« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Page LECTURE XI.
Statement of the subject—Difference in the chronology of the Hebrew text, and the Samaritan and Greek version of the Bible—Inadmissibility of the Hebrew computation, proved by facts mentioned by sacred as well as profane history—Ages of Nimrod, of Ninus, and of Abraham, ascertained—Foundation of the Egyptian monarchy by Misraim—Multiplication of mankind—Opinion of Bishop Cumberland confuted—Alteration of the Hebrew chronology—Objections stated and resolved—Reasons why the genealogical tables recorded by the ancient historians are entitled to credit—Causes which produced the discrepancy in the names and number of the different sovereigns—Attempt at reducing to a reasonable computation the fabulous reckonings of the Oriental historians—System of M. Gibert–Explained—Exemplified—Babylonian, Egyptian, and Chinese chronology - - - 370
Anaglyphs—Remarkable instance of one, exhibiting the figures of the Israelites, Hyk-shos, and Negroes—National sentiments of the Egyptians concerning these Shepherds— Attempt at ascertaining their origin—Historical account from Manetho, Diodorus, Chaeremon, Lysimachus, and Tacitus, analysed—Systems of the ancient and modern writers about the Hyk-shos, and the Israelites—Opinion of the Fathers and the primitive Christians confuted. Hypothesis of Mr. Bryant analysed - - 410
Necessity of prior explanations and of understanding ideas by
Signs-Difficulties attending the study of hieroglyphicsIllustrations-Requisites for understanding hieroglyphicsRosetta stone-Necessity of knowing the language, history, and customs of the old Egyptians—Ancient historians, Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo, Manetho-Animals-DeitiesReligious doctrine-Egyptian dynasties–Antiquities—Thebes -Memphis-Karnac — Louqsor- Abydos, &c.—BelzoniCailliaud-Champollion-Conclusion.
It is necessary, before I approach the subject of hieroglyphics, to make a few preliminary observations. The information to be found in different individuals who assemble at a public lecture is very different. A lecturer must endeavour, above all things, to be as intelligible to his hearers as the subject admits; but this, in such a subject as hieroglyphics, is very difficult, and every allowance must be made for me, while I am alluding to so many things which have been long buried in the obscurity of distant ages, and are matters upon which studious and learned men have thought much, and disputed not a little.
The present Lecture will be chiefly occupied in endeavouring to explain such terms as I shall have hereafter to use; the mentioning such characters and points of history as I may have hereafter to allude to ; and in giving such information as it would be inconvenient to give while the Lecture is going on, and when such information must be taken for granted. In all sciences, and in every species of instruction, something is generally laid down in the way of lemma, that the thoughts may not afterwards be embarrassed by unseasonable interruption. Much of what I am now going to say may be already familiar to those who have at all considered the subject before us, and to such it may appear tedious and unnecessary. This is, however, the great difficulty with which a public lecturer has to struggle, and from which he cannot escape; that what is necessary to the mind of one hearer, is not so to the mind of another.
Mankind have always turned with great interest to the subject of hieroglyphics. These were characters found on public monuments in Egypt. The inhabitants of that celebrated land were always considered as the great masters of the knowledge of the ancient world. Here were characters in which much of their knowledge might be contained, but it was quite impossible to know what their meaning was. On this subject, therefore, the curiosity of mankind has been always very intense. They were supposed to be the characters in which the priests expressed, or rather concealed
their knowledge; and it was even thought that, in later times, the priests had themselves lost the art of understanding them. In looking at the characters, some of them had the appearance of something like letters; some were the pictures of birds or beasts; some of the human figure: nothing could be more fitted to baffle inquiry, and perplex conjecture.
And now I must digress for a moment, to request you will consider what an astonishing thing it is to express a thought of the mind by any written mark whatever. If I am thinking of a bird, or a lion, or a house, I may draw a bird, a lion, or a house; a picture may represent a thought; but beyond this all is impossibility. When the Spaniards arrived on the coast of Mexico, the Indians, you are aware, had no other way of informing their rulers of this important event, but by drawing pictures ; and nothing can be more curious than the exhibition of this sort of picture-writing, to be found in Purchas's Pilgrim, which is an account of the early voyages, and of which I shall speak more fully in a future lecture. But consider, what a wide step there is between this picture-writing, and what we mean by writing. The next possible step would be to represent a bird, or a lion, or any material object, by any very prominent line belonging to the figure ; but when this has been done, I would ask, what can next be done? Consider what an alphabet is; how very artificial ! Consider what it is to combine the letters of the alphabet into