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ries, are so many proofs of the truth of my assertion. It is generally allowed, that among these doctrines, the priests taught the unity of God, the immortality of the soul, a future life of reward and punishment, an utter contempt for the Egyptian deities, whom they styled mere men, deified by the imbecility and the credulity of mankind. This admits of no doubt. On the other hand, the mere inspection of their hieroglyphics, the mode they have employed of applying the symbolical properties of things and animals to express abstract ideas, and the record we have from the sacred pages of the wonders exhibited by the priests of Pharaoh, in opposition to the miracles performed by Moses, must inspire us with no mean idea of their knowledge in science and natural history. The same must be said of their success in the several arts. Their immense buildings, their magnificent statues, the Colossus of Memnon, the division of their tombs, the beautiful colours with which they have stained their different compartments, shew a boldness of invention, and a delicacy of execution, which cannot but surprise the beholder, and prove the high degree of civilization of the people, who could imagine and execute these superb and magnificent monuments, first-rate works of imagination and skill, exhibiting such a beauty of execution, especially in the most pleasing arts. These are all interesting subjects of inquiry, from which we may expect very great and very important results, for there is no saying where they may lead us. But another and a still greater advantage, I conceive, might be derived from our obtaining a proper and perfect knowledge of the reading of the hieroglyphics, and that is, information respecting the mode by which mankind have peopled the earth, and the primitive civilization of Egypt. It seems that both Nubia and Ethiopia abound with a great number of monuments, covered with hieroglyphics, perfectly similar, both in regard to form and disposition, to those which are found on the buildings of Thebes. But by inspecting more closely these legends, we find that the names of the sovereigns mentioned in the Nubian inscriptions are exactly the same with those recorded on the Egyptian monuments; while the names of the sovereigns engraved on the pillars and buildings found in Ethiopia, have not the least resemblance to either of them. They are, indeed, composed of the same hieroglyphical characters, they represent deities endowed with the same symbolic qualifications, they are disposed in the same form, and seem to possess the same titles, but they produce names which hitherto are entirely unknown; and what is more, these names are never found repeated on any of the numberless monuments existing in Nubia or Egypt. From these facts several important consequences may be drawn; the first is, that there has been a time in which the civilized part of Ethiopia, the peninsula of Meroes, and all the country on both banks of the Nile, from Meroes to Dongola, was inhabited by a nation, who had a language, writing, and a religion similar to those of Egypt, without however depending on the Egyptian sovereigns of Thebes and Memphis. From this consideration, very important in itself, a question arises, which is still more so; and that is, has civilization from Egypt reached Ethiopia, or have mankind, from Ethiopia, gradually spread themselves along the course of the Nile, and carried population and civilization to the shores of the Mediterranean In the first case, the Egyptian nation must have had an Asiatic origin; and in the second, it must have come from a race of men indigenous to Africa, to this ancient part of our globe, which shews every where the most striking feature of exhaustion and decrepitude. That Ethiopia once was the cradle of mankind, the place where arts, literature, and science were first invented, is an opinion which has been advanced and supported by the best scholars of almost every nation of modern Europe; amongst whom may be enumerated Carli, and Sir W. Jones. The physical constitution of the Egyptians, their customs, their manners, the social organization of their government, had but a very small resemblance to the natural and political existence of the people inhabiting the west of Asia, who were their nearest neighbours. The Egyptian language had scarcely any similarity with the eastern languages, and the Egyptian mode of writing was not less different from that which had been adopted by the Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and the Persians. Every thing, in short, seems to indicate the Egyptians to have been a people perfectly strangers to the continent of Asia. Add to this the difficulty and the hardship to which the first inhabitants of Egypt, supposing them to have come from the Asiatic shores, must have been necessarily exposed, in a country annually subjected to a long and general inundation, such as the valley situated between the first cataract of the Nile, and the Mediterranean. The reading of the hieroglyphics will undoubtedly decide this important question; as far as Soleb, which lies about one hundred leagues nearer to the equator than the island of Philae, we find the last monument which bears the name of an Egyptian king; he is one of the Pharaohs, the Ramses, or Ramesses, who lived 3600 years before our time, 1800 years before Christ, and scarce 300 after the flood, according to the chronology of the Hebrew Bible, but much earlier, according to the computation of the Septuagint. At such distance of time, Nubia was inhabited by a nation speaking the same language, using the same mode of hieroglyphical writing, professing the same religion, and governed by the same sovereigns who ruled over Egypt. The difficulty consists in being able accurately to distinguish the monuments of the most ancient
date, from those whose antiquity does not ascend so high, and with which they are perpetually intermixed; to fix correctly the epoch in which they were raised, and thus to ascertain the gradual alteration which took place, not only in the mode of hieroglyphical writing, but also in the notions of mankind, in the extent of their civilization, and in the manner with which they cultivated arts and sciences.
But I am not inclined to despair. The resources of the human mind are immense; the effects of perseverance, joined to talent, incalculable. Notwithstanding the taste which seems to have affected all ranks for light reading and books of amusement, the thirst after knowledge certainly seems to be the characteristic of our age. Among the scholars of the present day, there are still to be found not a few who toil after useful and solid pursuits, and who spurning the ephemeral reputation of seeing their productions upon the toilets and tea-tables of our fashionables, direct their attention to useful and laborious studies. Among our men of power, there are still some who generously offer pecuniary assistance to talent, and who would cheerfully contribute to the expences of the intrepid traveller, who should engage in an African expedition, for the decided object of searching after monuments of Egyptian antiquity.
The repeated attempts, encouraged by Government, as well as by private individuals, at finding out a passage to Asia by the North Sea, or at ascertaining the course of the Niger, have al