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and the invention of letters, which has occupied the heads and pens of many learned men. They generally have stopped contentedly, where Herodotus led them to the company of Cadmus, and gave it up, that he was the inventer of letters; and that men were illiterate before his arrival in Greece. This was doing no great honour to the most ancient people of the world j and, at the fame time, confessing a credulity in a thing as unlikely to be true, as any piece of fabulous history whatsoever. Yet we shall find the use of letters much higher, even in the antediluvian world; but will not anticipate, in this place, what we have to fay, in vindication of our opinion, concerning that matter.
These, and such like methods, were the means by which I have endeavoured to discover the original language of Europe, and to trace it to the house of Japhet: and, in my progress, have profited of several quotations from an-» cient authors, which other moderns have made use of; but not for the fame purpofes. They were apposite enough to my scheme, but could not serve them; because they could not produce the coinciding testimonies, which I was furnished with, to corroborate what I brought them to prove.
Now, it is hard to fay when the yaphetan language began; there is a suspicion of its being related to the Hebrew, among some ingenious gentlemen, either as a mutilated dialect of it, or as a sister-dialect with that, of some more ancient antediluvian tongue: indeed, the expressions;
c 2_ of of both, in the mouths of yews, Welsh and Irifi, with the conciseness of their phrases, are exactly similar, and a great number of their words have the fame signification; yet none of the names of the numbers, among the Hebrews, have any fort of affinity with thofe of the Japhetan language. However this may be, since we cannot think that Japhet's people, or thofe of Shem, were at all concerned in the affair of Babel, we must suppofe them both to have been languages of the antediluvian world, and both in the house of Noah: even as many families in every nation, at this time, speak two languages; as with us, French and Englijh, Welsh and English, Irijh and English, and so on of other countries: for it cannot be suppofed that yaphet, who was near one hundred years old when he went into the ark, could have learned a new language, when there were no people but the few of his own family upon the face of the earth; and it will appear, in this work, that the children of Gomer, Magog, Mejhech and Tubal, were in possession of their own territories and language, in the istes of Eli/ha (GreeceJ and in Scythia, before any thing was begun at Babel concerning the tower, or dispersion.
In the course of this work, the reader will find some repetitions, which could not be avoided: because, as the work is divided into distinct chapters, under their respective heads, several evidences, from foregoing chapters, were necessarily wanting in the succeeding parts, to support the arguments in each, arising from their peculiar
subjects. This, I hope, will be excused, since the necessity of recurring to certain peculiar pasiages will be easily seen by the candid reader, as he goes on.
I Have purpofely avoided bringing into this work, either marginal notes, or many quotations at large from authors, for two reasons; first, because it would swell the work to a greater size than would be consistent with the price it is fold for, or with the patience of the reader; and, secondly, because insertions of that kind only serve to make frequent interruptions in the course of reading.
And, as I am ever cautious of assuming too much, or of appearing self-sufficient in any thing I undertake, well knowing how imperfect, even the most mining geniuses of this world are, I am induced to make some apology for whatever defects, or inaccuracies of stile, may occur in this research. Concise and plain dissertations were all that appeared necessary to me, in a work of this nature; since I had neither the refined politics of ministers, nor the characters of heroes or princes, nor the sublime speeches of senators, to treat of.
This consideration, in a great measure, alleviates an anxiety, which must otherwise have affected me very much from a consciousness of my own insufficiency; and, at the fame time, leads me to look with high esteem upon the modern writers of our English history, whose works are equal, if not superior, to those of any other nation, in elegance of stile, conciseness, and fine sentiment. Among whom, the two latest are mining examples, pies, and bespeak the greatest applause from all lovers of"
The noble author of the History of the Life of Henry II, 8cc. could raise an elegant bed of flowers, from the foils of such former reigns, as were deemed, by many judicious . men, unfertile and void, sufficient to amuse and instruct the historical student, and fill his heart with noble sentiments. The other, though one of the more delicate part of the creation, yet engaged in matters as heroic, has a just claim to our greatest respect; is. being one of thofe from whom, in general, no high erudition.is expected, yet who excels in polite writing; and if freedom and impartiality in delivering historical facts, and in asserting the natural rights of mankind, with a laudable. detestation of superstition and tyranny, are objects agreeable to the sentiments of good men, this author, I fay, has a double claim to the attention of the world.
I Cannot clofe this preface, without declaring my-fatisfaction at an incident which happened on the ninth of this instant July, the day of the recess of the Royal and Antiquary Societies: the Reverend Doctor Gregory Sharp. entertained the latter with a learned dissertation upon the antiquity of letters, and some account of the Pelafgi. This could not fail of giving me the highest pleasure, because it is the very subject I have been several years considering, of which two-thirds of my historical enquiries were now printed off; and it was impossible, that either of us
could have had the least knowledge of what the other was
(doing upon that head. Yet, I was happy in hearing the strongest concurrence of his opinions, upon so high a part of antiquity, with my own, and his evidence the very fame which I made use of to corroborate my sentiments, as far as he went j for this short dissertation is but a small part of a learned work he is now publishing, on the origin and structure of the Greek tongue. However, so clofe an agreement between this part of my book, and that of so -eminent a character in the republic of letters, cannot fail of adding weight to any thing lean produce, and giving it credit with the learned world.