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especially in its ancient shape, (see Giovan Battista Palatino, Lettera Antica et Moderna, Roma, MDXXXXv.) to that of the Chinese character of a Ship, and nearly approxiinates to it in sound, yet siguifies only Substance. The zigzag line which in some Chinese characters represents water (shwy), in Egyptian gives the sound both of s and m, and signifies water also.

We consider ourselves to have made out our third allegation, that the assertions of Doctor Du Ponceau are not supported by any proof; for in the passages already quoted, where there is the greatest appearance of it, there seems to us to be also the greatest failure of argument.

On the question of the perfect adaptation, however, of the Chinese characters for a system of scientitic pasigraphy, we may be allowed to express strong doubts; and the more so as Mr. Davis, whose attainments in the Chinese tongue no man can dispute, and who seems, in the work already referred to, to incline to this eligibility, has himself been accused of a serious error : but this most unjustly. The case serves at least for a curious illustration. It will be in the recollection of all, that this learned sinologist has given a translation of the motto upon a porcelain vessel in his volumes. His translation is seriously impugned by a writer in one of our Indian newspapers, who asserts also that he had shown it to a native Chinese teacher, and that the latter recognized the line in question as the first of a wellkuown Chinese couplet, and supplied the second from memory. It is nevertheless but common justice to state, that European scholars who have resided many years in China, agree that Mr. Davis's translation is perfectly correct, and that the Chinaman is decidedly in the wrong, both as to the altered sense of the first line, and its connection with the second. If such difference of opinion can exist as to the meaning of characters, we doubt of their eligibility to the purposes of pasigraphic science universally.

With regard to the relation, whether of affinity or contrast, between the Chinese and Egyptian hieroglyphic systems, notwithstanding the length to which our present paper has run, we must be permitted to make a few observations.

But first, of China, we may incidentally remark, that notwithstanding the perfect adaptation of her characters for stereotype printing, as noticed by Davis, yet the art of printing was not known there till the tenth century after Christ. It is obvious then that she could have had no notion, directly or through intermediate nations in early days, of that Assyrian process, which printed or stereotyped their mystic cuneiform characters upon the bricks of Babylon, &c.; and between which and the transfer of the process to paper, there could otherwise have been but a short interval.


That China was early separated from the rest of mankind we see, if only from this one instance, no reason whatever to doubt; any more than that Egypt was early peopled by, and remained in constant intercourse with, other nations. From these facts we may draw a conclusion, essentially distinct, we believe, from any that has ever been offered before; and which, if correct, may go far to explain the causes of difference in the two hieroglyphic systems, as they are vulgarly termed.

It is consonant with experience to believe that pictures formed the first mode of expressing ideas of objects: and Mr. Cory, with that distinguished ability for which we have ever given him credit, has successfully applied this fact to the elucidation of the earliest traditions of mankind. It is asserted however everywhere, and in especial for Egypt and China, that Pictures led to PictureWriting, and that thence arose Characters—the signs of China, and the syllabaries of the West.

Doctor Du Ponceau, with many others, has justly remarked upon the necessary imperfection of these picture-signs, and the very confined mode of communication they must induce, intermingled at the best with arbitrary or conventional signs. Widely, and in fact universally, as the opinion has been received, of the correctness of the foregoing process in all its stages, we must express our doubts of it to a great extent--i. e, almost entirely, everywhere.

The Chinese writers may be thought decisive on this point, so far as regards their own country; and they do most unquestionably affirm that Pictures led to Picture-writing. This is the point where our scepticism begins. We would fain examine their evidence, generally and in mass, for the sake of conciseness.

Pictures, say they, led to Picture-writing. There is no clear proof, we think, existing of this; and beyond a few casual efforts we do not believe the assertion. Our doubts refer both to the history and the probability of the fact.

In Morrison's Chinese Dictionary the forms of some picturewritings are given from their native writers. They are but few, and confessedly a secondary invention, by Paou-she.

This, therefore, does not advance us one step nearer the truth, unless it can be shown that those specimens are authorities, that they are received as such by the Chinese, and that their authenticity is uncontradicted by authority equal to that which supports it.

The fact entirely rests upon an apparent probability, and as such, would be embraced in general, and without consideration. Yet, as we have already remarked, there are several accounts, all differing, some contradictory of the rest, and some from their very


nicety erroneous. The marks on the tortoise's shell, constellations, footprints of animals and birds, are, collectively and variously, stated to have been the origin of characters; either, as some affirm, by direct initation, or according to others, by suggesting the idea of written signs. Now this last is itself clearly a distinct process from pictures, and not less so from the dimivished, or picture-signs, both these being imitative, while that was arbitrary; for it is never pretended that the characters were meant to give the idea of footprints merely—they were simply shapes or lines applied to and hinting ideas, without picturing them. These various formis too were not made at once; but successive systems arose for successive individuals. Thus the Tortoise-characters were invented in the time of T'a-yu, and the Ho-tu, in the time of Fohi, and so forth; but Fohi and Ta-yu were distinct personages by the native accounts, whereas the Ho-tu characters are identical with the Tortoise. These few facts, and there are abundance more, suffice to show the utter doubt, confusion, contradiction, and ignorance, that reign through the very sources of information, and they serve to prove that the early history of writing in China cannot be depended on; for of their immense varieties of characters,--and a single series contains above thirty;-one mountain seventy-two ;- all, it seems were derived either from others, or from imitation of, not the absolute forms, but portions of the forms, of birds, &c. This last source may have given a phonetic basis, now forgotten.

Symbols, according to the most probable data, were the invention of Tsang-hee, in the reign of Hwang-te: and previous to this, as Dr. Kidd and Dr. Morrison inform us, i. e. up to the year 2600, B.C., knotted cords were in use, like the Peruvian quipos ; in other words, picture-writing was unknown altogether. How then can we credit the Chinese writings, that affirm this to have been the origin of characters ? Be it distinctly understood that the term symbols used above, is to be considered as meaning, not imitative forms, but arbitrary signs—such as the bird-marks already mentioned, which was succeeded by imitation of objects. As the Ta-chuen-wan, of Chow, 800, B.C.: a whim to carry hieroglyphics to the utinost.

Now as the oldest forms of character known are those of the inscription of Ta-yu, referred to on the banks of the Hoang-ho; and as these are not in the least imitative, what basis is there in history for the picture-writing story?

But is this niode really as probable in itself as is considered ? We make no question of absolute pictures, as men might draw these for posterity in order that all might understand great or public events; but could natural objects, as sun or moon, a man,

Let us

a horse, a dog, or a house or tree, &c. convey the ideas of private intercourse, and not distract oftener than illustrate. A mouth and an apple, for instance, might signify eating, but also hunger : arbitrary signs then must intervene the instant pictures changed to picture-writing; and this last could have had scarcely an existence; it must have been an almost absolute nonentity, used perhaps as by the Nabathæans, for pictures, and for symbolical attributes. So on the triumphal pillars of Sesostris, the male or female imitative sigo typified valour or cowardice.

We have seen that the Chinese have no authentic original picture-writing: the Chaldeans clearly had no idea of its original existence; for in the alphabets preserved to us by Ben Washih, the reputed antediluvian letters are all arbitrary, so far as appears.

But the Phænicians, it is said, and the Celts and the Hebrews also, pictured animals, &c. by letters. If so, we agree that the fact perhaps goes near to subvert our proposition altogether. But we submit that the converse is nearer the truth. admit as unquestionable fact the instances reported on both sides. The Phænician Aleph represented an ox.

The Celtic treealphabet supplied the element of letters, (as we noticed in one instance among the Chinese). But these, we affirm, formed only an arbitrary or conventional phonetic basis for letters. Thus in the former the cry of the ox gave the sound a, or rather as the Hebrews and Persians pronounce it, o; the name of the birch tree, beil, in the second, and of beth, a house, or a thorn tree, in the third, gave the sound of B, and so on. Natural objects then, by this view, supplied a basis for elementary sounds; for the name of the ox, house, tree, being given in the spoken language first, on the subsequent invention of letters the letter picturing the object representing a sound or name, was understood, by all as itself representing that sound: such as iu a former part of this article we have described as necessarily conventional; but nothing further: and, that basis established, the sources fell into oblivion. This clearly then was also different from what is understood by Picture-Writing.

Hence the only original picture-writing, strictly speaking, of which we have proofs, is that of


We have in remarking on the Chinese system above, intimated a doubt whether the general opinion of picture-writing, as a system to any extent, being derived from pictures, be not rather an apparent than a real probability. The transition-state in Egypt is an obvious objection: but is not this an exception, the grounds of which, on examination, as differing in circumstance from any other, will strengthen our negation.

All the assertions of ancient authors respecting the invention of writing appear equally vague, as equally grounded on tradition alone (Diod. 4. 74): but as the writers we shall here refer to may fairly be considered entitled to equal credit, we shall give those assertions the weight of facts, in relation to each other; noticing only, with Zoega, that, after all, the Greeks and Romans were equally in ignorance on the subject.

The Egyptians, says Tacitus, were the first to express ideas by outward signs; they pictured sentiments by forms of animals; their hieroglyphics were wrought in stone, (Ano, xi. 14). The Egyptians claim also, he adds, the invention of letters, and say that the Phænicians found legible characters in use there, which they bore to Greece. It is evident that the accurate historian holds their claims to hieroglyphics and to letters in two different degrees of credibility. We refer to the second point hereafter.

Lucan affirms that, by tradition, the Phoenicians first assumed to fix sounds by rude letters ; adding, that the Egyptians up to that time had merely sculptured animals on stone, preserving a mystic tongue (magicas linguas). Pharsal. I. i. c. 12.

The Phoenicians, says Athenæus, were the inventors of letters, (1. 2. Deipn.): Cadmus was a Phoenician, as stated by Clemens Alexandrinus (Str. I. 1.): Herodotus calls the Phænicians the bearers of letters : Diodorus calls them Pelasgian : i. e. from Eastern coasts.

Plato, as we have noticed elsewhere, speaks of the invention as reputed Syrian; and the Phoenicians were Syrians, as settled in that country,

Pliny calls the invention Assyrian; and these were the lords of Syria, and used its language in common life.

The passage in Justin, " Imperium Assyrii qui postea Syri dicti sunt," and the converse reading of Scaliger, “ Syrians, called afterwards Assyrians”—(Solin.), together with the distinction made by Herodotus, “ called Syrians by the Greeks, by the barbarians Assyrians," leave no doubt here.

We are farther to observe, that our general notion of the Assyrians, as Heeren observes, is drawn from the Jews, as one, and a conquering nation; whereas the Greeks applied the name to various nations on the Euphrates and Tigris; but his remark must be received with limitations, as Dionysius, Kep. xe; and as not extending to the Latins, for Justin after Trogus Pompeius, L. I. 2, 3, and Velleius Paterculus, L. 1. 6, 7, refer to the Assy

rians proper:

The whole, then, of these historical testimonies are perfectly reconcileable with each other, and all unite against the Egyptian claim as to the original letters.

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