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the Calcutta Leper Asylum, the Calcutta School Society, and the Institution for the encouragement of Native Schools, under the management of the Serampore Missionaries.
IV. Meeting of the Asiatic Society. On Saturday, the 24th instant, a meeting of the Asiatic Socie. ty was held at their Rooms in Chowringee, at which were present the Most Noble the Marquis of Hastings, the Bishop of Cacutta, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, and a number of other gentlemen. 'The Marquis of Hastings presided at the meeting.
A few implements of war and of husbandry used in the Eas. tern Islands, were presented by different gentlemen. But that & which most attracted the attention of the meeting was, a paper
kind y forwarded by the Literary Society at Bombay, on the Cu& neiform or Wedge-like characters, discovered at Persepolis and in various other places.
To the decyphering of these characters several men of learning have turned their attention within these few years, as Pro-' fessor Tychsen, Dr. Frederic Munter, Bishop of Zealand, Professor Leihtenstein, and others; but none with so much success as Dr. Grotefend, who in certain papers on the subject laid before the Academy of Sciences at Gottingen in 1802 and 1803, and in several papers subsequently published, particular y one in 1815, “On Pasargadæ and the Tomb of Cyrus," has started a new hypothesis respecting them, of which Professor Tychsen and Dr. Munter, with other learned men in Europe, are ready to think favorably.
These characters, which several authors have taken much pains to assimilate with the Chinese, particularly Dr. Hager, (who insists on their having been written perpendicularly), have been found in the ruins of Persepolis, and various other places; and particularly on the bricks dug up in the ruins of Baby'ou. They all consist of such as may be termed wedge-like characters, which
if horizontal constantly point from the left to the right; or if perpendicular, y from the top to the bottom. They henre occupy four positions, the perpendicular diverging to the right thus ) and the horizontal downwards thus \. But as the perpendicular characters never point upwards, so the horizontal characters never point from the right to the left. Hence Dr. Grotefend concludes, that, as the points of the perpendicular i ha. racters, and those which are sloping, are turned constantly 100; wards the right, as well as the openings of all the angular ones, they must have been written in a horizontal and not in a perpen. dicuiar direction), and a so from the left to the riuht. From these and other circumstances Dr. Grotefend has attempted to establish these two veneral principles,
1. That all cuneiform writing is written in a lorizontal direc tion, and from the left to the right, in the manner of European I writing
2. That all cuneiform writing is alphabetical, and neither sym. bolical nor strictly syl abic.
To the first of these principles, that the cuneiform inscriptions found either in the Persepolitan or Babylonian ruins are written from t’e left to the right, we feel a slight degree of hesitati. on in assenting. It is true that in forming these characters, it seems more natural to begin with the thicker part, and to termi. nate in a fine taper str ke, than to begin with the point and ter• minate with the square part. In the angular strokes indeed, it was necessary to begin with the point; but their opening in
every instanice towards the right, seems certainly to favor the idea that die the view of the writer was directed from the left to the right. Still however, the contrariety of this position to that of all the alphabets which existed.in those countries, the Samaritan, the Hebrew or Chaldaic, the Arabic, &c. all which are written from the right to the left, wou d lead us to doubt the truth of this position. How far the conjecture of Dr. Grotefend, that this character was never comenon, but used only for inscriptions, &c. will weigh against this, deserves to be considered. If this were the
case, however, there must, in the formation of this alphabet, have heen a departure from the ancient Phænician and Chaldaic mode, and an approximation to that observed in the Greek alphabet ; and if this be the case, this cuneiform alphabet may serve to mark the connecting link between the ancient mode of writing observed by the Hebrews, Arabians, Assyrians, and Babylonians; and the modern mode, from the left to the right, which, through the Grerk and the Roman alphabets, has now taken full possession of the western world. It may farther be worth the la. bor to hazard a conjecture, at what period, and from what cause, this mode of writing from the left to the right was introduced into India, while nearly the whole of western Asia, as well as the Chinese to the eastward of India, practised the mode of writing from the right to the left.
To the second general principle, that all cuneiform wiiting is alphabetical, and not symbolic, we feel less difficulty in assenting. Even the Chinese, which differs from every thing alphabetic, can be said to be symbolical only to a certain degree. The greater part of their Two Hundred and Fourteen Elementary cha: racters, may be terined symbolic, and a few others of the class termed the chee-sze, or characters which indicate their own meaning. But with the exception of these, all the rest are formed on the principle of uniting two characters (with their ideas) to represent a third ; and again adding another to this compound to represent a different idea ; and thus with the rest, till characters may be found composed of seven or eight others for the sake of conveying a single idea.
Yet these multifold characters are kept distinct from each other, by the number and the varied position of the strokes contained in each primitive character; gn that in some no less than fifty-two strokes can be traced. But how it was possible, with simple cuneiform strokes that occupy but four positions, to form a sufficient number o Symbolic characters, which should convey any kind of meaning, it is impossible for the utmost stretch of our ingenuity to conceive. It could only be done on the principle of numbering
strokes so simple in their form and position. But how far could the number of these symbols extend ? None of these inscriptions have a cluster of twenty cuneiform strokes; few contain more than five or six. And how many ideas could even twenty of these strokes united suggest, though varied in all their four positions? Be ides, no idea could be su gested to the reader at all, but from its corresponding to some previous idea familiar with him. It is true that the character yin might possib'y suggest some idea of the figure of a man, though certainly one sufficientiy distant; and p'ossibly the contraction of that character added 10 Ēn yin, a word, tłu: te, night suggest to a strong imagination the idea of sincerity. But with what idea couli two simple cuneiforni strokes correspond? or three? or five? or even ten? To US,
therefore, it seems next to certain, that if these characters were not intended to form words and convey ideas on the alphabetic plan, they could convey none to any beyond the inscriber and those connected with bim, whii h is contrary to the very design of Inscriptions.
It is not on this principle, however, that Dr. Grotefend rests his hypothesis. Having observed that these characters were divided into ate por ions, containing from two to eleven characters, a fact indeed ascertained by the previous labors of Professor Tychsen, he, selecting two Persepolitan inscriptions found over the fi ure of a Persian monarch, and remarking a certain combination of characters to be repeated several times in this inscription which seemed evidently to be the title of the monarch in question, felt persuaded that this con bination of cha. ra ters'must denote “ King;” and that they expressed the word which denoted “ King" in the language in which the inscription was written. This induced him to have recourse to the Puhluvia inscriptions decyphered by Mons. De Sacy of Paris; and taking it for granted that the language of this inscription was also Puhluvi, he by the help of that combination of characters to Na which he affixed the meaning of “king,” which occurred four times in the two lines of one of the inscriptions, and which Professor Tychsen had previously deemed the key to the whole sen
tence, parcelled out the characters in the inscription in such a
manner, as to give him reason to think, that the characters which E occurred between those he deemed equiva'ent to “king" must
be the proper names of two kings; and that the one king must i be the son of the other.
This put him on examining what two kings of Persia stood in that relation to each other, and searching among the Acha. i menidae, he found no two thus related whose names appeared so
likely from their being of a suitable length, as those of Darius and Xerxes; he therefore assumed the characters preceding the first supposed epithet for “king," to be the name of Darius's father; and supposing this name must be of Persian pronunciation, he, referring to the Zend-Avesta of Anqueti', found the
name of Hystaspes rendered there Goshtasp, Gustasp, and Kis: tasp, and finding the characters which he supposed to contain # the name of Darius's father, consist of seven distinct ones, he at I once assumed these to express the sounds G-o-sh-t-a-s-p, Gosh. titasp, and accordingly set these seven apart as forming the sup
posed alphabet. affixing to them those several powers, g, o, sh, [ &c. Then assuming Daryavesh, as the Zend pronunciation of * Darius, and Kshershe or Ksharsha as the Zend pronunciation 17. of Xerxes, he applied them to what he deemed the names of
those two kinys, and finding the characters he had ascertained in Goshtusp, the name for Hystaspes, to answer exactly to those of
a simni ar power in these two names, this appeared such a corroiboration of his idea, that he without farther hesitation affixed the ; appropriate names to the remaining characters in what he deemed
these two names, Daryavesh and Kshershe; and thus he found himself possessed of Twelve alphabetic characters with their appropriate names and powers.
Observing farther, that in the compound which he supposed to denotes king,” and which Dr. T. had considered as the key to the inscription, there was no character which was not found in these twelve; and conjecturing that if the language were zeni as his predecessors had supposed, he might find some Zendish