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Locusts

THE Locusts, so frequently mentioned in the Scriptures, and in many ancient Authors, are a species of Grashoppers that have nothing in them disgustful. The Parthians, the Ethiopians, and the Arabs, found them delicious food. After causing them to fall from the trees by means of smoke, ascending from fires kindled at their feet, they salted, dried them in the sun, and preserved them for food throughout the year. Saint John the Baptist ate them with wild honey, according to the custom of the poor of those times. They appear sometimes in Asia, and in Africa, in such prodigious numbers, that they darken the air, and consume in an instant the fruits and herbage of a whole country; the heaps of those which die infect the air and occasion a contagion. It is probable, that these Phenomena are the Harpies of the ancients, which even came to devour the meats on the table of the King of Bythinia; and if we add, that Calais and Zethus, the Children of Boreas, chased them from this country, and pursued them to the Isles of Strophades, which are in the Ionian Sea, where they caused them to perish, all this fiction may be understood thus—that the Northern winds had blown them into this Sea: and it is true, that nothing so certainly delivers a country which is infested with these insects, as a strong wind that carries them off to the Sea, where they infallibly must perish. On this head, the Reader may consult Goldsmith.