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The same word appears in Syriac, Chaldean, and Samaritan, with no other difference from the Hebrew, than the different kinds of letters used to represent it in their several alphabets. Numerous other synonyms might be given ; but it is needless to increase them. In the old English books, of standard authors, examined through a period of seven hundred years, from the time of king Alfred, the variations are as great as in all the instances here given.
262. A simple reason may explain what might otherwise occasion doubt; and may satisfy the mere English scholar of the consistency of these quotations, and the inferences to be drawn from them.
The sound of the letter r is so produced by the organs of speech, that it is least liable to change of all the articulations of the human voice. This letter, or sound, is a well known and most important radical, in Hebrew, and other ancient tongues, representing the general idea of activity, motion, or operating cause. It is connected with this elementary and hieroglyphic idea, as it is distributed at the present day, through all the most cultivated languages of the earth. Next to r, one of the least variable sounds is the broad a, the hieroglyphic sign of priority, unity, and power, and which appears
to have been common to the word air, in all the ancient, and most of the modern tongues. Those qualified to make the investigation, will farther observe, that, from the organic formation of the sounds, it is not very material which other vowel, or whether any one, is placed between broad a and r. The different appearances, then, adduced from so many ages and nations, are substantially the same thing. The whole range of
human learning can produce no other instance of a word, which, through all the desolating changes in human affairs, bas, for thousands of years, so nearly preserved its identity of form and meaning, as interwrought, in constant popular use, with all the great leading languages of the globe.
263. The primary meaning of the Hebrew Tix aur, is light. By changing the point belonging to the mediate character, it made 798 aor, which denoted fire, and its extended meanings, warmth, ardor, affection, and genial influence. Aur, light, incidentally included air, as being considered the same thing as light: for in those primeval times, men neither tried experiments with air
pumps, nor traversed aerial regions in balloons. They were unskilled in the pneumatic philosophy of modern days, and judged from the simple appearances of nature around them. Oxygen and hydrogen were unconsciously respired by the early fathers of our race. No Dr. Priestley had delivered lectures on air : the chymical nomenclature of Lavoisier, and the discoveries of Morveau, Lussac, Chaptal, and Davy, were unknown.
264. The inferential meaning of AUR, light, was GOD, the author and source of light, the being of beings, who said,
יהי-אוֹר וִיהי אור
6. Let there be light, and there was light.”
Aur, figuratively signified instruction, the light of the mind, intellectual talent. In English, the noun art is a participial formation from the verb, as cleft is from cleavi. A person's art is that with which he is lighted, instructed, or skilled. Ars, in
Latin, and a prodigious number of words, in various tongues, are to be properly explained only in the same way.
266. “ To air clothes ;" “ to air a room, is to expose them to the air.
A person takes an airing, to air and exercise himself, promote health and preserve life. They are, is, with precisely the same meaning, they air themselves; they breathe the air ; “ Vitales aures carpere ;" they light themselves ; they behold, inhale, and enjoy the light; they live. Light, life, and live, are but the modifications of the same word. So close is the relation, in speech, as well as in nature, between air and light, that the words denoting them are often substituted for each other. The German luft, light, is generally, and the Dutch lucht, habitually, used for air, the atmosphere.
“ To enjoy the light," appears to be an idiom as extensive as language itself, and under all its applications, signifies to live, or exist.
“Il jouit encore de la luminere et attend que son fils revi. enne pour lui fermer les yeux."_*Telemaque.
Here is the double application of the idea in a short sentence,
“ But soon a wonder came to light.” Dr. Goldsmith. Came into being, for it had no existence before.
In every German, book of biography, in every family, " to see the light,” means to come into life; to be born.
The “breath of life,” “the vital air," and many similar expressions, are familiar to all.
* “ He still enjoys the light, and is waiting for his son to return to close his eyes."
266. The collateral meanings of air and light, all center in the same point. Light, not heavy, is like the air; or like Adam's sleep, which, Milton says, was airy light.”
Air, aspect, appearance. A lady has a pleasing air : that is, the light, the point of light, in which she appears, is pleasing. An other assumes affected airs, to exhibit herself in the most striking light, to attract attention.
Lights, langs, inhale the light or air.
Air, in music, is a modern and scientific application of the term. It means the tremulous vibrations of the air on the tympans of the ear.
Let it not be supposed that this is idle theory. It is supported by an astonishing body of facts, from numerous tongues, through thousands of · years, showing the original structure and present meaning of the verb are, in a manner simple as the patriarchs, for whose early use it was formed, and clear as the light which it so expressively represents.
267. The different relations in which the same idea may be viewed, are manifested in this verb, as in so many other terms.
The guest lights himself, or the servant lights him to his room ; which means, to carry the sensible light before him.
“ Thais led the way, to light him to his prey :
And, like an other Helen, fired an other Troy." “ Enlighten our hearts ;" cause the candle of the Lord ;» the enlivening influence of heavenly' wisdom, to quicken, vivify, and animate our hearts in the love of divine truth.
268. Some very important principles, illustrative of the human intellect, and of language, which
is its practical exposition, are to be sought chiefly among a savage people. The untutored children of the wilderness may instruct philosophers in the deepest sciences which can employ the mind, or adorn the most refined community.
There is nothing more interesting to man, than to contemplate his own species, in all their variety : to reflect, that whether enlightened or ignorant, mild or ferocious; fainting under the vertical sun, or half naked in the wintry blast ; however degraded by circumstance, or perverted by error; these members of the human family are of our own nature, and a kindred blood. In common with ourselves, they inherit from their Creator the distinguishing gifts of reason and speech ; hearts to feel; tears for wo ; and souls for immortality.
It is in comparing the minds of different people, as exhibited in their varying conditions, habits, and language, that the errors of the schools are correçted. Among all the Indian tribes of North America, there is no separate word for air. To them, as to the ancient nations, the darkness and the light are the visible substances, which alternately come and go. They feel the breeze, and apply the noun to it as wind ; but air, at rest, is neither seen nor felt. Of this, they have no distinct conception ; and, consequently, no name.
269. An allusion has been made to the diversified changes of an important original term. The words signifying the Deity, man, or being in general, are very much used in combination. An exemplification of this is contained in the form of the oath administered, in the eighth century, to the German Saxons, on their renunciation of heathenism, and profession of Christianity, as quoted by F. Schlegel, from an ancient record at Vienna.