Page images

mentioned in one of my letters to M. de Sacy, that the enchorial inscription of Rosetta contained a number of individual characters resembling the corresponding hieroglyphics, and I was not disposed to place any great reliance on the alphabetical interpretation of any considerable part of the inscription. I have now fully demonstrated the hieroglyphical origin of the running hand,1 in which the manuscripts on papyrus, found with the mummies

(Leitch, p. 74.)

The principal contents of Young's letters, however, incorporated with other matter, were made into a more extensive article, which was contributed to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Supplement, Vol. IV. He made drawings of the plates, which were engraved by Mr. Turrell, and, having procured separate copies, he sent them to some of his friends in the summer of 1818, with a cover on which was printed the title, "Hieroglyphical Vocabulary." These plates, however, were precisely the same that were afterwards contained in the fourth volume of the Supplement, as belonging to the article "Egypt." The characters explained in this vocabulary amounted to about two hundred; the number which had been immediately obtained from the stone of Rosetta having been somewhat more than doubled by means of a careful examination of other monuments. . . . . . The higher numerals were readily obtained by a comparison of some inscriptions in which they stood combined with units and with tens.2 Young's article in the Encyclopædia Britannica obtained great celebrity in Europe, and was reprinted by Leitch in the third volume of the Works of Dr. Young, pp. 86-197; it contains eight sections :

I. Introductory view of the latest publications relating to


II. Pantheon.

III. Historiography.

IV. Calendar.

V. Customs and Ceremonies.

VI. Analysis of the Triple Inscription.

VII. Rudiments of a Hieroglyphical Vocabulary.
VIII. Various Monuments of the Egyptians.

This article is of very great importance in the history of the decipherment of the hieroglyphics, and had Young taken the trouble of having it printed as a separate publication there would have been less

1 "Que ce second système (l'Hiératique) n'est qu'une simple modification du système Hiéroglyphique, et n'en diffère uniquement que par la forme des signes." Champollion, De l'Écriture Hiératique des Anciens Égyptiens, Grenoble, 1821. We should have expected some reference by Champollion to Young's discovery quoted above.

2 Young, An Account of some recent discoveries in Hieroglyphical Literature, p. 17.

doubt in the minds of scholars as to the good work which he did, and the facts that were borrowed from it by Champollion would have been more easily identified.1

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It has already been said (p. 142) that Champollion published at Paris in 1814 the first two parts of a work entitled L'Égypte sous les Pharaons, ou recherches sur la Géographie, la Religion, la Langue, les Écritures et l'Histoire de l'Égypte avant l'Invasion de Cambyse; these parts treated simply of the geography of Egypt. In a note to the Preface he tells us that the general plan of the work, together with the introduction of the geographical section and the general map of Egypt under the Pharaohs, was laid before the Société des Sciences et des Arts de Grenoble, September 1st, 1807, and that the printing began on September 1st, 1810. On p. 22 of his Introduction, referring to the Rosetta Stone, he says: Ce monument intéressant est un décret des prêtres de l'Égypte, qui décerne de grands honneurs au jeune roi Ptolémée Epiphane. Ce décret est écrit en hiéroglyphes, en langue et en écriture alphabétique Égyptiennes, et en Grec." Now by the words " en langue et en écriture alphabétique Égyptiennes we are clearly to understand that part of the Rosetta inscription which is written in demotic. Having referred to the studies of de Sacy and Åkerblad, and spoken of the words in demotic which the latter scholar had rightly compared with their equivalents in Coptic, que nous y avons lus ensuite," Champollion adds in a foot-note, "Ce n'est pas ici le lieu de rendre compte du résultat de l'étude suivie que nous avons faite du texte Égyptien de l'Inscription de Rosette, et de l'alphabet que nous avons adopté. Nous nous occuperons de cet important sujet dans la suite de cet ouvrage. En attendant, nous prions le lecteur de regarder comme exacts les résultats que nous lui présentons ici." From this it is clear that as early as 1810 Champollion claimed to have made progress in the decipherment of the demotic text (texte Égyptien) of the Rosetta Stone, and it is now time to ask how much he was indebted to Åkerblad's letter for ideas and results. A comparison of Plate II at the end of Åkerblad's Lettre sur l'Inscription Egyptienne de Rosette, with Plate IV in Champollion's Lettre à M. Dacier relative à l'Alphabet des Hieroglyphes Phonétiques, will show that sixteen of the characters of the alphabet printed by Akerblad in 1802 were retained by Champollion in 1822; also, if Akerblad's alphabet be compared with the "Supposed Enchorial Alphabet " printed at the foot of Plate IV accompanying Young's article "Egypt," printed in 1818 and

[ocr errors]

1 Ich halte mich daher verpflichtet, alles auf unsern Gegenstand bezügliche dem Leser nachträglich genau mitzutheilen und zwar mit einer um so grössern Gewissenhaftigkeit, je höher durch dessen Kenntniss die Achtung gegen den trefflichen Forscher steigen wird, der besonders in der Erklärung der symbolischen Hieroglyphen so Manches zuerst aussprach, was man ohne den Artikel der Encyklopaedie gelesen zu haben, meistens als das Eigenthum Champollion's zu betrachten gewohnt ist. Schwartze, Das Alte Aegypten, P. 446.

published in 1819, it will be found that fourteen of the characters are identical in both alphabets. Thus it seems that a greater degree of credit is due to Åkerblad than has usually been awarded to him either by Young1 or Champollion,2 or, indeed, by writers on Egyptology generally.3

Having seen what foundations Young and Champollion had for their own works on the demotic text to rest on, we may return to the consideration of Young's hieroglyphic studies. On the four plates which appeared with his article "Egypt" he correctly identified the names of a few of the gods, Rā, Nut, Thoth, Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys, and he made out the meanings of several Egyptian ideographs. His identifications of kings' names were, however, most unfortunate. Thus of Amenḥetep, he made Tithons; of Thi (a queen), Eoa; of Usertsen, Heron; of Psammetichus, Sesostris; of Nectanebus, Proteus; of Seti, Psammis; of Rameses II, Amasis; of Autocrator, Arsinoe, etc., etc. He correctly identified the names of Ptolemy and Berenice, although in each case he attributed wrong values to some of the hieroglyphic characters which formed these names. The hieroglyphic alphabet given by Young was as follows :— Rip true value BA.


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

1 Mr. Åkerblad was far from having completed his examination of the whole enchorial inscription, apparently from the want of some collateral encouragement or co-operation to induce him to continue so laborious an inquiry; and he had made little or no effort to understand the first inscription of the pillar which is professedly engraved in the sacred character, except the detached observation respecting the numerals at the end; he was even disposed to acquiesce in the correctness of Mr. Palin's interpretation, which proceeds on the supposition that parts of the first lines of the hieroglyphics are still remaining on the stone. Young, An Account, p. 10.

2 " Feu Åkerblad essaya d'étendre ses lectures hors des noms propres grecs, et il échoua complètement." Champollion, Précis, 1 éd.,

3 See Schwartze, Das Alte Aegypten, pp. 160, 162.



• No. 205, which is omitted here, is really two demotic characters the values of which are BA and R to these Young gave the value BERE, and so far he was right, but he failed to see that what he considered to be one sign was, in reality, two. In Nos. 213 and 214 his consonants were right but his vowels were wrong. We are thus able to see that out of a total of fourteen signs he assigned correct values to six, partly correct values to three, and wholly wrong values to five. Champollion-Figeac, in his Lettre au Directeur de la Revue Britannique au sujet des Recherches du Docteur Young sur les Hieroglyphes Égyptiens, p. 5, gives Young no credit whatever for the three partly correct values assigned to hieroglyphic characters by him.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

In 1822 Champollion published his famous Lettre à M. Dacier relative à l'Alphabet des Hieroglyphes Phonétiques, in which he stated his discovery of the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet in the following words: "Vous avez sans doute remarqué, Monsieur, dans mon Mémoire sur l'écriture démotique Égyptienne, que ces noms étrangers étaient exprimés phonétiquement au moyen de signes plutôt syllabiques qu'alphabétiques. La valeur de chaque caractère est reconnue et invariablement fixée par la comparaison de ces divers noms ; et de tous ces rapprochements est résulté l'alphabet, ou plutôt le syllabaire démotique figuré sur ma planche I, colonne deuxième. L'emploi de ces caractères phonétiques une fois constaté dans l'écriture démotique, je devais naturellement en conclure que puisque les signes de cette écriture populaire étaient, ainsi que je l'ai exposé, empruntés de l'écriture hiératique ou sacerdotale, et puisque encore les signes de cette écriture hiératique ne sont, comme on l'a reconnu par mes divers mémoires, qu'une représentation abrégée, une véritable tachygraphie des hiérographes, cette troisième espèce d'écriture, l'hieroglyphique pure, devait avoir aussi un certain nombre de ses signes doués de la faculté d'exprimer les sons; en un mot, qu'il existait également une série d'hieroglyphes phonétiques. Pour s'assurer de la vérité de cet aperçu, pour reconnaître l'existence et discerner même la valeur de quelques-uns des signes de cette espèce, il aurait suffi d'avoir sous les yeux, écrits en hieroglyphes purs, deux noms de rois grecs préalablement connus, et contenant plusieurs lettres employées à la fois dans l'un et dans l'autre, tels que Ptolémée et Cléopâtre, Alexandre et Bérénice, etc." (p. 5). Throughout this work there appears to be no mention whatever of Young's identification of any letters of the hieroglyphic alphabet, although on p. 2 Champollion says: “A l'égard de l'écriture démotique en particulier,

il a suffi de la précieuse inscription de Rosette pour en reconnaître l'ensemble; la critique est redevable d'abord aux lumières de votre illustre confrère, M. Silvestre de Sacy, et successivement à celles de feu Åkerblad et de M. le docteur Young, des premières notions exactes qu'on a tirées de ce monument, et c'est de cette même inscription que j'ai déduit la série des signes démotiques qui, prenant une valeur syllabico-alphabétique, exprimaient dans les textes idéographiques les noms propres des personnages étrangers à l'Égypte." That Champollion should not have known of Young's article "Egypt" is a thing not to be understood, especially as advance copies were sent to Paris and elsewhere as early as 1818. The whole matter is neatly summed up by Klaproth in his Examen Critique des Travaux de feu M. Champollion. He says:-For 10 years past people have been talking enthusiastically about the discovery of the " phonetic alphabet " made by the late M. Champollion, but very few people seem to have any clear idea either of what it really is, or of the results which it has been able to produce. Dr. Young, in England, is beyond contradiction the first author of this discovery. In 1818 he recognized the alphabetic value of the greater number of the signs which form the names of Ptolemy and Berenice, among which he has correctly determined the following seven, which correspond with the results obtained by Champollion. [Here follow the hieroglyphic characters for B, F, I, M, N, P, T.] The idea that the hieroglyphs could contain an alphabetic section never took root in his [Champollion's] mind.

Klaproth proceeds to quote a lengthy extract from Champollion's work, De l'Écriture Hiératique, Grenoble, 1821, wherein, after referring to the works of the Comte de Caylus, Barthélemy, Zoega, and M. de Humboldt, all of whom were agreed that the writing of the Egyptian MSS. was ALPHABETIC, that is to say, that it was composed of signs that were intended to recall the sounds of the spoken language, Champollion goes on to say :-A long study, and above all an attentive comparison of the hieroglyphic texts with those of the second kind, which are regarded as alphabetic, have led us to a contrary conclusion. As a result he then states the following:

1. The writing of the Egyptian MSS. of the second kind (hieratic) is not alphabetic.

2. The second system is only a simple modification of the hieroglyphic system, and differs merely through the form of the signs.

3. This kind of writing is that called hieratic by the Greek writers, and must be considered as hieroglyphic tachygraphy.

4. Finally, the hieratic characters are signs of things and not signs of sounds.

« PreviousContinue »