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the entire truth of revelation had de- Dr. Hales, in “ The New Analysis of pended on that system of numbers. Chronology,” has followed in the same
For this purpose, authentic history course; and, with the exception of the has been assailed, ancient records have second Cainan, has come to the same been mutilated, oriental annals have conclusion. been subjected to torture, and every Faber, in his invaluable “Pagan Idoleffort of critical ingenuity has been atry,” has also gone into the subject; resorted to.
and has adopted the Samaritan, which, Nevertheless, within the last century as we have seen, very nearly approxiwe have seen some of our first biblical mates to the Septuagint, in the postdiluscholars united with our best writers on vian period. ancient history, in recognising and de- Sir William Drummond, also, in his fending the claims of the Greek Origines, asserts his belief in the ex. numbers.
tended scheme; and ingeniously accounts Bishop Stillingfleet, with his usual for the abbreviation of the Hebrew. learning and judgment, states : “The And, lastly, Dr. Russell, who, in his whole controversy concerning this part of recent work, “A Connexion of Sacred the chronology of the world comes to and Profane History," has richly contrithis : Whether it be more probable that buted to our knowledge of the ancient the Jews, who lived under the second world, has also given us a masterly temple, (who then were the trustees to defence of the Greek chronology. whom were committed the oracles of In company with such writers, we God,) whom the LXX. followed in their shall not be accused of temerity, if we version, had the true reading; or the avow our full conviction, that the chroTalmudic Jews, after their dispersion nology of the present Hebrew Bible, and banishment from their country, and, consequently, the numbers found in when they were discarded by God him- the text and printed in the margin of self from being his people.” *
those editions of the English version Jackson, in his valuable work on which are enriched with references, are “ Chronological Antiquities,” devoted manifestly incorrect ; and that the Sepgreat learning and immense labour to the tuagint chronology is supported by eviinvestigation of the subject. He has dence which commends it to our approgiven us, as the result, a powerful de- bation. (Pages 40, 41.) fence of the Septuagint chronology.
The second part of the Preliminary Dissertation contains “An inquiry into the intellectual character, and the literary and scientific attainments, of mankind in the early ages of the world.” We cannot follow Mr. Smith throughout the course of his ingenious and conclusive reasoning on this controverted subject. A large space is devoted to an inquiry into the origin of alphabetical characters, and our author traces up their use to the Deluge. Dr. Adam Clarke somewhere records it as his opinion, that letters were first used by the divine Being on Mount Sinai, in the record of the Decalogue. We have often been surprised that this eminent biblical scholar should have overlooked the passage in Exodus xvii. 14: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book; and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua,” &c.; a command which was given before the arrival of the Israelites on Mount Sinai. On this passage Mr. Smith has the following just remarks:
There is not the least hint that writo have been commanded to write in a book ing was then newly invented : on the had he been ignorant of the art of writcontrary, we may conclude that Moses ing, and had he not known what was understood what was meant by “writing meant by a book.” (Page 74.) in a book ;” for he certainly would not
Our author is of opinion that alphabetical characters were in use before hieroglyphics. In this opinion he is opposed by Bishop Warburton and others, who maintain that hieroglyphical writing certainly preceded letters
* Origines Sacre, vol. ii., p. 165.
as the medium of communicating ideas; and that it was by improving and extending the former, that an alphabet was ultimately obtained. In opposing this view, Mr. Smith asks, “ If hieroglyphics were so general, and the ingenuity of man carried on a gradual improvement until letters were discovered, is it not remarkable that the various alphabets of the world can certainly be traced to one or two?” This appears to us to be unanswerable ; for, as our author again demands, “should we not have as many alphabets as there have been separate and distinct nations ?” Besides, if this theory have any foundation in fact, would not some instances appear of nations “ making this progressive discovery of letters within the range of existing history ?”
Writing is an art which requires some sively introduced, even although writing attention, study, and practice; and there was known and practised by other more have always been, in the most cultivated enlightened communities. * nations, a great proportion of the people This is not mere speculation : it is ignorant of it. In early times, when what is actually taking place amongst materials for its use were, in all probabi- ourselves, notwithstanding the immense lity, less convenient and more difficult to educational influences at present in opeobtain, a much smaller proportion of ration. Many persons, ignorant of writmankind would be able to write. If, ing, adopt artificial modes of recording then, in the separation of families, a few facts or numbers very analogous in their persons thus ignorant were to occupy a character to the practice of the ancients. new settlement, they would be driven to We are told, that, some time since, a adopt some mode of recording and com- bricklayer presented a bill to his emmunicating numbers, facts, and ideas; ployer in this expressive mode :and thus hieroglyphics might be exten
which was explained to mean,
not many years ago, some of the small men and one boy, three quarters of a dealers, who were uneducated, kept very day, with two hods of mortar ; ten shil. considerable accounts in a sort of artifi. lings and tenpence.
Settled.” What cial character, formed on a principle is this but hieroglyphic writing ? In somewhat similar to that of the example Cornwall, and other parts of England, just given. (Pages 55, 56.)
In illustration of this, the author inserts the following curious note :
A circumstance of rather a humorous writer a few years since, respecting one character communicated
* This opinion is supported by Mr. Hartwell Horne, “ Bibliography,” p. 73.
general dealer, doing considerable busi- leaving this in doubt, they passed ness in a country district, was called on through the other items, when the cusby a customer who wished to pay his tomer, who was a carpenter, said, “ You bill. The characters and symbols con- have, I think, made one omission; for I stituting the account were called over ; recollect I had a grindstone of you, and amongst them the shopkeeper read, which you have not inentioned.” “ Ay," “A cheese, 7s.6d.” The customer replied the seller, “a grindstone ! so it declared that this must be a mistake, as is a grindstone : look for yourself. What he had never bought a cheese in his life. I took to be a cheese is really a grindThe dealer contended that his bill was stone. My sight not being very good, I certainly correct; for there
did not perceive the little hole in the account of the cheese, marked “78. 6d." middle; but you see it is a grindstone : After much talk and some uneasiness, it is all right.” (Page 56.)
Mr. Smith goes on to prove the existence of early literature from Scripture facts, profane records, and ancient tradition; and then adds some valuable observations on the existence of science in the early ages, as illustrated by the history of astronomy. This is the stronghold of our author's argument, and the conclusion to which he conducts us is irresistible. If it can be shown that the science of astronomy was cultivated to any extent, and with any precision, in the ancient world, it will be undeniable that a considerable amount of intellectual improvement must have obtained among its inhabitants; for, as our author justly remarks, “ this science could not have been cultivated without a knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, and other kindred branches of knowledge.” The researches of the celebrated French astronomer, M. Bailly, have cast a flood of light on this subject. The testimonies which he furnishes from Chinese and Hindoo records, clearly show that the principles of astronomy were understood, even beyond the limits of authentic history. We have only space to refer to one of these records,—the astronomical tables which were communicated by a learned Brahmin of Tirvalore (Trivalore) to M. le Gentil, known commonly as “the Tirvalore tables." These tables have been examined with much patience and ability by Bailly, who, says Dr. Robertson, “with singular felicity of genius, has conjoined an uncommon degree of eloquence with the patient researches of an astronomer and the profound investigations of a geometrician.” The calculations of the French astronomer have been verified by Professor Playfair and Sir David Brewster, the latter of whom Mr. Smith quotes on the subject. “We are not,” says Sir David, “left to the guidance of facts contradictory or ill-authenticated, or of deceitful observations founded merely on conjecture. The astronomical tables of the Indians are in our own hands; and with evidence almost as irresistible as that which attends the principles of the science, we can trace the remoteness of their origin, and survey the advancement of the human mind in the earliest ages.”
The most complete refutation of the opinion which some philosophers have entertained, that the calculations of the Brahmins were carried backwards, is furnished by Mr. Smith :
This notion, however, can scarcely be scarcely possible they could have been entertained, when it is considered, “ that acquainted with the theory of gravitaall the elements, as assumed at the tion, and the refinements of modern epoch B.c. 3102, are nearly the same as analysis, at that time but just discovered if they had been determined by observa. in Europe. Yet we have only one of tion ;” and that the tables containing the two alternatives,-either to believe them were brought to Europe in A.D. that the Brahmins were in possession of 1687. If, therefore, the Brahmins of this knowledge, or that the epoch of B.C. that day had compiled them, tracing 3102 is real, and founded on observatheir way upwards to B.c. 3102, it is tions previously made. (Page 91.)
In closing his investigations into the chronology and learning of the ancient world, our author intimates that they had occupied more time than he anticipated ; “but,” he continues,
—their importance demanded that, if world. Although we are aware that the possible, we should place before the subject is not exhausted, that it might reader evidence sufficiently conclusive to with greater ease have been expanded enable him to decide with satisfactory into a volume than condensed into a and well-grounded confidence on the Preliminary Dissertatiou, we hope the chronology and learning of the ancient result will be satisfactory. (Page 97.)
Mr. Smith seems to have prepared his mind for a charge, which those who are bigoted in favour of the abbreviated chronology may be disposed to prefer against him,—that of tampering with revealed truth; and offers the following explanatory remarks, the truth of which, we can assure our readers, is fully borne out in the body of the work :
No one who will be at the trouble of falsely so called,” in its proud and insiperusing the entire work will charge us dious aggression on the truth of revela with any disposition to shrink from tion. But this determination imposes upholding the authority of holy Scrip- on us the necessity of the utmost vigiture, however it may be impugned by lance fully to ascertain what is actually the professed wisdom of this world. revealed truth, lest, by vindicating error There is no part of our duty to which on the hallowed plea of inspiration, we we shall address ourselves with greater injure the cause we are so anxious to diligence and devotedness, than to the uphold, and truth be impaired in the resistance of the pretensions of “science, hands of its friends. (Pages 98, 99.)
Our author remarks in conclusion :
It is an important consideration, that age confirms and establishes the chronothe results of the investigation perfectly logy. When inquiries independently harmonize. The chronology casts light conducted produce these harmonious upon the state of learning and science, results, it is a circumstance which must and allows the admission of historic greatly strengthen our confidence in the evidence which on any other theory soundness of the principles upon which would stand arrayed against it; while, they have been conducted, and in the on the other hand, the whole scope of conclusions which have been elicited. our inquiries into the literature of the
(Page 100.) The reader will be amply repaid by a careful and studious perusal of this Preliminary Dissertation. It will prepare him to accompany our historian in his researches into the patriarchal age. It will, in most cases at least, settle his mind on subjects respecting which he ought to have some decided opinion before he investigates the history and religion of the antediluvians and their immediate successors; and though the author's reasoning should fail to carry conviction to every mind, the reader will at least understand the principles on which the work is written. For our own part we have been at once gratified, instructed, and convinced.
But it is to the work itself that we are chiefly anxious to introduce our readers; premising, however, that the limits within which we are of necessity confined, leave us no hope of being able to present an adequate view of its value and importance.
Mr. Smith has followed the plan which he carried out with so much success in his “ Religion of Ancient Britain,"—that of introducing, at the close of his historical investigation of each of the periods discussed, a chapter on the religion of that period. For us this plan has great attractions. It imparts variety to the narrative, and, consequently, relief to the student. It is calculated to shed light over many of the incidents and circumstances which have been previously brought under consideration, and frequently
accounts, in a satisfactory manner, for the emergent actions of individuals and communities. Indeed, no history of any age, but especially of a remote one, can be considered complete, which does not give prominency to its religion.
We give another part of the author's plan in his own language :In referring to the various works sents to the reader, in all their integrity, which the author had occasion to quote, the authorities on which any reliance has he had to choose between giving the been placed; and thus affords every one substance of those extracts in his own the means of judging of their value, and language, or citing the very words of the appreciating their true character, to an writers themselves. He was strongly extent that would have been impossible advised by some literary friends to adopt if their substance had been incorporated the former course, as a means of prevent into the narrative, and a mere reference ing those frequent alternations of style, to the authorities had been made at the and breaks in the narrative and argu- foot of the page. Although the adopment, which must necessarily result tion of this course may render the from the other. After mature consider- volume less acceptable to some persons, ation, it has, however, been decided to it is hoped that this defect, if such it be, submit to these inconveniences, and act is more than counterbalanced by its upon the plan of citing from all the deriving from the same cause, notwithimportant treatises which have been con- standing its limited size, the character of sulted, either in the exact phraseology a cyclopædia of all that is certainly employed in them, or in approved trans- known of the history and religion of that lations. The principal reason for pre- early period. (Pages vii, viii.) ferring this mode has been, that it pre
We agree with Mr. Smith that this arrangement greatly enhances the value of the work. If he had given the substance of his quotations in his own language, with only a marginal reference to the several works, the necessity of consultation would not have been obviated, and the student would still have been obliged to procure a large number of rare, valuable, and, consequently, expensive works: as it is, however, we have the opinion of these writers fairly and accurately recorded ; and though there are, in consequence, occasional “ alternations of styles,” we have failed to perceive those “breaks in the narrative and argument” to which the author refers. The judgment and skill with which the quotations are interwoven into the work have truly surprised us, and we have little doubt that the great majority of Mr. Smith's readers will heartily thank him for acting upon this plan. We may add, that, having collated several of the quotations with the originals, we can speak with confidence as to the scrupulous fidelity and accuracy with which they are adduced. This is a characteristic on which, in historical works especially, we cannot set too high a value.
Mr. Smith's arrangement of the subjects discussed in the several chapters is clear and comprehensive. The first chapter, on “The Creation of the World and of Man,” is written with judgment and ability, and displays extensive research into ancient literature. The writer occasionally rises with his subject, and produces passages of great strength and eloquence. Speaking, for instance, of the insufficiency of human reason to discover the origin of the world, Mr. Smith refers to the failure of the Greeks in the following language :
If ever a people were placed by Pro- truth now under consideration. They vidence in circumstances which war. were ignorant of creation. They did not ranted the hope that they would evince perceive the possibility of any other superhuman powers of understanding, change than one of forin, and the giving the Greeks were that favoured commu- a new mould to pre-existent materials. nity. Yet even their gigantic intellect- This was the plague-spot of their entire ual efforts failed to elicit the elementary philosophy.
It was this that shed the