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rians;* that term being understood, in its more extended fense, as often used by the ancients, to include Chaldæa and Assyria, in particular by Pliny, who refers letters to the Assyrians; and the oldest Syrian and Phœnician letters are allowed to have been the fame. That is the peculiar character which Moses is thought to have used in writing the Pentateuch; and it is that in which the Samaritan, the oldest extant copy of it, is composed.
The Phœnicians, afterwards emigrating under Cadmus, carried letters into Greece; and the striking resemblance, both in form, found, and arrangement, of the latter, with the former, indubitably establishes their origin. But, if they were not sufficient of themselves to demonstrate the Oriental origin of letters, an irrefragable proof is derived from the circumstance of the Greeks having retained, with very little variation, the original names of the letters thus imported into their country from Phœnicia. From Greece, the Pelasgic colonies carried the Cadmæan- letters into Italy; evidenced also by the same resembling
* Diodorus Skulus, lib. v. p. 390.
i circumstances circumstances of fabrication, arrangement, and found.
At what a remote sera, indeed, letters were used in Assyria maybe deduced from the account sent to Aristotle, from Babylon, by Callisthencs, concerning the series of astronomical observations preserved by the priests in the temple of Belus,* and reaching back for a period of 1903 years from the time of its conquest by Alexander. Now Alexander's invasion of Babylon happened about the year, before Christ, 330, which makes the period, when those observations commenced, to have been little more than a century after the flood. They were written or engraved on bricks, burnt in the fun, which was probably the earliest rude tablet of the graphist, though afterwards he committed his thoughts to the more durable substance of marble, brass, and copper. Thus, according to Josephus, if any confidence can be placed in his report, the Pillars of Seth recorded the prediction of an inundated world; the stupendous sculptures, on what are called the written mountains of Arabia, are referred to ages of the
* Porphyr. apud Simplicium in Ariftot. de Cœlo, p. 123.
most remote antiquity; the triumphs of Sesostris were blazoned, in every country which he conquered, on columns that seem to have been inscribed at once with alphabetic and hieroglyphic characters; and the Hebrew decalogue itself was engraved on two tables of stone. The Indians used all these methods of conveying their ideas to posterity. Inscribed pillars and engraved copperplates have been discovered in every quarter of the empire; but the tablet in most general request among them has ever been the dried leaf of the palm-tree, many of which are fastened together, in long flips, and compose those books in which the sublime productions of the Indian muse have been for so many ages preserved. Diodorus farther informs us, in proof of the early cultivation of Assyrian letters, that Semiramis caused inscriptions, in the Syriac character, to be cut deep on the mountains of Bagisthan, and what, if the account can be depended on, is still more to our purpose, that, on her meditated expedition eastwards she received letters written to her from an ancient king of India.*
* Diod. Sic. lib.ii. p. 127, 129.
To return from- the consideration of the object inscribed to the letter designated. — The general conformity of the most ancient Sanscreet character with the square Chaldaic letter, in which most Hebrew books are written, has been already noticed. Walton, in the Prolegomena to his Pblyglott, has, in innumerable instances, remarked the striking similarity between the old Hebrew and Persic dialect; and, in truth, Sir William Jones, in his Dissertation on the Persians, has confirmed all that Walton advanced on the subject, by avowing that the ancient Iranian, or Persian, and the Sanscreet languages are, in their original, the fame; " that hundreds of Parsi nouns are pure Sanscreet, with no other change than such as may be observed in the numerous vernacular dialects of India; that very many Persian imperatives are the roots of Sanscreet verbs; and that even the moods and tenses of the Persian verb-substantive, which is the model of all the rest, are deducible from Sanscreet by an easy and clear analogy."* The president farther adds, towards the close of this dissertation, that the
*. Asiatic Researches, vol. ii. p. 51.
..' language language of the first Persian empire, which ho proves to have been Cuthite, and the latter governed by Cuthite princes, of whom Belus was the head, and the history of all of whom was carried, with the colonies migrating eastward, to India, was the mother of the Sanscreet, and consequently of the Zend and Parfi, as well as of Greek, Latin, and Gothic; that the language of the Assyrians was the parent of Chaldaic and Pahlavi; and that the primary Tartarian language, also, had been current in the fame empire.* This having been the cafe, and the fact: being proved from an authority so high and indisputable, can we wonder that the history of the ancient world, in the early post-diluvian ages, as detailed by Moses, should be so well known to the ancient Brahmins, who used, both in speaking and writing, the same language with the patriarchs, and in their sacred books treasured up all the traditional dogmas and sublime theology of the Noachidæ. The allegorizing spirit of their descendants has, indeed, obscured its brightness and defiled its purity; but, tear off the mythologic veil,