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Demotic, sometimes styled Enchorial. It is a simple, plain alphabet, made for rapid writing, and it is difficult to trace any figures for its origin. Some have thought that it bears. a resemblance to the Phænician. It was used for the common purposes of life, while the priests still adhered to the hieroglyphic or hieratic, concealing the mysteries of their doctrines in the ideographs. Plato, who travelled and studied in that country, says, “The priests teach their children two kinds of letters, those called sacred, and those which are more generally learned ;” also, “the people of Egypt generally, as distinguished from the priests, learn from their fathers or their kinsmen the training that belongs to each special mode of life, but letters only to a small extent, and not all, but chiefly those who practice some of the arts." We should indeed mistake, if we were to conclude, from the immensity of records on the monuments and papyrus and the walls of their tombs, that learning was a general pursuit in that country; for although these afford abundant exhibitions of the private life of those people, extending to the minutest incidents, no individual is ever represented reading, except in some official function; and no female is ever seen reading or writing: all the men so employed have the air of professional scribes.
In the long lapse of ages since the Egyptians ceased to be a nation, the keys to all its records—Hieroglyphic, Hieratic and Demotic—had been lost; and its numberless monuments and papyri and inscribed walls of tombs, spread thickly over with the means of speech, were yet speechless; dumb, though seemingly trying to find a voice. Learned men, century after century, wondered at the sight, and were perplexed. At length, in 1799, a French engineer connected with the first Napoleon's expedition to that country, in constructing a bastion to a fort near the mouth of the Rosetta branch of
1 Supposed to have been brought into use about the sixth century B. C.
the Nile, disinterred a stele, or tablet, on which were inscriptions in three different characters: 1st, in Hieroglyphics; 2d, in an unknown character; and 3d, in Greek. The middle one has since been ascertained to be Demotic. It was immediately surmised that the Greek was a translation of the other two; and so it has turned out to be. The French, on surrendering to the British arms, attempted to carry the tablet away with them, as not being a trophy of war; but this was resisted, and it has been safely placed in the British Museum in London. This is the famous “Rosetta Stone,” and is in dimensions about three feet by two and a half, but broken at the corners, and with imperfect lines at the two ends. It immediately received great attention, and probably would have been deciphered in a short time if the firm belief that the hieroglyphic figures represented only ideas had not entirely excluded any suspicion of their being representatives of sounds. The younger Champollion, however, in 1822, while attentively considering the cartouches of Ptolemy which are repeated on this stone, and which, from the Greek below, were known to be this name, and comparing them with one on an obelisk at Philæ, where a Greek translation below showed that the name was that of Cleopatra, observed that the figure of a lion, the fourth in the former, was the second in the latter; and he was aware that the lion was called labo in the ancient Egyptian language. He saw that labo might stand for the letter L in both inscriptions ; and the query darted into him with thrilling power, Is this figure Labo put there in order to give us, not the idea of lion but its initial sound, L?
The discovery was made ! The hieroglyphics had at last found a voice! and from every side they were speaking to him!
1 An English scholar, Dr. Young, was near making this discovery in 1818, but after advancing some distance toward it, was misled by the belief in ideographs.
He persevered, and others have followed in his footsteps ; and although the efforts of the Egyptian priests in those ancient times to monopolize knowledge by keeping it so much in symbolic forms, still often baffles the determined men of our days, much has been gained; for the books for such knowledge are to be found everywhere in Egypt,columns, even sculptured figures of men and gods, magnificent gateways, halls within and walls without, obelisks, tombs,—scarcely a surface anywhere, whether in palace, or temple, or the coffins and cerements of the dead, -all are inscribed; great treasures of papyri are also still unrolled, or continually placed open to the eye. It is a world of knowledge that may well tempt men on and make them enthusiasts!
The most elaborate works of recent date on this subject are those by the Chevalier Bunsen and by Lepsius, both of Berlin. The latter, with six or seven assistants, was sent by the Prussian government to Egypt, where he and his coadjutors spent about three years, during which time they examined sixty-seven pyramids (which, with few exceptions, were found to have been prepared for royal sepulchres) and one hundred and thirty tombs of private individuals, to which were added a vast number of other explorations. They made copies and sketches, so that they were able to return to Europe with eight hundred folio plates of drawings. These have been published by the same government in thirteen volumes of huge folio size, and in a style worthy of the royal patron.
Subjoined is a copy, from Bunsen's work, of part of the sixth line on the “Rosetta Stone,” in both the Hieroglyphic and Demotic characters. The central line is made up from other sources of Hieratic characters, to correspond to the other two. The reading, it will be perceived is from right to left.
Corresponding portion of the Demotic inscription on the Rosetta Stone.
A WIFE FOR ISAAC.
M HERE was now in the tent of Abraham that wearing
1 loneliness which comes when a beloved object is removed, and that object one about whom all the heart-strings had been entwined. We listen, as if every moment we are about to hear the well-remembered voice; or are startled by the movement of a garment, and raise the eyes to look. There is a constant, lingering half-expectancy of the coming of the lost one; but we wake to the dreary consciousness that there will be no coming, no voice, no well-remembered footstep ever again heard. Our thought, persistently on every occurrence, has for its first suggestion, "What pleasure this will give her," or, "About this I will consult her," or, “A double joy I will have in communicating this to her;" and then we know once more that all such thought is vain. This is the world's darkest solitude.
Sarah had been the only bond left between Abraham and
his father's house on the banks of the Euphrates. He felt now, more than ever, how utterly he was a stranger in the land of Canaan.
News had recently been brought to him about his brother's family at Haran, and he firmly resolved to seek there a wife for Isaac, who was now about forty years of age. He called his oldest and most trusted servant, and imposed on him a solemn oath: “Thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell; but thou shalt go unto my country and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” He added that God would send his angel before the messenger. But never was Isaac himself to be restored to that land; here in Canaan was his son to dwell; God had firmly bound Abraham and his descendants to his present home.
The servant, taking ten camels and numerous presents in addition to the purchase gifts, which, as we see also in the present habits of that country, were to be made for the intended wife, went on the long journey up toward Damascus, and across the northern edge of the great Arabian desert, and so to the fertile lands bordering on the northern portions of the great river of the East. Among the eight children of Nahor, Abraham's brother, was Bethuel, the owner of large flocks, but residing in a town or city, to the wells outside of which the women of the place were in the habit of resorting for water; and to which the servant of Abraham now drew near. It was an anxious time for the man, for the happiness of the whole family in Canaan was dependent on his choice; and how was he to choose among these family connexions, all strangers to him? He remembered, however, his master's word that God would send his angel with him; and he prayed now: “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the