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From the mountainous regions of Armenia, where Noah with his descendants had settled, the increase of the human family took a south-east direction towards the plains of Shinar ; a proverbially fertile country, situated between those famed rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, and thence called by the Hebrews, Aram Naharaiam, (or Syria of the two rivers) and by the Greeks Mesopotamia. But, as in process of time, the limits even of this country were found too narrow for the increasing population, and as men perceived, that a large portion of their number would soon have to seek out remoter settlements, whereby the human family was likely to become scattered, they resolved to build a great city and tower, as well for their own reputation and glory, as for establishing a metropolitan centre of union. Now, in this enterprise, they did not first ask counsel of God, neither did they intend the building for the honour of his holy name, but simply for their own renown; so soon was the bulk of mankind again estranged from their Maker. And indeed it is a fact of daily experience, that the farther men decline from the true God, the more is it their aim and endeavour to exalt themselves, and thus to usurp his authority. Hence do men still combine together, and form associations with no other design than to increase their power of self gratification. They have learned that “union is strength ;" and this lesson, which admits of such
excellent use, is often misapplied to the very worst of purposes. Such was also the case, at that period, when mankind had but one common language,-a circumstance that made it the easier to accomplish whatever they concerted. Their undertaking amounted to a conspiracy against God himself; for, in immediate opposition to his counsel and command, they had virtually agreed to refrain from replenishing the distant regions of the earth. See Gen. ix. 1. They had also appointed to themselves another centre of unity instead of God, and had formed a plan for setting up an impious independence, which they intended should command the admiration of posterity.
How morally ruinous would have been the consequences, had Babel been established according to the intention of its builders! It would have been the rendezvous of every evil, from every country; so that from thence, mischief would have gone forth in ten-fold variety and strength, to consummate the corruption of all the families of the earth. God therefore
came down to visit the city and the tower which the children of men had builded;" he so confounded their language, that they no longer understood one another. Hence they not only desisted from their enterprise, but became divided into distinct nations, according to their several dialects or languages, and went forth to their respective stations, more or less mutually remote. This was no other than a disposal of Divine goodness and mercy; and without it, the wickedness of mankind might soon have emulated theirs who were swept away by the deluge. But now their former general sameness of condition no longer existed ; each nation learned to pursue its own independent aims and interests; and though they were “all gone out of the way of real prosperity, insomuch as they lived without God in the world, and sought not the Divine blessing on their proceedings, still the power of evil could not now be so great and general, nor its increasing infection so rapid, nor the ruin of any distinct people so precipitate ; and though one nation might fall, another would stand, and, perhaps, learn by the fate of its neighbours, such experience and prudence as would serve to protract its own downfall. Even the overthrow of any one nation would not necessarily annihilate it; but its humiliation under the dominion of another, might prove so salutary to it, as to leave its recovery still possible; whereas had mankind remained
as one people, their utter corruption and ruin might soon have been, humanly speaking, unavoidable. Yet the world has, all along, mistaken God's beneficial intentions in this separation of mankind; and nearly every age has witnessed the repeated attempt to re-unite the nations under one temporal head, and to subject as much of the whole world as possible to the will of one
Thus it was in the times of the Assyrian, the Babylonian, and the Persian empires; as also in the time of Alexander. Rome, in like manner, by its imperial, and afterwards by its papal power; and Napoleon, in our own day, endeavoured to accomplish such a design; but no attempt of the kind has ever completely succeeded, because God himself is the Ruler of the world, and it would be contrary to his plan that such attempts should be successful.
NEWS FROM HOME.
Tuesday, February 23rd. This afternoon, a signal was made from the shore, and we went off in the gig, and found the agent's clerk, who had been up to the pueblo, waiting at the landing-place with a package under his arm, covered with brown paper, and tied carefully with twine. No sooner had we shoved off, than he told us there was good news from Santa Barbara. • What's that ?” said one of the crew, " has the agent slipped off the hooks ? Has the old bundle of bones got him at last ?"**" No, better than that,--the California has arrived."
Lelters, papers, news, and, perhaps, friends on board ! Our hearts were all up in our mouths, and we pulled away like good fellows; for the precious packet could not be opened, except by the captain. As we pulled under the stern, and called out to the mate, who was leaning over the taffrail, that the California had arrived,
“ Hurrah !” said the mate, so as to be heard fore-and-aft; “ California come, and news from Boston !”
Instantly there was a confusion on board, which no one could account for, who has not been in the same situation,-all discipline seemed for a moment relaxed.
“ What's that, Mr. Brown ?” said the cook, putting his head out of the gallery, “ California come ?”
A ye, aye! you angel of darkness, and there's a letter for you, from Bullknopt tree, number two-two-five-green door, and brass knocker !”
The packet was sent down into the cabin, and every one waited to hear the result. As nothing came up, the officers began to feel that they were acting rather a child's part, and turned the crew to again ; and the same strict discipline was restored, which prohibits speech between man and man, while at work on deck; so that when the steward came forward with letters for the crew, each man took his letters, carried them below to his chest, and came up again immediately; and not a letter was read until we had cleared
decks for the night.
An overstrained sense of manliness is the characteristic of seafaring men, or rather of life on board ship. This often gives an appearance of want of feeling and even of cruelty. From this, if a man comes within an ace of breaking his neck, and escapes, it is made a joke of; and no notice must be taken of a bruise or a cut; and any expression of pity, or any show of attention, would look sisterly, and unbecoming a man, who has to face the rough and tumble of such a life. From this, too, the sick are neglected at sea; and whatever sailors may be ashore, a sick man finds little sympathy or attention forward or aft. A man, too, can have nothing peculiar or sacred on board ship; for all the nicer feelings they take pride in disregarding, both in themselves and others. A thin-skinned man could not live an hour on ship-board. One would be torn raw, unless he had the hide of an ox. A moment of natural feelings, for home and friends, and then the frigid routine of sea life returned. Jokes were made
those who showed any interest in the expected news, and every thing near and dear was made common stock for rude jokes, and unfeeling coarseness, to which no exception could be taken by any one.
Supper, too, must be eaten before the letters were read ; and when at last they were brought out, they all got round any one who had a letter, and expected to have it read aloud, and have it all in common. If any one went by himself to read, it was—" Fair play, there, and no skulking !” I took mine and went into the sail-maker's berth, where I could read it without interruption. It was dated, August, just a year from the time I had sailed from home; and every one was well, and no great change had taken place. Thus, for one year, my mind was set at ease, yet it was already six months from the date of the letter, and what another year would bring to pass who could tell ? Every one away from home thinks that some great thing must have happened, while to those at home there seems to be a continued monotony and lack of incident.
As much as my feelings were taken up by my own intelligence from home, I could not but be amused by a scene in the steerage. The carpenter had been married just before leaving Boston, and during the voyage had talked much about his wife, and had to bear and forbear, as every man known to be married must, aboard ship; yet the certainty of hearing from his wife by the first ship, seemed to keep up his spirits. The California came, -the packet was brought on board,
-no one was in higher spirits than he,—but when the letters came forward—there was none for him. The captain looked again, but there was no mistake. Poor " Chips” could eat no supper.
He was completely down in the mouth. Sails (the sail-maker) tried to comfort him, and told him—" He was a fool to give up his grub for
any woman's daughter, and reminded him, that he had told him a dozen times, that he'd never see or hear from his wife again.”
“ Ah !” said Chips, "you don't know what it is to have a wife, and
“ Don't I ?" said Sails ; and then came, for the hundredth time, the story of his coming ashore at New York, from the Constellation frigate, after a cruise of four years round the Horn,-being paid off with over five hundred dollars,-marrying, and taking a couple of rooms in a four-story house,-furnishing the rooms, (with a particular account of the furniture, including a dozen flag-bottomed chairs, which he always dilated upon, whenever the subject of furniture was alluded to)-going off to sea again, leaving his wife half-pay, like a fool, coming home, and finding her, “ off like Bob's horse, with nobody to pay the reckoning;" furniture gone— flag-bottomed chairs and all; and, with it, his " long togs,” the half pay, his beaver hat, white linen shirts, and every thing else. His wife he never saw or heard of, from that day to this, and never wished to. Then followed a sweeping assertion, not much to the credit of the sex if true, though he has Pope to back him. Come, Chips, cheer up, like a man, and take some hot grub! Don't be made a fool of, by anything in petticoats! As for your wife, you'll never see her again, she was up kee-leg, and off,' before you were outside of Cape Cod. You've hove your money away like a fool; but every man must learn once, just as I did ; so you'd better square the yards with her, and make the best of it.”
This was the best consolation Sails had to offer, but it did not seem to be just the thing the carpenter wanted; for during several days he was very much dejected, and bore with difficulty the jokes of the sailors; and with still more difficulty, their attempts at advice and consolation, of most of which, the sail-maker's was a good specimen.
THE TREMBLING EYELID.
By MRS. SIGOURNEY, America.
It was the day before Christmas, in the year 1778, that, during our war of revolution, an armed vessel sailed out of the port of Boston. She was strongly built, and carried 20 guns, with a well-appointed crew of more than a hundred, and provisions for a cruise of six months.
As she spread her broad white sails, and steered from the harbour with a fair, fresh breeze, she made a noble appearance. Many throbbing hearts breathed a blessing on her voyage, for she bore a company of as bold and skilful seamen as ever dared the perils of the deep.
But soon the north wind blew, and brought a heavy sea into the bay. The night proved dark, and they came to anchor with difficulty near the harbour of Plymouth. The strong gale that buffeted them became a storm, and the storm a hurricane. Snow fell, and the cold was terribly severe.
The vessel was driven from her moorings, and struck on a reef of rocks. She began to fill with water, and they were obliged to cut away