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The advance of civilization is marked by the increased attention paid to the pursuits in which we are engaged. The spread of knowledge has not only rendered that popular which was at one time reserved for a narrow circle, but has elevated these studies in public estimation. In this country the bond which holds us to our Asiatic Empire, the links that connect our commerce with all the nations of the East, have rendered the intimate acquaintance with the languages, thoughts, history, and monuments of these nations not a luxury, but a necessity. Probably persons could be found in so large a city, if required, who could speak any dialect under the sun or read any writing upon the planet. To whatever branch of Oriental learning any of those who have honoured the Congress with their presence today is attached, he will be sure to find some congenial mind to take a warm interest in his pursuits, interchange thoughts with him, or aid in the solution of his difficulties ; nay, the pursuit of these studies is a kind of touch of nature-it makes us all akin, just as in the study itself everything that is individual disappears from the mind, except the pursuit itself. Orientalists, too, are all, so to say, men born of the same family, and, like a family, mutually interested in the success of their respective studies. Before that, as students, all the distinctions of race, creed, and nationality disappear or are forgotten. Even criticism ought neither to be nor become personal, inasmuch as Science places for its object the highest scope of the mind-truth, which is in most cases difficult to find, and no reproach to miss.
The nineteenth century has seen the revival of Oriental learning, and the great discoveries made throughout the East, in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and Persia, have thrown an entirely new light on the ancient monarchies, religions and languages of the Eastern world as it existed forty centuries ago.
This has been due to several causes, chiefly to the improved facilities of access, by which travellers and others have visited these countries and their monuments, and have excarated their remains, and partly to the advance made in Europe itself, which has enabled the monuments discovered to be more accurately copied. The extensive excavations made throughout the East and the continuous explorations of modern travellers have left no accessible monument uncopied ; and the quantity of the material now placed at the disposal of the student is consequently immense. With the increased number of texts of the old East has come the
more accurate knowledge, based on the power of comparison now given to the student. These materials were unknown to inquirers of the previous century. Empires have been exhumed, and for the first time a contemporary history of recorded events has been found. In Egypt the more recent excavations of M. Mariette have added considerably to the knowledge of history and geography, by the discovery of the numerous names on the Pylon of Karnak, recording the foreign conquests of Thothmes III. These, in a paper lately read before the Academy of Inscriptions, enabled him to attempt a more accurate classification of the Egyptian names of countries. In Mesopotamia the missions of Mr. G. Smith and his excavations amidst the mounds of Kouyunjik have added extensively to the completion of Assyrian texts, elucidating the history and religion of that people; while in India the labours of General Cunningham promise to bring to light and classify the different monuments and antiquities which he explores and records. The first discoveries of these ancient languages, it will be remembered, were due to the unearthing of important monuments, and it appears almost a subject for the consideration of the Congress to recommend that every reasonable facility should be accorded in the East to excavations undertaken purely from a scientific point of view; for those branches of excavations which follow up the hints afforded by monumental information require continually this discovery of fresh materials to stimulate the student, and without them the study languishes. It will also be remembered that the oldest languages are found almost exclusively on monuments, and that with the exception of Egypt, all the ancient records, which were of fragile and perishable materials, have been lost or destroyed. Continuous excavation is therefore requisite to obtain fresh material; for, as already remarked, without fresh material these studies languish, and the interest in their pursuit diminishes. It is not possible here to enter into details of all the most important of the monuments, and their contribution to the advance of Oriental knowledge; but there are two of supreme importance, discovered in times comparatively recent, which rise to the mind at once—the tablet of Canopus, found by Professor Lepsius amid the ruins of San, the ancient Tanis, and the bilingual inscription of Dali obtained by Mr. R. H. Lang in the ruins of Idalium in Cyprus. The tablet of Canopus has proved beyond a doubt, if such still lingered, the truth of the discovery of the Egyptian language and the decipherment of the hieroglyphs ; the inscription of Dali has led to the decipherment and interpretation of the ancient Cyprian language, about which erroneous notions had hitherto prevailed, but which has now been discovered to belong to the Aryan family and to the Hellenic group of that section of languages. These indeed are only the most striking examples of the philological value of newly-discovered inscriptions; but those from Mesopotamia and Egypt are scarcely less remarkable for their contributions to the historical knowledge of those ancient empires; while the celebrated Moabite stone or inscription of Dhiban has presented a new page to the history of the Semitic people conterminous with Judea, and is one of the oldest texts in character of the Phænician alphabet and its different classes. It is a most valuable document of the Palæography of the Semitic family emancipated from the cumbrous and perplexing syllabaries of the various kinds of cuneiform writing.
From the importance of the Congress's encouraging, by its sympathies, further excavations, I turn to another point which might engage its attention, and that is the transliteration of Oriental texts into European characters. Great progress in this direction has been made of late years, and many schemes have been proposed. In some instances, the learned societies and scientific journals have insisted on the adoption of particular systems for papers admitted into their pages. There are many members present of all the Oriental Societies and Academies of Europe, and it will be for them to consider if some mutual agreement can be arrived at on this subject; and for most Oriental languages a decision favourable to one universal transliteration would be of the highest importance, as it would in many instances supersede the necessity of printing in various characters and different Oriental types, an expensive and difficult process. It would not, indeed, effect this for languages written with syllabic characters, but for those only which have an alphabetic one, and the same mode of transliteration would be an invaluable aid to the simplification and rendering of words in these languages, and making them universally intelligible. This subject will be no doubt submitted to the consideration of one of the Sections of the Congress. It is, indeed, one of the subjects which it would be the especial object of the Congress to regulate, or at all events to initiate. That some such necessity exists and is felt is proved by the constant changes made by individuals in their transliteration of the words of Oriental tongues, whether living or extinct; the older systems already adopted not answering to their special notions of the manner in which these languages should be transliterated. Should the Congress be able to pronounce any opinion on this difficult subject, that opinion would no doubt carry with it great weight, even should it not finally decide the question, and lead to a further consideration of this pressing want of Philological unity.
It is not, perhaps, necessary for the Congress to consider how far it would be desirable to discuss the question of an universal alphabet-such a one as would supersede for Orientals themselves the necessity of writing in their own different characters the different languages distributed over the East. Could such be devised, it would be a great advantage for the acquisition of those languages by the West, months and perhaps years being now spent in mastering alphabets and syllabaries of complex kinds. Among the Polynesian islanders the European script has been successfully introduced and adopted, because they never had, till the appearance of European civilization among them, a mode of writing; and there was consequently no national amour-propre to contend with, nor any script already in use to supersede. It is not so in the East, amongst the various nations attached, from various causes, to their respective characters. But it is evident that, clothed in an European alphabet, there would be no greater difficulty in mastering many of the Aryan and Semitic languages by the Western scholars than in acquiring the different languages spoken in Europe -a task much facilitated by their having nearly one common mode of printing and writing the same sounds. It may be considered that the first step to unity among the European nations will be this adoption of a common alphabet, when entirely carried out, and nothing would more powerfully connect the East and the West than the removal of those barriers which prevent an easy acquisition of those keys of thought necessary for the mutual understanding and happiness of mankind.
It is a natural transition to pass from this subject to the consideration of the attempts made to introduce universal communication by means of Pasigraphy, or writing by ciphers. This system has been for some time in use in the West, and different ways have been proposed to arrive at the result. One is the mode of communicating by signals, consisting of numbers, at sea.
Certain sentences of general use are numbered and translated into the different European languages. The flag which carries the number speaks the same sentence, when hoisted, to vessels of all other nationalities; in fact, the number is an universal medium of maritime communication. A flag with a few numbers asks a question ; another with fewer or more gives the answer. Now, this device contains the elements of an universal language, limited indeed to a few stereotyped sentences such as are generally wanted in maritime intercourse. A modification of this system has been adopted for the purposes of commerce, for the Transatlantic and other telegraphs, to supersede the necessity of long and continuous messages, which would take too much time and trouble in transmission. But the works compiled for this purpose are in the English language only. A modification of this principle will be laid before the Ethnographical Section, consisting principally in the substitution of numbers for words, the same number answering to the same equivalent word in all languages. It is evident that when dictionaries on this principle shall have been compiled, it will be possible for a limited communication to be held in writing with Orientals, of whose language the European is ignorant, in the same manner as by maritime signals. It is a step towards universal language, and, although a feeble one, probably the only step which will ever be made. Its value and defects will no doubt occupy the attention of the Ethnographical Section. It is not a language properly so called, but a means of interchange of thought, and might prove of the greatest value where other means are not at hand. Those divided by sounds will be united by numbers.
The Presidents of the various Sections will deliver their inaugural addresses, after which the papers accepted will be read before these different Sections, and the verbal communication will then be made. As some of the Sections have many more papers than can possibly be read or discussed at a sitting, the President of the Section will have it in his power to adjourn the sitting, should he deem it necessary, to another day, so as to admit of other papers being read. But it is evident that, in consideration of the numerous papers and subjects for deliberation with which the Congress has been honoured, it may