Page images


B.c. producing every variety of herb, moss, grass,

plant, vegetable, shrub, and tree. Then God created living creatures, and every creeping thing that creepeth uppn the earth; beasts of the forest and the plain, birds of the air, and fishes of the sea, each created of its kind to multiply after its kind. And when all things had been created ready for the use of man, God created man himself, gifted with powers of mind to become lord of the creation : “in the image of God created He him.” In the beginning, one pair of human creatures were created, Adam and Eve, who were placed in a garden, rich in productions and natural beauty, called Paradise. From this one pair are descended all nations and races that people the earth, however widely they may differ in colour, form, habits, advantages, or mental power.



B. C. 4000.

Man, at the beginning, subsisted on the spontaneous productions of the earth, without any necessity for labour. As to clothing, man, in his state of innocence, had none; afterwards leaves and skins of animals. His dwelling-place was some shady tree or cavern. But with sin came the curse of labour. Fallen man has no doom of inactivity; he has duties and wants that tend to b.c. develope the powers of his body, and to discipline the talents of his mind. Man is called on to labour, to think, to learn, and to invent. The great phenomena of nature, thunder, storm, and flood, one can imagine, were the first to excite his attention, and reflection prompted him to action. Wisdom, however, has no more powerful ally than Necessity.* Necessity compelled man to defend himself from the attacks of wild beasts, and thus brought some kind of weapon into requisition ; these were, therefore, among the earliest inventions, and, doubtless, extremely rude at first, such as the branch of a tree, a young sapling, or a sharpened stone, which, gradually, they learnt the art of forming into clubs, lances, and slings. While men were in the habit of killing or ensnaring wild animals, we can easily imagine they soon tasted the flesh, either from want of other food, or from a natural longing, and probably found it so good, that their weapons of defence were soon used also for attack, as in hunting. The habits of the chase would soon show that some animals had less ferocity than others, and were more easily domesticated; these the hunter tamed and fed; and, seeing that animals could provide both food and clothing, the hunters soon became herdsmen. Wherever the herdsmen happened to settle, if food failed, it was easy to break up a mere encampment of tents — the earliest form of


* From Horace, Satires, b. 1. sat. 3. lines 98-102.


B. c. artificial dwellings — and to move onwards in

quest of fresh pastures. Such tribes of wandering herdsmen were called Nomades; and even at the present day many tribes are found, more especially in Asia, who follow the same wandering course of life.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


B.C. The wild life of the hunter, and the restless

wanderings of shepherd tribes, were by no means favourable to the development of the many brilliant and varied talents divinely implanted in man. The first decisive step in the advancement of the human race was the discovery of agriculture, Necessity was the mother of these inventions, probably made in different parts of the world at the same time. Under the impulse and guidance of his Creator, observing and reflecting man soon learnt to plant seed in the ground, and expect a crop in due season.

We know not, it is true, the authors of these discoveries, though they are deserving of honour as the greatest benefactors of the human race; for agriculture would naturally introduce securer methods of constructing houses, and an improved domestic economy,

besides uniting men into societies, all attended with a


most beneficial influence. The agricultural sys- B. c. tem of early times, no doubt, was very imperfect ; the plough, the harrow, the sickle, and the many implements now in general use, were unknown to the first who tilled the ground. The manufacture of these implements in the perfection in which they now exist, was the result of gradual improvement; and there are yet many nations among whom, if not totally unknown, they are still but in a very imperfect state. In our country, too, invention has a wide sphere for its energies ; and in every branch of agricultural science a much higher point may be attained by making fair use of the talents committed to our charge.

[blocks in formation]

The system of bread-making at the present day B.c. consists in kneading the flour produced by grind- 4000. ing corn. This practice, however, was unknown to the ancients. At first they ate the natural grain, as we eat fruit; then they learnt to soften it in water, and boiled it to a pulp: it was also a common custom to wash the corn and eat it without further preparation. One of the most important inventions that must have preceded the baking


A. D. of bread are mills, which are absolutely necessary


meal. It is true that Moses was acquainted with the mill; but these were merely hand-mills, requiring manual labour. Watermills were not invented till the commencement of the Christian era, and windmills have only been known since the year A.D. 1100.

The more scientific construction of mills has been attained within these last two hundred years, and there is still much room for improvement. In ancient times, when mills were unknown, the flour was neither so pure nor so fine. The Greeks and Romans made their flour into a kind of meal pulp, which formed part of their daily food. The Israelites kneaded the flour into dough, mixed it with leaven, and made flat thin cakes, baked sometimes among the embers, and sometimes between hot stones, as with rude tribes at the present day. Another very general use of corn now is to make beer; but this commodity is of much later invention. Wine

was, no doubt, known much earlier than beer; though it is related of our remotest ancestors, more than 2000 years ago, that a kind of wine had been distilled from roasted barley. There is scarcely a people upon earth that has remained contented with water as their exclusive beverage.

« PreviousContinue »