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TO THE FOURTH EDITION.
An Edition of the following Work was nearly completed in last August, the whole being printed off (a few sheets excepted), when every copy, with many other valuable publications, was consumed by a fire in MR. HENEY'S printing office. My much-respected friend, DR. ADAM CLARKE, was then engaged as Editor of the Work, to which he had made many corrections, added some notes, and given the ancient alphabets, with important inscriptions, in a more lucid manner than had been done in former Editions. But his time being wholly occupied with many imperious calls, he was obliged to decline the re-editing of the present Work, and requested me to undertake it. With what fidelity it has been executed, must be left to the judgment of the candid and learned Reader. On looking into the original copy, I saw it absolutely necessary to alter DR. SHUCKFORD'S mode of punctuation, to expunge many redundant words, and also to transpose others in innumerable instances; in order to render the sentences more perspicuous, more intelligible,
and more harmonious to a modern ear. Every intelligent reader well knows, that very great improvements may be made in these respects, in constructing sentences, even where the sentiments and ideas of an author are faithfully retained. DR. SHUCKFORD had frequently a whole octavo page, and sometimes more, in one period; and the subdivisions of this were marked only with commas! These are now divided into three or four distinct sentences; and yet the Author's sentiments are not at all altered. He had also (like many other writers of the two last centuries, and even some respectable authors of the present day) detached the prepositions of, to, from, by, with, from the pronoun which they govern, and placed them at the end of the sentence. This inelegance, as well as defect in harmony, is here generally avoided; which will facilitate the labour of future Editors and it is hoped, that, upon the whole, many considerable improvements have been made. The notes of DR. CLARKE, and also those additions and improvements, which he had made in that Edition which was burned, as far as they could be recovered, are inserted in this.
LONDON, May 20, 1808.
THE design of this undertaking is to set before the reader a view of the HISTORY OF THE WORLD, from Adam to the dissolution of the Assyrian Empire, at the death of Sardanapalus, in the reigns of Ahaz, king of Judah, and Pekah, king of Israel. At this period, the most learned Dean Prideaux began his Connection of the Old and New Testaments, and I would bring my performance down to the times where his work begins; hoping, that if it can set the transactions of these ages in a clear light, my endeavours may be of some service towards forming a judgment of the truth and exactness of the ancient Scripture history, by showing how far the old fragments of the heathen writers agree with it, and how much better and more authentic the account is, which it gives b
of things, where they differ from it. What is now published is but a small part of my design; but, if this meets with that acceptance, which I hope it may, the remaining parts shall soon follow.
Chronology and geography being necessary helps to history, I have taken care to be as exact as I can in both; and that I might give the reader the clearest view of the geography, I have, here and there, added а map, where I differ in any particulars from other writers, or have mentioned any thing, not so clearly delineated in the draughts already extant. As to the chronology, I have observed, as I go along, the several years in which the particulars I treat of, happened; and where any doubts or difficulties may arise, I have endeavoured to clear them, by giving my reasons for the particular times of the transactions, of which I have treated.
In the annals, as I go along, I have chosen to make use of that æra of the creation of the world, which seemed to be most easy and natural. The transactions, of
which I am to treat, are brought down from the beginning; and it will be often very clear at what interval or distance they
follow one another, and how long after the Creation; whereas, if I had used the same æra with Dr. Prideaux, and computed by the years before CHRIST, it would have been necessary to have ascertained the reader in what year of the world the incarnation of CHRIST happened, before he could have had a fixed and determinate notion of my chronology. However, when I have gone through the whole, I shall add such chronological tables as may adjust the several years of the creation, both to the Julian period and the Christian æra.
It is something difficult to say, of what length the year was, which was in use in the early ages. Before the Flood, it is most probable, that the civil and solar year were the same, and that three hundred and sixty days were the exact measure of both. In that space of time the Sun made one entire revolution; and it was easy and natural for the first astronomers to divide the circle of the Sun's annual course into three hundred and sixty parts, long before geometry arrived at perfection enough to afford a reason for choosing to divide circles into that number of degrees. All the time of the antediluvian world, chronology was fixed and easy,