In December 1841 at age 60, Frances wrote,
"I have this summer mastered Syriac enough to know that with a previous knowledge of Hebrew and the Chaldee verb differences, you have only the characters to learn, an ugly bungling device, from which, however, the Cufic* is mainly borrowed, and to which the modern Arabic has some little obligation."
Here is a woman who not only had the discipline to learn ancient languages, she also understood their development.
Her letter continued: "Arabic I am now rather hot upon, have exhausted the little vocabulary I have here, and am most anxious for a lexicon; do you know of a Castell? but I believe a modern German one would do better, except that Latin suits me better than German."
So, she needs a better dictionary to help her translate Arabic. An Arabic-German dictionary will do, but an Arabic-Latin one would be better.
By this time she already has Hebrew, French, German and some Danish—at least.
*Cufic or Kufic is an early angular form of Arabic script found mainly in decorative inscriptions.
Yesterday was the anniversary of Napoleon leaving Egypt. In addition to his military army, Napoleon had taken a second army of scientists, scholars, technicians, artist and, engravers. His expedition included the discovery of the famous Rosetta Stone, which became the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics. The stele ended up in the British Library where Frances Rolleston and her friends pondered it and she first saw the link between the Sphinx and Virgo.
About that time, Frances was staying next door to Dean Vincent, headmaster of the Westminster School. Ancient geography was his chief area of study, and he sometimes had Frances translate old Italian for him. His great work, The Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian Ocean, was admired by Napoleon, who had it translated into French. Napoleon, perhaps in appreciation, sent Description de L'Egypt to the Dean.
This gorgeous book was produced by Napoleon's second army—those scholars and artists. The old Dean invited his young friend, Frances, to view and puzzle over it with him, and she had the feeling that some day those magnificent must be explained.
Frances Rolleston's friend James Reddie was engaged in an argument with Darwinists over the matter of "races," specifically, the origin of the negro or black "race." His opponents had proposed that a negro race had developed ages before the Adam of the Bible. In those early days of Darwinian evolutionary theory, churchmen were very much involved in the argument and the Bible frequently consulted.
April 5th, 1964
"I have spent the whole of this day in looking out evidence and explanation for my life-long belief that in Ham was the origin of the negro race. Ham in the primitive and Oriental dialects is, hot, heated, &c.; this seems known and admitted, but that Cush was a degree deeper in what is now called negro blood, and peculiarities, I had not put in evidence till now. Butterworth's Concordance, edited by Adam Clarke, my book being fifty years old, and only just tumbling to pieces, boldly says, 'Cush, Black,'—no more."
Frances continued describing her finds on the subject, ending with, "Now then, what becomes of ante-adamic negroes? and your opponents with them?"
What impresses me about all this is her willingness to help a friend in his battle for the integrity of the scriptures. To spend a whole day doing research for him when her own work regarding the publication of her book was so demanding. And the timing of this was only two months before her death.
James Reddie went on to write a number of papers about Darwinism that were published in the Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute or Philosophical Society of Great Britain.
20th January 1864
Frances inquired of her friend Caroline Dent, "Can you send me any printed papers about Dean Alford's view of the inspiration of scripture."
At this time most English Christians held that the Bible was inspired by God, although the work of Darwin had influenced some of the more educated to question the early chapters of Genesis. Frances wanted to know the Dean's opinion because this man had spent twenty years (1841-1861) producing a new edition of the Greek text of the New Testament. Its four volumes were swelled by extensive commentary and philological detail. Frances naturally looked to the Dean as an authority at a time she was thinking about Christ's use of contemporary Hebrew and the New Testament writers' use of Greek.
The four volumes of Alford's Greek text constituted the greatest work of this variously talented man. "There can be little question that the work appreciably increased the aggregate amount of the biblical knowledge of Alford's immediate contemporaries. So carefully matured were his researches in the regions of exegesis, already crossed and recrossed by the footprints of countless commentators, that the work is regarded as in many respects authoritative even among those who differ from him widely on many important questions." (http://www.1902encyclopedia.com/A/ALF/henry-alford.html)
I'm sure Alford's talent as a poet increased his value in Frances' mind!
December 13, 1862
"I am troubled to-night with a review of Max Müller, 'On the Science of Language,' greatly admiring his views, which in the first place deny that God gave language to Adam, which every one who believes the Bible to be the Word of God must admit."
The development of human language held particular interest for FR because of her unshakable trust in the accuracy of the Bible, and because of how her theory of the original names of the stars and constellations depended on it. This theory was the purpose of her book Mazzaroth. She based the original reason for naming the stars and their figures upon the root meanings of their names.
FR's evidence for all languages springing from one was the explanations for names given to children that are preserved in Genesis. For example, Eve's words at the birth of Cain, her first son: "I have gotten a man"--Cain coming from the root to get.
Believing the account in the scriptures that human beings all spoke the same language until God confused their language and dispersed them from the Tower of Babel , and finding in the Hebrew scriptures evidence that the first language was very like Hebrew, FR was disturbed with current efforts to discredit the Bible's account. She wrote to a friend:
"Beware the delusions of the German school, Müller and Bunsen the most recent of them just now, but there will soon be more springing up like mushrooms, and, like mushrooms, often poisonous."
Sometimes in her letters, FR reproduced the colloquialisms of the people she visited. February 16, 1841 she recorded some lines spoken by an inmate of the workhouse in Scarborough:
"There's a change come over me,—just afore ha'arst [harvest] I thought the Lord was striving with me, but I could not get started in praying then, but at the end of ha'arst I felt it again, and I said now's the time, and I got prayer, and I went to prayer-meetings,—prayer-meetings is best for them as is no scholars, one don't know what preacher says, though it's all very fine like,—but at prayer-meetings, one says, and another says, and it's all like as our own. My husband had it all in him once, but he got into the world again,—but I shall have him! I shall have him yet! He says, 'pray, my lass, and thou'lt not go back.' He is a scholar, and likes a book. I bought him a Testament out of my ha'arst work, and I want to save up to buy him a Bible; but they are dear at our place, it's an out-of-the-way place, no super-scription [subscription] there."
Here's a short clip for hearing accents from all around England.