Page images
PDF
EPUB

Asa

now confined to Wales and some parts of "reland and Scotland), Gothic (which may be taken as the ancient type of the Teutonic or Germanic languages-including English-and of the Scandinavian), and Slavonic (spoken in a variety of dialects all over European Russia and a great part of Austria), the researches of philology have within the present century established such affinities as can be accounted for only by supposing that the nations speaking them had a common origin. No one of these nations, whether existing or historical, can claim to be the parent nation of which the others are colonies. The relation among the languages mentioned is that of sisters -daughters of one mother, which perished, as it were, in giving them birth. No monuments of this mother-language have ben preserved, nor have we any history or even tradition of the nation that spoke it. That such a people existed and spoke such a tongue is an inference of comparative philology, the process of reasoning being analogous to that followed in the kindred science of geology. The geologist, interpreting the inscriptions written by the finger of Nature herself upon the rocktablets of the earth's strata, carries us back myriads of ages before man appeared on the scene at all, and enables us to be present, as it were, at creation itself, and see one formation laid above another, an one plant or animal succeed another. Now languages are to the ethnologist what strata are in geology; dead languages have been well called his fossils and petrifactions. By skilful interpretation of their indications, aided by the light of all other available monuments, he is able to spell out, with more or less probability, the ethnical records of the past, and thus obtain a glimpse here and there into the gray cloud that rests over the dawn of the ages.

When these linguistic monuments are consulted as to the primitive seat of the Aryan nations, they point, as almost all ethnologists are agreed, to Central Asia, somewhere probably east of the Caspian, and north of the Hindu Kush and Paropamisan Mountains. There, at a period long anterior to all European history-while Europe was perhaps only a jungle, or, if inhabited at all, inhabited by tribes akin to the Finns, or perhaps to the American Indians-dwelt that mother-nation of which we have spoken. From this centre, in obedience to a law of movement which has continued to act through all history, successive migrations took place towards the north-west. The first swarm formed the Celts, who seem at one time to have occupied a great part of Europe; at a considerably later epoch came the ancestors of the Italians, the Greeks, and the Teutonic peoples. All these would seem to have made their way to their new settlements through Persia and Asia Minor, crossing into Europe by the Hellespont, and partly, perhaps, between the Caspian and the Black Sea. The stream that formed the Slavonic nations is thought to have taken the route by the north of the Caspian. At a period subsequent to the last north-western migration, the remnant of the primitive stock would seem to have broken up; part poured southward through the passes of the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush into the Punjab, and became the dominant race in the valley of the Ganges; while the rest settled in Persia, and became the Medes and Persians of history.

It is from these eastern members that the whole family takes its name. In the most ancient Sanscrit writings (the Veda), the Hindus style themselves Aryans; and the name is preserved in the classic Arii, a tribe of ancient Persia, Aria, the modern Herat, and Ariana, the name of a district comprehending the greater part of ancient Persia, and extended by some so as to embrace Bactriana. Ariana, or Airyana. is evidently an old Persian word, preserved in the modern native name of Persia, Airan or Iran. Arya, in Sanscrit, signifies "excellent," "honorable." being allied probably to the Greek ari(stos), the best. Others connect it with the root ar (Lat. urare, to plough), as if to distinguish a people who were tillers (earers) of the earth from the purely nomadic Turanians or Turks.

The several members of this ethnological group will receive special notice each in its place. As to the hypothetical mother-nation-the primitive Aryan stock before separation, it might seem impossible to affirm anything beyond its mere existence and locality. But the ethnologist does not content himself with this. In an admirable Essay on "Comparative Mythology" (Oxford Essays, 1856). Prof. Max Müller has drawn a picture of the Aryan family while yet one and undivided, in which the state of thought, language, religion, and civilisation is exhibited in a multitude of details. Where the same name for an object or notion is found used by the widely spread members of the family, it is justly inferred that that object or notion must

have been familiar to them while yet resident together in the paternal home. It is in this way established, that among the primitive Aryans not only were the natural and primary family relations of father, mother, son, daughter, hallowed, but even the more conventional affinities of father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law: that to the organised family life there was superadded a state organisation with rulers or kings; that the ox and the cow constituted the chief riches and means of subsistence; and that houses and towns were built.

One general observation made by Müller is so interesting that we take the liberty of quoting it entire. "It should be observed," he says, "that most of the terms connected with chase and warfare differ in each of the Aryan dialects, while words connected with more peaceful occupations belong generally to the common heirloom of the Aryan language. The proper appreciation of this fact in its general bearing, will shew how a similar remark made by Niebuhr, with regard to the Greek and Latin, requires a very different explanation from that which that great scholar, from his more restricted po nt of view, was able to give it. It will shew that all the Aryan nations had led a long life of peace before they separated, and that their langnage acquired individuality and nationality as each colony started in search of new homes-new generations forming new terms connected with the warlike and adventurous life of their onward migrations. Hence it is that not only Greek and Latin, but all Aryan languages have their peaceful words in common; and hence it is that they all differ so strangely in their warlike expressions. Thus the domestic animals are generally known by the same name in England and in India, while the wild beasts have different names, even in Greek and Latin."

In this mainly pastoral life, the more important of the primitive arts were known and exercised: fields were tilled; grain was raised and ground into meal; food was cooked and baked; cloth was woven and sewed into garments; and the use of the metals, even of iron, was known. The numbers as far as a hundred had been named, the decimal principle being followed. The name for a thousand had not come into requisition until after the dispersion, for it differs in the different Aryan tongues.

Finally, it was among the yet undivided Aryans, while abstract language did not yet exist, while every word was a metaphor, and the setting of the sun, for example, could only be expressed by his growing old and dying, that those stories of gods, heroes, and monsters originated, which, with more or less of variety, but still with a family-likeness, formed the pagan mythology of every member of the group.

ARZIGNA'NO, a town of North Italy, 11 miles west-by-south from Vicenza, in a plain surrounded by hills. It manufactures woollens, leather, and silk twist. Pop. (1871) 2706.

AS was the designation both of a Roman weight (called also libra) corresponding very nearly to an English pound (y. v.), and also of a coin made of the mixed metal des, or bronze. The As (coin) originally no doubt weighed a (Roman) pound; but it was gradually reduced to of a pound, and even lower. It is thus difficult to assign any fixed value to the A8. About 270 B. c., the denarius (= 82d.) contained 10 ases; so that the value of the As was then a little more than three farthings; when 16 ases went to the denarius, the value was about a halfpenny. It was by the sestertius (q. v.) that money was reckoned at Rome. The oldest form of As usually bore the figure of an ox, a sheep, or other domestic animal (pecus); from which it is usually supposed that the Latin word for money, pecunia, is derived.

1

A'SA, son of Abijah, and grandson of Rehoboam, was the third king of Judah. At the beginning of his reign, he was very young, and his character apparently undeveloped, for he allowed his grandmother, Maachah, to encourage idolatry; but on assuming the reins of government, one of his earliest acts was to remove her from all authority "because she had made an idol in a grove" (1 Kings, xv. 13; 2 Chron. xv. 16). His zealous efforts to extirpate the vices and impieties of the people were on the whole successful. He took away the Sodomites out of the land, and the altars of the strange gods, broke the images, and cut down the groves. For the next ten years, he devoted himself to strengthening the defences of his kingdom, and organised a magnificent army of more than half a million, which seems to have been looked upon as a menace by other monarchs, for one of these, Zerah the

Asa
Asbestus

Cushite, took the initiative, and penetrating through Arabia Petræa, invaded Judah, but was defeated with immense slaughter. Before the batt e commenced. Asa had invoked the aid of Jehovah; and some time after the victory, he and all his people entered into a solemn covenant "to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul" (2 Chron. xv. 12). Peace lasted for twenty years in the kingdom, but in the 35th year of Asa's reign, war again broke out between him and Baasha, king of Israel. He sought and obtained the aid of the Syrian monarch, Benhadad, but at the expense of "the treasures of the house of the Lord;" and although successful against his adversary, he was indignantly upbraided and threatened by the prophet Hanani for not relying on Jehovah alone. flushed with success, threw the prophet into prison, and, it would appear, "in his rage" oppressed some of the people at the same time-perhaps those only who sided with Hanani, for we know that at his death the nation honored him with a splendid funeral; and the sacred historian pays the highest tribute to his mentory, declaring that "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days." He reigned from 955 to 914 B. C.

Asa,

A'SA DULCIS (i. e., Sweet Asa), a drug in high repute among the ancients as au antispasmodic, deobstruent, and diuretic; also for supposed virtues of the most Xtraordinary kind, such as neutralising the effects of poison, curing envenomed wounds, restoring sight to the blind, youth to the aged, &c. Its value was estimated by its weight in gold. The princes of Cyrene caused a figure of the plant producing it to be struck on the reverse of their coins, and it was sometimes called Laser Cyrenaicum. The plant is of the genus Thapsia (of the natural order Umbellifera), either T. Garganica, or a nearly lied species, T. Silphium-perhaps the drug was produced by both. They are natives of the south of Europe and of Barbary, aud appear to be very active purgatives.

ASAFOETIDA, or Assafoetida (i. e., Fetid Asa or Assa), is a gum-resin, which has been supposed to be identical with the exuded juice of the Silphion of Dioscorides, so highly esteemed among the Greek physicians; but which, perhaps, was rather the Asa dulcis. Its name is derived from the Persian word asu, which means a staff. This drug is brought from Persia and Afgh nistan, and is procured by drying the milky juice which flows from the root of the plant Ferula (Narthex) A., which has been referred to the genus Ferula by Linnæus, and to Narthex by Dr Falconer. The root of the A. plant is long, and generally undivided; white inside, but having a black covering; and contains in its interior a quantity of juice of an overpowering odor, which much resembles that of garlic. Ferula or Narthex A. has its radical leaves tripartite, their segments bipinnatifid, and nearly two feet in length. The gum-resin is said by some to be obtained also from Ferula Persica, a plant which has the root-leaves very much divided, and all either tripinnate or quadripinnate. The name ferula like the Persian asa, refers to the appearance of the stem of the plant. Ferula Persica has long been propagated successfully in Britain, and even brings its seeds to perfection.

A. is prepared in the dry southern provinces of Persia, but chiefly in Khorassan and Afghanistan, and also to the north of the Hindu Kush range of mountains. About April, the root-leaves are taken away, and the root itself is more or less exposed by removal of the soil from about it. After a lapse of six weeks, a slice is cut horizontally from its summit, and a thick white juice exudes, the smell of which even exceeds in strength that of the drug when dry. The drug is sometimes met with in the market in the formn of tears, but more frequently in lamps, which are made up of irregularly shaped tears, agglutinated together by a softer substance. A. is extensively used in medicine, and possesses stimulant and anti-spasmodic properties. When taken internally, it undergoes absorption, and may be detected in almost every secretion of the body, as the saliva, breath, and urine. According to the analysis of Pelletier, A. is composed of the following substances: resin, 65 parts; volatile oil, 36; gum, 1941; bassorin, 11.66; various salts, 30. In many parts of the East. this drug is used as a condiment, in which respect it seems to take the place of the garlic of some European nations.

A'SAPH, St, a cathedral city and a station on the Vale of Clwyd Railway, stands on a small hill between the rivers Clwyd and Elwy, in the north-west of Flintshire,

Asbestus

Wales. The cathedral is a cruciform building, 178 by 68 feet, and was built in 1284 on the site of a wooden structure founded before 596. It has a tower 93 feet high, is one of the smallest of British cathedrals, and stands on the top of the hill on which the city is built. Kentigern, or St Mungo, Bishop of Glasgow, and his disciple, St A.. are said to have founded the see of St A. in the 6th c. The bishop, who has a revenue of £42 0, is patron of 121 of the 148 benefices in the diocese. Pop. in 1871, 1900. St A., with the Flint district of boroughs, returns one member to parlia

ment.

A'SAPHUS.

See TRILOBITE.

ASARABA'CCA (A'sarum Europæum), a plant of the natural order Aristolochiacea (see ARISTOLOCHIA), a native of Europe, growing in woods; rare, and perhaps not truly indigenous, in Britain. The whole plant has acrid properties; the roots and leaves are aromatic, purgative, and emetic. The use of A., however, as an emetic has been much superseded by that of ipecacuanha, which is milder and safer. The powdered roots and leaves enter into the composition of cephalic snuffs, which cause sneezing, and are employed as a counter-irritant in cases of headache, ophthal mia, toothache, &c. The plant contains a volatile oil, and a crystalline substance called Asarine, to which it seems to owe its active properties. The genus Asarum is distinguished by twelve horned stamens, distinct from each other and from the style, and by a bell-shaped, three-lobed perianth. A. Europæum has a very short stem with two shining kidney-shaped leaves on long stalks, from the axil of which springs a single drooping greenish-brown flower.-A nearly allied species, A. Canadense, a native of Canada, is stimulant ad diaphoretic, and is used under the name of CANADA SNAKEROOT, instead of Aristolochia Serpentaria. It is also called WILD GINGER, and used as a spice, being of a warm, aromatic quality, and not acrid, like its European congener.

AS'BEN, or A'IR, a country of Central Africa, situated in 150-200 n. lat., and 6o -11° e. loug. Pop. estimated at 64,000. Its territory comprises a large amount of desert, as well as considerable tracts of mountain land. The inhabitants are chiefly of Berber extraction, aud generally profess the religion of Mohammed. They are of a degraded character, and given to marauding. The climate is rather healthy, and generally hot and dry. The rainy season is from August till October. The soil in many places is fertile, producing the doom palm, dates, and senna. Dr Barth, the traveller, says of the aspect of the country: "Rocky ground, overtopped by higher mountain masses or by detached peaks, and hollows overgrown with rich vegetation, and preserving for a longer or shorter time the regular form of valleys, succeed each other by turns, and constitute the predominant feature of the country of Asbeu." The capital is Agades (q. v.).

ASBE'STUS, a mineral very closely allied to tremolite, actinolite, and hornblende, and which, along with tremolite and actinolite, is often ranked among the varieties of hornblende. It consists chiefly of silica, magnesia, lime, and oxide of iron, and is of a fine fibrous character, the fibres sometimes combined together in a compact mass, sometimes easily separable, elastic and flexible. It is generally of a whitish or greenish color. The variety called Rock-cork very much resembles cork. is soft and easily cut, and so light as to swim in water. Rock-leather and Rock-wood are varieties somewhat similar to rock-cork, but not so light. The finest fibrous variety with easily separable fibres is called Amianthus, (from a Greek word signifying unpol lutible, as A. is from a Greek word signifying indestructible), because cloth made of it was cleansed by passing it through fire. This cloth was used by the ancients to enwrap dead bodies placed on the funeral pile, so as to preserve the ashes of the body unmixed. Amianthus has sometimes been used for the wicks of lamps, and is often employed to fill vinaigrettes, being moist ned from time to time with a few drops of aromatic vinegar. The finest amianthus is found in the Tarentaise in Savoy, It is particularly abundant in Corsica. It is found also in Cornwall, at Portsoy in Scotland, and in several of the Shetland Islands. None of the varieties of A. are very commou, but they are not unfrequent in serpentine and allied rocks in different parts of the world. Minerals which resemble A. in their fibrous character are sometimes called asbestous or asbesti-form, and some of them are believed to be varieties of augite rather than of hornblende.

A'SCALON, or A'shkelon, a ruined city of Palestine, situated on the shore of the Mediterranean, 36 miles w.s.w. of Jerusalem, and 12 n. by w. of Gaza. It was in ancient times a fortified city, and the principal town of one of the five lordships of the Philistines. Its name often occurs in the history of the people of Israel in the Old Testament, where it is represented as falling at an early period into the hands of the tribe of Judah. Herod the Great embellished it with baths, palaces, and fountains; but in the subsequent wars with the Romans, it suffered much damage. There was a celebrated temple of Derketo, the Venus of the Syrians, at A., which is recorded to have been plundered by the Scythians, 630 B. C. After continuing long under the dominion of the Roman empire, the city came into the possession of the Saracens in the 7th c. In 1099 a great battle was fought on the plains of A., between the Crusaders and Saracens, when the Christians gained a decisive victory. The city, however, a number of years after, was recaptured by the Moslems, and held by them as a strongly fortified place until 1153, when it was taken by the Crusaders under Baldwin III. In 1187 it was retaken by the Saracens, but afterwards (1192) fell into the hands of Richard Cœur de Lion. Subsequently, being more than once dismantled and repaired during the wars between Richard and Saladin, it was reduced to desolation by Sultan Bibars in 1270.

Ascension

The ruins of this ancient city occupy an extensive semicircular eminence, sloping gently to the east, but abrupt and steep towards the sea. Part of the walls are still standing, with the remains of Gothic churches, a palace, and several edifices of more ancient date, which attract the notice of the traveller and the antiquary.

A'SCARIS, a genus of Entozoa, or intestinal worms. of the order Nematoidea of Zeder, Cuvier, &c., and of the division Sterelmintha of Owen. The ascarides have a body approaching to cylindrical, but thickest in the middle. They inhabit the intestines of animals. The species are numerous. One of the best known is A. lumbricoides, often called the common round worm, which occurs in the intestines of man and of some of the lower animals, as the hog, ox, horse, &c., and which often occasions severe disease, and sometimes death, particularly when it ascends from the intestines to the stomach. Its presence even in its most ordinary situation in the small intestines, is attended with unfavorable effects upon the general health; and the greater the number present-which, however, is not usually large-the greater, of course, is the injury; although when they remain in the intestines, worms of this species are less injurious and less annoying than other, and even much smaller intestinal worms. In subjects otherwise diseased, they occasionally find their way out of the intestines into the closed serous cavities of the body, and even pass through ulcerated parts of the external integument; but the mouth is formed only for suction, and is provided with no means of boring through the healthy intestine. An immense number of remedies (anthelmintics or vermifuges) have been proposed and used in order to expel this parasite, some of which are very effectual. They do not in general kill the worms, but act by making their dwelling-place disagrecable to them (see VERMIFUGE). It is, however, remarked by Küchenmeister, in his work on Parasites, that the treatment of cases of this description is as yet purely empirical, because, although there must be a condition of the intestinal canal which favors the thriving of worms, we are by no means certain what it is.

The A. lumbricoides is ordinarily, in size and appearance, pretty much like the Common Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris), from which resemblance it has received its specific name, although the resemblance is rather in general form more than in essential characteristics. It has been seen fifteen inches in length. Its month consists of three fleshy tubercles, which can be spread out upon the intestine to form a broad circular sucker, and within which there is a small tube capable of being protruded. The alimentary canal consists of a muscular gullet and stomach, and a thin-walled intestine. Between the muscular layers of the body is produced a pale reddish oily matter, with a strong and very peculiar odor, which is gradually communicated to spirit in which the worm is preserved. The males are smaller than the females, and much more rare. The females produce eggs in great numbers; but it is uncertain if ever they are developed within the intestine in which the parent worm resides. They are certainly capable of being developed elsewhere, and probably the young enter the intestines of the animals of which they are eventually to be the parasites, after having spent a certain stage of their existence in very different circumstances:

« PreviousContinue »