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Paul and his companions made a missionary progress through the Phrygian Region of the province Galatia3131   τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν. The use of καί to connect two epithets of the same person or place is regular in Greek (so Σαῦλος ὁ καὶ Παῦλος, Saul alias Paul); e.g., Strabo speaks of a mouth of the Nile as τὸ Κανωβικὸν καὶ ἡρακλεωτικόν, the mouth which is called by both names, Canopic and Heracleotic, where we should say, “the Canopic or Heracleotic mouth”. I need not dwell on such an elementary point. Another point of Greek construction comes up in XVIII 23: when a list is given in Greek, the items of which are designated by adjectives with the same noun, the regular order is to use the noun with the first alone. Strabo has numberless examples: 767, τῶν παρακειμένων Ἀραβίων ἐθνῶν Ναβαταίων τε καὶ Χαυλοτοπαίων καὶ Ἀγραίων; 751, ὁ Ἀρκεύθης ποταμὸς καὶ ὁ Ὀρόντης καὶ ὁ Λαβώτας; 802, τὸ Μενδήσιον στόμα καὶ τὸ Τανιτικόν (there are some interesting and delicate examples in Strabo, on which we cannot here dwell, of the distinction between the double epithet and the double item); Herodotus, II 17, τὸ δὲ Βολβιτινὸν στόμα καὶ τὸ Βουκολικὸν and so Luke groups two Regiones as τὴν Γαλατικὴν χώραν καὶ Φρυγίαν, XVIII 23. The North-Galatian theorists insist that Φρυγίαν in XVI 6 must be a substantive; but they have not quoted any case in which a noun with its adjective is coupled anarthrously by καί to a preceding noun with the article. Dr. Chase quoted Luke III 1, τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας; but the case tells against him, for Luke’s intention to use Ἰτουραίας here as an adjective is proved by the following reasons:—
   (1) Eusebius and Jerome repeatedly interpret Luke III 1 in that way (see Expositor, Jan. 1894, p. 52; April, p. 289). (2) Ἰτουραία is never used as a noun by the ancients, but is pointedly avoided, even where ἡ Ἰτουραίων was awkward: the reason was that Ἰτουπαία, as a noun, would indicate a political entity, whereas the Ituræi were a wandering nomadic race, who had not a definite and organised country. As my other reasons have been disputed, I do not append them here; though I consider them unshaken. [Mr. Arnold’s attempt to find one instance of Ἰτουπαία as a noun in Appian seems to refute itself, Engl. Hist Rev., 1895, p. 553.]
, and then crossed the frontier of the province Asia: but here they were prevented from preaching, and the prohibition was made absolute for the entire province. They therefore kept to the north across Asian Phrygia with the intention of entering the adjoining Roman province Bithynia; but when they came opposite Mysia, and were attempting to go out of Asia into Bithynia, the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not. They therefore kept on towards the west through Mysia, without preaching in it (as it was part of Asia), until they came out on its western coast at the great harbour of Alexandria Troas.

The expression marks clearly the distinction between the prohibition to preach in Asia, while they were actually in it, and the prohibition even to set foot in Bithynia. It was necessary for them to cross Asia in order to fulfill the purpose. for which they were about to be called.

The geographical facts of this paragraph are stated with great clearness in the text followed by the Authorised Version and the older editions; but the reading which they give is rounded on Manuscripts of an inferior class (while the great MSS. have a different text), and is characterised by the sequence of three participial clauses, a sequence almost unique in Luke’s writings, and therefore suspected and altered. But the strange form of construction by a succession of participles suits so perfectly the strange and unique character, the hurry, and the deep-lying emotion of the passage (see § 2) that, as Lightfoot’s judgment, Bibl Essays, p. 237, perceived, the inferior MSS. must here be followed. The text of the great MSS., though it does not quite conceal the feeling of the passage, yet obscures it a little, and, by approximating more to Luke’s ordinary form of sentence, loses that perfect adaptation of form to sense, which so often strikes us in this history. We have already noticed, p. 115, that Luke loves the triple iteration of successive words or clauses to produce a certain effect in arresting attention.

The reading of the inferior MSS. suits the South-Galatian theory admirably; but that fact never weighed with me for a moment in the choice. As long as the question between the two theories was alone concerned, the thought of following the inferior MSS. did not even present itself: I followed the great MSS. and interpreted them in the best way possible, neither looking aside nor feeling the slightest wish to adopt the rival text. But when the question of literary feeling came up, after the delicate adaptation of expression to emotion throughout Acts gradually revealed itself, it became clear that here the choice lay between a cast of sentence unusual in this author, and one that was quite in his ordinary style, in a place where the feeling and the facts were strange and unique: hesitation was then impossible: the unusual emotion demanded the unusual expression.3232   διῆλθον τὴν Φ. κ. Γ. χώπαν κωλυθέντες. Many are likely to rest on the authority of the great MSS., and prefer this reading. It may be understood, by an ellipse common in Greek, “they made a missionary progress through the Phrygian land, viz., the Galatic part of it, inasmuch as they were prevented from preaching in Asia, and could not, therefore, do missionary work in the Asian part of it”. But, if this were the writing of Luke, I should prefer to hold that he meant διῆλθον καὶ ἐκωλύθησαν, using a construction which he has in (1) XXIII 35 ἔφη κελεύσας he said, “I will hear thee, when thy accusers arrive,” and ordered him to be imprisoned: (2) XXV 13 κατήντησαν ἀσπασάμενοι they arrived at Cæsareia and paid their respects to Festus”: (3) XVII 26 ἐποίησεν ἐξ ἑνός, ὁρίσας he made all nations of one blood, and assigned to them limits and bounds” (here the unity of all nations is the initial idea, and the fixing of limits and distinctions is later). Blass, who thus explains XXIII 35, gives in his preface, p. 20, many examples of the present infinitive used in the same way (XVIII 23 ἐξηλθν διερχόμενος he went forth and made a progress through the Galatic Region, cp. VI 9 ἀνέστησαν συνζητουντες they rose up and disputed with Stephen, VI 11 ὑπέβαλον ἄνδρας λέγοντας they suborned men which said [also VI 13], VIII 10 προσειχον λέγοντες they hearkened and said, V. 36 ἀνέστη λέγων he stood up and said, VIII 18, XlV 22, etc.); and he accepts and prints in his text the reading of inferior authority in XXVIII 14 παρεκλήθημεν παῤ αὐτοις, ἐτιμείναντες we were cheered among them, and remained seven days. The usage is common in Paul. The use of aorist or present participle corresponds to the tense which would be used if the sentence were constructed in the fuller fashion, ἔφη καὶ ἐκελευσεν but ἐξηλθεν καὶ διήρχετο (Blass differs in regard to XXI 16, which he says = συνῆλθον καὶ ἤγαγον).

In this passage the distinction observed by Luke between Roman provincial designations and the older national names is specially clear. Wherever he mentions districts of mission work, he classifies according to the existing political (Roman) divisions (as here, the Phrygo-Galatic Region, Asia, Bithynia, Macedonia); but where he is simply giving geographical information, he either uses the pre-Roman names of lands (e.g., Mysia), or omits the land from his narrative.

The “neglecting” of Mysia is a remarkable expression, one of those by which Luke compels attention at a critical point. As a rule he simply omits a country where no preaching occurred (p. 90 f.); but here he accumulates devices to arrest the reader. His effects are always attained, not by rhetorical devices, but by order and marshalling of facts; and here, in a missionary tour, the “neglecting” of a great country is a fact that no one can pass over. Not catching the intention, many understand “passing without entering” (παρελθόντες): Dr. Blass rightly sees that a traveller cannot reach Troas without crossing Mysia; but he goes on to alter the text, following the Bezan reading (διελθόντες; see p. 235).

The journey across Mysia led naturally down the course of the river Rhyndacos, and past the south shore of the great lakes. A tradition that Paul had travelled by the sacred town of the goddess Artemis at the hot springs of the river Aisepos can be traced as early as the second century, accompanied with the legend that he had rounded a chapel in the neighbourhood. If he went down the Rhyndacos, it is practically certain that he must have passed close to, or through, Artemaia on his way to the great harbour. Under the influence of this tradition, the Bezan Reviser changed the text of v. 8, reading “making a progress through Mysia”. But evangelisation on the journey across Mysia was forbidden, v. 6. The tradition, however, is interesting, and there is further trace of very early foundations in this quarter, which will be treated elsewhere.

The rapid sweep of narrative, hurrying on from country to country, is the marked feature of this paragraph; yet it merely places before us the facts, as Paul’s missionary aims found no opening, and he was driven on and on. But. on the current North-Galatian theory, this effect, which is obviously intended, is got, not by simply stating facts, but by slurring over one of Paul’s greatest enterprises, the evangelisation of North Galatia and the rounding of several Churches in a new mission district. But the first words of v. 6 describe a progress marked by no great events, a steady continuance of a process fully described in the context (p. 72).


This is in many respects the most remarkable paragraph in Acts. In the first place the Divine action is introduced three times in four verses, marking and justifying the new and great step which is made at this point. In XIII 1-11 also the Divine action is mentioned three times, leading up to the important development which the author defines as “opening the door of belief to the Nations”; but in that case there were only two actual manifestations of the Divine guidance and power. Here on three distinct occasions the guidance of God was manifested in three different ways—the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, and the Vision—and the three manifestations all lead up to one end, first forbidding Paul’s purpose of preaching in Asia, then forbidding his purpose of entering Bithynia, and finally calling him forward into Macedonia. Now, amid “the multitude of the revelations” (II Cor. XII 7) granted to Paul, Luke selects only those which have a distinct bearing on his own purpose as an historian, and omits the vast majority, which were all important in their influence on Paul’s conduct and character. What is the reason for his insistence in this case?

It is not easy to account on strictly historical grounds for the emphasis laid on the passage to Macedonia. Lightfoot, in his fine essay on “the Churches of Macedonia,” recognises with his usual insight that it is necessary to acknowledge and to explain that emphasis; but his attempt cannot be called successful. As he himself acknowledges, the narrative gives no ground to think that the passage from Troas to Philippi was ever thought of by Luke as a passage from Continent to Continent. A broad distinction between the two opposite sides of the Hellespont as belonging to two different Continents, had no existence in the thought of those who lived in the Ægean lands, and regarded the sea as the path connecting the Ægean countries with each other; and the distinction had no more existence in a political point of view, for Macedonia and Asia were merely two provinces of the Roman Empire, closely united by common language and character, and divided from the Latin-speaking provinces further west.

After an inaccurate statement that Macedonia was “the natural highroad between the East and the West” (the Ægean was the real highroad, and Corinth was “on the way of them that are being slain to God,” Church in R. E., p. 318 f.), Lightfoot finds in Alexander the Great the proof of the greatness of the step which Luke here records in Paul’s work, and even says that “each successive station at which he halted might have reminded the Apostle of the great services rendered by Macedonia as the pioneer of the Gospel!” That is mere riot of pseudo-historical fancy; and it is hardly possible to believe that Lightfoot ever composed it in the form and with the suggestion that it has in this essay. This is one of not a few places in his Biblical Essays in which the expansion of his own “briefest summary” by the aid of notes of his oral lectures taken by pupils has not been thoroughly successful. The pages of the essay amount to a practical demonstration that, on mere grounds of historical geography alone, one cannot explain the marked emphasis laid on this new departure.

In the second place, the sweep and rush of the narrative is unique in Acts: point after point, province after province are hurried over. The natural development of Paul’s work along the great central route of the Empire was forbidden, and the next alternative that rose in his mind was forbidden: he was led across Asia from the extreme south-east to the extreme north-west corner, and yet prevented from preaching in it; everything seemed dark and perplexing, until at last a vision in Troas explained the purpose of this strange journey. As before (p. 104), we cannot but be struck with the fact, that in this paragraph the idea seems to clothe itself in the natural words, and not to have been laboriously expressed by a foreign mind. And the origin of the words becomes clear when we look at the concluding sentence: “immediately we sought to go forth into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that ‘God has called us for to preach the Gospel unto them’”. The author was with Paul in Troas; and the intensity of this paragraph is due to his recollection of the words in which Paul had recounted the vision, and explained the whole Divine plan that had guided him through his perplexing wanderings. The words derive their vivid and striking character from Paul, and they remained indelibly imprinted on Luke’s memory.


The introduction of the first person at this striking point in the narrative must be intentional. This is no general statement like XIV 22 (though even there the first person has a marked effect, p. 123). Every one recognises here a distinct assertion that the author was present. Now the paragraph as a whole is carefully studied, and the sudden change from third to first person is a telling element in the total effect: if there is any passage in Acts which can be pressed close, it is this. It is almost universally recognised that the use of the first person in the sequel is intentional, marking that the author remained in Philippi when Paul went on, and that he rejoined the Apostle some years later on his return to Philippi. We must add that the precise point at which the first-personal form of narrative begins is also intentional; for, if Luke changes here at random from third to first person, it would be absurd to look for purpose in anything he says. The first person, when used in the narrative of XVI, XX, XXI, XXVII, XXVIII, marks the companionship of Luke and Paul; and, when we carry out this principle of interpretation consistently and minutely, it will prove an instructive guide. This is the nearest approach to personal reference that Luke permits himself; and he makes it subservient to his historical purpose by using it as a criterion of personal witness.

Luke, therefore, entered into the drama of the Acts at Troas. Now it is clear that the coming of Paul to Troas was unforeseen and unforeseeable; the whole point of the paragraph is that Paul was driven on against his own judgment and intention to that city. The meeting, therefore, was not, as has sometimes been maintained, pre-arranged. Luke entered on the stage of this history at a point, where Paul found himself he knew not why. On the ordinary principles of interpreting literature, we must infer that this meeting, which is so skillfully and so pointedly represented as unforeseen, was between two strangers: Luke became known to Paul here for the first time. Let us, then, scrutinise more closely the circumstances. The narrative pointedly brings together the dream and the introduction of the first-personal element, “when he saw the vision, straightway we sought to go”; and collocation is everywhere one of the most telling points in Luke’s style.

When we examine the dream, we observe that in it “a certain man of Macedonia” was seen by Paul. Paul did not infer his Macedonian origin from his words, but recognised him as a Macedonian by sight. Now, there was nothing distinctive in the appearance or dress of a Macedonian to mark him out from the rest of the world. On the contrary, the Macedonians rather made a point of their claim to be Greeks; and undoubtedly they dressed in the customary Greek style of the Ægean cities. There was, therefore, only one way in which Paul could know the man by sight to be a Macedonian—the man in the dream was personally known to him; and, in fact, the Greek implies that it was a certain definite person who appeared (ἀνήρ τις, Latin quidam, very often followed by the person’s name; V 1, VIII 9, IX 10, 33, 36, X 1, etc.).

In the vision, then, a certain Macedonian, who was personally known to Paul, appeared, and called him over into Macedonia. Now, it has been generally recognised that Luke must have had some connection with Philippi; and we shall find reason to think that he had personal knowledge of the city. Further, Paul, whose life had been spent in the eastern countries, and who had come so far west only a few days past, was not likely to be personally acquainted with natives of Macedonia. The idea then suggests itself at once, that Luke himself was the man seen in the vision; and, when one reads the paragraph with that idea, it acquires new meaning and increased beauty. As always, Luke seeks no effect from artifices of style. He tells nothing but the bare facts in their simplest form; and leaves the reader to catch the causal connection between them. But we can imagine how Paul came to Troas in doubt as to what should be done. As a harbour, it formed the link between Asia and Macedonia. Here he met the Macedonian Luke; and with his view turned onwards he slept, and beheld in a vision his Macedonian acquaintance beckoning him onward to his own country.

Beyond this we cannot penetrate through the veil in which Luke has enveloped himself. Was he already a Christian, or did he come under the influence of Christianity through meeting Paul here? for the prohibition against preaching in Asia would not preclude Paul from using the opportunity to convert an individual who was brought in contact with him. No evidence remains; “something sealed the lips of that evangelist,” so far as he himself is concerned. But we have gathered from the drift of the passage that they met as strangers; and in that case there can be no doubt where the probability lies. The inference that they met accidentally as strangers is confirmed by the fact that Luke was a stranger to the Levant (p. 317). In one of the many ways in which men come across one another in travelling, they were brought into contact at Troas: Luke was attracted to Paul; and the vision was taken by Luke, as well as by Paul, for a sign. He left all, and followed his master.

All this he suggests to us only by the same kind of delicate and subtle literary devices, consisting merely in collocation of facts, order of words, and slight changes of form, by which he suggested the development of Paul’s method and the change in his relation to Barnabas (p. 82 f.). Luke always expects a great deal from his readers, but some critics give too little attention to literary effect. These will ask me for proofs; but proofs there are none. I can only point to the facts: they that have eyes to see them know; they that have not eyes to see them will treat this section (and others) as moonstruck fancy. All that can be said is that, if you read the book carefully, observing these devices, you recognise a great work; if you don’t, and follow your denial to its logical consequences, you will find only an assortment of scraps. Probably there will always be those who prefer the scraps.

It is quite in Luke’s style to omit to mention that Paul related the vision to his companions. So also he omitted in XIII 7, 8, to mention that Paul expounded the doctrine to the proconsul. Luke always expects a great deal from his readers. But here the Bezan Reviser inserts the missing detail, as he so often does (e.g., XIII 9).

While there is no authority for the circumstances of the meeting, conjecture is tempting and perhaps permissible. It will appear that Luke, though evidently acquainted with Philippi and looking to it as his city, had no home there. His meeting with Paul, then, did not take place merely on an excursion from Philippi; and he was probably one of the many Greeks in all ages who have sought their fortune away from home. His acquaintance with medicine is certain from the words of Paul himself, “Luke, the beloved physician” (Col. IV 14), and from the cast of his language in many places;3333Hobart, The Medical Language of St. Luke, a work which has to be used with the caution that the author recognises as needful. and it is quite natural and probable that the meeting might have been sought by Paul on that account, if Luke was resident in Troas and well known there.



It is remarkable with what interest Luke records the incidents from harbour to harbour. He has the true Greek feeling for the sea, a feeling that must develop in every race possessing any capacity for development, and any sensitiveness to the influences of nature, when settled round the Ægean coasts; for the Ægean sea is so tempting, with its regular winds and regular sunset calm, when the water lies dead, with a surface which looks like oil, dense and glistening and dark, that it seems to invite one to walk upon it.

To a certain extent the wealth of maritime details might be accounted for by the loving interest with which Luke dwelt on his journeys in company with Paul; but caution that the author recognises as needful. this does not fully explain the facts. Every one who compares Luke’s account of the journey from Cæsareia to Jerusalem (which might be expected to live in his memory beyond others), or from Puteoli to Rome, with his account of any of the voyages, must be struck by the difference between the scanty matter-of-fact details in the land journeys, and the love that notes the voyage, the winds, the runs, the appearance of the shores, Cyprus rising out of the sea, the Cretan coast close in by the ship’s side, the mountains towering above it from which the blast strikes down. At the same time, it is quite clear that, though he reported nautical matters with accuracy, he was not a trained and practised sailor. His interest for the sea sprang from his natural and national character, and not from his occupation.

Philippi was an inland city, and Neapolis was its harbour. Having once mentioned the port, Luke leaves it to be understood in XX 6. As usual, Paul goes on to the great city, and does not preach in the port (cp. XIV 26, XVIII 18).

The description of the dignity and rank of Philippi is unique in Acts; nor can it be explained as strictly requisite for the historian’s proper purpose. Here again the explanation lies in the character of the author, who was specially interested in Philippi, and had the true Greek pride in his own city. Perhaps he even exaggerates a little the dignity of Philippi, which was still only in process of growth, to become at a later date the great city of its division. Of old Amphipolis had been the chief city of the division, to which both belonged. Afterwards Philippi quite outstripped its rival; but it was at that time in such a position, that Amphipolis was ranked first by general consent, Philippi first by its own consent. These cases of rivalry between two or even three cities for the dignity and title of “First” are familiar to every student of the history of the Greek cities; and though no other evidence is known to show that Philippi had as yet began to claim the title, yet this single passage is conclusive. The descriptive phrase is like a lightning flash amid the darkness of local history, revealing in startling clearness the whole situation to those whose eyes are trained to catch the character of Greek city-history and city-jealousies.

It is an interesting fact that Luke, who hides himself so completely in his history, cannot hide his local feeling; and there every one who knows the Greek people recognises the true Greek! There lies the strength, and also the weakness, of the Greek peoples; and that quality beyond all others has determined their history, has given them their strength against the foreigner, and their weakness as a united country.

Nationality is more conspicuous in the foibles and weaknesses of mankind, whereas great virtues and great vices have a common character in all nations. Luke shows himself the Greek when he talks of the Maltese as “the barbarians”; when he regards the journey to Jerusalem as a journey and nothing more; when he misrepresents the force of a Latin word (p. 225); when he is blind to the true character of the Roman name (the tria nomina); when he catches with such appreciation and such ease the character of Paul’s surroundings in Athens. His hatred of the Jews and his obvious inability to feel the slightest sympathy for their attitude towards Paul, are also Greek. On the other hand, his touches of quiet humour are perhaps less characteristically Greek; but he was not the old Greek of the classical period: he was the Greek of his own age, when Greece had been for centuries a power in Asia; when Macedonia had long been the leading Greek country; when Stoicism and Epicureanism were the representative philosophies (XVII 18);and when the Greek language was the recognised speech of many eastern Roman provinces, along with the Latin itself. To appreciate Luke, we must study the modern Greek, as well as the Greek of the great age of freedom.

I know that all such mundane characteristics are commonly considered to be non-existent in “the early Christian”! But an “early Christian” did not cease to be a man, and a citizen. Christianity has not taught men to retire from society and from life; and least of all did Pauline Christianity teach that lesson. It has impressed on men the duty of living their life better, of striving to mould and to influence society around them, and of doing their best in the position. in which they were placed. When Luke became a Christian, he continued to be a Greek, and perhaps became even more intensely a Greek, as his whole life became more intense and more unselfish. It is a complete and ruinous error for the historical student to suppose that Luke broke with all his old thoughts, and habits, and feelings, and friends, when he was converted. He lived in externals much as before; he observed the same laws of politeness and good breeding in society (if he followed Paul’s instructions); his house, his surroundings, continued much the same; he kept up the same family names; and, when he died, his grave, his tombstone, and his epitaph, were in the ordinary style. It took centuries for Christianity to disengage itself from its surroundings, and to remake society and the rules of life. Yet one rarely finds among modern historians of Christianity in the first two centuries of its growth, any one who does not show a misconception on this point; and the climax, perhaps, is reached in one of the arguments by which Dr. Ficker attempts to disprove the Christian character of the epitaph of the Phrygian second-century saint, Avircius Marcellus, on the ground that a Christian epitaph would not be engraved on an attar. I presume his point is that the altar-shaped form of tombstone was avoided by the Christians of that time, because it was connected with the pagan worship. But a Pauline Christian would hold that “a gravestone will not commend us to God; neither, if we use it not, are we the worse, nor if we use it, are we the better” (I Cor. VIII 8); and Avircius Marcellus mentions Paul, and Paul alone among the Apostles, in his epitaph. In fact, almost all the early Christian epitaphs at Eumeneia are engraved on altars, because there that shape was fashionable; whereas at Apameia they are rarely on altars, because there that shape was not in such common use.

Our view that the author of Acts was a Macedonian does not agree with a tradition (which was believed to occur in Eusebius, see p. 389) that Luke was an Antiochian. The modern authorities who consider this tradition to be rounded on a confusion between Lucas and Lucius, an official of the Antiochian Church (XIII 1), seem to have strong probability on their side. The form Lueas may very well be a vulgarism for Lucius; but, except the name, these two persons have nothing in common. The name Lucas is of most obscure origin: it may be a shortened form of Lucius, or Lucilius, or Lucianus, or Lucanus, or of some Greek compound name. The Latin names, Lucius, Lucilius, etc., were spelt in earlier Greek Λεύκιος, in later Greek Λούκιος; and the change may roughly be dated about A.D. 50–75, though Λεύκιος in some rare cases occurs later, and possibly Λούκιος sometimes earlier. It is noteworthy that Λουκας has the later form.

The Bezan “we” in XI 28 will satisfy those who consider the Bezan Text to be Lukan; but to us it appears to condemn the Bezan Text as of non-Lukan origin. The warmth of feeling, which breathes through all parts of Acts dealing with the strictly Greek world, is in striking contrast with the cold and strictly historical tone of the few brief references to Syrian Antioch. If the author of Acts was a native bred up in Antioch, then we should have to infer that there lay behind him an older author, whose work he adapted with little change. But our view is that the Reviser had an Antiochian connection, and betrays it in that insertion, which to him recorded a historical fact, but to us seems legend in an early stage of growth.

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