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neat, and portable form, such as, while the work may still accomplish its original design in being useful to the professional student, may fit it at the same time to rank among the ornaments of a drawing-room table, and be conveniently read by ordinary Christians.
On the interior of the book it was judged proper that still more important changes should be made; and, accordingly, while the original composition of the author has been left untouched, and is in every respect the same as it came from his hands, a vast quantity of additional matter has been introduced. Thus, in the first division, which was the most imperfect and unsatisfactory part of the work in preceding editions, not only is the fullest information given on the physical and political GEOGRAPHY of Palestine, but a copious outline is added of all that is most necessary and important in the geography of the countries bordering upon the Holy Land, as well as of all which were in any way connected with the chequered fortunes of the chosen people. The advantage of such a full and accurate guide-book must be obvious ; for history must be always imperfectly understood, -must, indeed, be a confused and uninteresting record of facts,—unless it is accompanied with an intimate knowledge of the relative distance and situation of the countries and places that occur in the course of the narrative; and this remark is equally applicable to sacred as to profane history, a volume which describes all the principal and most celebrated localities where the scene of the inspired story is laid, must form a useful and in
dispensable introduction to the intelligent and profitable reading of the Bible.
The second part of the work, which comprises NATURAL History, has been enriched far beyond what the most ardent lovers of sacred literature could, a short while ago, have expected to be attainable. In no branch of the Illustrations of Scripture was an increase of knowledge more wanted. So low and imperfect, indeed, was the acquaintance of Europeans with the physical productions of Palestine, and the adjacent countries, that little more than twenty years ago, Dr A. Clarke and others, pronounced it almost hopeless to obtain a full and accurate description of the Natural History of the Bible. But circumstances unanticipated at that time,--the great and unprecedented increase of travellers in the Holy Land, which has now become a fashionable tour,—the late war in Syria, which carried thither several well-educated British officers, who, in the intervals of military toil, rambled over the country in pursuit of game
and adventures,-above all, the establishment of resident missionaries, deeply interested in the study of Scripture, and possessed, by their knowledge of the language, and their permanent intercourse with the people, of unwonted facilities for becoming familiar with the physical peculiarities of that part of the world, have contributed both to extend and correct our knowledge of the Botany and Zoology of the sacred volume, far beyond the state in which it was in the days of Dr Paxton's authorship.
The same circumstances, by leading Europeans to
intermingle with the natives in scenes of private and domestic life, have made us greatly more familiar with the Oriental style of sentiment and language, and, consequently, thrown much new and interesting light on their manners and customs. These, besides the interest that intrinsically attaches to habits so widely different from the European standard, supply a most fertile source of Illustrations of Scripture; and although it is quite possible for a lively imagination to strain such analogies, and to fancy allusions, in the works of the sacred writers, to Oriental customs, which a severe criticism may reject, yet the obvious and undoubted references by the inspired penmen to these peculiarities, are so numerous and so frequent, as to remind their readers, in almost every page, of the oriental origin and cast of the Bible. The prevalence amongst living people of a system of customs and observances, so exactly corresponding with those which characterized the remote age of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, naturally attracting much attention, has been described more or less by every traveller, with a minuteness of detail, evincing the great pleasure and interest felt in the coincidence; and hence the journals, even of the most secular and sceptical, abound with little incidents and traits of manners, which, like the golden pebbles on the sands of Pactolus, every now and then catch the eye, and reward the diligence, of the persevering searcher. From these pure and direct sources of information, the number and variety of which it would not be easy to specify, the “ILLUSTRATIONS OF MANNERS AND Customs'have
been collected; and the two volumes which are dedi-cated to this subject, embracing every particular connected with private, domestic, and social life, may with truth be said to comprise a fund of information of the greatest utility to every student of the Bible; and the more valuable, that the progress of events seems to point to a period not very distant, when much of the venerable simplicity of oriental habits will disappear. The use of fire-arms,—the introduction of the science and arts of the west,—the establishment of stage-coaches and cafès for the accommodation of passengers through the desert,—have already so completely undermined the hereditary permanence of oriental usages, that they may be reasonably regarded as the precursors of much greater changes; so that while the extended communication between Europe and the countries of the Levant, must of necessity increase our acquaintance with the Geography and Natural History of the East, its characteristic Manners, as a source of illustration on the literature and authenticity of the Scriptures, may be expected ere long to live only in the pages of the historian and the antiquary.
The contributions of the Editor, in all the three departments of the work, have been considerable; hav. ing for many years been a gleaner in this captivating field of study, he has been enabled to introduce all the most important observations and researches that have been communicated to the world, either in books of travels or the transactions of literary societies for the last twenty years, and has thus imparted to the new
issue a rich variety and copiousness of illustration, that must render it greatly superior in value and interest to the former editions. The matter thus added is distinguished in the text by brackets, and in the notes by the word · Editor.'
It is necessary to state, by way of explanation, that it has been found impossible, in the volume of Geography, to maintain a uniform orthography, in every case, of the names of places; for different travellers have adopted a different mode of spelling ; and, consequently, in passages quoted from their writings, the language of each author has been retained. But in the few instances of this description, the difference is so very slight, that it is impossible the reader can mistake the place described.
To this new Edition, a brief Memoir of the Author is prefixed, from the
of his venerable friend Dr MITCHELL of Glasgow.
In conclusion, the Editor has only to add, that he deems it a high honour to have his name associated, in this publication, with that of a man who first inspired him, at an early age, with a taste for the study of Eastern History and Manners in connexion with the Scriptures,—on whose fervid and impressive eloquence in the pulpit he has often hung with delight, ---and whose personal character and useful labours, will make him long be remembered with reverence and gratitude, as a father in Israel.
MANSE OF CURRIE, November 4, 1842.