Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Mexicans, and are described by Purchas. (His. Pilgrimes, ch. xiii. p. 683.) “Such objects,” he says, “ as had form and figure, were represented by their proper images, other things by characters, and Acosta says, that he saw the Pater-noster, Ave Maria, and Confession thus written. As for these words, I a sinner do confesse myself,' they painted an Indian kneeling at a religious man's feet. To God most mighty,' they painted three faces with their crowns, and so they went on in that manner of picturing the words of their popish confession where images failed, setting characters.” And, indeed, some of the inseriptions of Egypt, highly as she has been extolled for her philosophy and refinement, evince a very trifling advance on these attempts, the same jumble of characters, sounds, and objects, being not unfrequently employed as in this example,” from Wilkinson's Materia Hieroglyphica.

[graphic]

These figures express the beginning of a sentence. The first four characters are alphabetical, and stand for the letters T. N.N.K. which, with the intermediate vowels to be supplied, would form the Coptic word, which denotes the phrase, “We give you;” the picture of an assembly, with the plural sign below it, signifies the assemblies ;" the zig-zag or dancette line that follows, implies N, en, or “of;" the hawk with the globe and serpent above it, is a symbol of “ Ré," the sun, an Egyptian deity; and the sitting figure that ends the line, represents a god; and thus the whole conveys this meaning—“Wegive you, the assemblies of the god.

But the late interesting discoveries in Egypt shew that the hieroglyphics of that country are in most cases used alphabetically, the various objects depicted being substituted for their several names. Thus the word London might be written by the figures of a lion, an owl, a nutmeg, a dog, an obelisk, and a needle. Instances of this kind occur abundantly on the monuments of Egypt, but from want of a sufficient knowledge of the language of that country,

The names,

they cannot often be very satisfactorily made out. however, of many sovereigns, not only of their own, but of neighbouring nations which are usually enclosed in a cartouche, or oval ring, may be read with tolerable certainty and success, as in the instances of Amon Mai Shishak, and Rehoboam Jouda-melek, (or king of Judah,) his illustrious captive; or the still more ancient name of Ramses, the probable cotemporary of Moses.

After the death of Joseph, a cruel despot obtained the throne of Egypt. We know scarcely anything of his conduct with regard to his own people. To stay the alarming increase of the Hebrews, however, he resorted to the most tyrannical and cruel measures. He made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service, setting them to build the treasure cities of Pithom and Ramses.

We are no where told what was the proper name of this Pharaoh who knew not Joseph,” but as under his direction one of the treasure cities built by the Jews was called Ramses, it is fair to presume that it was named after himself, as was a very common practice amongst eastern potentates. Now this is the name that Champollion has made out “ much better than any others in the whole list of the Pharaohs.It occurs on almost all the monuments and buildings of high antiquity, and is usually written with the identical characters of the Hebrew text R. A. M. S. S.;

The act, too, in which the manarch is depicted on the walls of

a temple at Medina Tabou, is one

♡ ។ of which we might well suspect him to be guilty, for he is there reposing in his chariot with a pile of human hands before him, which some of his unhappy captives or subjects have been just deprived of.

The name and portrait of Rehoboam, king of Judah, is a very interesting relic. Our readers will recollect that Shishak, king of Egypt, came up against this monarch, and he is represented in the original of our engraving, in the character of a captive in the train of that conqueror. There is another portrait of him, which has been published by several of our cotemporaries, but we consider our present cut more remarkable than the one to which we have alluded, as it gives the proper name of this king instead of his title, as will be seen on reference to the letters in the margin of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

picture, which correspond with those of the hieroglyphical inscription. The characters " f. l.” stand for foreign land, of which the lowest figure is the symbol. The last letter is unfortunately defective.

R

E

B

MO

f. 1

These are amongst the earliest specimens of this sort of writing, and are possibly not cotemporary with the persons to which they refer. But the greater multitude of instances, and the least disputable occur under the Greek sovereigns, or the later Roman emperors. The choicest examples we found in the names of Cleopatra and

Ptolemy. The last of these occurring on the trilinguar stone, now in the British Museum, furnished the first clue to this mystic mode of writing. That stone, as its name sufficiently intimates, contains specimens of three different styles—the hieroglyphic, the enchorial, or common writing of the Egyptians, and the Greek. As the name of Ptolemy occurred frequently in the last of these inscriptions.

[ocr errors]

Σ Α Α

O

II Dr. Young, who has the honor of this important discovery, conceived that in the corresponding places in the hieroglyphic writing, the characters by which the same name was expressed, were also to be found. In this he was not disappointed, and from this humble. commencement, a knowledge of the entire alphabet has been accomplished, which not, however, applicable in all cases, and can be used with the greatest certainty only when the inscriptions belong to the era of the Ptolemies and their successors. As little more than 2000 years have elapsed since this period, and as writing is known to have been in use amongst the Jews, at least 1000 years earlier, we must regard this circumstance as fatal to the generally received opinion that hieroglyphics were the originals of written characters, an opinion for which we could never see the

Dr. Lamb has lately attempted to settle this question, but has only shewn, like all his predecessors, that pictures were used in the world's infancy, just as they are still used in China to represent ideas, but not sounds, or those shades of sound supposed to be expressed by letters. He imagines that the first letters were pictures of real objects, that each letter had consequently a meaning of its own, and that the words which they were employed to form, combined and concentrated these various meanings. . But, that these speaking pictures are not analagous to writing is evident

reason.

from the fact, that they are as intelligible to our youngest readers, as they are to the first Hebrew scholar in existence.

But the most serious objection to this theory is, that it compels, us to believe that hieroglyphics are older than letters, and letters. older than sounds; so that Adam, when directed to give names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field, (Gen. ii. 2.) must have pourtrayed those names in hieroglyphics, have translated those hieroglyphics into letters, and have combined those letters into syllables and words, before he could have called the bull, aleph, or the lion ar.

For, if language existed prior to the adoption of these symbols, they could not constitute the roots or bases of that language, as they must have been chosen entirely by their sound, and not with the slightest reference to any ideas which they might happen to express.

That the Chinese language certainly appears at first sight to possess features strikingly analagous to those of the system will be evident from a few examples.

We will select a specimen or two in which a similarity of structure may be more or less distinctly traced. The word noise for instance is symbolized by the figure of a mouth repeated; and there is unquestionably a connexion between these objects and the compound idea indicated by them, as there is also in the same figures with a tree below them, employed to express the singing of birds. But in other cases the sense is not so obvious, for if we take the word to stop, we shall require no little ingenuity to trace the connexion between each sign and the entire character. The word is composed of five figures, the two lower ones to the left, taken separately, signify low and flesh; and the two together convey the idea to shake, whilst those on the right symbolize a spoon, and that above, a net. In the word sword-sheath, the simple ideas are, man, wooden, mouth, which cannot, we should suppose, be proved to have any connexion with their compound.

Exactly in this manner the system of which we are speaking, proceeds. We will instance the Hebrew word boker-morning; compounded of three symbols—a bird, a house, and a boat, the type of emptiness; the whole implying that the bird's house is empty, and that consequently the shadows of night have departed, to introduce “ the bright and the balmy effulgences of morn.”. On

« ZurückWeiter »