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ment of the discovery of this interesting memorial. "This seemingly insignificant stone," says he, "shares with the great and splendid work, 'La Description de 1'Egypte,' the honor of being the only result of vital importance to universal history, accruing from a vast expedition, a brilliant conquest, and a bloody combat for the possession of Egypt. That grand conception, the early forecast of a young hero — the colonization of Egypt by Europeans, which Liebnitz had proposed to Louis XIV., and Bossuet, as a passage in his universal history proves, urgently recommended—had wholly failed, and seemed destined to disappear from the page of history, like a stroke upon the waters, without leaving a trace behind it. After a bloody and fruitlessly protracted struggle, upon which millions of treasure and unnumbered hecatombs of human life were sacrificed, the cradle of civilization, the land of monuments, was again unconditionally surrendered to the dominion of barbarians. * * * * * Under these circumstances, we may consider that splendid work on Egypt as a sort of sin-offering for all the blood which has been so vainly shed on her soil."
European scholars, having obtained copies of the inscriptions, directed their attention, as was natural, first to the Greek, which was found, upon translation, to contain a record, or recognition of the highest honors of the Pharaohs in the person of Ptolemy Epiphanes, by the Egyptian priesthood, assembled at Memphis. Its concluding sentence was as follows—"that it may be known that the Egyptians elevate and honor the God Epiphanes Eucharistes in a lawful manner, and that this decree should be engraved on a tablet of hard stone in hieroglyphical, [sacred characters,] enchorial,
[common writing of the country,] and Greek characters, and
should be set up in each of the first, second, and third-rate temples at the statue of the ever living king." The period of time of which the stone records events, is about 196 B. c., and the inscriptions on it furnish, probably, the most extended and important document of the Graeco-Egyptian period.* The general impression of the learned is, that the Greek was the original document, and the hieroglyphics and enchorial writing are translations from it. Person in England, and Heyne in Germany, together with members of the Institute in France, were not long in establishing the proper reading of the Greek text to the satisfaction of scholars; though a full philological analysis of all the inscriptions, in the opinion of Birch and other good Egyptian antiquarians, is yet a desideratum. It is obvious however, from what has been stated, that the discovery of this stone advanced the facilities and means of research far beyond any and all the advantages previously possessed. And here, that we may make ourselves more intelligible to the general reader, we subjoin a specimen of the three different inscriptions found on the Rosetta stone; not with the view at present of showing the mode of interpretation, but that a clear perception may be had of the nature of those labors of the learned which we are about to detail.
* Some years ago it was suggested by Mr. Sharpe, and afterward by Mr. Gliddon, that other copies of this stone might be found. Lepsius of Berlin has a fragment from Philae, containing part of this decree.
2THCAI EIKONA TOT BACIAESIC TITOAEMAIOT TOT AmNOBlOT TOT HrATIHMENOT TPO TOT 4>QA EUWANOTC ETXAPICTOT.
Thus translated literally from the hieroglyphics into English by Bunsen:
To Set Up The Statue Of Ptolemy The King, Ever
LIVING, ETERNAL, BELOVED OF PHTHA, THE APPARENT GOD, THE BEST LoRD — [Epiphanei Eucharistes.]
After the Greek had been translated, attention was directed to the two Egyptian texts. De Sacy and Akerblad employed themselves on the enchorial or demotic writing; under the erroneous impression, probably, that as it was the best preserved of all the inscriptions, and was moreover the common writing, it would prove the easiest to decipher; while Dr. Young and Champollion may be deemed the first adventurers into the field of hieroglyphical interpretation, though they were not unmindful of the enchorial also. Several incorrect opinions have been enumerated by Bunsen, as retarding the progress of the first attempts. In the first place, it was assumed that the hieroglyphic character was purely symbolic. Zoega had repudiated such an opinion some time before; but his now verified conjectures seem, at that time, not to have been known by some, and where known, to have been disregarded. Another assumption was, that the enchorial text was purely alphabetical. Hence resulted a third error, viz., that the language in both inscriptions was the same; but that they were written merely in two different ways. It was De Sacy who was the first successful decipherer. He resorted to the plan usually pursued in interpreting any secret writing. The first object in such a work is to ascertain by close examination the number of different signs or characters; next to distinguish the groups or combinations that occur most frequently; and lastly, according to the supposed or ascertained sense. of the general purport of the writing, to explain the characters by the words of the language they are supposed to embody. Here, the purport was fully known from the Greek inscription; and it was the natural presumption, in the absence of all proof, that the Coptic was the language embodied in these characters. Quatremere had, however, satisfactorily shown that it was in substance the language of ancient Egypt. De Sacy saw that the only sure basis of interpretation was to take the proper names occurring in the Greek, and to ascertain, if possible, their equivalents in the Egyptian text. This he did; and in 1802 communicated to Chaptal his discovery of the names of Ptolemy, Berenice, and Alexander in the enchorial writing. Akerblad went further, and in the same year showed, in a letter to De Sacy, that these groups which he had discovered thus expressing proper names, could be decomposed into letters. By means of these groups and thirteen others, he formed an alphabet for nearly all the letters of the enchorial character; but he never suspected, what was nevertheless true, that beside letters, the enchorial used symbolic signs; and beside symbols, the hieroglyphic used phonetic signs. These two important facts were the discovery of Dr. Young.
After Akerblad's labors, some time elapsed before any further progress was made. It was not until 1814 that Dr. Young offered his "conjectural translation of the Egyptian inscription of the Rosetta stone." The plan which he pursued, as described by himself, was, in substance, as follows. He first acquired the Coptic language, and adopted Akerblad's alphabet of the enchorial text, suspecting, however, from the beginning, that this writing contained symbolic signs as well as letters. He then commenced comparing groups of characters in the Egyptian writing with proper names in the Greek. Thus, finding in the fourth and fourteenth lines of the Greek, the words Alexander and Alexandria, he found in the second and tenth lines of the demotic inscription, groups which he conjectured were expressive of the same words. He states that he did not trouble himself, by an analysis of the groups, to ascertain the value of each particular character. Again, he observed the occurrence in almost every line of a small group of characters; he naturally concluded that it was either a common termination, or else some common particle. It was finally found to be the conjunction equivalent to our English and. He next noticed that a remarkable collection of characters was repeated some thirty times in the inscription; on looking to the Greek, he found the Greek word for king repeated about the same number of times; he hence translated the unknown group by that word. So also with the name of Ptolemy and the word Egypt; he compared as before the number of repetitions of these words in the Greek, with