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well as the art itfelf? To what purpose the trouble of inventing another fyftem of characters?"

"Various answers may be returned to this objection.

"1.We know, from the inftance of our own language, what diversities may be introduced in this refpect merely by length of time, and an intercourfe with neighbouring nations. And fuch an effect would be much more likely to take place be fore the art of printing had contributed to establish an uniformity of character. For, when every work was tranfcribed by the hand, we nay cafily imagine how many variations would arife from the fancy of the fcribe, and the mode of writing fo conftantly different in individuals. What two perfons write without the plainett fymptoms of peculiarity?

2. Vanity might fometimes give occafion to this diverfity. When an individual of another community had become acquainted with this wonderful artifice, he might endeavour to recommend himself to his own people, as the devifer of it: and, to evade detection, might have recourfe to the fubftitution of new fymbols. But let no more credit be given to this conjecture than it deferves.


3. The characters of the alphabet might, fometimes, be accommodated, as much as potfible, to the fymbolical marks already in, ufe amongst a particular people. Thefe having acquired a high degree of fanctity, by the ufe of many generations, would not be eafily fuperfeded, without the aid of fome fuch contrivance, by an adventitious practice.


4. But I have more than cenjecture to offer in fupport of this argument; even the testimony of an ancient historian; whofe account

will ferve as a general evidence in this cafe, and may lead us to conclude, that fimilar deviations may have taken place amongst other claffes of men, as well as in that inftance, which he particularly fpecifies from his own knowledge.

"Herodotus, in one part of his history, has the following relation.

"Thofe Phoenicians, who came with Cadmus, introduced many improvements among the Greeks, and alphabetical writing too, not known in my opinion to the Greeks before that period. At first they used the Phoenician character: but in process of time, as the pronunciation altered, the ftandard of the letters was alfo changed. The Ionian Greeks inhabited at that time the parts adjacent to Phoenicia: who, having received the art of alphabetical writing from the Phoenicians, ufed it, with an alteration of fome few characters: and confeffed ingenuously, that it was called Phoenician, from the introducers of it. And I have feen myself the characters of Cad. mus in the temple of Ifinenian Apollo at Thebes in Baotia, engraven upon tripods, and very much refembling the Ionian characters."


5. The old Samaritan is precifely the fame as the Hebrew language and the Samaritan Pentateuch does not vary by a single letter in twenty words from the Hebrew. But the characters are widely different: for the Jews adopted the Chaldaic letters, during their captivity at Babylon, instead of the characters of their forefathers. This difficulty then feems to have been fufficiently confidered.

"III. What we know of those nations, who have continued for many centuries unconnected with the reft of the world, strongly mie litates against the hypothefis of the human invention of alphabetical writing.

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Whilst the military tenures fubfifted, the fovereign could only call upon his tenants during war, who therefore attended with the weapons they had been used to, and which required no previous prac


"On the other hand, the English archers were obliged by acts of parliament, even in time of peace, to erect butts in every parifh, and to fhoot on every Sunday and holiday, after repairing perhaps to thefe butts from a confiderable distance, whilst the expence of at least a yew-bow, is reprefented as being a charge, which they were fcarcely equal to.

The king and parliaments of this country having thus compelled the inhabitants to fuch training, the English armies had (it fhould feem) the fame advantage over our enemies, as the exclufive ufe of fire. arms would give us at present.

"It appears alfo by what hath been already stated, that the longbow continued to be in eftimation for more than two centuries after

ing very cumbersome and unwieldy. It is well known that rapid movements are generally decifive of the campaign, and for fuch the archers were particularly adapted, because, as they could not be annoyed at the fame distance by the weapons of the enemy, they had fcarcely any occafion for armour. The flower of ancient armies likewife was the cavalry, against which the long-bow never failed to prevail, as man and horfe were too large objects to be miffed; and hence the great number of French nobility who were prifoners at Creffy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, for being difinounted (if not wounded) whilft they were alfo clad in heavy armour, they could not make their efcape.

"The fame reafon accounts for our obtaining thefe fignal victories with fo inferior numbers; for the nobility and gentry thus becoming prifoners, the other parts of the made little or no re




gunpowder was introduced, which probably arofe from mufquets be

Having mentioned fo many advantages on the fide of the English archers, I cannot but observe, that if the enemy gained the wind against them, it must have been almoft as decifive in favour of our opponents, as when it is obtained in a fea-fight: I conclude, however, that our generals avoided engagements, if poffible, when the wind was not favourable.

"I fhall now conclude this effay by a few anecdotes and general obfervations relative to the fubject.

"Though we hear of arrows at Cheviot Chafe which were a yard long, yet it is by no means to be fuppofed that the whole band made ufe of fuch, or could draw them to the head.

"The regulation of the Irish ftatute of Edward the Fourth, viz. that the bow fhall not exceed the

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gularity utterly irreconcilable to the common hypothefis: at least, I am acquainted with no plausible answer to this objection.

"Should any one reply, "that alphabetical characters may have been in existence many ages prior to the date of thefe fpecimens in the Scriptures, but that the more ancient memorials, in which they were exhibited, have perished by the defolations of ignorance and the viciffitudes of time:" I must demur at an argument that advances no premises of fufficient validity to authenticate this conclufion. For, 1. It is mere affirina tion, without the leaft fhadow of historical testimony to give it countenance. 2. To wave the authority of the Jewifh fcriptures upon this point (which, however, I muft beg leave to obferve, is corroborated by abundant evidence from philofophy and experience, as well as hiftory), that fimplicity of manners, predominant in the early ages, fo obfervable in the accounts delivered down by facred and profane hiftorians; the confeffed mediocrity of their intellectual acquirements, and the confined intercourfe of nations with each other, which would render fuch an expedient lefs neceffary, and therefore lefs likely to be discovered: all these confiderations feem to argue with no little cogency, that fo complex, fo curious, fo wonderful, fo confummate a devife as that of alphabetical writing, could hardly be first detected by a race of men, whofe wants were few, whose advantages were circumfcribed, and whose ideas were commenfurate to their fituation. This pofition, therefore, conjectural as it is, and unfubftantial, feems unwor thy of farther animadverfion.

"II. Ifalphabetical writing were a human invention, the natural re

fult of ingenuity and experience, might we not expect that different nations would have fallen upon the fame expedient, independently of each other, during the compafs of fo many ages: when the faculties of the mind are equally capable at all times, and in every corner of the univerfe, and when the habits of life and modes of thought inevit ably bear fo great a resemblance to each other in fimilar ftages of fociety? This, I fay, were but a reafonable expectation: which, however, correfponds not to the event. For alphabetical writing, as now practifed by every people in the univerfe, may be referred to one common original, If this propofi tion can be proved, the argument from fucceffive derivation, without a fingle inftance of independent difcovery, must be allowed to amount to the very highest degree of probability in my favour; and the common fuppofition will appear perfectly gratuitous, with the incumbrance alfo of this great paradox: "You tell us, I might fay, of an invention, which is the regular confequence of refinement in fociety, nothing more than a gra dual advancement from what is plain to what is complex ; by a fi milar procefs, pursued by the mind in all its exertions for improve, ment and yet we can perceive no reafon to conclude, that any com. munity but one, and that in mo wife diftinguished by any vaft fuperiority of inventive genius, or the improvements introduced by them into common life, ever compaffed this discovery; though the human powers have been uniformly the fame, and the conduct of fociety has been greatly fimilar in different nations at different periods of time."

"Let us confider then, how the evidence ftands in this cafe: only pre

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fimilarity of their formation, and the numberlefs words, common to them all, demonftrably evince: and the Perfic has a close affinity to the Arabic. Alterations would naturally be introduced, proportionate to the civilization of the feveral poffeffors, and their feparation from the other nations: and this will account for the fuperior copioufness of fome above the rest. more ancient language, the Henot to determine which was the So then, brew, Syriac, or Arabic, a question of no importance on this occafion; all the languages in ufe amongst alphabetical characters, have been men, that have been conveyed in the languages of people, connected ultimately or immediately, with thofe who have handed down the earlieft fpecimens of writing to pofterity. And when the languages of the eastern nations are fo fimilar

when fo curious an art would be, in all probability, the first improvement communicated by one people tain, that alphabetical writing orito another is it not morally cerginally centered in one people? For length of time has deprived us of exprefs hiftorical teftimony in this cafe.

premifing, that, where a continuity of tranfmiffion appears to have taken place, arifing from the intercourfe of nations with each other; and where the words are the fame, the grammatical conftruction, and other minute peculiarities of compofition much alike, in two languages, thefe languages are of the fame texture: and that alphabetical compofition, attended by thefe circumstances of refemblance, muft flow from one fource: efpecially, if the difference in the alphabetical marks of these two languages fhould be no objection, but may be accounted for upon reasonable principles.


It will be readily allowed then, I prefume, that no modern European nation, exclufive of the Turkith empire, indebted to the Greeks and Arabians, feparately invented alphabetical writing; we all derived, without any doubt, this art from the Romans. The Romans never laid claim to the difcovery: they afcribed all their literary advantages to the Greeks. This accomplished people acknowledge, with one voice, to have received the art from the Phoenicians; who, as well as their colonists the Carthaginians, are known by the learned to have spoken the Hebrew language, or a dialect fcarcely vary ing from the original. The Coptic, or Egyptian, wears the exacteft refemblance in the majority of its characters to the Greek: they, therefore, must be referred in all reafon to the fame origin. The Chaldee, Syriac, and later Samaritan, are dialects of the Hebrew, without any confiderable deviation, or many additional words. Ethiopic differs more from the HeThe brew, but still less than the Arabic. Thefe languages, however, notwithstanding fuch deviations, have iffued from the fame ftock; as the

to be fufficiently ascertained by an-
"Indeed, this propofition feems
other argument; that is from the
famenefs of the artificial denomina-
tions of the letters in the Oriental,
Greek, and Latin languages; ac-
companied too by a fimilar arrange-
ment: Alpha, Beta, and so on.
dence, fome will argue againft all
"But in oppofition to this evi-
poffible admiffion of our conclufion,
of characters employed by the an-
by alledging the entire diffimilarity
cients to difcriminate their letters.
will be urged, adopt from the other
"Why should not one nation, it
the mode of expreffing the art, as

time, which is, that (as it commonly happens in other pastimes) the bets at thefe fhooting matches began to be confiderable.


I fhall conclude this cffay by mentioning, that the long-bow continues to be used as a manly exercife by the inhabitants of Geneva,


[From the fame Publication. ]


T has long been furmifed that the vagrant tribes of people called in this country Gypfies, and on parts of the continent of Europe, Cingari, Zingari, and Chingali, were of eaftern origin. The former name has been fuppofed a corruption of Egyptian, and fome learned perfons have judged it not improbable that their language might be traced to the Coptic.

In the courfe of refearches which I have had occafion to purfue on the fubject of language, I obferved that Ludolfus, in his Hiftory of Ethiopia, makes mention, incidentally, of the Cingari vel Errones Nubiani, and gives a fpecimen of words which he had collected from these people in his travels, with a view of determining their origin. He difcuffes the opinions of various writers concerning them, but forms no precife one of his own, concluding his obfervations with thefe words: "Eadem vocabula, cùm maximam partem reperiam apud Vulcanium, à centum ferè annis tradita, non fictitia exiftimo, ut Megiferus putat, nec corrupta ex aliis linguis, neque Egyptiaca five Coptica.'


I was furprised to find many of the words contained in the fpe

and in many parts of Flanders; nor is it totally neglected in Great Britain, particularly Lancashire, and London, where a fociety (of which our worthy member fir Afhton Lever is the prefident) frequently ufe this manly recreation."


cimen familiar to my eye, and pointed out to fir Jofeph Banks (in the latter end of the year 1783) their evident correfpondence with the terms in the Hindoftanic, or as it is vulgarly termed in India, the Moors language. This fimilitude appeared to me fo extraordinary, that I was inclined to fufpect an error in the publication, which might have arisen from a confusion of obfcure vocabularies in the author's poffeffion. The circumftance, however, determined me to pay farther attention to the fubiect, and to examine, in the first place, whether the language fpoken by the Gypfey tribes in England, and by thofe in the remoter parts of the continent of Europe, were one and the fame; and then to afcertain whether this actually bore the affinity, which fo forcibly ftruck me in Ludolfus, to any of the languages on the continent of India.

"Through the obliging affift ance of fir Jofeph Banks, who has fpared no pains to promote this inveftigation, I procured an opportunity of obtaining a lift of words from our Gypfies, which I can depend upon as genuine, and tolerably accurate in refpect to the pronunciation, from their being corro borated

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