« AnteriorContinuar »
to the eye.
this the objection, too, to stenographic writing known changes of hazardous opinions in the in every newspaper printing office? And writings of Champollion, we must hesitate at did not'" the man of business," in Joe Mil. this free concession to his authority on a ler, who represented things by “one single point unproved. character,” create some confusion by charg Whilst in the mood of differing so widely ing his customer with a cheese instead of a from the learned President of the Philosoph. millstone ?
ical Society, we shall remark upon his We have endeavoured at this ample length groundless assumption that in consideration of his name and talents, to
“ At the confusion of tongues, the primicombat the proposition of Doctor Du Ponceau tive language was forgotten and entirely that the Chinese characters represent words, obliterated from the minds of men, and and ideas only through them: and we have they were left to their own resources to inconsidered this in the only two shapes into vent new ones, the decendants of Noah which it appears to us resolvable--namely, had a difficult task to perform, as at the 1. That the Chinese character contains, same time they were dispersed through
like alphabetic spelling, the elements the different parts of the world." -p. 37. of the sound or word.
The 9 h verse of the 11th ch. of Genesis 2. That the word, or name of a thing, pre- oblivion by the mere term “confounding."
surely does not bear out this obliteration and cedes the idea of it in the mind. And we have striven to show the contrary of T'he sequel seeins equally extravagant:both these assertions by the facts-
" Anxious to make themselves under1. That our groups of letters give the spo. stood, some of them attempted to express ken name tangibly, and in succession, the sense of a whole proposition by a sin
gle word. Some ancestor of the Delaware 2. That the Chinese characters give, not Indians, being invited by his neighbor to
the spoken name, but only the correla. partake of some food, said, Nschingiwipotive sign of the thing to the eye.
ma, and made him understand by signs In the former case we doubt whether, even that it meant, “I do not like to eat with in the alphabetic system, the mind always you.'. To his mistress he said, Kdahoatel, takes cognizance of the name or word itself, she doubtingly answered, Mattakdahoaliwi,
and that was to say, I love you ; to which though presented to it.
"You do not love me.' Thus, by endeavIn the latter we consider that to affirm it ouring to say a great deal at once, a polyis to beg the question, and to say that the synthetic language was formed. which, in mind thinks in words, and not in ideas: in the course of time, was regularized by which case we could never be at a loss for a method; for without some method in lanword, nor forget a name, expressing our guage, it would be impossible for men to ideas.
understand each other. Noticing that we conceive the passage re
"In some other country, say in China,
or in the country of the Qihomi Indians, specting Clemens of Alexandria io contain a whether from the difficulty of articulating slight error, we may observe, that Williams, sounds, or from some other cause, men in his excellent essay upon hieroglyphics, has stuck to syllables, and conveyed their ideas proved undeniably ihat the picture form (to successively, affixing to each a simple or the eye) recalled ihe sound (to the ear), and compound articulation, that is to say, a that this last corresponded with the similar simple elementary vocal sound, or a sylla
ble. Thus sound of the thing phonetically represented : languages."--p. 38.
were formed monosyllabic so that the procrss in the first part was the was the converse of that in the latter ; alto We are aware that in Esquimaux the few gether showiug that in some cases ideas pre- numerals (and we take the strongest case) cedes words, in others that words precede are long polysyllabic terms; the three ex. ideas, and therefore that the two are not in. pressed by thirteen syllables. But will Doc. divisible, as Doctor Du Ponceau's argument ior Du Ponceau take upon himself to say that would make them.
these are not compound words, and never Without detracting from the merits of were so ? Is it not more probable that they Champollion the younger, we certainly can were in their origin decomposeable syllables not grant him the blind confidence proposed or words, rudely distinguishing, the exact by our author, when, in a totally unfounded, number signified from other objects ? Is not or at least, unsupported assertion, made by such clumsy attempt at distinguishing, the that ardent inquirer, the Doctor takes for very characteristic of uncivilized races, and granied that the former must have had good even of provincints, shough in a less degree? grounds for making it. The principle of And does not civilization check ihis redundsupposir:g a thing to exist because we have ance of language by symplifying it 10 single no proof of it, is new in logic: but from the land definite terms ? Writing diminishes the
extreme length of words. The Ceylonese less possitively to affirm with Doctor Du even substitutes conventional signs for letters Ponceau, the reverse of this as respects the and thus the words are reduced to half their Indians, of whose early habits and origin length, as the Esquimaux, &c. might be also. we know nothing whatever. But how can Doctor Du Ponceau imply, It
may here be the place to notice the ex. as originally single words, terms, as above travagant opinion of Voltaire and the earliquoted, clearly decomposeable now? In the er sceptics, followed by Malte-Brun and Iroquios, for instance, are not the words kings the fancy-loving learning of Niebuhr ;-an nations, Niyadeyoughwentsyodeashon, Ragh- opinion, too, embraced with modifications seanowanea, respectively compounds of these by the more sober judgment of Von Humseven and ten syllables ? And this too, boldt himself, that the American Indians partly from Oriental languages ? Are not are a wholly different aboriginal race from the verb Tewakightaghkouh, (I believe,) and that of the old world. It is boldness to an the adjective Tawightaghkone, (believing,) excess which, in the case of men so justly varied forms of Tessightaghkouḥ, (belief) ? distinguished in general for the highest Is not in these, as in the word angel also, mental attributes, we shall certainly not (Karonghyakeghrohnon,) the idea of one presume to characterize, to set up a theory thing obviously deduced from the names, at- wholly presumptive in opposition to estabtributes, &c. of several ? Is not this precise. lished facts-facts which no learning can ly analogous to the Chinese Lighi, signified shake, no bardihood question. The Amerby Sun and Moon? For Iroquois informa. ican tribes of the north invariably refer tion we might well apply to Dr. Du Ponceau; their origin to migrations from the quarters will he allow us to offer an illustration from which form the point of contact between the Chinese combination he declares himself Asia and America : there exists a rude iden. ignorant of ? (See p. 303, 1. 9.) If Pu-lity of many customs amongst them with berty is signified by Fa.shin.teih-she-how, can those of the earliest eastern nations: simiwe not take it loosely as, man, feeling love larity of veneration likewise is preserved in the course of time, becomes creative ; or for the very wrecks of certain identical She-urh-ho-yew-sin, as, the possession of names, offices, and feelings: it is a fact faith reconciling occurrences, to signify that the names of the oldest tribes, wherever Tranquillity ? We may observe, by the way significant in their own language, precisely that were this not the case, still, as combining corresponded to those of Asiatic nations! the same sound in part for the same meaning and wherever the same have no meaning or the American would bear no parallel, even definite etymology in their own tongues, in a spoken tongue, to the written language that etymology may invariably be found, of China, whose similarity of character is not and always on the same principle, in the the representative of identity of idea. Scytho-Tatar languages.
Another fact, But to return. We find Doctor Du Pon. but too long disregarded, is, that their al. ceau further indulging in two very bold, phabetic and even grammatical systems in and, we will venture to say, more than sus. their numbers, deficiencies and excesses, picious assertions; first, that the Indians advantages and defects, are intrinsically the aforesaid never had any songs; and, second, same as those of original Asia. ly, that grammatical forms are rarely bor If these coincidences are the mere off. rowed by nations even from their neigh-spring of chance, then all toher coinciderbours.
ces may be equally attributed to it, and there As to the first of these allegations, we is no such thing as identity. If they are, must observe that it contradicts all past and as may be argued, the result of a mere even, to some degree, our every-day expe- analagou snature, whai proof, or what probarience. In civilized society, where the bility is there, we ask, that those analagous passions are much under control, einotion natures are different and not identical? constantly breaks out in a prolongacion of Is then the sacred and founded record of certain sounds : it requires liitle effort to ar. the Hebrew Scriptures to be doubted or dis. range these into tones, or as songs : and regarded, in the pure and abstract love of this fact, which we considered more largely a theory which rests on no basis, ends in no in our last October No. (" Arabian Antiqui- conclusion ! ty"), is borne out by a passage to precisely The foregoing remarks on the former ex. the same effect quoted by Mr. Davis (in his tend to, and even of necessity include the valuable account of China) from a Chinese second assertion; that nations rarely bor. writer. We may add, that as since every row their grammatical forms from each nation of which we can form a tolerable other. How, we would ask, does it happen judgment commenced its literature with then that the totally, or almost totally, differsongs, we have no right to suppose, stilllent languages of America, from North to
south, have but one general grammatical are our distinguished countryman and trav,
But we doubt the connection of the two Yet, whether or not the signs of ideas arguments : it is obvious, we apprehend, that represent also and of necessity, equally, the whether the Cochin Chinese reads as Ma-qui sounds of those ideas—the fact either way, what the Chinese calls Mo-kouey, both un. we submit, has no positive connection with derstand the same thing by it-Derils
. In its assumed consequence; viz. that nations like manner, if the former calls Trai what speaking different languages cannot, as is ge- the latter calls Ko, both receive the same nerally asserted, communicate freely in the idea from it- Fruit
. Consequently, a char. Chinese character. We shall give Doctor acter is but the element of one fixed sound Du Ponceau's own words.
everywhere, or is the mere conventional siga
of two, or of lwenty, sounds, it bears but a “Indeed, it would be necessary that the single sense under every variety of denomiidioms of the nations in the vicinity of China nation ; and therefore the question of sense should bear a great analogy to that of the has nothing of necessary dependence upon Chinese, to have made the former adopt, with that of sounds. The form of the Hebrew s; out any alteration, the characters of the lat. ter, so as to be able to read, in their own lan. Shin, assimilates perfectly, and especially in guage, books written in a different idiom; the its ancient shape, (see Giovan Ballista Pala. structure of both languages, the syntax, the tino; Lettera Antica et Moderna, Roma, order in which the words are placed, the in- MDXXXXV.) to that of the Chinese character versions, the metaphors, should be exactly of a Ship, and nearly approximates to it in the same; the particles and signs of relation sound, yet signifies only Substance. The should always be employed on the same occasion, and put in the same place; all these zigzag line which in some Chinese characters analogies would suppose a complete similari. represents water (shwy), in Egyptian gives ty in the genius of all those languages, and the sound both of s and in, and signifies that would be a phenomenon which the differ- water also. ence between the words would render still We consider ourselves to have made out more difficult to explain. It will not there. our third allegation, that the assertions of fore excite surprise, to find, on examination, Doctor Du Ponceau are not supported by that things are not exactly as has been sup; any proof ; for in the passages already quot; posed, which it will be easy to demonstrate." | ed, where there is the greatest appearance of -p.118.
it, there seems to us to be also the greatest We have left ourselves little room to dis- failure of argument, cuss the propriety of illustrating, as is gene On the question of the perfect adaptation, rally done, this question of pasigraphy by however of the Chinese characters for a figures or numerals. Different nations, it is system of scientific pasigraphy, we may be true, understand figures alike, though they allowed to express strong doubts ; and the name them differently ; as the one of En- more so as Mr. Davis, whose aitainmenis in gland is the eek of Persia. But this is only the Chinese tongue no man can dispute, and an imperfect parallel ; for the numeral ap- who seems, in the work already referred to, pears but as a fixed quantity always—its to incline to this eligibility, has himself been very principle is isolation, while that of accused of a serious error : but this most words is combination, and the arrangement unjustly. The case serves at least for a of these, as the above quotation shows, may, curious illustration. It will be in the recol. and does, vary, while the numeral preserves lection of all, that this learned sinologist has its own meaning without any modification given a translation of the motto upon a porwhatever.
celain vessel in his volumes.
His translation The probabilities seem to us decidedly in is seriously impugned by a writer in one of favour of Doctor Du Ponceau's argument; but the question, as we have already remark: ed, is one of fact, and the author's opponents and Co.
* Davis' Account of China, 2 vols. Knight
our Indian newspapers, who asserts also that perfection of these picture.signs, and the he had shown it in a native Chinese teacher, very confined mode of communication they and that the latter recognized the line in ques. must induce, intermiogled at the best with tion as the first of a well-known Chinese | arbitrary or conventional signs. Widely, complet, and supplied the second from me. and in fact universally, as the opinion has mory. It is nevertheless but common jus- been received, of the correctness of the tice to state, that European scholars who foregoing process in all its stages, we must have resided many years in China, agree express our doubts of it to a great extent-i. tha! Mr. Davis' translation is perfectly cor- e. almost entirely, everywhere. rect, and that the Chineman is decidedly in The Chinese writers may be thought de. the wrong, both as to the altered sense of cisive on this point, so far as regards their the first line, and its connection with the own country; and they do most unquestionsecond. If such difference of opinion can ably affirm that Pictures led to Picture-wrilexist as to the meaning of characters, we ing This is the point where our scepticism doubl of their eligibility to the purposes of begins. We would fain examine their evi. pasigraphic science universally.
dence, generally and in mass, for the sake of With regard to the relation, whether of conciseness, affinity or contrast, between the Chinese and Pictures, say they, led to Picture-writing, Egyptian hieroglyphic systems, notwithstand. There is no clear proof, we think, existing ing the length to which our present paper of this; and beyond a few casual efforts we has run, we must be permitted to make a do not believe the assertion. Our doubts few observations.
refer both to the history and the probability But first, of China, we may incidentally of the fact. remark, that notwithstanding the perfect In Morrison's Chinese Dictionary the adaptation of her characters for stereotype forms of some picture-writings are given from printing, as noticed by Davis, yet the art of their native writers. They are but few, and printing was not known there till the tenth confessedly a secondary invention, by Paoucentury after Christ. It is obvious then thai she. This, therefore, does not advance us she could have had no notion, directly or one step nearer the truth, unless it can be through intermediate nations in early days, shown that those specimens are authorities, of that Assyrian process, which printed or that they are received as such by the Chi. stereotyped their mystic cuneiform charac. nese, and that their authenticity is uncontra. ters upon the bricks of Babylon, &c.; and dicted by authority equal to that which supbetween which and the transfer of the pro. ports it. cess to paper, there could otherwise have The fact entirely rests upon an apparent been but a short interval.
probability, and as such, would be embraced Thai China was early separated from the in general, and without consideration. Yet, rest of inapkind we sec, it only from this as we have already remarked, there are one instance, no reason whatever to doubt ; several accounts, all differing, some contraany more than that Egypt was early peopled dictory of the rest, and some froin their very by; and remained in constant intercourse nicery erroneous. The marks on the torwith other nations. From these facts we toise's shell, constellations, fooipriots of may draw a conclusion, essentially distinct, animals and birds, are, collectively and vawe believe, from any that has ever been offer. riously, staled to have been the origin of char. ed before ; and which, if correct, may go far aciers ; eiher, as some affirm, by direct to explain the causes of difference in the inita iun, or according 10 ohers, by sug. two hieroglyphic systems, as they are vul. gesting we idea of written signs. Now this garly termed.
last is itself clearly a distinct process from It is consonant with experience to believe pictures, and not less so from the diminished, that pictures formed the first mode of ex. or picture.signs, borh these being iinitutive, pressing ideas of objects : ant Mr. Cory, while that was arbitary ; for ii is never pre• with that distinguished ability for which we tended that the characters were meant to have ever given him credit, has successfully give the idea of foo'prints merely—they were ap; lied this fact 10 the elucidation of the simply shape or lines applied to and hinting earliest tradilions of mankind. It is assert. ideas, without picturing thein. These vaed however everywhere, and in especial for rious forms too were not made at once; but Egypt and China, that Piitures led to Pico successive systems arose for successive inditure. Writing, and that thence arose Charac-viduals. Thus the Tortoise.characters were ters—the signs of China, and the syllabaries invented in the time of Ta yu, and the Hotu, of the West,
in the time of Fobi, and so forth; but Fohi Doctor Du Ponceau, with many others, and Ta.yu weru distinct personages by the has justly remarked upon the necessary im. native accounts, whereas the Ho tu charac.
ters are identical with the Tortoise. These luvian letters are all arbitrary, as far as it ap-
This last source may have given a phonetic among the Chinese). But these, we affirm,
formed only an arbitrary or conventional Symbols, according to the most probable phonetic basis of letters. Thus in the fordata, were the invention of Tsang-hee, in the mer the cry of the ox gave the sound a, or rareign of Hwang.te : and previous to this, as ther as the Hebrews and Persians pronounce Dr. Kidd and Dr. Morrison inform us, i. e. it, o; the name of the birch tree, beit, in the up to the year 2000, B. C., knotted cords second, and of beth, a house, or a thorn tree, were in use, like the Peruvian quipos ; in in the third, gave the sound of B, and so on. other words, picture-writing was unknown Natural objects then, by this view, supplied a altogether. How then can we credit the basis for elementary sounds; for the name Chinese writings, that affirm this to have been of the ox, house, tree, being given in the the origin of characters? Be it distinctly spoken language first, on the subsequent in. understood that the term symbols used above, vention of letters, the letter picturing the obis to be considered as meaning, not imitative ject representing a sound or name, was unforms, but arbitrary signs—such as the bird. derstood by all as itself representing that marks already mentioned, which were suc. sound : such as in a former part of this ar. ceeded by imitation of objects. As the Ta- ticle we have described as necessarily conchuen-wan, of Chow, 800, B. c. : a whim to ventional ; but nothing further : and, that bacarry hieroglyphics to the utmost.
sis established, the sources fell into oblivion. Now as
the oldest forms of character This clearly then was also different from known are those of the inscription of Ta-yu, what is understood by Picture-Writing. referred to on the banks of the Hoang-ho; Hence the only original picture.writing, and as these are not in the least imitative, strictly speaking, of which we have proofs, is what basis is there in history for the picture that of writing story?
But is this mode really as probable in itself as is considered? We make no question of absolute pictures, as men inight draw these We have in remarking on the Chinese for posterity in order that all might under- system above, intimated a doubl whether the stand great or public events; but could general opinion of picture-writing, as a sys. natural objects, as sun or moon, a man, a tem to any extent, being derived from pic. horse, a dog, or a house or tree, &c. convey tures, be not rather an apparent than a real the ideas of private intercourse, and not probability. The transition-state in Egypt distract oftener than illustrate. A mouth is an obvious objection : but is rot this an and an apple, for instance, might signify eat exception, the grounds of which, on exami. ing, but also hunger : arbitrary signs then nation, as differing in circumstance from any must intervene, the instant pictures changed other, will strengthen our negation ? to picture-writi..g; and this last could have All the assertions of ancient authors rehad scarcely an existence; it must have been specting the invention of writing appear an almost absolute nonentity, used perhaps equally vague, as equally grounded on tradi. as by the Nabathæans, for pictures, and for tion alone (Diod. 4. 74): but as the writers symbolical attributes. So on the triumphal we shall here refer to may fairly be consipillars of Sesostris, the male or female imita- dered entitled to equal credit, we shall give tive sign typified valour or cowardice. those assertions the weight of facts, in rela.
We have seen that the Chinese have no tion to each other; noticing only with Zoe. authentic original picture-writing; the Chal. ga, that, after all, the Greeks and Romans deans clearly had no idea of its original were equally in ignorance on the subject. existence; for in the alphabets preserved The Egyptians, says Tacitus, were the first to us by Ben Washih, the reputed antedi. I to express ideas by outward sigos; they pic