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ON THE BORDERERS, MOUNTAINEERS, &c. 163
races of borderers, who have long been established on the limits of Arabia, Persia, India, China, and Tartary; over the wild tribes residing in the mountainous parts of those extensive regions; and the more civilized inhabitants of the islands annexed by geographers to their Asiatick division of this globe.
Let us take our departure from Idume near the gulf of Elanitis, and, having encircled Asia, with such deviations from our course as the subject may require, let us return to the point, from which we began ; endeavouring, if we are able, to find a nation, who may clearly be shown, by just reasoning from their language, religion, and manners, to be neither Indians, Arabs, nor Tartars, pure or mixed; but always remembering, that
any small family detached in an early age from their parent stock, without letters, with few ideas beyond objects of the first necessity, and consequently with few words, and fixing their abode on a range of mountains, in an island, or even in a wide region before uninhabited, might in four or five centuries people their new country, and would necessarily form a new language with no perceptible traces, perhaps, of that spoken by their ancestors. Edom or Idume, and Erythra or Phænice, had originally, as many believe, a similar meaning, and were derived from words denoting a red colour; but, whatever be their derivation, it seems indubitable, that a race of men were anciently settled in Idume and in Median, whom the oldest and best Greek authors call Erythreans ; who were very distinct from the Arabs; and whom, from the concurrence of many strong testimonies, we may safely refer to the Indian ftem. M. D’Herbelot inentions a tradition (which he treats, indeed, as a fable), that a colony of those Idumeans had migrated from the northern shores of the Erythrean sea, and failed across the Mediterranean to Europe, at the time fixed by Chronologers for the passage of EVANDER with his Arcadians into Italy, and that both Greeks and Romans were the progeny of those emigrants. It is not on vague and suspected traditions, that we must build our belief of such events; but Newton, who advanced nothing in science without demonstration, and nothing in history without such evidence as he thought conclusive, asserts from authorities, which he had carefully examined, that the Idumean voyagers “ carried with them both arts and sciences,
among which were their astronomy, naviga“tion, and letters; for in Idume, says he, they “ had letters, and names for constellations, before “the days of Job, who mentions them.” Job, indeed, or the author of the book, which takes its name from him, was of the Arabian stock,
as the language of that sublime work incontestably proves ; but the invention and propagation of letters and astronomy are by all fo justly ascribed to the Indian family, that, if STRABO and Herodotus were not grossly deceived, the adventurous Idumeans, who first gave names to the stars, and hazarded long voyages in thips of their own construction, could be no other than a branch of the Hindu race: in all events, there is no ground for believing them of a fourth distinct lineage; and we need say no more of them, till we meet them again, on our return, under the name of Pbenicians.
As we pass down the formidable sea, which rolls over its coral bed between the coast of the Arabs, or those, who speak the pure language of ISMAÏL, and that of the Ajams, or those, who mutter it barbarously, we find no certain traces, on the Arabian fide, of any people, who were not originally Arabs of the genuine or mixed breed: anciently, perhaps, there were Troglodytes in part of the peninsula, but they seem to have been long supplanted by the Nomades, or wandering herdsmen; and who those Troglodytes were, we shall see very clearly, if we deviate a few moments from our intended path, and make a short excursion into countries very lately explored on the Western, or African, side of the Red Sea,
That the written Abyssinian language, which we call Ethiopick, is a dialect of old Chaldean, and a sister of Arabick and Hebrew, we know with certainty, not only from the
multitude of identical words, but (which is a far stronger proof) from the similar grammatical arrangement of the several idioms: we know at the same time, that it is written, like all the Indian characters, from the left hand to the right, and that the vowels are annexed, as in Dévanágari, to the consonants; with which they form a syllabick fyftem extremely clear and convenient, but difposed in a less artificial order than the system of letters now exhibited in the Sanscrit grammars ; whence it may justly be inferred, that the order contrived by PA'NINI or his disciples is comparatively modern ; and I have no doubt, from a cursory examination of many old inscriptions on pillars and in caves, which have obligingly been sent to me from all parts of India, that the Nágari and Ethiopian letters had at first a similar form. It has long been my opinion, that the Abyssinians of the Arabian stock, having no fymbols of their own to represent articulate founds, borrowed those of the black pagans, whom the Greeks call Troglodytes, from their primeval habitations in natural caverns, or in mountains excavated by their own labour: they were probably the first inhabitants of Africa, where they be
came in time the builders of magnificent cities, the founders of seminaries for the advancement of science and philosophy, and the inventors (if they were not rather the importers) of symbolical characters. I believe on the whole, that the Ethiops of Meroë were the same people with the first Egyptians, and consequently, as it might easily be shown, with the original Hindus. To the ardent and intrepid Mr. BRUCE, whose travels are to my taste uniformly agreeable and satisfactory, though he thinks very differently from me on the language and genius of the Arabs, we åre indebted for more important, and, I believe, more accurate, information concerning the nations established near the Nile from its fountains to its mouths, than all Europe united could before have supplied; but, since he has not been at the pains to compare the seven languages, of which he has exhibited a specimen, and since I have not leisure to make the comparison, I must be satisfied with observing, on his authority, that the dialects of the Gafots and the Gallas, the Agows of both races, and the Falasbas, who must originally have used a Chaldean idiom, were never preserved in writing, and the Amharick only in modern times: they must, therefore, have been for ages in fluctuation, and can lead, pe: aps, to no certain conclusion as to the origin of the several tribes, who an