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N° 7. The present Welsh alphabet, which is intirel/
N° 8. The modern Greek alphabet.
All these are considered in the following chapter.
Remarks upon the foregoing alphabets j enumeration of alphabets; number of letters originally in several; 0/' primary and secondary lettersof the rse and deviations of the European alphabets, from the original set of characlers*
fv^*vkHE number and variety of alphabetical cha[Uj T racters, published at various times, is amazingly 4.j^Jaj great; some were invented to serve private purpofes among particular societies of men, who pretended to be endowed with more wisdom than the rest of the world; some were practised by priests, to conceal their religious mysteries from the vulgar; and some were the offspring of original characters used in Noah's family, which afterwards were, in certain countries, much mutilated, in process of time; and, in others, were handed down to us without having undergone any material alteration: and many of thofe, which cannot be reconciled to such as we shall
endeaendeavour to prove to be originals, must be placed to the account of whim, or superstition; though several others may have been formed for literary purpofes, even in later times. These are the sentiments. which arise in me, when I look over the many alphabetical tables in Claude Duress history, and several more collected by other curious men.
Now, though I am confined chiefly to researches into the origin of the languages of Europe; yet I cannot avoid faying something of some of the alphabets of Eastern nations, as I go along; because, upon perusing several collections of them, some curious particulars occur, which at once may entertain the reader, and serve to illustrate what I have undertaken. And from as accurate. a consideration of these as I was capable of, and of certain historical anecdotes which presented themselves in the course of my researches, I am forced to conclude, that there are but two original chains of letters, or alphabets, to be found, and these are the parents of most others in the world.
The first I shall mention here, is the ancient Hebrew aleph-beth, which I look upon to be truely original and antediluvian; and yet I cannot but be. surprized, that so few of the Ajiatic nations have the clofe affinity to this, in their several characters, that might naturally be expected.
Among the great numbers to be seen in several very curious collections, I can find only the following, which are apparently of Hebrew origin:
1. The alphabet faid to be written upon the table given to Moses from heaven. See Claude Duret, Origins des Langues, p. 1.
2. Characters faid to be invented by Esdras, p. 13 c.
3. The running letters of the German and Spanish Jews, in separate tables, ibid. p. 133.
4. That in the learned Dr. Mortons table, intitled, Baby Ionium @P Judaicum ex Adamico, 747 years before Christ.
5. Ibid. That from the Rotul. Pent at. in the synagogue of the Portuguese yews in London.
6. Ibid, Swintons Palmyrenean alphabet.
7. In Chamberlain s collection of the Lord's Prayer in several languages. The Rabbinical characters.
8. Ibid. Chaldaic.
9. Ibid. The Samaritan, which is also the fame in the Reverend and learned Mr. An/elm Bailey s Literary and Philosophical Introdu&ion to Laguages.
The reason why more of the nations of AJia did not adopt the Hebrew manner of writing, might perhaps be this: the Israelites were a people selected by the Almighty, that the knowledge and worship of Himself should be inviolably kept pure and undefiled among them; whilst the other nations were spreading their idolotrous practices every where: and as they kept their religion and political matters facred to themselves, so they did their language and letters. The Jews, all along, held the rest of the world in abomination; and they, in their turns, made many attempts to extirpate them from the face of the earth: but they were
miraculously preserved, from time to time, notwithstanding the havock made of them, and the sharp persecutions they underwent in almost every age; that they might remain living witnesses of the source of revealed religion, to the end of the world. Hence it is probable, that the other nations formed new modes of writing peculiar to themselves; and, accordingly, we find that at this time, many of the more Eastern nations have alphabets, which I cannot think to have arisen from the Hebrew, being quite different from it in every letter; and yet have a great agreement in their forms and complexion to one another. And this will be apparent to every reader, who will take the trouble of looking into Chamberlain s Oratio Dominica in diver/as omnium fere Gentium Linguas versa, &c. of which the following will be a sufficient specimen:
The Syriac, vulgar* The Persic,Juguthi char abler e.
Syriac, ejlrangel. Turcic.
Arabic, the common Malaic, two tables.
-stile in Barbary. Malabaric, two dialects.'
And the other alphabets of the Eajlern world seem to differ from these, and indeed from one another; but perhaps men more learned, than I pretend to be, may be of another opinion^ and may find an affinity between some of them, where I cannot.
The other original chain of letters is the Scythic, or Pelasgian alphabet, which I have all along contended for,
and 'and shall endeavour to give further proofs of in this place.
I Have added the Hebrew alphabet to the list, by way es contrast, to shew that Hensetius, and every other writer, who asserts that all the alphabets in the world were taken from that, must be mistaken; for who, that views thofe other letters, with which it is placed, with any degree of impartiality, can fay there is the least agreement between them? The forms of every letter are of a different air and complexion, not at all reconcileable to any of the other tables of the European letters; but, at first sight, the affinity of all the rest to their original appears most manifestly: just so it is also, with respect to the names of the numerals; there is no manner of similarity between those of the Hebrew and any European names of numerals, which the table clearly sets forth. This is the only use of my having introduced that alphabet here.
Let Us now consider the nature of the other chains of letters, in the foregoing table, beginning with the first:
This is a most ancient set of letters, differing in their forms from every other in the world, except such as are derived from it. They differ in five respects; in number, ,' order', names, charaSler and powers: to each of which, respectively, we shall pay some attention; and, first,
Of the number of the ancient Scythian, or Pelafgian
The table shews us, that they are but seventeen; and, in this circumstance, the history given us by the old IriJJj JiIids, or philosophers, is verified by undoubted concurring
D d d testimonies.