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seems to have recognized the existence of alphabetic
characters, but who in no way deserves the praise of Bailey,
the Cambridge prize essayist, “Vir singulari quodam ingenii
acumine praeditus, Warburtonus ; qui primus certe recenti-
orum ad rectam harum rerum cognitionem patefecit viam.” "
Here naturally comes an account of the labours of Young
and Champollion, two men who stand out pre-eminently as
the true discoverers of the right method of decipherment of
Egyptian hieroglyphics. As much has been written on the
works of these savants, and as some have tried to show that
the whole merit of the discovery belongs to Young, and others
that it belongs to Champollion, it will not be out of place
here to make a plain statement of facts, drawn from the best
sources, and to give the opinions of the most eminent Egyp-
tologists on this point; a few details concerning the lives of
these remarkable men must, however, be first given.
Dr. Thomas Young was born at Milverton, in Somerset-
shire, on the 13th of June, 1773. His parents were both
members of the Society of Friends. He lived during the first
seven years of his life with his maternal grandfather, Mr.
Robert Davis, at Minehead, in Somersetshire. At the age of
two he could read fluently, and before he was four he had
read the Bible through twice. At the age of six, he learnt by
heart in six weeks Goldsmith's Deserted Village. When not
quite seven years of age he went to a school, kept by a man
called King, at Stapleton near Bristol, where he stayed for a
year and a half. In March 1782, when nearly nine years of
age, he went to the school of Mr. T. Thompson, at Compton,
in Dorsetshire, where he remained four years. Here he read
Phaedrus's Fables, Cornelius Nepos, Virgil, Horace expur-
gated by Knox, the whole of Beza's Greek and Latin Testa-
ment, the First Seven Books of the Iliad, Martin's Natural
Philosophy, etc., etc. Before leaving this school he had got
through six chapters of the Hebrew Bible. About this time he
learnt to use the lathe, and he made a telescope and a micro-
scope, and the Italian, Persian, Syriac, and Chaldee languages
all occupied his attention. From 1787 to 1792 he was private
tutor to Hudson Gurney, at Youngsbury, in Hertfordshire,

' Hieroglyphicorum Origo et natura, Cambridge, 1816, p. 9.

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Young's medical studies.

Discovers undulatory theory of light.

Young's study of hieroglyphs.

where he seems to have devoted himself to the study of English, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Ethiopic, as well as to that of natural Philosophy, Botany, and Entomology." In 1792 Young began to study Medicine and Anatomy in London, and in 1793 he entered St. Bartholomew's Hospital as a pupil. In 1803 he read a paper before the Royal Society, and was elected a Fellow the following year (balloted for and elected, June 19). Shortly after he attended medical lectures in Edinburgh and Göttingen, and he subsequently went to Cambridge, where he took the degree of Bachelor of Medicine (1803), and afterwards that of Doctor of Physic (1808). In 1798 Young received a splendid bequest from his uncle Dr. Brocklesby, consisting of his house in Norfolk Street, Park Lane, his library, his prints, his pictures, and about £10,000 in money; hence he was free to form his own scheme of life. In May, 1801, he discovered the undulatory theory of light, and his paper on this subject was read before the Royal Society in the November following ; in the same year he accepted the office of Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution. In 1802 he was appointed Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, and on the 14th of June, 1804, he married Eliza, the daughter of J. P. Maxwell, Esq., of Cavendish Square, and of Trippendence, near Farnborough, Kent. The attention of Young was called to Egyptian inscriptions by Sir W. Rouse Boughton, who had found in a mummy case at Thebes a papyrus written in cursive Egyptian characters, and to a notice of this which Young prepared for his friend, he appended a translation of the demotic text of the Rosetta Stone. As the details of his studies on the Rosetta Stone belong to the history of the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics, they are given further on (p. 141 ff.), but the reader will understand Young's position better by reading Dean Peacock's chapter on “hieroglyphical researches” printed in his life of Young, pp. 258–344, and Mr. Leitch's notes in the third volume of the collected Works of Dr. Young. In 1816 Young was appointed

* For the list of books read by him at this time, see the Life of Thomas Young, by G. Peacock, London, 1855, pp. 14–17.

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Secretary to a Commission for ascertaining the length of the seconds pendulum, for comparing French and English standards, etc., and in 1818 he was appointed Secretary of the Board of Longitude and Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac. In 1825 he became Medical Referee and Inspector of Calculations to the Palladium Insurance Company. In 1826 he was elected one of the eight foreign Associates of the Academy of Sciences at Paris. In February, 1829, he began to suffer from repeated attacks of asthma, and by the April following he was in a state of great weakness; he died on the Ioth of May, not having completed his fifty-sixth year. An excellent steel engraving of Young, by R. Ward, from a picture by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A., forms the frontispiece to his life by Dean Peacock, which, according to J. J. Champollion-Figeac, “exprime fidèlement la douceur, la grâce, les traits d'une figure toute rayonnante d'intelligence.”" Jean François Champollion, surnamed le Jeune, the immortal discoverer of a correct system of decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics, was born at Figeac on December 24, 1790. His family came originally from Champoléon in the High Alps, where a branch of it still holds property. As a boy he made rapid progress in classical studies, and he devoted himself at the same time to botany and mineralogy; at a very early date however he showed a natural taste for oriental languages, and like Young was, at the age of thirteen, master of a fair knowledge of Hebrew, Syriac and Chaldee.” In 1805 his brother J. J. Champollion-Figeac brought him to Paris, and caused him to be admitted to the Cours de l'Ecole des Langues Orientales, and introduced him to Silvestre de Sacy. Soon after his arrival in Paris Champollion turned his attention to the study of the hieroglyphic inscription on the Rosetta Stone, but his powerful friend de Sacy advised the elder brother to warn the younger off a study which me pouvait donner aucun résultat. In 1812 he was nominated Professor of Ancient History to the faculty of Letters at Grenoble,

* Lettre au Directeur de la Revue Britannique au sujet des Recherches du Docteur Young, Paris, 1857, p. 11. * On the subject of Champollion's studies, at Grenoble, see Chroniques IDauphinoises, par A. Champollion-Figeac, t. III. pp. 153, 156, 157–238. B. M. K

Young's death.

Champollion's physical and classical studies.

and Coptic

Champollion acquainted with Young's labours.

where he still carried on his oriental studies. When he arrived in Paris he found that the old Egyptologists maintained that hieroglyphics were a symbolic language, and seeking to verify this theory, he wasted a year. He made up his mind, however, to work out this question without having regard to the theories of others, and he sketched out a plan for a large work on Egypt in several volumes. The first part of this appeared at Grenoble in 1811, entitled Introduction; it was never sold, for only about thirty copies were printed, but it appeared, without the analytical table of Coptic geographical names, under the title L'Egypte sous les Pharaons, 8vo., 2 vols., 1814. About this time Young, in England, was studying the texts on the Rosetta Stone, and had actually begun to make a translation of the demotic section, making use of the results obtained by de Sacy and Akerblad, to the latter of whom great credit is due for his acuteness and insight. Whatever may be said as to Champollion's ignorance of Young's results, it is quite certain that he must have known of those of Akerblad, and we know (see p. 135) that a printed copy of Young's paper on the Rosetta Stone had been put into Champollion's hands by de Sacy. In a very short time Champollion discovered where his predecessors had broken down, and having already written De l'écriture Hieratique des Anciens Egyptiens, Grenoble, 1821, on September 17, in the following year, he read his Mémoire on the hieroglyphics and exhibited his hieroglyphic Alphabet, with its Greek and Demotic equivalents, before the Académie des Inscriptions. Champollion's paper created a great sensation, and Louis XVIII. wished a statement concerning it laid before him, and M. le Duc de Doudeauville determined that an Egyptian Museum should be formed in the Palace of the Louvre. In the same year Champollion published his Lettre d M. Dacier, relative d l'Alphabet des Hieroglyphes phonetiques, in which he showed beyond a doubt that his system was the correct one. In a series of Mémoires read at the Institut in April, May and June, 1823, he explained his system more fully, and these he afterwards published together entitled Précis du Système Hieroglyphique des Anciens Egyptiens, Paris, 2 vols., 1824. A second edition, revised and corrected, appeared in 1828. In June, 1824, Champollion arrived in Turin, where he devoted himself to the study of papyri. Early in 1825 he arrived in Rome, and thence he went to Naples, where all the museums were opened for him. In 1826 he returned to Paris. In July, 1828, he set out on his long planned voyage to Egypt, and returned in March, 1830, bringing with him a fine collection of antiquities, and a number of copies of inscriptions which filled about two thousand pages. As soon as he returned to France he set to work to publish the rich results of his travels, but while occupied with this undertaking, death overtook him on the 4th of March, 1832. Louis-Philippe ordered that busts of him, executed at the expense of the civil list, should be placed in the galleries of the palace at Versailles, and in the rooms of the Egyptian Museum of the Louvre; he also ordered that marble for another bust should be given to Champollion-Figeac, and that the carving thereof should be entrusted to the famous sculptor Etex. An etched portrait of Champollion le Jeune will be found in Les Deur Champollion, leur Vie et leurs CEuvres, par Aimé ChampollionFigeac : Grenoble, 1887, p. 52.

In addition to the works of Champollion mentioned above, the following are the most important:—

Rapport d son Ercel/ence M. le Duc de Doudeauville, sur 1a Collection Egyptienne d Livourne, Paris, 1826.

Lettres d M. le Duc de Blacas d’Aulps relatives au Musée royal Egyptien de Turin . . . . . (avec Notices chronologiques par Champollion-Figeac): Paris, 1824–26.

Notice sur les papyrus hieratiques et les peintures du cercueil de Pétamenoph (Extr. de Voyage d Meroë par Cailliaud de Nantes), Paris, 1827.

Notice descriptive des Monuments Egyptiens du Musée Charles X, Paris, 1827.

Catalogue de la Collection Egyptienne du Louvre, Paris,


Catalogue des Papyrus Egyptiens du Musée du Vatican, Rome, 1826.

Champollion's travels.


Champollion's works.

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