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Pictures were certainly the first attempt toward writing. Mankind in all ages and in all nations have been prone to imitation. This would soon be employed for describing and recording events. Thus, to signify that one man had killed another, they painted the figure of one man lying on the ground, and of another standing by him with a hostile weapon in his hand. When America was first discovered, this was the only kind of writing with which the Mexicans were acquainted. It was however a very imperfect mode of recording facts; since by pictures external events only could be delineated.

Hieroglyphical characters may be considered as the second stage of the Art of Writing. They consist of certain symbols, which are made to stand for invisible objects on account of their supposed resemblance of the objects themselves. Thus an eye represented knowledge; and a circle, having neither beginning nor end, was the symbol of eternity. Egypt was the country where this kind of writing was most studied, and brought into a regular art. By these characters all the boasted wisdom of their priests was conveyed. They pitched upon animals to be the emblems of moral objects, according to the qualities with which they supposed them to be endowed. Thus imprudence was denominated by a fly; wisdom, by an ant; and victory, by a hawk. But this sort of writing was in the highest degree enigmatical and confused; and consequently a very imperfect vehicle of knowledge.

From hieroglyphics some nations gradually advanced to simple arbitrary marks, which stood for objects, though without any resemblance of the objects signified. Of this nature was the writing of the Peruvians. They used small cords of different colours; and by knots upon these, of different sizes and variously rang. ed, they invented signs for communicating their thoughts to one another. The Chinese at this day use written characters of this nature. They have no alphabet of letters or simple sounds of which their words are composed; but every single character which they use, is expressive of an idea; it is a mark which signifies some one thing or object. The number of these characters must consequently be immense. They are said indeed to amount to seventy thousand. To be perfectly acquainted with them is the business of a whole life; which must have greatly retarded among them the progress of every kind of science.


It is evident that the Chinese characters, like hieroglyphics, are signs of things, and not of words. For we are told, that the Japanese, the Tonquinese, and the Coreans, who speak different languages from each other, and from the inhabitants of China, use however the same written characters with them, and thus correspond intelligibly with one another in writing, though mutually ignorant of each others' language. Our arithmetical figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. are an example of this sort of writing. They have no de

pendence on words; each figure represents the number for which it stands; and consequently is equally understood by all nations, who have agreed in the use of these figures.

The first step, to remedy the imperfection, the ambiguity, and the tediousness of each of the methods of communication, which have been mentioned, was the invention of signs, which should stand not directly for things, but for words by which things were named and distinguished. An alphabet of syllables seems to have been invented previously to an alphabet of letters. Such a one is said to be retained at this day in Ethiopia and some countries of India. But at best it must have been imperfect and ineffectual; since the number of characters, being very considerable, must have rendered both reading and writing very complex and laborious.

To whom are we indebted for the sublime and refined discovery of letters, is not determined. They were brought into Greece by Cadmus, the Phoenician, who, according to Sir Isaac Newton's Chronology was contemporary with king David. His alphabet contained only sixteen letters. The rest were afterward added, according as signs for proper sounds were found to be wanting. The Phoenician, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman alphabets agree so much in the figure, names, and arrangement of the letters, as


amounts to demonstration, that they were derived originally from the same source.

The ancient order of writing was from the right hand to the left. This method, as appears from some very old inscriptions, prevailed even among the Greeks. They afterward used to write their lines alternately from the right to the left, and from the left to the right. The inscription on the famous Sigaan monument is a specimen of this mode of writing, which continued till the days of Solon, the celebrated Legislator of Athens. At length, the motion from the left hand to the right, being found more natural and convenient, this order of writing was adopted by all the nations of Europe.

Writing was first exhibited on pillars and tables of stone; afterward on plates of the softer metals. As it became more common, the leaves and bark of certain trees were used in some countries; and in others, tablets of wood, covered with a thin coat of soft wax, on which the impression was made with a stylus of iron. Parchment, made of the hides of animals, was an invention of later times. Paper was not invented before the fourteenth century.


THE common division of Speech into eight parts, nouns, pronouns, verbs, participles, adverbs, preposi tions, interjections, and conjunctions, is not very ac

curate; since under the general term of nouns it comprehends both substantives and adjectives, which are parts of speech essentially distinct. Yet, as we are most accustomed to this division, and, as logical exactness is not necessary to our present design, we shall adopt these terms, which habit has made familiar to us.

Substantive nouns are the foundation of Grammar, and the most ancient part of speech. When men had advanced beyond simple interjections or exclamations of passion, and had begun to communicate their ideas to each other, they would be obliged to assign names to objects by which they were surrounded. Wherever a savage looked, he beheld forests and trees. To distinguish each by a separate name would have been endless. Their common qualities, such as springing from a root, and bearing branches and leaves, would suggest a general idea and a general name. The genus, tree, was afterward subdivided into its several species of oak, elm, ash, &c. upon experience and observation.

Still however only general terms were used in speech. For oak, elm, and ash, were names of whole classes of objects, each of which comprehend an immense number of undistinguished individuals. Thus, when the nouns man, lion, or, tree, were mentioned in conversation, it could not be known, which man, lion, or tree, was meant among the multitude, comprehended

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