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figures, properly called hieroglyphics, they never denoted other than things. If there ever were an exception, it was in a late traveller; whose significative Fuyptian figures, I am told, are not so properly the representatives of the things themselves, as of the writer's words, or his verbal descriptions to the ingraver.---But there is no end of correcting the extravagancies of a perverse imagination. Here we have one, who is for making the Egyptian hieroglyphics a kind of letters: we have lately heard of another, still more at defiance with common sense, who is for making the Hebrew letters a kind of hieroglyphic characters * And this without ever having travelled for it.
But * See Proposals for printing by subscription the book of Job in the Hebrew character, and now first decyphered into English, datech July 1, 1743. From which, I shall beg leave to borrow a specimen of the Undertaker's reasoning and eloquence, “ To ohviate," "says he, “ any scruples of alarm which the appearance of novelty
and paradox might occasion, it may be proper to acquaint the 66 reader-Ihat?.-that the new version of Job, now offered to the “ public, was made independently of any Translation, Commen
tator, or Critic," &c. Without cioubt it was a ready way to quiet all alarms, arising from the appearance of novelty, to tell his readers, the appearance was real, But perhaps by-obviating any scruples of alarm, this great linguist might mean, what the words naturally imply, the freeing his reader from any scruples about the uncharitableness of being alarmed to one's neighbour's discredit without very apparent cause. And if this were his meaning, he has certainly set his reader's conscience at ease.
But with regard to the alarm itself, I know but one way of stilling that; which is, the reasonable prospect his reader has that this, which is now a Novelty and paradox, is likely to continue so,
He goes on—" In the mean time, if the sagacious reader is
prompted to search after truth, too long concealed in her mys“ terious recesses— let hiin guard against all systematical notions, s and assume no other hypothesis but this, that the best sense 6 which can be affixed to the Hebrew letters, consistently with the " context, and with the laws of the character, is the genuine sense 66 of the Writer.” The context, does he say? Why, the contert is yet to make; as well as the sense that is to be afired to the Hebrew letters. And if, when he has them both in his hands, he cannot make them agree, he must be the very dullest of all his bungling tribe. The man had heard, somewhere or other, of that trite critical canon, of interpreting agreeably to the context, which means only that the parts should conform to the whole, and to one another; and the more obscure be explained by the more intelli. gible: and this, he has innocently applied to parts and a whole that
But our Author seerns to have been misled by a wrong imagination; that the public would expect it of a traveller to be intimately conversant in all the old learning and religion of the places he had visited : as if these were to be picked out of the rubbisha of the dead walls in which they were once contained, rather than from the living monuinents of their contemporary inhabitants. But sure the learned world is less unreasonable; this would exceed even the old Egyptian exaction, and be requiring brich, not indeed without straz', for cnough of that, we see, is to be gathered in rambling through the land; but, what is worse, without materials. However, to this imagination it appears we owe his account of the hieroglyphics in the present, and of the mythology of the antient Egyptians, in the preceding chapter; which he ivtroduces in this extraordinary manner: “ As the mytho"logy, or fabulous religion of the ancient Egypiiuns,
may be louked on, in a great measure, as the foundag “tion of the heatlien religion, in most other parts; so it
may not be improper to give some account of the origin of it, as it is delivered by the most ancient
" authors, are to be all of his own making; which he may make as obscure at least, if not as intelligible, us he pleases.
Having ilius žirongly plumeil liimself with his grey-goose quill, he at length takes his tiglit-" Thus preparerl," he says, “be will “ defy disliculiy and scom assistance; esteeming an officious bint “ an affront to his genius, or suspecting he was envied the pleasure “ of investigating the theorem. Fantastic glory! short-lived plea*** sure! that must vanish into indignationi, for not having sooner “perceived so transparent an artifice.” But here we leave him. He now soars out of sight, and becomes inscrutable to mortal eye.s.
Indeed, be inight have passed without any notice at all, had he 'not beírayed his hind when he aitempted to roar. For, though it be his business to possess the public with an high idea of the knowledge he is about w opon 10 them from the discovery of a new real cipien, yet he can', for his life (even in this very specimen) forbear to call it a SACERDOTAL jurgon---:1 gibberish of their own. Let the priests then look to themselves. llere is a new church-decipicrer, who has not only discovered they are accustomed to write in jargon, but has also found the key. We know then to be always plotting against the government of nature: the public therefore cannot but be as impatient for their conviction, its this decipherer is for the filling bis subscription : which, as it will be the means of satisfying both, I would beg leave to recommend to their consideration. Subscriptions are taken in by J. Nourse at the Lamb without Temple-Bar.
"authors, which may give some light both to the de"scription of Egypt, and also to the history of that
country. We may suppose, that the ancients were “the best judges of the nature of their religion; and
consequently, that all interpretations of their mytho
logy, by inen of fruitful inventions, that have no sort of “ foundation in their writings, are forced, and such as
might never be intended by them. On the contrary, " it is necessary to retrench several things the ancients " theinselves scem to have invented, and graited on true
history; and, in order to account for many things, " the genealogies and alliances they mention must in
several respects be false or erroneous, and seem to have “ been invented to accommodate the honours of the same “deities 'to different persons, they were obliged to deify, " who lived at different tiines; and so they were obliged " to give them new names, invent genealogies, and some “ different attributes.” pp. 221, 222.
He says, IVe may suppose that the Ancients were the best judges of the nature of their religion. But the Ancients, here spoken of, were not Egyptians, but Grecks; and the mythology here spoken of, was vot Greek, but Egyptian : Therefore these ilucients might well be mistaken about the nature of a religion which they borrowed from strangers; the principles of which, they themselves tell us, were always kept secreted from them. But this is not all, they in fact were mistaken; and by, no means good judges of the nature of their religion, if we may believe one of the most authentic of these Ancients, IERODOTUS himself
, where discoursing of the Greeks he expressly says,—“ But the origin of " each god, and whether they are all from eternity, and " what is their several kinds or natures, to speak the truth, they neither knew at that time nor since *."
He goes on--and CONSEQUENTLY that all interpretations of their mythology by men of fruitful intentions, that have no sort of foundation in their critings, are forced, and such as might never be intended by them. This is indeed a truth, but it is no CONSEQUENCE,
"Ένθεν δε έγένέλο έκανός των Θεών, είτε δ' αεί ήσαν πάτες, οκοϊοί τε τινές Tà la, óximoséało próxzo š apív te sj z0is, sitesiv rozw. Lib. ii. cap. 33
REMARKS ON SEVERAL therefore impertinent. For, whether the Ancients were, or were not, the best judges; whether the moderns have, or have not, fruitful inventions, yet if their interpretations have no sort of foundation in ancient writings, it is certain they are forced, and such as might never be intended by them. But what does he get by this hypothetical proposition, more than the discredit of begging his question ?
But the most extraordinary, is bis making it an additional reason for leaving the inoderns, and sticking to the Ancients, that the Ancients themselves scem to have invented and grafted on true history, and, in order (he says) to account for many things, the genealogics and alliances they mention, must in several respects be false or erroneous, and seem to have been invented, etc. Now, if the ancients were thus mistaken, the moderns sure might be excused in endeavouring to set them right: therefore to a plain reasoner, this would seem to shew the use of their interpretations. But this use is better understood from our Author's own example; who, in the chapter we are upon, has attempted to give us some knowledge of antiquity without them.
And here we find, the ancient account, to which he so closely adheres, is not only fabulous, by his own confession; but contradictory, by his own representation; a confused collection of errors and absurdities; the very condition of antiquity which forced the moderns to have recourse to interpretations: and occasioned that variety whereón our Author grounds his charge against them. A charge however in which bis Ancients themselves will be involved; for they likewise had their interpretations; and were, if their variety would give it them, at least, as fruitful in their inventions. How differing, for instance, were they in opinion concerning the origin of ANIMAL Worship*! Was our Author ignorant that so extraordinary a superstition wanted explanation ? By no means. Yet for fear of incurring the censure of a fruitful invention, he, instead of taking the true solution of a modern critic; or even any rational interpretationt of the
ancient * See Div. Leg, Book iv. § 4.
+ This, at least, the learned author of the late Defence of the prime Ministry of Joseph has thought it but decent to do, (p. 522.)
ancient mythologist, whom yet he professes to follow, contents himself with that wretched fable of Typhon's,
dividing whom I just mention here because he does not so properly come within the purpose of this Pamphlet. For as, in several parts of his Defence, he consents to me without acknowledgment; so, in others, he differs from me without contradiction. I have another reason not to examine the grounds of his ditierence, and that is, because I apprehend he may, on second thoughts, retract his opinion on every of those points, as he seems already to have done. in one or two. Thus, for instance, speaking (p. 522.) of the origin of Brute-worship, in Egypt, he says, “ But there is another
reason [of Brute-worship) assigned by Lucian, that to me is the “ most probable of all. He tells us that the Egyptians found out “ how to measure the motions of the heavenly bodies, and how to
compute years and months and seasons. They divided that
part of the heavens and the fixed stars stationed in it, through “ which the moveable stars and planets pass, into twelve parts, " and represented each part by some proper different animal of " their own.
And from hence arose many sorts of sacred rites in Egypt,” &c. Yet, at p. 458, he assigns a very different original: “ I think there is little doubt but that the monstrous figures of the “ Egyptian gods, and great part of their stupid idolatry and beast“ worship, took its rise from these hieroglyphic characters.”—So again, p. 472, speaking of the origin of Idolatry, he makes the first species of it to be HERO-WORSHIP: * And I think (says he) that " the account given of them (the Sons of the Elobim in the antedi" lucian World) by the historian, that they were the mighty men of " old, men of the name, as the Hebrew expresses it, famous and “ remarkable from ancient ages, points them out as the most “ ancient, gods and heroes; a supposition that we shall see pre* sently confirined by the testimony of profane history." Yet at p. 5!5, he makes the beginnings of idolatry to be the worship of the
BODIES. “ These several accounts put together clearly shew us the rise and progress of superstition and false worship in the world. It began, as it was natural to imagine it should, in the adoration of the heavenly luminaries, the sun,
moon, and stars, who were supposed to preside over the day " and night, and the various seasons of the year, and to whom " the earliest nations were taught to ascribe the origin and disso" lution of all things. Next arter these the earth, and the severał "elements of which the world was supposed to consist, had imagi
nary deity ascribed to them, and came in for their share of *6 adoration. And as ihe glory of the celestial bodies, and the “ constant benefit men received by their light, warmth, and con* tinual influences on the earth, first iinpressed men with wonder, wi drew them into adoration, excited their gratitude, and created “ in them an imagination of their being gods; they were AFTER“ WARis led into an bigia veneration for their princes, whom they * admired for their power, prudence, strength, and knowledge:
considering them as their benefactors who first taught them the
use of such things as greatly tended to the preservation, security, sal good order, and conveniencies of life.”