Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

alfo a province ftyled Chaldea? Thefe names were circumftantial; and impofed in after times for particular reafons, which could not before have fubfifted. Babylon was the Babel of the fcriptures; fo named from the confufion of tongues. What is extraordinary, Abydenus mentions this fact; and fays, that Babylon was fo called from confufion; because the language of men was there confounded. In like manner, Chaldea was denominated from people ftyled Chafdim and Chuldim, who were the pofterity of Chus. But if the name were of an etymology ever fo different; yet to fuppofe a people of this name before the flood, alfo a city and province of Babylon, would be an unwarrantable prefumption. It would be repugnant to the hiftory of Mofes, and to every good hiftory upon the fubject.'

At the conclufion of the fection, Mr. Bryant has introduced fome very fenfible remarks concerning the origin of alphabetical writing. It is the opinion of many learned men, that letters were not unknown to the people of the antediluvian world: and Pliny fays, "Literas femper arbitror Allyrias fuiffe." But our Author obferves, that if the people of the first ages had been poffeffed of so valuable a fecret, as that of writing, they would never have afterwards defcended to means lefs perfect for the explanation of their ideas. Hieroglyphics were made use of in the first ages, by the very nations who are fuppofed to have been poffelled of the fuperior and more perfect art. They might retain the former when they became poff:fied of the latter; because their ancient records were entrusted to hieroglyphics: but, had they been poffeffed of letters originally, they would never have deviated into the ufe of fymbols; at least for things which were to be published to the wo ld, and which were to be commemorated for ages. We have famples without end of the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. How comes it, if they had writing fo early, that fcarcely one fpecimen is come down to us; but that every example fhould be in the leaft perfect character? Mr. Bryant believes, that there was no writing antecedent to the law at Mount Sinai; that here the divine art was promulgated, of which other nations partook; and that it was adopted by the Tyrians and Sidonians firft, as they were nearest to the fountain head. How far he is right in thefe particular fentiments, we do not, at prefent, difpute: but we entirely concur with him in his opinion, that when the discovery of writing became more known, its progress was very flow; and that in many countries, whither it was carried, it was but partially received, and made ufe to no purpose of confequence. The Romans, he takes notice, carried their pretenfions to letters pretty high; and the Helladian Greeks ftill higher; yet the former marked their years by a nail driven into a poft; and the utmost effort of Grecian literature for fome ages was fimply to Bb 2

write

write down the names of the Olympic victors from Coræbus and to regifter the priefteffes of Argos. Two reasons are affigned, and infifted upon by him, to thew why letters, when introduced, were fo partially received, and employed to fo little purpose: first, the want of antecedent writings, to encourage people to proceed in the fame track; and fecondly, the want of fuch materials as are neceffary for expeditious and free writing.

Before our Author proceeds to treat concerning the Scythian nations, he thinks proper to examine Monf. Perron's remarkable notions upon this head. Monf. Perron feems to have been the founder of a new fyftem, in which he has had many followers; and particularly the learned Mr. Wife, in our own country. Of this fyftem Mr. Bryant gives a diftinct view, and then proves that it is wholly without foundation. His victory appears to us to be complete. We fhall infert his concluding reproof; as it may ferve for an admonition to others, who may be ant to indulge themfelves too much in fanciful hypothefes.

Great refpect is certainly due to men of learning; and a proper regard fhould be paid to their memory. But they forfeit much of this efteem when they mifapply their talents; and put themselves to thefe shifts to fupport an hypothefis. They may fmile at their reveries, and plume themfelves upon their ingenuity in finding out fuch expedients: but no good can poffibly arise from it; for the whole is a fallacy and impofition. And a perfon who gets out of his depth, and tries to fave himfelf by fuch feeble fupports, is like an ideot drowning, without knowing his danger: who laughs, and plunges, and catches at every straw. What I have faid in refpect to thefe two learned men, will, I hope, be an argument to all thofe who follow their fyftem.'

Having thus paved the way for his own fcheme, our celebrated writer goes on to the confideration of the Scythæ, Scythia, Scythifmus, and Hellenifmus; and alfo of the lones and Hellenes of Babylonia, and of the Helenes of Egypt. As we have,' fays he, been for fo many ages amufed with accounts of Scythia; and feveral learned moderns, taking advantage of that obfcurity in which its hiftory is involved, have spoken of it in a moft unwarrantable manner, and extended it to an unlimited degree; it may not be unfatisfactory to inquire, what the country originally was; and from whence it received its name It is necellary fift of all to take notice, that there were many regions, in different parts of the world fo called. There was a province in Egypt, and another in Syria, ftyled Scythia. There was alfo a Scythia in Afia Minor, upon the Thermodon above Galatia, where the Amazons were fuppofed to have refided. The country about Colchis, and Iberia; alfo a great part of Thrace, and Mafia; and all the Tauric Cherfonefus, were ftyled Scythic. Laftly, there was a country of this name

far

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

far in the Eaft, of which little notice has been hitherto taken. It was fituated upon the great Indic ocean; and confifted of a widely extended region, called Scythia Limyrica.'

·

After fome obfervations on the ideas which the ancient Greeks and Romans entertained with regard to the Scythic nations, our Author remarks, that these nations were widely extended, and to be met with on very different parts of the globe. As they have been reprefented,' continues he, of the higheft antiquity, and of great power; and as they are faid to have fubdued mighty kingdoms; and to have claimed precedency even of the Egyptians; it will be worth our while to enquire into the history of this wonderful people; and to fift out the truth, if poffibly it may be attained. Let us then try to inveftigate the origin of the people denominated Scythians, and to explain the purport of their name. The folution of this intricate problem will prove of the highest importance; as we shall thereby be able to clear up many dark circumftances in antiquity: and it will ferve for the basis of the fyftem upon which I proceed. To me then it appears vey manifeft, what was termed by the Greeks, Exv9a, Exidia, Exubina, was originally Cutha, Cuthia, Cuthica; and related to the family of Chus. He was called by the Babylonians and Chaldeans Cuth; and his pofterity Cuthites and Cutheans. The countries where they at times fettled, were uniformly denominated from them. But what was properly ftyled Cutha, the Greeks expreffed with a Sigma prefixed: which, however trifling it may appear, has been attended with fatal confequences. Whence this mode of expreffion arofe, is uncertain: it has univerfally obtained: and has very much confounded the hiftory of ancient times, and of this people in par. ticular. In fhort, the mistake reaches in its confequences much farther than we may at first apprehend: and being once detected, will be the means of explaining many difficulties, which cannot otherwife be folved: and a wonderful light will be thrown on the remoter parts of hiftory.'

As the Scythic colonies were widely difperfed, Mr. Bryant propofes to take them in their turns, and to fhew that they were all of them Cuthic: that the people upon the Indus were of the fame origin as thofe upon the Phafis and Thermodon; and that the natives of Boetica in Iberia were related to both.-It may be faid, if by Exlix, Scythia, we are to understand Cuthia, and by Exulxi, Cuthai or Cutheans, the fame fhould obtain in all hiftories of this people; -and it may be urged, that if the Cutheans of Colchis or Greece are flyled Exa, the jame name should be jometimes found attributed to thofe of Babylonia and Chaldea. This our Author acknowledges to be no more than we ought to expect; and he fays, that upon enquiry, we thall find that the natives of these countries are exprefly fo called. Epiphanius, who has Bb3 tranfmitted

tranfmitted to us a most curious epitome of the whole Scythic history, gives them this very appellation:-and from his testimony we learn exprefsly, that the Scythians were the Cuthians, and came from Babylonia. The works, in which they were engaged; and the perfon from whom they were denominated; in fhort, the whole of their hiftory paft all controverfy prove it. They were the fame as the Chaldaic Iönim under a different

name.

Mr. Bryant farther maintains, that the Hellenes were the fame people as the lönes, though under another denomination. From Babylonia the Hellenes came into Egypt. They were the fame as the Auritæ, thofe Cuthite fhepherds, who fo long held the country in fubje&tion.-Hence the learning of Egypt was ftyled Hellenic, from the Hellenic fhepherds: and the ancient theology of the country was faid to have been defcribed in the Hellenic character and language.-In procefs of time, the Hellenes betook themfelves to Syria, Rhodes, and Hellas; and to many other countries.-They alfo introduced Zabaifm, and wo fhipped the celeftial conftellations. To them was owing the first herely in the world, which was ftyled Hellenitmus.

Upon the feveral topics above mentioned, our Author difplays much uncommon learning; and hence he takes occafion to correct a great mistake, which has been made by Philo Judæus, in his life of Mofes. For mentioning how that great perfonage had been inftructed in his youth; and that he was fkilled in all the learning of Egypt, in numbers, geography, and hieroglyphics; Philo adds, that the reft of the circle of the fciences he learned of the Hellenes, or Grecians: as if the circle of the fciences had been established, and the Greeks were adepts in philofophy, fo early as the time of Mofes. The Hellenes, who were fuppofed to have inftructed the patriarch, were undoubtedly an order of priests in Egypt: which order had been inftituted before the name of Helas, or the Helladians, had been heard of Clemens Alexandrinus has been guilty of the same miftake with Philo.

The golden age, or the age of the Cuthim, is the subject next treated of by our eminent writer. He informs us, that what was termed Γενος χρύσειν and χρυσίον, (hould have been exprefied Xure and Xurio: for it relates to the fame æra and history, as the terms before confidered; to the age of Chus, and to the domination of his fons. It is defcribed as a period of great happiness and the perfons to whom that happiness is attributed, are celebrated as fuperior to the common race of men: and upon that account, after their death, they were advanced to be deities. The accounts of the four ages of gold, filver, brass, and iron, Mr. Bryant illuftrates from the ancient writers, and particularly from Hefiod: after which he obferves, that we may

perceive

perceive that the Crufean age being fubftituted for the Cufean, and being alfo ftyled the era of the Cuthim, (which word fignified gold and goiden) was the caufe of thefe after divifions being introduced; that each age might be diftinguifhed in gradation by fome baler meal. Had there been no mistake about a golden age, we should never have been treated with one of filver; much lefs, with the fubfequent of brafs and iron. The original hiftory relates to the patriarchic age, and to what the Greeks termed the Scuthic period, which fucceeded: when the term of man's life was not yet abridged to its present fandard: and when the love ofrule, and acts of violence firit difplayed theme felves upon earth. The Amonians, wherever they fettled, carried thefe traditions with them: which were often added to the hif tory of the country; fo that the fcene of action was changed.Hence a Saturn has been introduced in Aufonia, and an Inachus and Phoroneus at Argos: and in confequence of it, the deluge, to which the two latter were witnefles, has been limited to the fame place, and rendere a partial inundation. But, in reality, thefe accounts relate to another climate, and to a far earlier age: to thofe times, when, according to Hyginus, the fift kingdom upon earth was conftituted: and when one language only prevailed among the fons of men.

(

We may, I think,' fays our Author, when he comes to the confideration of Cufhan or Ethiopia, and the various colonies and denominations of the Cuthites, be affured, that by the term Skuthai, Ex9a, are to be under flood Cuthai or Cutheans. It may, therefore,' he adds, be proper to go to the fountain head, and to give an account of the original people, from whom fo many of different denominations were derived. They were the fons of Chus; who teized upon the region of Babylonia and Chaldea, and conflituted the first kingdom upon earth. They were called by other nations Cufhan: alfo Cufeans, Arabians, Orcitæ, Eruthreans, and Ethiopians: but among themfelves their general patronymic was Cuth, and their country Cutha.'

Having traced the Scythæ, or Cuthites, to their original place. of refidence, and afcertained their true hiftory, Mr. Bryant proceeds to defcribe them in their colonies, and under their various denominations. He begins with Cufhan ftyled Ethiopia, and as this is a country he has repeatedly mentioned, and which is likely continually to recur again, he finds it neceffary to defcribe the countries of this name, and the people who were in like manner denominated; not having yet feen it properly performed. As the Cuthites got accefs into various parts of the world, we thall find an Ethiopia in moft places where they refided. The fcriptures feem to mention three countries of this name. One was in Arabia, upon the verge of the defert, near Midian and the Red-Sea. A fecond Ethiopia lay above Egypt Bb 4

to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »