Mass, and not very attent at his Devotions, observed that a strong Gust of Wind, set the Branches, which hung in the Church at several Lengths and of several Magnitudes, to hold the Candles during the Service, in Motion to and fro with some Violence, and, as he thought, with different Velocities, according to the Length of the Rods by which they were fastened to the Roof of the Church. This Meditation employed him whilst he was at Mass, and when he went home he fastened Threads of several Lengths at one End to small Balls of Wood, and at the other End to a Pole which went cross his Chamber, and then put them into Motion in order to ob serve the Times of their Vibration. And from many Experiments of the Vibrations of thofe Pendulums of different Weights and different Lengths he discovered at last such Propositions relating to oscillatory Motions, as enabled Mr. Huygens, and the Artificers to whom he first gave the Hint, to bring those Engines by which we measure Time with so much Accuracy, Pleasure and Advantage, to that surprizing Exactness in which we now fee them.
Now I would ask most Men, if they had by Chance surpriz’d Galileo tossing those Balls fastened by Strings of various Lengths to a long Pole cross his Room, and observing their feveral Vibrations, whether they would not have thought him mad.
The gravest Spectators
would have believed themselves to be very candid, if they had pass’d it off with a Smile. And yet we see what those Play-Things, fit only, as one would think, to amuse Children, produced. I expect now, Sir, that
should ask what all this tends to; I will tell you: Your Collection of Lord's Prayers in so many different Languages, some dead, fome living, fome ancient, some modern, which so few Scholars, comparatively speaking, would judge to be worth the Pains, and Study and Expense that you have been at to collect, led me to think that the famous Problem concerning the Confusion of Languages that happened among the Workmen of the Tower of Babel, might by comparing many Languages together, be determined even to a Demonstration; and that by knowing the Succession of those Tongues, with which we are in fome tolerable Measure acquainted, and comparing their several Characteristicks by which they are essentially and formally distinguished from one another, we may come to know, whether God did then miraculously create new Tongues, and so consequently force those Workmen to separate for want of understanding what each other said, or whether he only made them quarrel, and thereby induced them to part, and so leave their Work unfinished. The first of these Solucions is most agreeable to the Text; and is for that Reason embraced by the Generality of
Interpreters both Christian and Jewish e, and the latter has been espoused by several very good and religious, as well as very learned and ingenious Men; who look upon it to be equally the Work of God, whether they quarrelled with one another by his Command, or parted for want of Understanding one another's Speech.
The former of these Opinions is what I shall endeavour to make good. If I do it, it will, as I apprehend, be no Disservice to Religion, for Reasons which I shall at large deduce in the Detail of this Discourse.
To save the Labour of turning to the History in the with of Genesis, I shall set it down at Length. And the whole Earth was of one Language, and of one. Speech. And it came to pass
, as they journeyed from the East, that they found a Plain in the Land of Shinar ; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make Brick, and burn them throughly: And they had Brick for Stone, and Slime had they for Mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a City and a Tower, whose Top may reach to Heaven, and let us make us a Name, left we be scattered abroad upon the Face of the whole Earth. And the LORD came down to see the City and the Tower, which the Children of Men builded. And the LORD said, Behold the People is one, and they have all
a Vide Johannis Buxtorfii F. Dissertationem de Linguae Hebraeae confusione, & plurium Linguarum origine.
one Language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained
from them, which they bave imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their Language, that they may not understand one another's Speech. So the LORD scattered them Abroad from thence, upon the Face of all the Earth; and they left off to build the City. Therefore is the Name of it called Babel, because the LORD did there confound the Language of all the Earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them Abroad upon the Face of all the Earth ; Gen. xi. 1,-9.
Among others, Mr. Le Clerc strenuously opposes, the Opinion for which I declare, and fays that the Hebrew. Word Jow Shaphah, which we render Language (or Lip as it is in the Margin of the Bibles) does not necessarily imply Language, but rather Agreement or Cona federacy and Partnership, and that the latter was more necessary than the former, b This
b Notum est Labium fignificare hic & in feqq. Sermonem? quod Labia non minori sint ad loquendum usui, quam Lingua. Vide & Ef. xix. 18. Erat certe una, tùnc temporis, Lingua, sed an illa omo@wvica hic potiffimum spectetur, non liquet. Forte haec verba homines concordes egiffe ante omnia fignificant, quia ad unam civitatem condendam, haud paullo magis necesaria est concordia quam Sermonis fimilitudo; nec Hebraicae Linguae idioma hanc interpretationem refpuit. Sic ad fignificandum Chananaeorum, in propulsandis bello Israëlitis, consensum, Jos. ix. 2. Atque una convenerunt, ait sacra Historia, cd bellandum cum folua, & cum Israël, ORE