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very clothes they wear--some branches of their art of weaving being extincts—we increase the duty upon British cotton goods from three to five

per cent. ! The remarks of Lord Monteagle upon the India sugar trade are likewise just :

In order efficiently to insure the cultivation of sugar in that country, a large application of British capital was required ; and we might obtain thence—a source wholly unobjectionableman inexhaustible supply of sugar. The East-Indies require encouragement; they needed an assurance of protection against foreign rivalry, which might induce the application of British capital to the cultivation of sugar.

So far, however, from India having had protection against foreign rivalry, in this very article of sugar it has been treated as a foreign country, and at this time the Indian sugars are unequally dealt with by the Legislature.

The affairs of New Zealand have attracted some notice during the month. That fine and promising colony seems to have been abandoned to strange experiments. It is an error in our colonial policy, which experience does not appear likely to correct, to suppose that the management of a young settlement does not demand much greater skill and talents in its ruler than an old colony, where every thing is straightforward and orderly. In New Zealand, the governor, having established a kind of national debt, in the form of debentures, bas abolished all the customs duties, and imposed a property and income-tax!

The privilege granted to Canada corn has emboldened the Australian cultivators to claim the same facilities for the introduction of their grain into this country, and the application on the part of Indian exporters is about to be renewed. The Premier must have foreseen the probability of these pretensions being brought forward when he proposed and carried the Canada measure, and is doubtless prepared to shew their fallacy.

Correspondence. ON THE ORIGIN OF THE HAMAIYARIC AND ETHIOPIC

ALPHABETS.

TO THE EDITOR.

SIR,—The accompanying paper, by James Bird, Esq., which was read before the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, and which will appear in the next number of its Journal, is forwarded to the Asiatic Journal in the belief that it will interest its readers.

In making public translations of the Hamaiyaric inscriptions from Aden and Saba, it was my intention to reserve a consideration of the question, “ whether this alphabet be of Greek or Semitic origin,” till a more convenient opportunity might permit me to analyze the character of individual letters. My public engagements will not, however, at present admit the execution of this plan, and I am, therefore, obliged to submit an imperfect outline of my opinion on the subject, in deference to the advice of a friend, who suggested the propriety of publishing, along with translations of the inscriptions, an alphabet of the character. At no distant period I will resume the subject of the Hamaiya. ric and Ethiopic alphabets, and endeavour to shew that the former had its origin from the ancient Phoenician, made apparent by the accurate researches of the learned Gesenius; and that the latter differs not materially from the former, except in having adopted the system of seven Greek vowels, expressed by particular marks and modifications of the letters in the first column, which, Dr. Wall remarks, has been termed Ghiz, or the free,' in order to mark its pre-eminence; because the letters are not restricted to particular vowel terminations, but constituted the entire system, when the Bible was translated from Greek into Ethiopic, and the Abyssinians, converted to Christianity, in the time of Frumentius, received the Greek Scriptures, between A.D. 325 and 335.

The Syrian, like the Hebrew and Phænician, consists of an alphabet of twenty-two letters, written from right to left; which are either separate or joined with the preceding or succeeding characters ; but the Hamaiyaric of inscriptions, found on the coast of Southern Arabia, has, on the contrary, an alphabet of twenty-five, if not twenty-six letters, written from left to right ; for it is probable that further research will discover that the Hamaiyaric embraces the whole twenty-six letters, composing the alphabet of the Ghiz, or modern Ethiopic. The scheme and arrangement of the latter, called, from two syllables of the series belonging to its first letter, Ho He Ya T, differs from that of the Phænician and Hebrew, which commences with Aleph and Bet; but an inspection of the alphabetical table will render evident to the most unlearned observer, that the names of twenty-two letters in modern Ethiopic, corresponding in character with the Hamaiyaric of inscriptions from Arabia, and the Ethiopic of inscriptions from Axum and Tigree, differ in no respect from the names and power of the twenty-two Phænician and Samaritan Hebrew letters from which they were derived. In some of the inscriptions, copied by Messrs. Hulton and Smith, from the neighbourhood of the Bedwin town of Dhees, distant only four hours from Ras Sherma, on the southern coast of Arabia, the following letters, Bet, Waw, and Mai, retain their original Phænician character.

The names of the Hamaiyaric letters, corresponding as they do with those of the Hebrew and Phænician, obviously indicate its Semitic origin; and no doubt can exist that these constitute the character anciently known among the Arabs as Al Musnad, or the 'propped;' being in many cases not materially different from the Hebrew and Syriac characters, having only the addition of foot-props. This and other forms of the Arabic alphabet, including the Kufic, were borrowed from the Phænician and Hebrew letters that were in current use among the Jews from the second century before Christ to the seventh of the Christian era. Michaelis, in his Grammatica Syriaca, pp. 22, 23, correctly asserts, “ Quo tempore Arabes a Syris literas sumserunt mutuas, quod factum est Muhammedis aetate, seculo septimo ineunte aut paulo antea, tres modò vocales habuisse Syros necesse est, tot enim ab illis acceperunt Arabes, Fatha, Kesre, Damma, quas et Cuphica jam scriptio habuit ; totidemque vocales, literis ipsis innexas Sabiorum seu Galaloorum alphabetum habet.The Hamaiyaric, like the character of the Palmyrene inscriptions, seems altogether deficient in vowel signs, which, as Dr. Wall satisfactorily shews, were not in use when the Septuagint version of the Bible was made: all the letters of the Hebrew text being, at this time, employed as signs of syllables, beginning with consonants and ending with vowels.* The letters of the alphabet were all consonantal, inclusive of El, uş of the Arabic, or the Ain, Alif, Waw, and Yod of the Hebrew and Syriac, which were termed quiescent in the pointed texts of the Bible; but were afterwards employed as vowel signs, as seen, from the Hamaiyaric inscriptions, by a comparison of these with the corresponding words in Arabic. The Syrians had at first only three vowels, corresponding to the same in Arabic ; but, as the literati advanced in translating the Bible and other works into Greek, they endeavoured to express all the sounds of the proper Greek names, substituting at first five Greek vowels, and subsequently carrying them as far as seven ;t which number was also adopted by the Ethiopians on the transfer of the Hamaiyaric character to the shores of Axum. The quiescent letters of both the Arabic and Ethiopic alphabets possess no sound in themselves, till animated by points; and the Waw, on the coins of the Maccabees, or the Hebrew Waw so modified, is found to retain this character in some other inscriptions, such as the Bactrian Pali, from Shah Baz Ghari; which, as can be clearly shewn, has a

• Examination of the ancient orthography of the Jews, and of the original state of the text of the Hebrew Bible, by Charles William Wall, D.D., Professor of Hebrew in the University of Dublin, vol. ii. p. 271.

† Grammatica Syriaca Joannis Davidis Michaelis, p. 24, et Bibliotheca Orientalis Assemanni, tom. I. p. 592.

kindred origin with the Pehlvi writing on the Persian monuments of Nakhshi Rustam, Nakhshi Rajib, and Takhti Bustan, and are closely allied to the letters of the Palmyrene inscriptions ; of which the first dates not earlier than the year 135 of our era. The opinion of Dr. Wall, therefore, “ that it was from reading Greek that the Jews learned the use of vowel signs, and in consequence applied three of their letters occasionally to this use, precisely in the same manner as the cognate letters were afterwards employed in unpointed Syriac, and are, at this moment, employed in unpointed Arabic,"* is so consonant to truth and the practice followed in the Hamaiyaric inscriptions from Southern Arabia, as to bring home to us conviction that, while the Hamaiyaric is a derivative from Phænician, it at the same time employed four additional characters to express the Greek consonantal sounds of Zeta 5, Etan, Pi 7, and Psi t, as apparent in the comparison made of the several alphabets. Along with this adoption of Greek vowels and additional consonantal characters, the Hamaiyaric and Ethiopic alphabets use, as numbers, certain figures derived from the numerical system of Greek letters.

If the opinions regarding the origin of the Hamaiyaric and Ethiopic alphabets be correct, and of which I entertain not a doubt, it will follow, as a matter of course, that the Hamaiyaric inscriptions from Aden should be read from left to right, like modern Ethiopic; and made use of diacritical points, such as appear to have been introduced into Syriac by the Nestorian Christians. The Ethiopic inscriptions, on the reverse of the Greek tablet, at Axum, published in Mr. Salt's Voyage to Abyssinia, and written in precisely the same character as the Hamaiyaric of Southern Arabia, read from left to right, and record that John, Bishop of Ethiopia, taught from the neighbourhood of the river (Nile) the Sabeans of Hazramaa. He is the same John who was sent, as appears, into Ethiopia, during the reign of the Emperor Justin, A.D. 521, in order to settle the Christian faith of that country, and was accompanied by several missionary assistants. This and other facts give probability to the opinion that the Hamaiyaric of inscriptions, in Southern Arabia, are of comparatively modern origin, and cannot, at the utmost, have an antiquity beyond two hundred years before the birth of Christ; when, on the coins of the Maccabees, we find many Hebrew letters cognate with those of the Hamaiyaric inscriptions. The language of those now translated is a mixture of Ghiz and modern Arabic; and as the adjectives found in the inscriptions are formed on the principles of Ethiopic grammar, while the preposition Ba, used both in Persian and Ethiopic, is found in them, it must necessarily follow that these inscriptions can be but little anterior to the commencement of the Christian era, and are, in all probability, several centuries after it, when the Hamaiyaric sprung from the Phænician, altered to express Greek vowels and proper names.

The comparatively modern origin of the Hamaiyaric alphabet may be also deduced from what we know regarding the origin of the Coptic,

• Wall's Examination of Jewish Orthography, vol. ll. p. 221.

which cannot be traced back further than the first century of our era, though the language itself existed at an earlier period. When the early Christians translated the Bible into Coptic, the versions of it from the Septuagint were written from left to right; and where Coptic sounds could not be expressed by Greek letters of similar force, additional Coptic letters were used. In this manner seven additional Coptic characters were added to the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet ; exhibiting, in this respect, a remarkable similarity with the practice pursued in the Hamaiyaric characters, and in the translation of the Scriptures from Greek into Ethiopic. We not only observe this analogy between the systems of the two alphabets, but can distinguish an almost identity of character between the seven additional letters of the Coptie alphabet and those similar found in Ethiopic. The following seven letters, not in the Greek alphabet, or sh, f, k, h, r, s, ti, will, on a comparison with the alphabetical table of the Hamaiyaric, be found to be almost identical in character.

The Semitic origin of the Hamaiyaric letters, and their derivation from the Phænician, may be yet further accounted for by what Masudi, in his Golden Meadows, and other Arabic historians, relate, that the descendants of Khatan or Yoktan, inhabiting southern Arabia, used the Suryani, or Syriac language, previous to the amalgamation of the several dialects now constituting the Arabic language, which probably derived its title, posterior to the Exodus, from the Hebrew any, Arab, signifying a mixed people. Philostorgius further relates that Syrians were settled in the neighbourhood of the Ethiopic Ocean, “ Ad maris rubri, inquit, exteriorum sinum, in sinistro latere, degunt Axumitæ, ex vocabulo metropolis ita appellati: urbium enim caput Auxumis dicitur. Ante hos autem Auxumitas, Orientem versus, ad extimum pertingentes Oceanum, occolent Syri, ab eorum quoque regionum incolis ita dicti. Etenim Alezander Macedo eos ex Syria abductos, illic collocavit : qui quidem patriæ Syrorum lingua etiamnum utuntur ;” and Strabo notices that, towards Arabia Felix, in the Indian Ocean, there were colonies of Sidonians, Syrians, and people of the island of Arwad.*

I must, therefore, dissent from an opinion expressed in a late publication on the historical geography of Arabia, that the Hamaiyaric characters only consist of twenty letters, or can be the first alphabet of mankind.t Mr. Forster terminates his observations with this remarkable conclusion : “There is every moral presumption to favour the belief, that, in the Hisn Ghorab inscriptions, we recover the alphabet of the world before the Flood :" but neither palæography nor philology will bear him out in so unphilosophical a conclusion. I may briefly recapitulate the chief points which argue against the correctness of his interpretation of the Aden, Hisn Ghorab, and Nakab-al-Hajar inscriptions: 1st. The Hamaiyaric inscriptions on the coast of southern Arabia are precisely in the same character as the Ethiopic inscriptions found on the opposite coast of Axum, and on the reverse of the Greek

Bibliotheca Orientalis Assemanni, tom. iv. p. 603. † The Historical Geography of Arabia, by the Rev. Chas. Forster, B.D. vol. ii. p. 408.

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