Page images

Monuments de l'Egypte et de la Nubie, iv. vols., fol., 440 planches. Publié par ordre du Gouvernement, pour faire suite à l'ouvrage de l'Expédition d'Egypte, Paris, 1829–1847. Lettres écrites pendant son voyage en Egypte, en 1828, 1829, Paris, 1829; 2me édition, Paris, 1833; collection complète. A German translation by E. F. von Gutschmid was published at Quedlinburg, in 1835. Grammaire Egyptienne, aur Principes généraur de l'écriture sacrée Egyptienne appliqués d la representation de la langue parlée, . . . . . Avec des prolégomènes et un portrait de l'éditeur, M. Champollion-Figeac, Paris, 1836–1841. Dictionnaire Egyptien, en écriture hieroglyphique, publié d'après les manuscrits autographes . . . . . par ChampollionFigeac, Paris, 1841. The results of Dr. Young's studies of the Rosetta Stone were first communicated to the Royal Society of Antiquaries in a letter from Sir W. E. Rouse Boughton, Bart.; the letter was read on the 19th of May, 1814, and was published the following year in Archaeologia, Vol. XVIII. pp. 59–72. The letter was accompanied by a translation of the demotic text on the Rosetta Stone, which was subsequently reprinted anonymously in the Museum Criticum of Cambridge, Pt. VI., 1815, together with the correspondence which took place between Dr. Young and MM. Silvestre de Sacy and Akerblad. In 1802 M. Akerblad, the Swedish President at Rome, published his Lettre sur l'inscription Egyptienne de Rosette, adressee au citoyen Silvestre de Sacy, in which he gave the results of his study of the demotic text of the Rosetta Stone; M. Silvestre de Sacy also had occupied himself in the same way (see his Lettre au citoyen Chaptal, au sujet de l'inscription Egyptienne du monument trouvé à Rosette: Paris, 1802), but neither scholar had made any progress in the decipherment of the hieroglyphic text. In August, 1814, Dr. Young wrote to Silvestre de Sacy, asking him what Mr. Akerblad had been doing, and saying, “I doubt whether the alphabet which Mr. Akerblad has given us can be of much further utility than in enabling us to decipher the proper names; and sometimes I have

Young's labours on the Rosetta Stone in 1814.

Correspondence between Young and de Sacy.

* Letter to the Rev. S. Weston respecting some Egyptian Antiquities. With 4 copper plates. London, 1814.

even suspected that the letters which he has identified resemble the syllabic sort of characters by which the Chinese express the sounds of foreign languages, and that in their usual acceptation they had different significations : but of this conjecture I cannot at present speak with any great confidence.".. ... * To this M. de Sacy replied : ... . " Je ne vous dissimule pas, Monsieur, que malgré l'espèce d'approbation que j'ai donnée au système de M. Akerblad, dans la réponse que je lui ai adressée, il m'est toujours resté des doutes très forts sur la validité de l'alphabet qu'il s'est fait. ... .. Je dois vous ajouter que M. Akerblad n'est pas le seul qui se flatte d'avoir lu le texte Egyptien de l'inscription de Rosette. M. Champollion, qui vient de publier deux volumes sur l'ancienne géographie de l'Egypte, * et qui s'est beaucoup occupé de la langue Copte, prétend avoir aussi lu cette inscription. Je mets assurément plus de confiance dans les lumières et la critique de M. Akerblad que dans celles de M. Champollion, mais tant qu'ils n'auront publié quelque résultat de leur travail, il est juste de suspendre son jugement." (Leitch, Vol. III. p. 17.) Writing to M. de Sacy in October of the same year, Young says : " I had read Mr. Akerblad's essay but hastily in the course of the last winter, and I was not disposed to place much confidence in the little that I recollected of it ; so that I was able to enter anew upon the investigation, without being materially influenced by what he had published ; and though I do not profess to lay claim to perfect originality, or to deny the importance of Mr. Akerblad's labours, I think myself authorised to consider my own translation as completely independent of his ingenious researches : a circumstance which adds much to the probability of our conjectures where they happen to agree. It is only since I received your obliging letter, that I have again read Mr. Akerblad's work ; and I have found that it agrees almost in every instance with the results of my own

1 For these letters I am indebted to the third volume of the Miscellaneous Works of the late Thomas Young, M. D., F. R.S., &c., ed. John Leitch, London, 1855.

* L'Egypte sous les Aharaons, ou recherches sur la Géographie, la Religion, la Langue, les Ecritures, et l'Histoire de l'Egypte, Paris, 1814

De Sacy's opinions of Akerblad's works.

De Sacy distrusts Champollion's results.

Young on Akerblad's labours.

his own

investigation respecting the sense attributed to the words which the author has examined. This conformity must be allowed to be more satisfactory than if I had followed, with perfect confidence, the path which Akerblad has traced : I must however, confess that it relates only to a few of the first steps of the investigation ; and that the greatest and the most difficult part of the translation still remains unsupported by the authority of any external evidence of this kind.” (Leitch, p. 18.) Nearly three weeks after writing the above, Young sent another letter to M. de Sacy, together with a Coptic and demotic alphabet derived partly from Akerblad, and partly from his own researches, and a list of eighty-six demotic words with the words corresponding to them in the Greek version. Of these words, he says: “Three were observed by de Sacy, sixteen by Akerblad, and the remainder by himself.” In January, 1815, Akerblad addressed a long letter to Young, together with which he sent a translation of some lines of the Rosetta Stone inscription, and some notes upon it. Regarding his own work he says: “During the ten years which have elapsed since my departure from Paris, I have devoted but a few moments, and those at long intervals, to the monument of Rosetta . . . . . For, in fact, I have always felt that the results of my researches on this monument are deficient in that sort of evidence which carries with it full conviction, and you, Sir, as well as M. de Sacy, appear to be of my opinion in this respect. . . . . I must however give you notice beforehand, that in most cases you will only receive a statement of my doubts and uncertainties, together with a few more plausible conjectures; and I shall be fully satisfied if these last shall appear to deserve your attention and approbation . . . . . If again the inscriptions were engraved in a clear and distinct character like the Greek and Latin inscriptions of a certain antiquity, it would be easy, by the assistance of the proper names of several Greek words which occur in it, some of which I have discovered since the publication of my letter to M. de Sacy, and of many Egyptian words, the sense of which is determined ; it would be easy, I say, to form a perfectly correct alphabet of these letters; but here another difficulty occurs ; the alphabetical characters which, without doubt, are

of very high antiquity in Egypt, must have been in common
use for many centuries before the date of the decree ; in the
course of this time, these letters, as has happened in all other
countries, have acquired a very irregular and fanciful form, so
as to constitute a kind of running hand." (Leitch, p. 33.) In
August, 1815, Young replied to Akerblad's letter, and dis-
cussed the passages where his own translation differed from
that of Akerblad.
In July, 1815, de Sacy sent a letter to Young, which
contains the following remarkable passages : " Monsieur,
outre la traduction Latine de l'inscription Egyptienne que vous
m'avez communiquée, j'ai reçu postérieurement une autre tra-
duction Anglaise, imprimée, que je n'ai pas en ce moment sous
les yeux, l'ayant prêtée à M. Champollion sur la demande que
son frère m'en a faite d'après une lettre qu'il m'a dit avoir reçue
de vous. . . . . . /e pense, Monsieur, que vous êtes plus avancé
aujourd'hui et que vous lisez une grande partie, du moins, du
texte Egyptien. Si j'ai un conseil à vous donner, c'est de ne pas
trop communiquer vos découvertes à M. Champollion. Il se
pourrait faire qu'il prétendît ensuite à la priorité. Il cherche
en plusieurs endroits de son ouvrage à faire croire qu'il a
découvert beaucoup des mots de l'inscription Egyptienne de
Rosette. /'ai bien peur que ce ne soit que du charlatanisme ;
j'ajoute même que j'ai de fortes raisons de le penser. . . . .. Au
surplus, je ne saurais me persuader que si M. Akerblad,
Et. Quatremère, ou Champollion avait fait des progrès réels dans
la lecture du texte Egyptien, ils ne se fussent pas plus empressés
de faire part au public de leur découverte. Ce serait une
modestie bien rare, et dont aucun d'eux ne me paraît capable."
(Leitch, p. 5I.)
In a letter to de Sacy, dated 3rd August, 1815, Young says :
" You may, perhaps, think me too sanguine in my expecta-
tions of obtaining a knowledge of the hieroglyphical language
in general from the inscription of Rosetta only ; and I will
confess to you that the difficulties are greater than a super-
ficial view of the subject would induce us to suppose. The
number of the radical characters is indeed limited, like
that of the keys of the Chinese ; but it appears that these
characters are by no means universally independent of each

De Sacy WarnS Young against Champollion.

Young on hieroglyphics.

other, a combination of two or three of them being often employed to form a single word, and perhaps even to represent a simple idea ; and, indeed, this must necessarily happen where we have only about a thousand characters for the expression of a whole language. For the same reason it is impossible that all the characters can be pictures of the things which they represent : some, however, of the symbols on the stone of Rosetta have a manifest relation to the objects denoted by them. For instance, a Priest, a Shrine, a Statue, an Asp, a Mouth, and the Numerals, and a King is denoted by a sort of plant with an insect, which is said to have been a bee; while a much greater number of the characters have no perceptible connexion with the ideas attached to them ; although it is probable that a resemblance, either real or metaphorical, may have existed or have been imagined when they were first employed ; thus a Libation was originally denoted by a hand holding a jar, with two streams of a liquid issuing from it, but in this inscription the representation has degenerated into a bird's foot. With respect to the epistolographic or enchorial character, it does not seem quite certain that it could be explained even if the hieroglyphics were perfectly understood, for many of the characters neither resemble the corresponding hieroglyphics, nor are capable of being satisfactorily resolved into an alphabet of any kind: in short, the two characters might be supposed to belong to different languages; for they do not seem to agree even in their manner of forming compound from simple terms.” (Leitch, pp. 55, 56.) Writing to de Sacy in the following year (5th May, 1816) touching the question of the alphabetic nature of the inscription on the Rosetta Stone, he says: “Si vous lisez la lettre de M. Akerblad, vous conviendrez, je crois, qu'au moins il n'a pas €té plus heureux que moidans ses legons Coptes del'inscription. Maisle vrai est que la chose est impossible dans l'étendue que vous paraissez encore vouloir lui donner, car assurement l'inscription enchoriale n'est alphabétique que dans un sens très

borné. . . . . . Je me suis borné dernièrement à l'étude des hiéroglyphes, ou plutót à la collection d'inscriptions hiéroglyphiques. . . . . . Les caractères que j’ai découverts jettent

déjà quelques lumières sur les antiquités de l'Egypte. J'ai

« PreviousContinue »