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Dickens's poor Jo, he has got into a habit of being him; who, indeed, had never been heard of till he 'chivied and chivied,' and kept ‘moving on;' till he died, worth a million or so, leaving all the wealth he has learned to feel no particular tie or interest in had laboured to amass- :-to-Nobody. Truly the anybody or anything, and therefore concludes nobody poor solitary pabob may be put among the melancholy can have any tie or interest in him. So he just record of those lost,' whose names have been long writes home by rare accident, when he happens to erased, or were never writ, on the only tablet worth remember it-or never writes at all —vanishes slowly anything in this world—the register of friendship, from everybody's reach, or drops suddenly out of the kindred, home. world; nobody knows how, or when, or where ; nor Similar instances of fortunes, greater or less, 'going ever can know, till the earth and sea give up their a-begging' for want of heirs, are common enoughdead
commoner than people have the least idea of. GovernBut long they looked, and feared, and wept, ment annually pockets-very honestly, and after long Within his distant home,
search and patient waiting-a considerable sum, comAnd dreamed, and started as they slept,
posed of unclaimed bank dividends, and real and For joy that he was come.
personal property of all kinds, the heir or heirs to Alas, how many a household, how many a heart, has which it is impossible to find. Among these, the borne that utterly irremediable and interminable amount of dead sailors' pay is said to be a remarkable anguisk; worse far than the anguish over a grave, item-thousands of pounds, being wages due, thus which Wordsworth has faintly indicated in The yearly lapsing to government, because all the ingenuity Affliction of Margaret :
of the harbour-master, into whose hands the money
is required to be paid, cannot find any relative of poor Where art thou, my beloved son ?
departed 'Bill' or 'Jack'—whose place of birth has Where art thou, worse to me than dead?
likely been never heard of—who has gone under so Oh, find me-prosperous or undone! Or if the grave be now thy bed,
many aliases that even his right surname is scarcely Why am I ignorant of the same,
discoverable, and often has lived, died, and been buried That I may rest, and neither blame
as simple ‘Jack' or 'Bill,' without any surname at all. Nor sorrow may attend thy name?
This indifference to an hereditary patronymic is a I look for ghosts, but none will force
curious characteristic of all wanderers of the lower Their way to me. "Tis falsely said
class. Soldiers, sailors, and navvies engaged abroad, will That there was ever intercourse
often be found to have gone by half-a-dozen different Betwixt the living and the dead,
surnames, or to have let the original name be varied ad For surely then I should have sight
libitum, as from Donald to M.Donald, and back again to Of him I wait for day and night, With love and longings infinite.
Donaldson, possibly ending as O'Donnell, or plain Don.
Frequently, in engaging themselves, they will give It may seem a painfully small and practical lesson any new name that comes uppermost-Smith, Brown, to draw from an agony so unspeakable; but surely it Jones : or will change names with a 'mate'-after the cannot be too strongly impressed upon our wandering German fashion of ratifying the closest bond of friendyouth, who go to earn their living across the seas--in ship--thereby producing inextricable confusion, should the Australian bush, or the Canadian forests, or the they chance to die, leaving anything to be inherited. greater wildernesses of foreign cities, east and west : Otherwise-of course it matters not. They just that they ought everywhere and under all available drop out of life, nameless and unnoticed, of no more circumstances, to endeavour to leave a clue whereby account than a pebble dropped into the deep sea ; and their friends may hear of them, living or dead. That yet every one of them must have had a father and if, always, it is the duty of a solitary man or woman, a mother, may have had brothers and sisters, might while living, so to arrange affairs that his or her death have had wives and children, and all the close links of shall cause least pain or trouble to any one else ; | home. Much as we pity those who lose all these surely this is tenfold the duty of those who go abroad: the bonds, duties, and cares which, however heavy that whatever happens, they may be to those that love sometimes, are a man's greatest safeguard and strength, them, only the dead, never the “lost.'
without which he is but a rootless tree, a dead log Sometimes under this category come persons of a drifted about on the waters-still more may we pity totally different fate—and yet the same-whose true those, in all ranks and positions of life, who are thus history is rarely found out till it is ended, and perhaps 'lost.' Not in any discreditable sense, perhaps from not then. People who have sprung up, nobody knows no individual fault; but that fatal conjuncture of how, who have nobody belonging to them-neither circumstances,' far easier to blame than to overcomeancestors nor descendants—though as soon as they possibly from being too easy,' too good,” “nobody's are gone, hundreds are wildly eager to make themselves enemy but their own.' Still, by some means or other out to be either or both. Of such is a case now -God help them—they have let themselves drop out pending, well known in the west of Scotland, where of the chain of consecutive existence, like a bead the next of kin' to an almost fabulous amount of dropped off a string, and are lost.' property is advertised for by government, once in Equally so, are some, of whom few of us are so seven years; and where scores of Scotch cousins, happy as never to have counted any-whom the indefinitely removed, periodically turn up, and spend American poet Bryant, already quoted, touchingly hundreds of pounds in proving, or failing to prove-for characterises as the living lost.' Not the fallen, the all have failed hitherto-their relationship to the dear guilty, or even the prodigal, so hopelessly degraded deceased. This was an old gentleman in India, who that only at the gates of the grave and from one neither there nor in his native Scotland had a single Father can he look for that restoration, to grant soul belonging to him, or caring to call cousins' with which, 'while he was yet afar off, his Father saw him.' Not these, but others who bear no outward sign of there be fixed where true joys are to be found.' Where, their condition; whom the world calls fortunate, whatever may be the 'tongue of men or of angels happy, righteous—and so they may be towards many, that we shall have learned to speak with, then, we yet to a few, familiar with their deepest hearts, may be quite sure that there shall be in it no such knowing all they were and might have been, still be word as “lost.' irrevocably, hopelessly, the living lost.' Lost as utterly as if the grave had swallowed them up, mourned as bitterly as one mourneth for those that
WATCHING THE CLOCK. depart to return no more.
I am myself Yorkshire all over, but my late lamented Everybody owns some of these; kindred, whom father had the misfortune to be one-half Oxon, and prosperity has taught that 'bluid' is not thicker than it is to that circumstance, doubtless, that the public water;' friends who have long ceased to share any is indebted for the following interesting relation: no thing of friendship but the name-perhaps even not Yorkshireman would have given an opportunity for that; lovers who meet accidentally as strangers; the thing to have occurred. I preface the incident brothers and sisters who pass one another in the thus abruptly, from a desire to extenuate in some street with averted faces--the same faces which measure at the outset my dear parent's viridity and 'cuddled' cosily up to the same mother's breast. trustfulness in the matter; I feel so entirely ashamed These things are sad-sad and strange ; so strange, of the dear departed, when I remember how he was that we hardly believe them in youth, at least not as taken in, that I have no patience to tell the story as possible to happen to us; and yet they do happen, and it should be told. I remember reading in a certain we are obliged to bear tliem. Obliged to endure losses book a tale of a woman in Arabia, or some other very worse than death, and never seem as if we had lost distant unknown country, following her dead son's anything--smilingly to take the credit of possessions body to the grave, and ejaculating to the poor lad's that we know are ours no longer-or quietly to close glory and honour: "He never, never, never told a accounts, pay an honourable dividend, cheat nobody, lie;' and so in our county we are accustomed to conand sit down, honest beggars—but 'tis over! Most of gratulate ourselves upon our relatives, deceased or us-as at the end of the year we are prone, morally otherwise, never having been duped or done' by their as well as arithmetically, to calculate our havings fellow-creatures. Every people, I suppose, has some and spendings, and strike the balance of our property particular virtue which it exaggerates, and sets - are also prone-and it may be good for us too-to especial store by; in Arabia, as it seems, it is truth, linger a little over the one brief item, 'Lost.'
while with us in Yorkshire it is not so much that as But in all good lives, even as in all well-balanced, 'cuteness. “We mayn't be clever, but partial friends prudent ledgers, this item is far less heavy, in the do say we are “downy,”' is the modest motto of many sum-total, than at first appears. Ay, though therein hundreds of my countrymen ; but it can never be that we have to count year by year, deaths many, partings of our house, alas! after the misfortune which occurred many, infidelities and estrangements not a few. to the late head of it, over whose remains, whatever Though, if by good-fortune or good providence, we filial remark I might have uttered, it would have been be not ourselves among the list of the lost, we have no mere blind Aattery to have said : 'He never, never, guarantee against being numbered among that of the never was taken in.' He was most utterly taken in losers.
and despoiled of both money and reputation, and that The most united family may have to count among -ah me that his son should have to write it--even by its members one 'black sheep,' pitied or blamed, Londoners. by a few lingeringly, hopelessly, sorrowfully loved; We reside in a country village not many miles from coming back at intervals, generally to everybody's York itself; which being surrounded with suitable lands, consternation and pain: at last never coming back and possessing many equine advantages, the whole busiany more.
The faithfullest of friends may come one ness of the place has long been that of breeding and day to clasp his friend's hand, look in his friend's training race-lorses. Every decent house in it except face--and find there something altogether new and our own is a trainer's, every barn and cart-house has strange, which he shrinks from as from some unholy been metamorphosed into stables and loose boxes. spirit which has entered and possessed itself of the From the mossy mounting-stone at one end of Little familiar form. The fondest and best of mothers may Studdington, to the water-trough with its running live to miss, silently and tearlessly, from her Christ- stream at the other, we are altogether of the horse, mas-table, some one child whom she knows, and knows horsey. A village of Yahoos where man is of no conthat all her other children know, is more welcome in sequence as compared with the quadruped ; where the absence than in presence, whom to have laid sinless in horse is kept cleaner and warmer, is better housed and a baby's coffin, and buried years ago, would have better fed, is more pampered when he is well and been as nothing-nothing.
more cared for when he is ill, than are any of those Yet all these things must be, and we must pass whom we call (sarcastically, our poorer brethren; and through them, that in the mysterious working of evil all this occurs not so much, I fear, through misdirected with good, our souls may come out purified as with benevolence, as because there is a great deal more fire. The comfort is that in the total account of gains money to be got by the equine than the human. Of and losses, every honest and tender soul will find out, course the Studdingtonians are as sharp as sharp soon or late, that the irremediable catalogue of the can be. Racing-stables are, as it were, forcinglatter is, we repeat, far lighter than at first seems. houses for the particular sort of mental activity to
For, who are the lost ?' Not the dead, who rest which I have already alluded, so that our very infants from their labours,' and with whom to die is often to be -certainly our five-year-olds-are precociously and eternally beloved and remembered. Not the far-away, preternaturally Yorkshire.'. For low cunning and who, especially at the grand festival-time, are as close sleepless suspicion, I would back our jockey-boys to every faithful heart as if their faces laughed at the against all the Bevis Marks attorneys in the kingdom. Christmas-board, and their warm grasp wished all 'a In the way of turf-business, they would do their own happy new-year. Never, under all circumstances that fathers--if they happened to have a personal knowunkind faté can mesh together, under all partings ledge of that relative, which is not, however, generally that death can make, need those fear to be either lost the case--as soon as look at them; nor have I observed or losers who, in the words of our English prayer- many symptoms of that honour about them, which is book, can pray together that amidst all the chances said to exist among a certain less legalised but scarcely and changes of this mortal life, our hearts may surely more reputable fraternity. They have no trainers, poor lads; and as for their owners, these have but few his respect for their exalted condition always deterred morals to make a present of, I fear, or even to keep him from expressing his wishes. Often and often for themselves. I have heard that there is a large did my poor father lament, after his misfortune, class of American persons upon the other side of the that he never had had a chance with the cards; but Atlantic who pride themselves upon being smart' my belief is, that had he ventured upon such a and spry,' and tolerably exempt from the trammels thing, these unskilful gentry would have very rapidly of conscientious principle. I wish sincerely-if they improved in their play, and would lave won his shirt have any dollars—that these gentry would come across off his back if they had played long enough. to Little Studdington, and try their luck with us: as One afternoon, when they had dined as usual, early, my poor father used to observe, when any strangers and before the cards were produced, their conversation paid us a visit, they would bave to put both hands to turned upon wagers : how Lord Clickclack had won keep their hats on their heads, I reckon, and then we ten thousand pounds by being dumb for a day; how should pick their pockets. The governor himself was the Duke of Oxfordshire had backed himself to walk quite unfit to live in such a place as this, and still from Pall-mall to Bond Street on a levee morning, more to keep an inn in it; and that he knew. But he without opening his eyes; and of the ingenious device had come to Little Studdington when it was inhabited of his antagonist, the Marquis of Luxall, in driving not by horses, but by human beings, and these York- over him in a Hansom cab until he did so; with many shire, indeed, but far from being turfites. A trout other anecdotes of the aristocracy not included in the stream skirted our lawn before The Angler's Rest,' collection of Mr Burke. and his customers here were for the most part fisher- "This sort of thing is much harder than it appears men : easy-going, kind-hearted gentry, who were to be,' observed one of the three gentlemen. 'Now, I pleased with their clean and comfortable lodging, and will lay ten pounds that no man keeps himself in one valued their host very highly; hospitable folks, who position and counts the ticks of that great clock, for would often ask him to dine with them in the little instance, for a whole hour.' low-roofed parlour upon the captives to their rod and • How do you mean?' exclaimed my father, greatly landing-net, and to crack a bottle with them out of his interested. own cellar; respectable people, who, if they stayed Why, that no man can sit in a chair-your chair, over the Sunday, would go to the old gray church for instance-facing the clock, and wag his head from quite naturally, as though they did it every week at right to left as Old Time with the scythe yonder is home, and very different from Mr Chifney Bity, the wagging, for the space of an hour, and never say any only trainer amongst us who has any religion at all, words but "Here she comes, and there she goes," as and who goes once a year upon the Sunday before the the clock says.' St Leger, in hopes-the sinner!-to get a pull upon •You bet ten pounds that I don't do that?' cried the his rivals by that superstitious device. My poor father governor. nerer made but one bet in his life, and that one was Not with you,' replied the other coolly ; 'I don't the cause of his misfortune.
want to win your money, my good man. I will bet About ten years ago, the grand national and either of my two friends that they do not do it.' provincial steeple-chases took place at York, and •Nay,' said one of them, “'tis easy enough; but I attracted vast quantities of fine folks: there were a would not bother myself with such a thing for twice great number of entries for the principal stake; and the money. I don't see,' added lie, wliy you should several of the worst horses were, contrary to custom, not give our good Boniface a chance, either.' permitted to run for it, instead of being scratched Do, pray, do, cried my father, who was perliaps by their owners the night before the race. York the most stolid man in the world, and could have sat could not literally hold all its sporting visitors; and six hours doing anything he was told to do without three very gentleman-like and well-dressed strangers any inconvenience. I'll bet yon.' came even so far as Little Studdington, and put up So, rather against his will, as it seemed, he who had at “The Angler's Rest.' They went into town, and proposed the conditions agreed to make the wager. returned from it every day in our four-wheel during My father was then placed in his chair immediately the week'; and when the races were over, they were opposite the clock; the stakes on either side were 80 enamoured of the snug little house and its capital | placed upon the table within his view; he was warned accommodation, that they remained with us a fort that every means would be resorted to short of laying night, eating and drinking of the best, and always hands upon him to induce him to look away, or say delighted to see the old gentleman at their dinner anything besides the words agreed upon; and as the table. I think I can see my respected parent now, clock struck four, the old gentleman's head had begun as he was wont to sit upon the extreme edge of his to wag, 'Here she comes, and there she goes,' and well-polished chair, in rapt astonishment at their 'Here she comes, and there she goes,' very slowly and fashionable conversation. If they happened to men- solemnly, keeping time with the pendulum. tion an absent friend under the rank of a baronet, • He 'll lose,' cried one of the gentlemen. it was in a sort of apologetic tone-their connections • Certain to lose,' replied another laughing. 'Hallo, being so exclusively aristocratic. Good society was old chap, there goes your window-pane!' my poor father's weakness; and never having been There was a crash of breaking glass, that made the familiar with the turf himself
, his sense of the governor wince again, but lie did not alter his position excellences of our nobility was quite overwhelming. a hairbreadth, or desist one quarter of a tick from The three friends were wont to play at cards after his monotonous task. Some of the particular china dinner for pretty large sums; and the game which which then ornamented our oaken shelves next came seemed best to suit their elegant but eccentric taste down with a run; but its owner's face only turned a was that of triangular cribbage. My father was a little pale, as he thought what stepmother would say capital hand at this, and easily perceived that they about it. Here she comes, and there she goes,' was were but indifferent performers; but they never all it drew from him. dreamed of asking him to cut in, although one or His antagonist seemed now to have given up the other of them would often request his advice at an destructive plan as a failure. important crisis.
'I say, Boniface,' cried he, 'I am going to put the Cautious, indeed, as the governor naturally was, it stakes in my pocket-I am ;' and suiting the action to must be confessed that his fingers itched to hold a the word, he swept off the two ten-pound notes into hand against these folks who, as often as not, neglected his waistcoat before the governor's eyes. to peg one for his heels,' or 'two for his nob,' but A shadow of anxiety flitted for an instant across my parent's brow, but Here she comes, and there she them. They had left our Polly at the station in the goes,' was all that torture itself would at that time four-wheel, but they were off nobody knows where. have wrung from him. Ten minutes of the terrible We found out only, long afterwards, that our visitors ordeal had already passed.
were three of the London swell-mob, who had been * Boniface,' observed the sporting gentleman with warned out of York by the detectives during the race feeling, we must now part. My friends and myself week, to which circumstance we had been of course have passed a pleasant time at Little Studdington, but indebted for their patronage. My poor father never our visit is now at an end. One of us has just gone held up his head again: the jockey-boys were always out to order the four-wheel; and by rapid driving, we wagging theirs whenever they saw him, and crying shall just catch the express train to London. In antici- out: Here she comes, and there she goes,' until he pation of this position of affairs, our little articles are was driven into his grave. already packed and ready to be placed under the seat. It is a sad story from beginning to end; but now, Receive, my dear sir, the assurances of our consider that I have fairly published it, I feel that there is ation. I wish that we had anything else to offer you something off my mind. There will be no need for in return for your very genial hospitality ; this ten- futile attempts upon my part to conceal this disgrace pound note of yours will remind us, be assured, of to my family any more. And perhaps, after all, one your kindness, until the day when it shall be spent. of the reasons why I am so 'up to the time of day' I would that the terms of our little wager permitted myself—as we say in Yorkshire--is because of the us to shake you by the hand. Unlucky it is, too, warning that was afforded to me in my poor father's that we start from the back-door, so that you will be watching the clock. unable, of course, to see the very last of us. In forty minutes about, you will be released from this irksome task, and we ourselves shall be at York, Boniface.
AN UNRAVELLED MYSTERY. Heaven bless you. What! not a word at parting ?' INTIMATELY connected with the first impressions
“Here she comes, and there she goes,' cried the derived_from Scriptural readings and lessons, the governor stoutly, but suffused with a cold perspiration. words Babylon, Nineveh, and Assyria have been
“Yes, here slie comes,' repeated the sporting gentle- familiar to us all from early childhood. Yet, when man derisively, as the sound of wheels made itself to we seriously inquire what it is we really do know be distinctly lieard from the back; "and there she will respecting the history, or even geographical boundaries go in about a minute : she is a fast mare.'
of ancient Assyria, we are reluctantly compelled to He closed the door, and the governor was left alone acknowledge our total ignorance. Profane history, it with the broken window, and the smashed china, is true, records the names of three of its monarchs and the infernal pendulum, repeating his prescribed previous to the invasion of the Medes. We read of formula with the utmost constancy, but with an the Bactrian and Indian expeditions of Ninus, the anxious expression of countenance.
wondrous works of the masculine Semiramis, the To him presently entered my maternal step-parent, Sybaritic splendours of the effeminate Sardanapalus; who is of a suspicious temperament. Whatever have but the best judges are undecided whether we should you been about, Jolin, to let them chaps go away accept these relations as history, or class them among without any one to drive Polly, and at such a pace the numberless other fables of the myth-inventing
Goodness gracious, the china! What has ages. happened? Rachel, Betty, Dick,' screamed she, A new light, however, has lately been thrown upon
what has come to your poor father ? Do but look this most interesting period in the world's history. at him! Speak to us, John.'
Modern enterprise had scarcely discovered, ere modern Here she comes, and there she goes,'murmured the ingenuity began to decipher, with what amount of governor sadly, and swaying himself slowly from side success are about to relate, the long-hidden to side like a mandarin.
monuments of Assyria. When Mr Layard brought I shall never forget the scene as long as I live: Ito light the extraordinary bass-reliefs of Koyunjik, laughed until I could stand up no longer, and then I a new chapter in the book of history was at once lay down on the floor and laughed there. The indig- laid open. Not only the inscribed records, but nation that was thrown into the old gentleman's tones the pursuits, the religious ceremonies and amuseas he pursued his terrible task, only made the matter ments, the modes of warfare and hunting, even the ten times more ridiculous.
very dresses of a previously unknown people, were He is mad, stark staring mad, cried my step- first exhibited to modern eyes. And though the mother, as she laid her hand upon his shoulder. inscriptions could not then be deciphered, though the
Here she comes, and there she goes,' exclaimed my mere style of art of the sculptures was not the least father irascibly, as with one well-directed blow of his novel element in the strange discovery, still there elbow he tumbled the old lady upon the floor.
could be little doubt respecting the antiquity of the Then I really thought he had gone mad, and monuments, or the purpose for which they were went to get a rope to tie his arms; only the foam designed. The peculiar wedge-shaped character used flew from his lips-he was in that passion of rage in the inscriptions proved that the monuments bethat I did not dare come near him when I had got it. longed to a period preceding the conquest of AlexWe sent for the policeman therefore, and of course we ander; for it was known that, after the subjugation sent for the doctor; and presently they both arrived, of Western Asia by the Macedonians, the cuneiform and were as astonished as we were to see what was character fell into disuse ; while the custom of taking place.
recording events and promulgating edicts by inscrip• When did this fit come on him? 'asked the medical tions on stones, was also known to be of the very man, as the old clock struck five.
highest antiquity. Need we say that the divine * Here she comes, and there she goes,' yelled the commands were first given to man on tablets of stone. governor, starting up from his chair. Where are Job, too, it will be recollected, emphatically exclaims : those three thieves? They have robbed me of ten Oh that my words were now written! ... That they pounds, and board, and horse-hire, and lodging for were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for fifteen days and a half.' (He had been calculating all ever! Indeed, there could have been no less imperishthis, poor fellow, in case they should have really gone able method of preserving important national records ; away, while he was repeating his foolish sentences.) and thus it is that the inscribed walls of palaces and Ride after them-ride!'
rock-tablets have handed down to us, in these latter Alas! we did ride, but we never came up with ages, the authentic history of ancient Assyria.
The character in which these inscriptions are written or even the accidentally hitting on, the right path; has been variously named, according to the fancies of in short, all the particulars relating to this most different describers. Some term it the arrow-headed ; extraordinary search in the dark, are of the highest the French, tête-à-clou, or nail-headed; the Germans, scientific and philological interest, though utterly keilförmig, equivalent to our phrase cuneiform, or unsuited for the pages of a popular journal. Nor wedge-shaped ; and certainly this last most accurately shall we presume to venture an opinion on the disexpresses its peculiar form, each of the letters or puted questions respecting the original discovery of syllables being composed of several distinct wedges the means employed for interpreting the Assyrian united in certain combinations. It is considered cuneiform, or whether it be a Semitic language or probable that at first the letters were mere lines, and not. It must suffice for us to say, that the names of at a subsequent period the wedge-form was added to Sir Henry Rawlinson and Dr Hincks will ever be conthem, either as an embellishment, or to give them nected with this great triumph of our age and nation: ideographic properties, similar to the picture-writing less than a triumph it cannot be termed, for the invesof the Egyptians. If the latter, however, were the tigation has been rewarded with complete success. case, all traces of their symbolical values are irre- But though empires rise and fall, and tongues and trievably lost. We may also add, that, like the tribes die out and disappear, still the race of the Van Egyptians, the Assyrians at a later period of their Twillers never becomes extinct: there always have history possessed a cursive writing of rounded charac been, and probably ever will be, many members of the ters, not unlike the Hebrew, which was employed for family of the doubters. Consequently, though the written documents, while the cuneiform was exclu- decipherers of the Assyrian inscriptions detected on sively reserved for monumental purposes.
the strangely graven tablets the names of persons, The cuneiform character, under certain modifica- cities, and nations, in historical and geographical tions—the groups of characters representing syllables series, and found them mentioned in proper connection being diversely combined in different countries-was with events recorded in sacred and profane history, used over the greater part of Western Asia until, as still the doubters, gravely shaking their heads, refused we have already observed, the overthrow of the to believe in the soundness of the system by which ancient Persian Empire by Alexander the Great. To Dr Hincks and Sir Henry Rawlinson interpreted the this circumstance we mainly owe the very remarkable mysteries of the cuneiform. Nor were the doubters progress lately made in deciphering it. The Persian without some show of reason for their unbelief. A monarchs, previous to the conquest of Alexander, great cause of difficulty in deciphering the cuneiform ruled over all the nations using this peculiar form of is what have been termed the variants-namely, writing. These consisted of three principal peoples or different letters possessing the same alphabetic value,
Two of them, the Persian and the Tatar, spoke or, in other words, cuneiform groups representing a a dialect not very dissimilar to that still spoken by syllable, but not always the same syllable-sometheir descendants. The language of the third, the times one, and sometimes another. Accordingly, the Babylonians, including the Assyrians, was allied to the doubters, not unreasonably, said that such a licence Hebrew and Arabic, and totally different from that in the use of letters or syllables must be productive spoken by the two former races; moreover, it has been of the greatest uncertainty-that even the ancient extinct and unknown for at least two thousand years. Assyrians themselves could not have read a writing This last was the language which the decipherers of so vague a description, and therefore the interpreof the Assyrian monuments had to reconstruct and tations founded upon such a system must necessarily reanimate from its equally obscure and long obsolete be fallacious. To this the decipherers replied, that cuneiform characters. The first step towards the experience has proved that the uncertainty arising solution of so dark an enigma, was realised by the from the variants is not so great as might be imagined. following circumstance. The Persian kings, when Most of the cuneiform groups having only one value, recording important events by inscriptions on stone others having always the same value in the same word tablets, used all the three languages spoken by their or phrase, so the remaining difficulties and uncertainties subjects. Thus originated the trilingual inscriptions of reading are reduced within moderate limits. Besides, of ancient Persia, the tablets containing them being speaking practically, and taking into consideration the divided into three columns, each written in a different newness of the study, there is a fair amount of agreelanguage, and in the respective modification of cunei- ment between different interpreters of the Assyrian form peculiar to each language, yet all three conveying historical writings of average difficulty. one and the same meaning. The most celebrated of The doubters, however, not being satisfied, advantage the_trilingual inscriptions are found on the palaces was taken of an opportunity which lately occurred to. of Darius and Xerxes at Persepolis, over the tomb of test, as closely as possible, the truth of the system Darius, and on the rocks of Belistan. The latter, as of decipherment adopted by Dr Hincks and Sir Henry aids to deciphering the Assyrian monuments, are the Rawlinson, not only with the view of silencing the most important of any, as they record the principal / unbelievers, but also to prove that a correct basis events in the reign of Darius, and contain long lists of translation had been established, upon which other of countries, cities, tribes, and kings; proper names and future investigators could implicitly rely. being the only reliable index to the values of the cunei- Her Majesty's government having sanctioned the form characters. The Persian version of the trilingual trustees of the British Museum to publish lithographed inscriptions, varying little from the modern Persian, copies of the most interesting Assyrian inscriptions, having been translated, and its grammar and alphabet under the superintendence of Sir Henry Rawlinson; reduced to a certainty, a clue was gained to the and Sir Henry having announced his intention of Assyrian version, and from thence to the monuments publishing translations of those lithographs, accomdiscovered by Mr Layard. The clue thus obtained panied with transcriptions of the same into Roman was followed up in defiance of the most formidable letters, it occurred to Mr Fox Talbot that a desirable obstacles. To instance one, we may just mention opportunity was thus offered to test the truth of that while the Persian modification of the cuneiform the system. Accordingly, in March last, Mr Talbot contains but thirty-nine signs, there are no less than prepared a translation of the first lithographed inscripfour hundred in the Assyrian.
tion, and transmitted it sealed to the Royal Asiatic The various processes adopted to decipher the Society, with a request that the Society would preserve Assyrian inscriptions, from the slight clue we have it sealed, until Sir Henry's translation was published, just mentioned; the steps gradually made in the and then compare the two--Mr Talbot considering investigation; the going astray and the returning to, that if any special agreement appeared between these