Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Great Freemasons: James Bruce (1730 - 1794)
James Bruce was a Scottish traveller and travel writer who spent more than a dozen years in North Africa and Ethiopia, where he traced the origins of the Blue Nile.
Bruce also brought back to Europe a select collection of Ethiopian manuscripts. "They opened up entirely new vistas for the study of Ethiopian languages and placed this branch of Oriental scholarship on a much more secure basis," writes Ullendorff. "It is not known how many MSS. reached Europe through his endeavours, but the present writer is aware of at least twenty-seven, all of which are exquisite examples of Ethiopian manuscript art. Bruce presented a fine and specially prepared copy of the Book of Enoch to Louis XV in Paris." While most of these manuscripts are in Ge'ez, one notable exception is a version of the Song of Songs written in Gafat, a language which Ullendorff states "is known to us only from this manuscript."