Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ject having an analogy true or false, direct or indirect, near or remote, with the idea to be expressed; and, 3. phonetic characters, which, by the images of physical objects, represented sounds merely.

The figurative and symbolic are employed in the hieroglyphic texts in a much smaller proportion than the phonetic characters, which are true alphabetical signs, expressing the sounds of words in the spoken language of ancient Egypt.

The phonetic characters combine to form words, like those of any other alphabet, but they are susceptible of a different arrangement. When placed in horizontal lines, they read either from the right to the left, or conversely, according to the direction of the principal figures; when placed in perpendicular columns, they generally read from the front to the rear. In words written phonetically ihe medial vowels are very often suppressed, as in the Hebrew, Phoenician, Arabic, and most other written Oriental languages. Each sound or articulation may be represented by several homophonous signs; but the employment of one in preference to another seems to have been regulated by considerations derived from the material form of the sign, and the nature of the idea to be expressed by the phonetic characters. The hieroglyphic texts also exhibit frequent abbreviations of phonetic groups.

In the same hieroglyphic text, certain ideas are represented, sometimes by a figurative, sometimes by a symbolic character, and sometimes, also, by a group of phonetic signs, expressing the word which is the sign of the same idea in the spoken lana guage. Other ideas, again, are always expressed either by a group formed of a figurative and symbolic sign, or by the union of a figurative or symbolic sign with phonetic characters.

II. The HIERATIC, or sacerdotal writing, is immediately derived from the hieroglyphic, of which it is merely a tachygraphy. The form of the signs is considerably abridged; but they nevertheless comprise figurative, symbolic, and phonetic characters, though the place of the two first is often supplied either by phonetic characters, or such as are purely arbitrary, or at least have no corresponding hieroglyphs from which we can now trace their derivation.

All the hieratic manuscripts extant, whether they belong to the Pharaonic, Greek, or Roman epochs, exhibit merely a tachygraphy of the hieroglyphic writing, however widely some of the characters may, at first view, appear to differ from it. This method seems to have been confined to the transcription of texts or inscriptions connected with matters of religion. III. The DemoTIC, EPISTOLOGRAPHIC, or ENCHORIAL writVOL. XLV. NO, 89,

к

ing, is a method distinct from the Hieroglyphic, and even from the Hieratic, of which, however, it is an immediate derivative. The signs employed in the demotic are only simple characters borrowed from the hieratic. The demotic nearly excludes figurative, but admits symbolic signs, to express ideas connected with the system of religion. The characters it employs are much less numerous than those of the other methods, -and a much larger proportion of them are phonetic. The medial vowels of words, whether Egyptian or foreign, are often suppressed, as in the hieroglyphic and hieratic texts; but it can express each consonant or vowel by means of several signs, different in form, yet entirely similar in sound. The number of demotic is, however, much smaller than that of hieroglyphic or hieratic homophones.

The Demotic, Hieratic, and Hieroglyphic methods, were simultaneously in use among the Egyptians during a long series of ages.

Such is a tolerably complete view of the series of interesting discoveries in Hieroglyphic Literature, recently achieved by the united ingenuity and perseverance of Dr Young and M. Champollion ; with incidental notices of the results, which have been obtained in the course of their laborious and successful researches. The historical importance of these results, independent of their connection with the system of writing, it would, in our opinion, be difficult to exaggerate. The names of the most renowned of the Egyptian princes, Misphrathouthmosis, Thouthmosis, Amenophis, Rameses-Maiamoun, Rameses the Great, Sesonchis, &c. have been deciphered from monuments erected during their respective reigns; and, after having been long abandoned as fabulous, have once more been brought within the pale of history. The Canon of Manetho, which the learned, in their ignorance, had so long contemned, has been verified in every point, first, by the general investigations of M. Champollion; and, secondly, by the discovery of that very remarkable monument, the Chronological Table of Abydos. Lastly, the errors so long prevalent as to the supposed contents of the Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, and the comparative antiquity of the

* Most of the papyri which have been examined are written in this manner ; and it is in deciphering them that Dr Young has principally distinguished himself. His Enchorial alphabet, indeed, may be regarded as nearly complete ; and by the help of it he has en. tirely translated at least two of these MSS. By a singular chance, a Greek translation of one of them was afterwards discovered in the same mummy chest with the original ; and the version of our learned countryman stood the test of this formidable comparison.

Egyptian monuments, have not merely been exposed, but the possibility of their recurrence for ever prevented; while we have every reason to hope that the progress of the discovery will daily bring to light new and important facts in the early history of the most remarkable nation of the ancient world. If, in the face of all this, it should still be suggested that little has yet been done, we would suggest, in return, that the discovery is still in its infancy, and that that little has been achieved where nothing was previously known. Undoubtedly the great obstacle to further discovery, is the composite nature of the graphic system of ancient Egypt, and, particularly, the difficulty of interpreting the ideographic symbols, which constitute one of its elements. But, fortunately, these, compared with the sum-total of the hieroglyphic signs, are but few in number; and there is every reason to hope, that, by the method of exhaustion hitherto so successfully employed, and, above all, by the discovery of new inscriptions, accompanied by translations, a sufficient number of these symbols may be determined to enable us to decipher, not merely proper names, titles, legends, words of frequent occurrence, and a few grammatical forms, but whole inscriptions, and thus to obtain the full knowledge of all that these sacred sculptures have so long concealed.

Art. V. Modern Infidelity considered with respect to its influ

ence on Society, in a Sermon preached at the Baptist Meeting, Cambridge. By Robert Hall, M. A. Tenth Edition. 8vo. pp. 88. London. Hamilton, 1822.

IT
T is one of the most trite remarks of rhetorical criticism, that

the eloquence of the Pulpit, generally speaking, turns very peculiar advantages to a very moderate account. If any one were, for the first time, informed what Preaching was--if, for example, one of the ancient critics had been told that the time would come when vast multitudes of persons should assemble regularly to be addressed, in the midst of their devotions, upon the most sacred truths of a religion sublime beyond all the speculations of philosophers, yet in all its most important points simple, and of the easiest apprehension; that with those truths were to be mingled discussions of the whole circle of human duties, according to a system of morality singularly pure and attractive; and that the more dignified and the more interesting parts of national affairs were not to be excluded from the

discourse; that, in short, the most elevating, the most touching, and the most interesting of all topics, were to be the subjectmatter of the address, directed to persons sufficiently versed in them, and assembled only from the desire they felt to hear them handled—surely the conclusion would at once have been drawn, that such occasions must train up a race of the most consummate orators, and that the effusions to which they gave birth must needs cast all other rhetorical compositions into the shade. The preacher has, independent of his subject, advantages of a kind enjoyed by no other orator. He speaks with the most complete preparation ; in the midst of a profound silence, without the slightest contention to ruffle him or distract his audience; he speaks too as from a lofty eminence, clothed with high authority, not soliciting but commanding attention—not entreating or exhorting, but requiring compliance with his mandate, by virtue of the commission he bears

- not discoursing as man to men, but delivering a divine message as if he were upon an embassy from above, and claimed to represent the Supreme Power, whose minister he is admitted to be. His superiority over his auditors is far more marked than that of other orators, who only excel their hearers in talents and acquirements: For he is also more pure in life and conversation ; his habits are more virtuous, generally speaking, than that of the common run of men; and he is therefore more entitled to be respected. In very many cases he has a yet stronger claim to their regard; he is most probably their ordinary pastor, and endeared to them by having counselled them in difficulties, visited them in sickness, and comforted them in affliction. What, compared with this, is the advantage which secular declaimers prize the most, that of having a willing audience, when, as candidates for popular favour, they address their own partisans, or, as chiefs of a party, they appeal to their banded followers ?

How then comes it to pass that instances are so rare of eminent eloquence in the pulpit? That there should be a great number of dull sermons preached, we can easily bring ourselves to expect-because there are a much greater number of such discourses delivered, than of all others taken together. Reckoning only 15,000 every Sunday, which is allowing above 10,000 of the clergy in England and Wales to preach but once a week, and supposing only 5000 by dissenters of all kinds, in both parts of the Island, we have above a million of sermons preached regularly every year, beside many thousand occasional discourses. How small

percentage of this large number ever sees the light through the

а

press! How trifling a per-centage of the number published ever reaches a second edition ! Yet sermons, from the great multitude which are composed, form the most numerous class of publications; and, excepting works of very abstruse science, have the fewest readers; and without any exception, of all books sink, proverbially, the most speedily into oblivion. Their prodigious number will easily account for so many bad ones being found; and this may also explain the evil name which this species of composition generally has acquired. But it will hardly account for so few fine ones appearing.

The vast body of preachers always at work is, on the contrary, a reason why many great orators should start up, independent of all the peculiar advantages which pulpit-eloquence enjoys. We must seek elsewhere, then, for the cause of the undeniable fact, which is so often admitted and lamented.

It is commonly said, that the advantages such as we have adverted to are more apparent than real,- that ample as they seem to be when enumerated, they shrink into a narrow space in practice,- that some of them, as for instance the absence of conflict, and the uniform preparation, are rather drawbacks than benefits; and that all the solid points of superiority over secular oratory would be most profitably abandoned, if they could only be exchanged for the lively excitement, the heartfelt glow, created by a present interest, however trifling in amount, compared with the reversionary prospects toward which sacred contemplations are directed. That such is the grovelling nature of men, may be easily admitted; that they will be disposed to feel far more strongly the appeals made to them, upon matters before their eyes and at the present time, than any topics drawn from the evidence of things unseen,' and which refer to the period when time shall be no more;' that the question, what shall be suddenly enacted, is much more practical, and affects the bulk of mankind more vehemently, than the question how they shall regulate their lives, and what they shall hope or dread to experience hereafter, will readily be granted; and, therefore, that the natural tendency of a preacher's auditory, is to regard his topics with indifference, as not calling for any lively attention or immediate resolution, when the same hearer would be roused to enthusiasm by the more practical discourses at the bar, the hustings, or the vestry. But after we have made every allowance of this kind, it remains unquestionable, that the preacher has advantages of subject, and of character and opportunity, which should enable him to overcome the grovelling tendency of men; to lift their ideas above the impulses of sense, and to counteract their inveterate habit of mistaking near things for great ones.

« ZurückWeiter »