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knowledge of the past. Except some vague
traditions, and some rough practical knowledge
that has been perpetuated by familiar
use, the knowledge of one man consists in just
so much as he can discover for himself during
the period which elapses between the first day
on which he can totter in his infancy, and the
last day on which he can totter in his age. The
material universe prompts his ideasthere is
nothing transcendental in his humour; his
supernatural ideas are only of rocks, waterfalls,
and storms, and men, magnified and distorted
by the play of an untrained imagination.
He can talk about nothing, or almost nothing,
but trees, huts, animals, things visible in form.
Of such things the idea can be communicated
without speech, by scratching their outline
on a tree or rock. Does he hold any animal
sacred, and has he devoted any sequestered
corner of the forest to the purposes of worship,
he will naturally indicate that fact to himself
and all whom it may concern, by a rude figure
of the god upon the nearest surface suitable
for the reception of a drawing. Stonea
rockhe would choose naturally as having
a smooth hard surface, as being fixed and
durable. If anywhere in the wilds he should
distinguish himself as a warrior or a hunter,
he would desire to make his mark against the
place for a perpetual memorial of the achievement.
Men, weapons, and animals would
thus come to be scratched upon the rocks, in
figures somewhat similar to those which the
young gentlemen and ladies at a preparatory
school are in the habit of eliminating on their
slates. Such marksnot symbols, but in all
cases direct attempts at the imitation of some
visible object which the artist had in his
mindsuch marks are all the writing that is
found to this day in many of the Pacific
Islands, and they jot a note down of the first
step which mankind took upon the road to
our mail-trains and penny post of 1851.

What was the second step? An obvious
one. It would soon be felt that a figure of
eight, with two strokes for a pair of legs, and
two strokes for a pair of arms, would do to
express man in general, but that each hero
wanted to commemorate his own deed in particular.
Among the lower animals, plants,
and objects of dead nature, each in its kind
was found to have a certain character, while
men found in each other characters and dispositions
varying exceedingly. Where tribes,
and the relations among them, multiplied at
all, it would be necessary for each man to
distinguish the members of his own connexion,
about whom he would often have to speak
when they were absent, by some name. That
object in nature which most resembled him
in character, would be almost the only name
that could be thought of by a tribe whose life
and thoughts were bound within the limit of
their bodily perceptions. So one man would
be called the ox, and one the serpent; their
encampments would require names at a later
stage of social progress, and would receive
names, upon which would, by that time, be
constituted the established principle. All
this would lead to that improvement in rockwriting
which we find among the Mexican
inscriptions. A man is figured, and before
his mouth is placed a little objecta dove, or
serpent, for examplewhich stands there to
signify the name of the individual whom it
was intended to depict. By means of writing of
this kind, it would obviously be impossible to
communicate any complex information; and
at this time portable inscriptions could not in
any way assist the business of common life.

Coeval with the use of names signifying
qualities, and drawn from the outer world,
there would arise a habit of attaching external
ideas of matter to internal ideas of the mind;
courage, cowardice, prudence, &c., would be
represented habitually by emblems; the soul
would begin to turn the world of matter to its
own high use, and there would arise that figurative
language, that poetry, which is the habitual
language of all savage communities that
have made the first two or three steps towards
the development of human power. Ideas which
exist only in the mind, would now begin to
multiply and preponderate over ideas founded
upon bodily sensation. The world without
would become more and more a storehouse
of emblems to be used for the depiction of a
world within. A lion for strength, a serpent
for subtletyobjects would now commonly be
drawn to represent ideas; and now the writing
still scratched upon rocks and walls, would be
sufficient to communicate much information
to all those who were accustomed to the
symbols.

Let us imagine now, that a community of
men which has advanced so far in its writing
powers, and proportionately in the other
branches of its civilisation, having formed
into a rude state, makes war on another rude
state at a distance, speaking another language.
It is victorious, and brings home captive a
chief, with a barbarous name, like nothing in
the language of the victors. The triumph
must be written on a rock; but how is the
name of the vanquished enemy to be recorded?
Glory forbid that it should not be
put to shame. Here there would present
itself a difficulty to be mastered, and there
would be but one way in which it could be
overcome. The spoken name being a series
of sounds, it could be written, if the sounds
contained in it could be recorded. In this
way there would arise, and did arise, a new
use of material objects, as phonetic signs; so,
to this day the Chinese, whose native writing
is an elaborate representation of ideas by
objects, (ideographic,) represent foreign names
to native ears in this phonetic way, as rudely
as we might express the sound of the word
"artifice" by the three figures which stand for
hearteyefish.

Our own alphabets, we know, are, in the
present day, thoroughly "phonetic"—each
letter represents a sound, and as we put letters

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