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At the time of the flood the residence of Noah was at Dravira, near what is now the southernmost point of India. The ark was not launched, as vessels usually are in modern times, but waited for the water to lift it off from the stocks. The tide and rain together floated it in forty days. Its whole height from the floor timbers was thirty cubits, and half this depth was its draught of water ; for we find that to be the depth, when it was stranded on the summit of Ararat. The water subsided with the same rapidity, as it rose, and in forty three days after the ark had struck, the tops of the neighbouring mountains began to be uncovered.
The theory, which has now been stated, and in the opinion of the writer proved, is very ancient. But it has come down to us in a mutilated form, as the illustrations, at first used to explain it, have been misunderstood. The Chaldeans supposed the earth to be hollow, like a boat. * A very small degree of attention will show, that they could not compare it to a boat in shape, but only in buoyancy. The Hindoo books say, that one of the forms of their god, Vishnu, or the preserver, is that of a tortoise.t Heaving his broad and convex back above the great abyss, he preserves men. The same theory was current among the ancient Hebrews. The twenty fourth Psalm, ascribed to David, begins with this opinion. “ The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the “ world, and they, that dwell therein. For he hath found66 ed it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”
The same opinion is alluded to in the third verse of the hundred and fourth Psalm. It is agreed, that it was not a primary intention of the scriptures to teach men physics ; but to render us happy by amending our lives. Yet the writers of that invaluable volume may be well admitted to prove the currency of opinions at the time, when they wrote ; and, if the opinions are by any other evidence proved to be true, every such instance enhances the character of the book. - How mankind in the infancy of society came by such a theory,
* Baillie Hist. de l’Astron. Ancienne, tom. iv, p. 366. 7 Asiat. Res. vol. i, p. 16 and p. 216, 8vo edit.
before any long voyages were made, is a different question, upon which all of us shall reason in our own modes. They probably obtained it the same way, that they got the knowledge of the order of creation, and other things, inscrutable to human view. All, that the present writer has endeavored, was to restore this ancient theory to its proper form.
Comprehending the first century after the flood. IN consequence of the flood some geographical changes were produced, which are worthy of notice.
India was before the flood more extensive, than it has been since that event. The Carnatic, or eastern shore of the hither peninsula, extended farther into the bay of Bengal, and the island of Ceylon was attached to the main. Cape Comorin, the point now at the southern extremity of that peninsula, was before that time far within land. The continent stretched at least as far, as the equator ; and the western shore, now called the coast of Malabar, comprehended the Maldivia islands, and a long chain of others, that now lie scattered in a line, parallel to that coast of the Arabian gulf, and reaching nearly to the present mouth of the Indus. A proportional change took place on the sides of Arabia and Mekran. The straight of Ormus was consequently only a part of the united stream of Euphrates and Tigris, or Pasatigris, as the united river has since been called, and the course was continued in a southeastern direction, till its conflux with the Indus, in about ten or twelve degrees of northern latitude. A part of the waters of the Ganges, from a more local operation not yet explained, but which we shall presently have occasion to mention, then and for some tirne afterward continued to flow into the Indus, and thus joined the Euphrates. The western branch of the Ganges left the main river somewhere between Hurduar and Delhi. All the rivers at that time were broader and shallower, than at present. The minor branches straggled over a vast extent of country, increasing both its beauty and fertility. But the continual flux of water down the principal channel deepened the bed of it, and by consequence the surface was lowered, till the ramifications were called in to supply the body of the river. Gradually the principal river became one majestic stream, and a considerable portion of land became a desert. In this manner the western branch of the Ganges was adopted into the principal stream, and the union of that river with the Indus ceased.
Before the flood; by the same course of reasoning, whichi has been applied to the western part of India, the easterni peninsula was joined to that vast cluster of islands, now called the Indian Archipelago. The eastern shore of the bay of Bengal was joined to the range, now known as the Nicobar and Andaman islands. Thus the whole continent of India in each peninsula extended beyond the equator.
In the Mediterranean the changes were not less than in Asia. The reasons were stated in the last chapter for thinking, that this sea was before the flood only a very large river. But it was a river,* exceeding any other in the whole world. The Niger, Nile, Eridanus, Danube, and Don, which are even now mighty streams, were then only branches of one still mightier, than they. The continent of Greece comprehended all the islands of the Archipelago, saving however a sufficient channel among them to convey away the water, which now stagnates, and forms the Euxine.
In Egypt was a great bay after the flood, occupying the whole of lower Egypt, and joining the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. The other changes there we shall speak more of hereafter.
* The resemblance of the names Atlas, Italy, and Ætolia implies a common origin from some common circumstance. That probably was their bordering on this great river. In Hebrew 73ynt, Etolć, is a great water, course. In Mexican Atl is water.
(To be continued.)
REMARKS ON ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF
THE ROMAN POETS.
Aut quid LUCRETII tibi prosunt carmina lecta ?
Propertius. BEFORE commenting on the translations of “ Lu“ cretius de rerum naturâ,” we cannot withhold a few remarks on the tendency of the poem. It is without the limits of these numbers to analyze any original production ; but we should forfeit the virtue and purity of a christian character, were we not to call forth the best prejudices of our readers against the worst books.* The poem of Lucretius is a continued display of the atheistical tenets of Epicurus. These tenets were in a considerable degree prevalent in the times of our poet, and his philosophy seems to have passed uncensured by the ancients.
It is unnecessary to guard the learned and intelligent against a poison, which is never concealed, and which, though offered freely, is offered without argument and without persuasion. Lucretius wrote, like a man, confident of the truth of his system, and with a boldness of assertion, which seemed to arise from contempt of laborious ratiocination. They, who believe revelation upon evidence, and erect truth on the foundation of inquiry, will smile at the temerity of his assertions, and be amused with the excess of his credulity.t
The merit of his poem was allowed by the learned, while little was said either in praise or censure of his philosophy, Ovid, a contemporary, predicted the perennial glory of his
* A good antidote against the opinions of Lucretius may be found in a poem, called Anti Lucretius, by Cardinal Polignac ; or the translation of the same into French by M. de Bougainville.
+ It is worthy of remark, that Lucretius wrote during the intervals of an intermittent madness. Perhaps his malady was in some measure habitual.
See Fabricii bib. lat. tom. I, p. 49. Vol. II, No. 2
verse in language as strong, as the Roman character. * Quintilian allows him but a mixed kind of praise, and censures him for obscurity.t Virgil has been charged with copying from Lucretius not peculiar beauties only, but phrases and lines ; 1 and the believers in transmigration have been ready to think, that the soul of Lucretius had another period of improvement in the days, which Virgil survived him. Tacitus speaks of a class of men, who prefer Lucilius to Horace, and Lucretius to Virgil. There are few of this class in the present age ; for we delight rather to follow Æneas through his fabulous but instructive adventures, than to pursue a disciple of Epicurus through the wild and wearisome vagaries of a false and impious philosophy.
The only entire poetic version of Lucretius, with which we are acquainted, is that of Creech. It is for the most part a dull and lifeless performance, seldom rising above mediocrity, and generally falling below it. He does indeed preserve a likeness of Lucretius, yet it is a clumsy statue, or an awkward daubing. But what are we to expect from such a “ crabbed subject,” as Lucretius has chosen ? Filled with the jargon of atomical absurdities, his poem defies the power of the English muse, and mocks the exercise of any intellect. What idea can a reader obtain from such a jumble of rhymes, as the following ? ........... Nisi erit minimum parvissima quæquæ, &c.
Lib. 1. 609. * Carmina sublimis tum sunt peritura Lucreti, Exitio terras cùm dabit una dies.
Ovid. amorum. + Macer et Lucretius legendi quidem, sed non ut phrasin, id est corpus eloquentiæ faciant ; elegantes in sua quisque materia, sed alter humilis, alter difficilis.
Quint. a Rol. p. 292. # Dryden’s miscellanies, preface to vol. II.
$ Neminem nominabo, genus hominum signasse contentus; qui Lucilium pro Horatio, et Lucretium pro Virgilio legunt.
Tac. de Orat. || The first edition was published in 1682. I Lucretius a Creech ed. 1717.