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It is with diffidence and hesitation that the following Lectures are offered to the public. They were originally intended as an addition to a Course of Lectures, which the Author, as Deputy to the Professor of Modern History, has been in the habit of reading in the University of Cambridge, on the literature and languages of modern Europe. At the instance of some distinguished individuals, a few of them were delivered last year at the Royal Institution in London, and at the desire of many of the Author's friends, they now appear before the world.
In drawing them up, the Author has embraced a large field of inquiry, and has ventured on a path many parts of which have been but faintly explored; and he has had, in many instances, no other assistance than the few scattered materials
which he had been able to collect in the constantly interrupted course of his reading. He has had to address himself to people of education, on a subject extremely difficult, and in a language not his own; in a language full of idioms and niceties, which present difficulties even to the natives themselves, and seem to baffle and defy all the efforts of a foreigner.
Yet he cannot but remember the encouragement he received, while delivering these Lectures at Cambridge, and at the Royal Institution. And as they who heard them seemed to have a pleasure in listening to him, he cannot but hope that those who read them will be equally indulgent.
In the following pages the Author never meant to give the detail, but simply the result of his reading; and as they were originally intended for delivery only, critical discussion has been always avoided; neither have references been collected nor the authorities noted down on which the different statements were founded. To this deficiency all Lectures are liable ; it arises from the very nature of that mode of instruction. Yet
what was possible has been done ; in most cases the Author has not failed to mention, in a general way, the name of the author, or of the book from which he has taken the fact, or derived assistance.
It is not improbable that his readers may occasionally differ from him on several points, which he has endeavoured to establish, in regard to the antiquities of Egypt, to its literature, to its progress in the arts of civilization and luxury, and, above all, in regard to chronology, and the succession of the Pharaohs.
This very difference of opinion, which has always existed among critics, has allowed great latitude in subjects of antiquity and literature ; and a proper degree of candour will no doubt be shewn to the Author, in a land like this, of refinement, civilization, and liberty.
Of the curious nature of the following Lectures he need say but little. The publications of the Society of Antiquaries, and of many learned individuals,—the discoveries of Dr. Young,—the amazing success which has attended the labours of the
indefatigable Champollion,—the monuments of all sorts which have been imported into England,the great collection of Egyptian antiquities in the British Museum, and the magnificent descriptions which travellers of all nations have given of the majestic and wonderful ruins existing throughout Nubia and Egypt, have excited so much general interest in favour of hieroglyphics and Egyptian antiquities, that every thing connected with the existence and past grandeur of that extraordinary people is become an object of national curiosity.
One observation, however, the Author feels himself called upon to make, though it is not an observation for him to make, if he could well avoid it; and it is this :—that, unable to express himself as he might have hoped to do in his own language, he has had no resource but to assemble the greatest quantity of literary facts, and literary notices, which the limits of his Lectures allowed ; being conscious that as he could derive no advantage from his manner, he had to depend only on his matter; and as he had no hope to please by the beauty of composition, his efforts have been always directed to give information, if he could,
and information only. And though these Lectures have been written with the view of suiting the taste of the general reader, yet he is not without a hope that they may occasionally offer to the scholar and to the antiquary materials sufficiently interesting to engage their attention.
CAMBRIDGE, June 1st, 1829.