« ForrigeFortsæt »
of many generations, would not be easily superseded, without the aid of some such contrivance, by an adventitious practice.
4. But I have more than conjecture to offer in support of this argument; even the testimony of an ancient historian; whose account will serve as a general evidence in this case, and may lead us to conclude, that similar deviations may have taken place, amongst other classes of men, as well as in that instance, which he particularly specifies from his own knowledge.
Herodotus, in one part of his history, has the following relation:
“Those Phœnicians, that came with Cadmus, introduced many improvements among
· Οι δε Φοίνικες έτοι, οι συν Καδμῳ απικόμενοι, των εσαν οι Γεφυραίοι, αλλα τε πολλά, οικήσαντες ταυτην την χώρην, εστ ηγαγον διδασκαλια ες τες Έλληνας, και δη και γραμματα, εκ εοντα πριν Ἑλλησι, ώς εμοι δοκέει. πρώτα μεν τοισι και απαντες χρέωνται Φοίνικες. μετα δε χρονο προβαίνοντος, αμα τη φωνη μετέβαλον και τον ρυθμόν των γραμμάτων. περιοικεον δε σφεας τα πολλα των χώρων τέτον τον χρονον Ἑλληνων Ίωνες, παρα λαβοντες διδαχῃ παρα των Φοινίκων τα γράμματα, μεταῤῥυθμι σαντες σφεων ολίγα, εχρέωντος χρεωμένοι δε εφατισαν, ώσπερ και το δικαιον εφερε, εσαγαγόντων Φοινίκων ες την Ελλαδα, Φοινικηία κεκλησθαι.. ιδον δε και αυτός
Καδμητα γραμματα εν τω ίρῳ τε Απόλλωνος το Ισμηνια εν
the Greeks, and alphabetical writing too, not known, in my opinion, to the Greeks before that period. At first they used the Phænician character; but in process of time, as the pronunciation altered, the standard of the letters was also changed. The Ionian Greeks inhabited at that time the parts adjacent to the Phoenicians: who, having received the art of alphabetical writing from these Phænicians, used it, with an alteration of some few characters: and confesst ingenuously, that it was called Phænician, from the introducers of it. And I have seen myself the characters of Cadmus in the temple of Ismenian Apollo at Thebes in Baotia, engraven upon tripods, and very much resembling the Ionian characters."
5. The old Samaritan is precisely the same as the Hebrew language: and the Samaritan Pentateuch scarcely varies by a single letter in twenty words from the Hebrew. But the characters are widely different: for the Jews adopted the Chaldaic or Assyrian letters, during their captivity at Babylon, instead of the characters of their forefathers. This difficulty then seems to have been sufficiently considered.
f See further on this part of the subject Chishul on the Sigean Inscription, sect. xv. Suidas in Lauv o du, the Scholiast on the Orestes of Euripides, vers. 432. W.
III. What we know of those nations, who have continued for many centuries unconnected with the rest of the world, strongly militates against the hypothesis of the human invention of alphabetical writing. The experiment has been fairly made upon the ingenuity of mankind for a longer period, than that which is supposed to have produced alphabetical writing by regular gradations: and this experiment determines peremptorily in our favour.
The Chinese, a people famous for their discoveries and mechanical turn of genius, have made some advances towards the delineation of their ideas by arbitrary signs; but have nevertheless been unable to accomplish this exquisite device: and, after so long a trial to no purpose, we may reasonably infer that their mode of writing, which is growing more intricate and voluminous every day, would never terminate in so clear, so comparatively simple an expedient, as that of alphabetical charac
The Mericans also, on the new Continent, had made some rude attempts of the same kind, but with less success than the Chinese.
"Their letters, if we may so call them, were merely the symbols of ideas." Sir W. Jones, Diss. on the Chinese, As. Diss. vol. i. 219. W.
We know also that Hieroglyphics were in use among the Egyptians, posterior to the practice of alphabetical writing by the Jews: but whether the Epistolography, as it is called, of the former people, which was in vogue during the continuance of Hieroglyphics, might not possibly be another name for alphabetical writing, I will not take upon me to decide.
Now what will our adversaries reply to this? They will pertinaciously maintain, that alphabetical writing is a human invention: and yet all those nations, who have been conversant with this expedient, are discovered to have derived it from the same original, from some one people in the east, whose time and means of attaining it we cannot now certainly find out; but are compelled to conclude from analogy, and the experience of other nations, that their imagination, as it was not more fer
Η Ευπόλεμος δε εν τῳ περί των εν τη Ιεδαία βασιλεων, τον Μωϋση φησι πρωτον σοφον γενεσθαι, και γραμματικήν πρώτον τοις Ιεδαίοις παραδοναι· και παραΙεδαίων Φοινικας παραλαβειν Έλληνας δε παρα Φοινίκων.
Clem. Al. Strom. I. 413. ed. Pott.
Eupolemus, in his work concerning the kings who reigned in Judæa, says that Moses was the first wise man, and the first who taught the art of writing among the Jews, that the Phonicians received it from the Jews, and the Greeks from the Phoenicians.
tile, was not more successful, than that of their neighbours.
Again: Where large communities have flourished for ages, but unconnected with those countries, which enjoyed this advantage, their own solitary exertions were never capable of effecting this capital discovery. Is it possible for presumptive evidence to be more satisfactory than this?
IV. Lastly, We will consider the argument upon which the commonly received opinion depends: that is, the natural gradation through the several species of symbols, acknowledged to have been in use with various people, terminating, at last, by an easy transition, in the detection of alphabetical characters. The ease of discovery is not, however, always to be judged of from it's apparent facility after the discovery has taken place, as may be observed in the case of printing; nor can I, in the present instance, see this regularity of process, this ease of transition, so clearly as some others appear to do; but let every one determine for himself from the contemplation of the several stages of emblematical representation.
1. The first method of embodying ideas would be, by drawing a representation of the objects themselves. The imperfection of this