Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/865
��vindicated only at the expense of his good sense and intelligence.
Yours truly, C. M. Mead.
Andover, Massachusetts, January 31, 1SS2.
A note in your department of correspond- ence, February number, page 553, on " The Duration of Human Life," by Charles S. Bryant, of St. Paul, Minnesota, calls for an answer. I do not undertake or need to re- ply to it in full. It would be enough to follow the saying, Ex uno disce otnnes.
Says Mr. Bryant, "Seth was born when Adam was one hundred and thirty years old, and was his last child." He says this which I have italicized, although, in the Scripture account, the very next words to those con- cerning the birth of Seth (Gen. v, 3) are, " And the days of Adam after he had be- gotten Seth were eight hundred years, and he begat sons and daughters " (Gen. v, 4).
Here I might drop the matter, simply saying that this is a specimen of Mr. Bry- ant's statements throughout the letter. But I will follow them a little further. Mr. Bryant does not pretend to question the record that "Adam lived a hundred and thirty years and begat . . . Seth " ; but, where the account adds, as quoted above, that "after this he lived eight hundred years," he gives him nine years ! Now, even his own so-called " rule " about the Hebrew reading of " concrete " (sic /) num- bers the largest, first could not twist eight hundred (800) into nine (9). This " rule " itself applied to eight hundred would give a hundred and eight, which added to one hun- dred and thirty, would be two hundred and thirty-eight, instead of Mr. Bryant's one hundred and thirty-nine, for Adam's life- time.
Carry out this process of examination (and any bright school-boy can do it), and Mr. Bryant's amazingly shrunken " table " of the ages of the antediluvian patriarchs at death (page 554) is, according to his own (and I know not whose it is, if it is not his own) " rule," elaborately wrong in every in- stance.
But, now, whence comes this " rule " ? The Hebrew grammar (see Conant's " Ge- senius," for instance) teaches that " when units and tens are written together, the early writers commonly place the units first, as 1 two and twenty ' ; the later writers almost invariably reversing them, as ' twenty and two.' " But what has this to do with writ- ing hundreds, thousands, etc. ? Nothing at all. The "rule" is mythic to say the least of it.
Again, that " at the date of this writing, the Hebrews had no means of writing nine hundred or any number of hundreds above one, without repetition or circumlocution," is as untrue as it is to say that we now have
��the " larger "
the " smaller " eight.
��no such means. Ma-ah was one hundred ; mathayim (a dual form) was two hundred ; sh'loth ma-oth(the last a "construct form" of ma-ah, one hundred) was three hundred ; and so on throughout. There was just as much "circumlocution" in this as there is in our language, and no more.
The fact is, that in Gen. v, 3, the Hebrew says, "Adam lived thirty and a hundred years (sh'loshim u m'ath shanah)," i. e., one hundred and thirty years ; while in the fourth verse it says, " And all the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years (sh'moneh ma-oth shanah)," with no and (u or v) between eight and a hundred; and no "rule," let us remember, but Mr. Bryant's fictitious one, for putting number one hundred before In the fifth verse, in exactly the same unmistakable way, the Hebrew says, " And all the days that Adam lived were " (not " a hundred years and thir- ty years and nine years," as Mr. Bryant ex- pressly and untruly states it, but) " nine hun- dred years and thirty years," just that and nothing else.
I am prompted to take the trouble to write this, and ask you to publish it, because the positive and yet positively false and mis- leading article in hand not only might do, but is doing, violence to truth between the covers of a scientific journal. In the Teach- ers' Institute of our city, a company num- bering some two or three hundred, I had, not long ago, given a summary of general history, when this very article was referred to by a teacher, in remarking upon the exercise as perhaps affording an explana- tion of, and a way to remove, the " dif- ficulty " (?) in the Bible account of the lon- gevity of the antediluvians. Even though there were any real difficulty here (I am glad to see that M. de Solaville does not feel obliged to get rid of a difficulty at this point, but only mentions some offered ex- planations of a remarkable fact), the cool fabrications of the letter I criticise are not the means that would remove it.
Buffalo, New Yoke, February 15, 1S82.
��AN ELECTPJCAL NUISANCE. Messrs. Editors.
The scientists will confer a boon on one of our mechanical trades if they will suggest some practical solution to the following dif- ficulty : Every one conversant with the ma- chinery of the press-room of a large print- ing establishment has heard of the great annoyance caused by the generation of elec- tricity while the sheets are passing through a cylinder press. The action of the fluid causes the sheets on issuing from the press to adhere closely, and at all angles, to the