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But, before we dismiss this subject, of the peopling North America, it will be necessary, and not very foreign to our general plan, to give a short sketch of some opinions concerning it, from an ingenious and learned author, the Reverend Mr. Catcott, which I had heard nothing of till very lately, though his book was published eleven years ago, entitled, Remarks upon the Bishop of Clogher s Vindication of the Histories of the Old and New Testaments, &c.
The vicinity of the Asiatic and American shores, just mentioned, and the other anecdotes which accompany the Rujftan account of it, would certainly induce the reader to think this, at least, one way by which North America was peopled; but, perhaps, inhabitants arrived there from other parts \ by some, it is believed that ships were driven thither from Phœnicia; by others, north-westward from the most north-western parts of Europe, and by other ways; for which the reader is referred to De Laet's Notes upon Grotius, De Origine Gentium Americanarum. And, therefore, we shall here give some account of the opinion of the reverend gentleman mentioned, as it is very singular, and sounded upon an interpretation of the text, which mentions the division of the earth in Pelegs days.
The authors of the Univerfal History, which have so often entertained, and been serviceable to, me, seem to think, "that the more received opinion, and the most "agreable to Scripture, is, that the division of the earth, "in the days of Peleg, and the dispersion of mankind at Babel, were one and the fame tranfaction." See vol. i. page 358,, after having mentioned the sentiments of several
writers; but Mr. Catcott adopts another notion of the matter, and makes the dispersion, and the division of the earth, two separate tranfactions: in which, with the. addition of several ingenious arguments of his own, he follows that celebrated biblical critic, Bengelius, whofe words. are these, in his Or do 'Temporum: "Peleg was named << from the division of the earth, which happened in his "days. The earth, after the deluge, was divided by de
grees, by a genealogical and political division, which is "expressed by the word nvflj and' mflj. But a very "different kind of division is meant by the word ruSaa. "(n<?p£l£ge), namely, a phyfical and geographical divi
sion, which happened at once, and which was so re"markable, and of such extent, as suitably to answer the
naming the patriarch therefrom. By this word (p<?l£g) "that kind of division is principally denoted, which is "applicable to land and water. From whence, in the xi Hebrew tongue, Peleg signifies a river; and, in the
Greek, riEAAros,' the sea" From this meaning of the word, our author fays, we may conclude that the earth was split, or divided asunder, for a very great extent, and the sea came between, in the days of Peleg. Now, he thinks, from the disjunction of America from this part of the world by a great sea, it may be allowed, that this was the grand division intended by the passage under consideration. And, therefore, he suppofes, with Bengelius, "that "soon after the confusion and dispersion, some of the sons x< of Ham went out of Africa into that part of America, "which now looks towards Africa: and the earth being xl divided, or split afuuder, in the days of Peleg, they,
I i "with "with their posterity, the Americans, were, lor many << ages, separated from the rest of mankind, &c." Our author, in order to strengthen this explanation, brings two quotations from two ancient writers; one from Plato, and. another from Ælians Hijlory of various things. Plato. introduces an event, which happened in the most early ages of the world, in his Timœus, of a vast: tract of land, or an island, greater than Lybia and Asia, situated beyond the bounds of Africa and Europe, which, by the concussion of an earthquake, was swallowed up in the ocean. Plato introduces this fact, as related by Solon, who, while he was in Egypt, had heard it from an old Egyptian priest; when he discoursed with him concerning the most ancient events. The priest informed him, << that this island was "called Atlantis, and was larger than Lybia and Afia; "that it had an easy passage from it to many other islands, "and from these to all that continent, which was oppo"site; that, within the mouth, or entrance of the ocean, 11 there was a gulph, with a narrow entry; but that the "land, which surrounded the sea, called Pelagos, where <f the division was made, might justly be called a conti"nent. In after-times, there happened a dreadful earth"quake and inundation of water, which continued for the lt space of a whole day and night, and this island, Atlantis y M being covered and overwhelmed by the waves, funk be*< neath the ocean, and difappeared, 8cc."
The other narrative, from Ælian, is as follows, which corroborates this, and, indeed, would incline one to believe the tradition of so great a catastrophe could not arise without some just foundation; he fays: "Tloeopompus
u relates "relates a certain discourse, that passed between Midas, "the Phrygian, and Silenus; when these two had dis"coursed of many things, Silenus, above all, tells Midas, "that Europe, AJia and Lybia ought to be considered as "islands, which the ocean wholly surrounded; and that "the part of the world, which lay beyond this, ought "only to be esteemed the continent; as it was of an im"mense extent, and nourished very different, and vastly "larger kinds of animals, than this fide of the world." Then our author fays, "from what has been offered, we "may conclude, that Africa and America were once "joined, or, at least, separated from each other, but by a "very narrow gulph; and that, some time after the flood, u the earth was divided, or parted asunder, probably by <c means of an earthquake, and then this middle land <* funk beneath the ocean."
I Have set down this very singular tradition here to entertain the reader, who may never have had any notice of it, nor of this learned author, who has taken it up, to prove a real geographical division, or separation, of the earth: nor can I venture to fay, he had not a probable foundation, at least, to go upon; because, as I have before suggested, that none but Nimrod's people were concerned in the affair of Babel, the confusion, or dispersion, which was a judicial event upon the offenders only, could not well be accounted a division of the earth; especially too, as the people of Japhet and Shem were now in poflestion of their respective settlements, in places remote enough from this scene of action among the Nimrodians in Shinar. Besides, if a political division of the earth was to be in the
I i 2 cafe, case, there could be no plan whatever formed to make such a one, unless the number of sharers was determined; and this would be hard to do, when Peleg was born; because the increase of mankind was so great, at that time, that this was impossible: and all that can be faid about an appropriation of countries, is only what Moses, and the Irish Records', have delivered, in general, that Shems issue migrated eastward, Harris southward, and Japhefs northward and westward. And, as to any subdivisions of lands, or territories, they certainly were made among men, all along, according to their respective conveniences, rivalfhips, or power, and that with much the fame strife and warfare that states are involved in, in our own times, about such matters*
The Welsh. and Irish languages compared; the cause of the degeneracy of changes made in them; of their close affinity; as also of others of Europe with them; a summary account of the present jlate of the several languages of Europe; and a lijl of about one thousand words in theWelsh and Irish, having the same signification} tending to prove they were originally the same.
$*fn£'\ AM, in this chapter, to shew, that the Gomerian 3j£ i and Magogian, or Welsh and Irish languages, iJiytJ? were originally the fame, without any the least variation, until the introduction of the exotic words, from