Page:An Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabathaean Agriculture.djvu/20

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4
BABYLONIAN LITERATURE.

are frequently translations or copies of Chaldæan works. Thirdly, the works of the sect known as Mendaïtes, Nazoreans, Christians of St. John, who must be classed generally under the name Sabians, represent to us, to a certain degree, in their method of thought, and possibly in their language, the remains of Babylonian literature; though the flights of imagination from which the ancient Chaldæans never appear to have been wholly exempt, assume in them such a point of extravagance, that it would be with reluctance that we would acknowledge these fanciful wanderings to be the actual remains of an intellectual cultivation which has exercised so considerable an influence on the mind of man.

A source more fertile, however, than any which we have hitherto pointed out, has been opened to us in these last few years. Ingenious criticism has shewn that it is in the heart of Arabian literature that we must seek for the most precious collection of Babylonian writings. Independently of