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from Phoenicia, and have rejected all the rest? Vallancey, as Mr. Higgins thinks, has shewn, (Collect. Hiber. vol. ii. pp. 172, 197) that the Samaritan alphabet as taken from old Samaritan coins, is identical in character with the profane (Bobeloth) alphabet of the Irish Druids. The Bishop of St. David's (Burgess) in his Arabic Grammar, says, that of the twenty-eight Arabic letters, seventeen are primary figures, and the powers of notation are precisely the same as the Hebrew, and in the same order. Sir Wm. Jones says, that all the Hebrew roots of words are to be found in the Arabic language-of which there is no doubt. The Persian alphabet, our author remarks, is extremely like the Arabic. It was the opinion of Sir Wm. Jones, that in very remote times, one nation, whose inhabitants were black, and whose empire was at or near Sidon, ruled over Egypt and all Asia. In this opinion Mr. Higgins concurs, for reasons that do not appear. Dr. Pritchard, in his Researches on the Physical History of Man, seems to think the original colour of mankind was black. In this opinion we are far indeed from concurring till we are better informed of valid arguments in its favour. According to our author, who follows Mr. Bryant, (Ant. Mythol. vol. iii. p. 243) the "Egyptian empire was founded when the eastern Ethiopians advanced from India into Africa, and built Egyptian Thebes, perhaps the pyramids, set up the negro Memnon, now in the British Museum, and executed many of the great Egyptian works in imitation of what they had left in their own country, India."
The word "perhaps" is well put in; and it would have been better if it had preceded the whole paragraph; which rests not on historical proof, but on conjecture. That the tide of population flowed from the north and east, southward and westward is probable; but we know nothing certain of eastern Ethiopianothing certain even of its position, still less of its inhabitants, their colour, their customs or their history. Our records are too scanty. We desire to say once for all, that before these perhapses are substituted for facts, it would be desirable to confute the opinion of the author of the Essay on the Homeric poems, reviewing Wolf's Prologomena, in the fourth number for December, 1827, of the American Quarterly Review; viz.--that there does not exist any sufficient evidence to authenticate a single historical fact in profane history, anterior to 500 A. C. :-for this plain reason, that the materials for the transmission of history,for the recording of any but mere memoranda, did not exist anterior to that æra, and, therefore, the whole mass of what is called profane history before that period rests on tradition. We would not be understood to adopt positively the opinion thus advanced,
but we say that it has sufficient weight, and is maintained with sufficient plausibility to require refutation. Wooden blocks, tablets, plates of copper or lead, cowskins and Babylonish bricks, might serve well-enough for memoranda, but no more. This remark will apply to much of Mr. Higgins' reasoning in this very curious and learned book; and we desire that all our assent to his arguments and conjectures may be understood as liable to this probable drawback-probable at least, till it be refuted; and till the manuscripts of the Bacchic and Cyclic poets, and the Bardic songs of Homer and Ossian, Vallancey's Irish Records, and O'Connor's Chronicles of Erin, shall be pointed out and exhibited. Beyond this period, history is scarcely more than the vague and inaccurate recollections, fictions, and conjectures of illiterate and half savage people.
Oghams of Ireland. (p. 19.) Intended for secrecy, according to our author. We have already noticed what seems to have escaped him, that Agham in Sanscrit, is secret. He conjectures, these simple alphabets may have been in use in Syria, before the Samaritan and Hebrew existed. It may be so: but in the absence of all proof, it may not be so. The Ogham is to the
eye the simplest of all forms of writing.
Affinity between the Languages. (p. 22.) The affinity between the Greek, Roman and Celtic, attributable to a very early stream of emigration from the east to the west. The Celtic, at present only traceable in Britany, and the Celtic Colonies, British, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Manks and Earse: to these, Mr. Higgins might have added the Mauritanian mountains. The words Ogum and Ogma belong to it. According to Mr. Astle, the Samaritan, Hebrew, Chaldaic, Bastulan, Punic-Carthaginian or Sicilian, and the Pelasgic Greek are derived from the Phoenician. Hence also, as the Etruscan alphabet had only thirteen letters, and they sprung from the Scythian Pelasgi, the most ancient settlers in Greece, the subsequent Cadmean or Celtic colonists in Italy, who had seventeen letters, were posterior to the Pelasgic Etruscans. It is probable à priori as well as from history, that the most ancient people had the fewest letters in their alphabet. It may be, and we have no doubt is, that all these languages are dialects or grammatical mutations of some one more ancient tongue, referable rather than traceable to the indeterminate region of ancient Scythia.
Peculiarity of the Irish Alphabet. (p. 24.) Bethluisnion, from the name of the three first letters, as alphabet from Alpha, Beta.— Mr. Higgins appeals to his exhibition of ancient and modern alphabets in page 4, that the Irish, Greek, Hebrew and Samaritan have been called after English trees, or English trees after
them. (See pp. 34, 249.) Even supposing identity or similarity of origin, it is too much to expect among the mutations of two or three thousand years, a perfect similarity at the present moment, in all the letters. If such a similarity exists manifestly in a few, it will suffice to establish, upon high probability, the community of origin. In the next section, Mr. Higgins enters into a minute comparison of the Irish with the Hebrew. He seems not aware that muin the vine, is certainly owing to the common Irish substitution of the v, for the m and b. The comparison here made is very striking. He conjectures that the names of trees applied to the letters of the alphabet was originally and purposely intended for hieroglyphic secrecy, so that the sending of twigs or leaves, or branches, might be a mode of secret communication. His quotations from Virgil, undoubtedly aid his conjecture. And in further conformity, we may add the eastern practice of conveying secret meanings and information by flowers.
Virgil a Druid. (p. 32.) The descent of Æneas into the Plutonian regions has a druidical character. Virgil was born at Mantua, in Cisalpine Gaul. He seems to have followed Druidism and the Gaulish muse, till he found she would not advance his fortune:
Namque, fatebor enim, dum me Galatea tenebat,
Nec spes libertatis erat, nec cura peculi.
Galatea was the mother of the Celts: (Appian, Bell. Illyr.Davies' Celtic Researches, p. 142.) Dryden has noticed that Virgil was consulted by Octavius as an astrologer. Born among the Druids, he died within a mile of the cave of the Cumaan Sybil. The citations from the Eneid as to the Druidical uses and superstitions of leaves and trees, are selected from Dryden's translation, Æneid, lib. iii, line 561-577; lib. vi. line 116-120. 200226. 280, 281. 295–304. 394-397. Why, (our author asks,) do we say the LEAVES of a book? The Papyrus had no leaves! rolls of dressed cowhides or other skins, vellum or parchment, have no leaves! tablets had no leaves!
Welsh letters the same as the Irish. (p. 33.) Much curious coincidence is here noted. From hence to p. 35, we have more curious information as to the connexion of trees and leaves with ancient writing. The following is a new suggestion. The laws of Solon were inscribed axibus ligneis: that is, says Mr. Higgins, in conformity to the Druidical practice of cutting letters on the stems or stalks of trees squared; not on blocks of wood agoves. This agrees with the assertion of Herodotus about letters in right lines, because thus cut, they could be in no other
than right lines. For more particulars respecting tree-alphabets, see Mr. Davies' Celtic Researches, (§ 8.) When the Muses inspired Hesiod to sing of the Gods, they gave him a staff of green laurel to cut and shave or mark. (Theog. v. 30.) So Juvenal, Credite me vobis folium recitare Sybilla: and Virgil Æn. III. v. 444.
Huc ubi delatus Cumæam accesseris urbem
Digerit in numerum atque antro seclusa relinquit.
When the Ogham characters were invented. (p. 36.) Mr. Higgins conjectures, (for beyond conjecture we cannot go) that they were invented by the Druid priests of the patriarchal nation, of which nation and its priests we know nothing by direct testimony. Characters of straight lines, belonged to the Greeks and Ionians according to Herodotus: and to the oldest Greek and Runic alphabets, according to Mr. Astle. We would again refer to the Babylonish bricks of Sir Wm. Drummond, (5 Class. Jour. p. 127) and to the Elean Inscription, (13 Class. Jour. p. 113) as examples of straight line characters; those of the Babylonish bricks, of Persepolis, and the Irish virgular Ogham-the arrow character-being manifestly one and the same. The most ancient and rudest alphabetical character, would naturally be straight lined. That there has been a parental, or as Mr. Higgins calls it, a patriarchal nation, from whence all the languages which we call ancient are derived, is an opinion not founded on direct historical evidence, but flows as an inevitable conclusion from the known and existing facts. For the following observations, we are indebted to the conversations of a friend.
All the Hebrew roots are to be found in the Arabic, Syriac, Samaritan and Chaldee. The Hebrew roots are all triliteral. Those of the Arabic consist of from three to six letters. Those of the Samaritan from five to nine. The Chaldee is nearly the same with the Samaritan; and so we apprehend was the Phonician.
All the variations from the common, parental stock of roots, are purely grammatical; the additions depending on the various and different causes which are calculated to create a difference in spoken language: but in the languages above-mentioned, when the words are analysed according to a known system and rule for each, and the grammatical additions and redundancies struck off, the Hebrew roots appear. Hence we are led to suspect,
1. That the Hebrew roots being comprised in the fewest number of letters, the Hebrew is the most simple, and therefore perhaps the oldest of these languages; an opinion which we risk on this sole ground of probability, and in defiance of many strong, opposing circumstances, that may well induce hesitation.
2. That the oldest alphabetical written character would be the simplest, and composed of varieties of position of strait lines. Thus the Elean inscription is one of the oldest forms of Greek character. Hence the Ogham Bethluisnion, and the inscription on the stone found in County Clare, are of the most ancient date. Next are the arrow character of Persepolis, the Babel bricks, and the virgular Ogham. But none of these seem calculated for more than sententious, and brief compositions, and are by no means adapted to long and continuous historical narrative.
3. None of these alphabets are constructed with such skill as to claim an origin from the parent language, from whence the Sanscrit has been formed or derived; the Sanscrit being undoubtedly the language of a long existing and polished people, too far advanced to use the Ogham character.
On the 10th and 11th chapters of Genesis: on the opinions of the author, of D'Herbelot, of St. Jerom. (pp. 38-45) 11 Genesis. "And it came to pass, that as they TRAVELLED FROM THE EAST, "they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there." Hence, Mount Ararat could not be properly placed between the Caspian and the Black Sea, but must have been some elevated region to the East of Babylon; somewhere in Bactriana, (part of Scythia, according to Justin, lib. ii. ch. 1, §3.) probably near to the Oxus and Iaxartes, according to Mr. Higgins; or the eastern end of the great chain of Caucasus toward the Imaus or Himalaya. There is no proof that Babylon was Babel; or any likelihood that a whole people would adopt a name recording their own confusion and disgrace.
Ararat from the Hebrew Er-ird, mountain of descent: or in the Samaritan Errt, or Arrt. A friend suggests, that in the Irish or Gaelic, Er means upon and ird, high or height. In Sanscrit, Himmaleh means the Mountains of the Moon.
Confusion of tongues or languages: is this, says Mr. Huddlestone, any thing more than a strong oriental metaphor, for discordance and dissension among the people?
Of Baillie's hypothesis, supported by Sir Wm. Drummond.(p. 45.) We have already said so much of Mr. Baillie, his opinions, and the uncandid statement of Sir Wm. Jones, approved of course by the Rev. M. Maurice, that we shall add little to what has been urged in the preliminary part of our review of VOL. IV. NO. 7.