Page images
PDF
EPUB

them. It is most frequently found in cellars, but ascends also into the higher parts of the building.-In Bern, Mr. Apothecary Andreă heard the people complain of a disease that in an especial manner attacked sand-stone, so as to make it exfoliate, and become as it were cancerous. They call it gall, and, in like manner, ascribe it to the saltpetre contained in the stone. It is not, properly speaking, saltpetre that is in these walls and buildings, but an acid of nitre, from which, by the addition of a fixed alkali, we can make saltpetre. The detrimental effects of this efflorescence in walls, or, if I may use the common name, of this saltpetre, are-the walls become mouldy, and that to such a degree, as in consequence of the corrosion spreading farther and farther, at last to occasion their tumbling down ;-many things that lie near walls affected with saltpetre, thereby suffer damage, and are spoiled ;-if the saltpetre be strong in those apartments wherein people live, it is pernicious to health, particularly where they sleep close to the wall.-The consideration of these circumstances will render the Mosaic ordinances on this subject easily intelligible. Their object was to check the evil in the very bud; to extirpate it while it was yet extirpable, by making every one, from the loss to which it would subject him, careful to prevent his house becoming affected with leprosy, which he could easily do, where the houses had no damp stone-cellars below ground; and thus also to place not only himself in perfect security, but his neighbours also, who might very reasonably dread having their houses contaminated by the infection."*—That Moses did not design to convey the idea that any leprosy in clothes and houses would infect any one, Michaelis thinks, is sufficiently proved, by ordering that when a house lay under suspicion of leprosy all the articles of furniture should be removed out of it, previous to its inspection; for if there

• Ibid. pp. 293-300.

H

had adhered any poisonous matter to the walls that could pass to human beings, this would have been a most extraordinary injunction, and the very way to a direct propagation of the infection.

The leprosy of clothes is described in Levit. xiii, 47–59, as consisting of green or reddish spots that remain in spite of washing, &c. and still spread, and by which the cloth becomes fretted and bare.-Dr. A. Clarke supposes that this was most probably" occasioned by a species of small animals, which we know to be the cause of the itch: these, by breeding in the garments, must necessarily multiply their kind, and fret the garments, i. e. corrode a portion of the finer parts, after the manner of mites, for their nourishment.He shall therefore burn that garment: There being scarcely any mode of radically curing the infection. It is well known that the garments infected by the psora or itch-animal, have been known to communicate the disease, even six or seven years after the first infection."-The opinion of Michaelis is not very dissimilar to that of the learned Doctor; for according to the information he received from an eminent woollen manufacturer, the wool of sheep which die by disease, and which is technically called dead wool, is apt to breed vermin, especially when worn close to the body and warmed by it; he therefore conceives that it was an additional proof of the consummate legislative policy of the Mosaic institutes, to bring into discredit and disuse stuffs already become thread-bare and fretted, and particularly in climates which must have been so favourable to the rapid multiplication of vermin.†-It may perhaps also lead the reader to examine the subject still more fully, to remark, that it is well known that if cotton or linen cloth be suffered to remain long in a damp situation, it assumes an appearance

Comment, in loc. + Michaelis, ut sup.

similar to that described by Moses, and which is usually termed mildew, and is not only difficult to be removed by washing, but also frequently injures the texture of the cloth itself, as is frequently experienced to their loss by bleachers, in bleaching or whitening cloths of different descriptions.

[ocr errors]

DISSERTATION VIII.

ON

TALISMANS AND TALISMANIC FIGURES.

THE HE almost universal prevalence of Idolatry in the early ages of the world, was accompanied in most countries by the dedication of representative images, to the deities they worshipped. The sun, and the moon, and the stars, the first objects of idolatrous veneration, had their representative idols, supposed to be under the special influence of the planetary bodies to which they were dedicated, and possessing through that influence a prophetic and powerful character. The astronomical pursuits of the Chaldeans, and other oriental nations, aided the influence of idolatry, and soon introduced the science of Astrology in all its ramifications, and induced the construction of horoscopical and talismanical images and figures. Figures of this description are termed (magan) by the Hebrews;-by (tzelmenia), image or figure by the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Persians;rn (talizmam) or by (tzalimam) by the Arabians;-and σroxea (stoikeia) by the Greeks.-The Hebrew term Magan, properly signifies a paper, or other material, drawn or engraved with the letters composing the sacred name Jehovah or with other characters, and improperly applied to astrological representations, because, like the letters composing the Incommunicable Name, they were supposed to serve as a buckler or defence against sickness, lightning and tempest.*

* Gaffarel. Curiositez Inouyes, ch. vi. pp. 106--111, 8vo. 1650.

A Persian writer, quoted by Dr. Hyde, defines the Telesm or Talisman to be "a piece of art compounded of the celestial powers and elementary bodies, appropriated to certain figures and positions, and purposes, and times contrary to the usual manner;" and Maimonides remarks, images or idols were called Tzelamim, not from their figure or form, but from the power or influence which was supposed to reside in them.*

The first construction of astrological or talismanic images, most probably arose from the wish of the idolaters to represent the planets during their absence from the horizon, that they might at all times have the opportunity of worshipping either the planetary body itself, or its representative. Their astrologers therefore, who appropriated particular colours, metals, stones, trees, &c. to the respective planets, formed images of such materials as were appropriated to the planets they were designed to represent, and constructed them when the planets were in their exaltation, and in a happy conjunction with other heavenly bodies; after which, they attempted, by incantatory rites, to inspire the fabricated symbols with the power and influence of the planets themselves.†-Manilius, a Latin poet, who lived in the reign of Augustus, wrote an astrological poem, still exant, explaining and defending the science and votaries of astrology. He supposes Mercurius Trismegistus to have been the inventor of Astronomy, and that the science being afterwards cultivated by the oriental princes and priests, they introduced Astrology as the result and perfection of their studies:

* Maimon. More Nevoch. Part I. c. i, p. 2.-Hyde, Syntagma, a Greg. Sharpe, Tom. i. p. 500, Oxon. 1767, 4to.

+ Pocockii Specimen Hist. Arab. note, p. 140.- Hyde, De Veter. Persar. Relig. Cap. v. pp. 126-134.-Young On Idolatrous Corruptions, vol. i. P. 113.

« PreviousContinue »