Dr. Torrey's Lecture.
The prophet Mohammed said that he loved Arabic for three reasons; because it was his native tongue, because it is the language in which the Koran is revealed and because it is the language of Paradise.
Arabic was originally the language of a nomadic tribe living in the Arabian peninsula. Our knowledge of it begins at about the sixth century A. D., and at the time of Mohammed and the Koran. Previous to this time it had been confined in the Arabian peninsula and had there assumed a fixed form so that it was not greatly affected, when during the seventh century Mohammedanism spread over more than half of the civilized world. In most of the countries into which the Arabic language then made its way, it is still the national tongue.
In the eighth century the Arabians were the most cultured people in the world. This period has set its mark upon our language by the many Arabic words now in our tongue. Arabic is the chief representative of the southern group of the Semitic languages and is the most important for purposes of comparative study.
After describing the nature of the Arabic language and its system, Dr. Torrey went on to give an account of the rise of its poetry. Among the peculiarities of Arabic poetry is a law which requires writers to begin all kinds of poems with praise of his sweetheart. Arabian histories are very tiresome, for every writer begins his history with the beginning of the world. The language is rich in fiction and the "Thousand and One Nights" is the greatest story book in the world.
There is today a very considerable activity in the way of newspaper writing in Arabia.