Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Higgins' work. But the following passage from so learned a man as Sir Wm. Drummond, and whose reverence for the Bible is so unexceptionable, is worth citing. (Drummond on the Zodiacs, p. 36.) “ The fact, however, is certain, that at some remote period there were mathematicians and astronomers who knew that the sun is the centre of our planetary system, and that the earth, itself a planet, revolves round the central fire ; who calculated, or, like ourselves, attempted to calculate the return of comets, and who knew that these bodies move in elliptic orbits immensely elongated, having the sun in one of their foci ; who indicated the number of the solar years contained in the great cycle, by multiplying a period (variously called in the Zend, the Sanscrit, and the Chinese, ven, van, and phen) of 180 years by another period of 144 years ; who reckoned the sun's distance from the earth at 800,000,000 of Olympic stadia, and who must, therefore, have taken the parallax of that luminary by a method not only more perfect than that said to have been invented by Hipparchus, but little inferior in exactness to that now in use among the moderns; who could scarcely have made a mere guess, when they fixed the moon's distance from its primary planet at fifty-nine semidiameters of the earth; who had measured the circumference of our globe with so much exactness, that their calculation only differed a few feet from that made by our modern geometricians; who held that the moon and the other planets were worlds like our own, and that the moon was diversified by mountains, valleys, and seas; who asserted, there was yet a planet which revolved round the sun beyond the orbit of Saturn ; who reckoned the planets to be sixteen in number ; who reckoned the length of the tropical year within three minutes of the true time, nor indeed were they wrong at all if a tradition mentioned by Plutarch be correct.” May I be permitted, Sir William, to ask you, (says our author) of what nation do you think these astronomers were? Do you suppose they were the Indians who forgot their formulæ, the Egyptians or the Chaldeans who fixed the year at three hundred and sixty days, or the Greeks who laughed at the stories of the comets being planets ? Search where you will, you must go to Baillie's nation between 40° and 50° of N. latitude; and that great man, the successor of Galileo, Bacon, and Worcester, in spite of prejudice, inust at last have justice done to him.

On a general diffusion of great knowledge formerly, he refers to the Transactions of the Archæolog. Soc. Ant. London, vol. vi. p. 319. For the ancient discovery of the principle of gravitation, and the form of the heavenly bodies, he refers to Strabo, lib. ii. p. 110, who says, “the earth and the heaven are both

spherical, but their tendency is to the centre of gravity.” M. Duten's Origine des Decouvertes attribuès aux Modernes, is a very ingenious and a very learned work, but it goes but a little way back, comparatively.

Persia, India, and China, depositaries not inventors of Science. (p. 52).- Who the Celtæ were, (52.) According to Cæsar, (De Bell. Gall. lib. i. initio.) Gaul was inhabited by the Belgæ, the Aquitani, and the Celtæ; the latter were denominated Gauls by the Romans, and therefore were probably the most numerous of the three tribes. The Greeks called them Kero. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Apollo, uses Galates and Celtæ as synonimous.Herodotus, Melp: $ 49, places them in the remotest west of Europe. According to Diod. Sic. lib. v. $32, the Celtæ occupied Massylia, part of the Alps, and the Pyrenees : and, he says, $ 24, that Galates ruled in Celtica, whence the name Galatia, Gallia, or Gaul. Herodotus says the river Ister takes its rise among the Celts, near the city Pyrene, Eut. $33. (See also Appian Exp. Alex. lib. i.)

The Celta were Gomerians. (p. 54.) This may be; but in our opinion their descent from Gomer rests too much on a fanciful etymology. Appian says they were Cymbri. So does Possidonius according to Strabo, lib. vii.' Josephus says the Celtæ descended from Gomer. Josephus, (says Mr. Higgins,) is a very respectable authority to a fact of this kind. For our own part, we have very little respect for the authority of Josephus, for a fact of any kind, of which he was not eye witness.* Nor do we pay much respect, on a question of this kind, to Eustathius of Antioch, Jerom, Isidore, or the Chronicle of Alexandria, or Theophilus of Antioch, or Joseph Goronides. Learned men have been too long in the habit of shutting their eyes to the credibility of history, and of regarding a writer, a thousand years after a fact, as good authority in support of it. This total ignorance of the rules of criticism in respect of historical evidence, has prostrated common sense in a thousand instances. It is not sufficient to prove an ancient fact, that an ancient author has asserted it: we ought to know what grounds he had for the assertion, and how he came by his knowledge; what bias he was under, if any; how near he lived to the date of the transaction ; what opportunities he enjoyed of consulting the sources of knowledge, and what is his general character for accuracy and veracity. Neither do we assent to Mr. Higgins' summary of opinions respecting the Celts, (p. 56) although Pezron may bear him out.

* In p.78, Mr. Higgins expresses a still stronger distrust of Josephus than we do.

The whole of the historical facts, stated in this chapter and section, are so disputable, that we hesitate to admit them.

Of the Umbri and Etruscans. (p.58.) The Umbri a race of Gauls. The Sabines, Umbri and Celtæ the same people: conquered by the Etruscans. Quere. In our opinion they were older than the Etruscans. The author thinks the Umbri were the first artificers of what we call the Etruscan pottery, and were a branch of a highly civilized people. All this may be so, but the evidence adduced is insufficient to prove it. According to Dionysius Halicarnassus, Tarquinius Priscus received from the Tyrrheni or Etruscans ensigns of royalty, such as had been borne by the Lydians and Persians. If so, we must admit the probability of their being Asiatics; and having but thirteen letters in their alphabet, they were a very early swarm from the Asiatic hive. In our opinion this may apply to their ancestors, the Pelasgoi, as well as the more ancient Umbri. Mr. Higgins then gives us a very curious table of the Celtic, Sanscrit and Latin languages, comprising sixty words of undoubted similarity, having the meaning, the sound and the spelling so nearly alike, as to leave little doubt of their common origin. Mr. Higgins says, these are some examples out of a great many. He thinks the Latin was not derived from the Greek, or the Greek from the Phænician, but all of them from some common parent language; wherein we agree with him.

Mr. Higgins and Dr. Jamieson (Hermes Scythicus) assume, that the Celtæ and Scythians were Gomerians, and the Celtæ first in order of time: hence they would be the parents of the earliest European languages, which came from the east through the Celts. Gomer, the eldest son of Japhet, (Japetus) whence the Gomerians, Cimmerians, Cumri, Cymri, the first race who peopled Europe, according to Jamieson. They occupied part of the territory which afterwards appertained to the Scythians. These Cymri, Cumerii, Kimbri, were Galatæ or Celtæ. All this savours too much of etymology for us.

Alpheus vient d'Equus; sans doute:
Mais il faut avouer aussi
Qu'en venant de la, jusqu'ici

Il a bien changé sur la route. Affinity between the Hebrew and Celtic. (p. 62.). In the Annual Register, (vol. xlvii. p. 887,) is an attempt to shew that the Hebrew and the Welsh are the same: and several whole verses are given from a Welsh bible which are actually Hebrew. Major Vallancey bas shewn as we think, incontrovertibly, the Monologue in Plautus to be Irish ; and Bochart has shewn it to be

Hebrew. O'Connor, in his Chronicles of Erin, authenticates Vallancey's version. We requested a friend to translate the Hebrew of Bochart into Samaritan, conceiving that a Phoenician passage required to be compared with the Samaritan as the more cognate dialect, but his written pronunciation of the Samaritan version, does not much resemble the Irish.

Affinity between the Greek, Sanscrit, and Celtic. (p. 64.) Hecatæus of Miletus says, the Barbarians inhabited Greece before the Ellenes. Of this we have no doubt. These Barbarians being Umbri and Pelasgoi; Celtæ: for the Curetes were Celts, and established the Olympic Games. (See Pezron's Antiquities of Nations, where he has collected a number of Latin and Greek words, certainly derived from the Celtic.) The Arundelian Marbles, and Lucian, say that Eumolpus, a Thracian, introduced the Eleusinian Mysteries. At the conclusion of these mysteries, the assembly was dismissed in these words,

кога ом ПАЕ, , which were not understood by the Greeks. Mr. Wilcox has shewn that these same words are Sanscrit, and commonly used at the religious meetings and ceremonies of the Brahmins. Canscha Om Pachsa. (See Asiatie Transactions, vol. v. and Hesychius voc. xoyš our aš.) The Sanscrit letters, says Mr. Higgins, are, probably, older than Brahma, but whether older than the negro Buddha, is a doubt. This section contains other suggestions of the affinity between these languages, that are not void of foundation.

The Celtic was the first swarm from the parent hive. (67.) There is no proof of this : nor of the branches designated in this and the succeeding pages. They may have dwelt in or near Bactriana, and sent forth in process of time, emigrations to the other parts of the world ; but the suggestion is not made out by evidence, neither is there any proof that the Celtæ and Scythæ were the same people. In such a question as this, we cannot expect more than probability, but proofs to that extent, are necessary to satisfy reasonable inquiry. The Celts were notoriously fair complexioned, and light-haired of a yellow tinge. Does this agree with the Gauls or Scythæ ?

Of the Phænician Colonies in Ireland. (80.) We have as yet encountered no proof in our author, or in any other author, of Phænician Colonies in Ireland, save in the ancient Irish histories, whose authenticity is no where made out.

The passage quoted by Justus Lipsius from Aristotle, ( de admirand:) is much

* See Appendix to this Article,

too vague to prove any thing. That the marks of the patriarchal people are stronger in Ireland, Wales, and the Scotch Isles, than in Britain, is a very objectionable opinion. That marks of Druidism, and a language very like the Phænician, are more observable there, may be admitted, but we would remark here once for all ;

1. That admitting, as we cannot avoid admitting as a reasonable conclusion from known facts, some very ancient and civilized people who spake, or from whom was derived the Sanscrit, there is no proof that the Phænicians were those people, or that the Phænician language was the earliest language; or that the term patriarchal, is properly applied to these very ancient progenitors, of whom no actual records are now known to exist.

2. A people who were capable of employing a language so skilfully constructed, so copious as the Sanscrit, would have some alphabetical characters for writing, not quite so simple and so rude as the Irish Ogham, or the Persepolitan arrow letter.

3. The quantity of knowledge ascribed hypothetically to these primitive people, is in harmony with the skilful and artificial construction of the Sanscrit; but is quite out of harmony with Druidical temples and cromlehs, as well as with leaf-writing, and Ogham characters; manifestly the works and inventions of an ignorant and half-savage race.

4. Granting much of the knowledge assumed for the Druids, to have been the same that Pythagoras possessed, the general aspect of Druidical knowledge and attainment, appears to be at the first blush so very inferior to the details we possess of the astronomical knowledge of Pythagoras, that it is to the last degree improbable they should have been his tutors. What evidence of mathematical knowledge have they exhibited ? The raising of great weights like the stones of the Druidical temples, might well be done by force of people, like the equally idle building of the pyramids; both being full proofs of the want of taste, and want of intellect of a gross and savage people, as we have no doubt the Egyptians were in early times, notwithstanding the modern fancy of bepraising the learning and cultivation of a people, who have not left one book as a testimony that they possessed knowledge of any kind, nor any evidence to shew that an Egyptian book ever existed at any time previous to Coptic christianity.

5. The people who employed the Saros and the Metonic Cycle, who measured an arc of the meridian, and the distances of our earth from the sun and the moon, and who ascertained so nearly

« ZurückWeiter »