Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/36

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
21
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN RELIGION.

verified by its enabling to read and understand entire documents of every kind. This alone ought to be considered sufficient proof, for no imaginary vocabulary can possibly adapt itself to the needs of an indefinite number of texts. But sceptics who are incapacitated by their imperfect acquaintance with the processes of philological science from feeling the force of this proof, may at least be referred to the confirmation of our vocabulary by the bilingual inscription of Canopus. In 1866, Dr. Lepsius discovered a tablet at San, in Lower Egypt, of the same nature as the Rosetta stone; that is to say, containing inscriptions in old Egyptian, demotic and Greek, but much more considerable in extent and quite perfect. The sense of this tablet, according to the vocabulary already received among Egyptologists, exactly agreed with that given by the Greek text. And the truth of the Grammar is proved in the same manner. Abeady in 1860, M. de Rougé declared that there was no kind of Egyptian text the translation of which might not be undertaken if only the necessary pains were employed. We are now able to read and understand not only the splendid and accurate texts of the public inscriptions, but the wretched scrawls of manuscripts in the cursive character. And some scholars—Mr. Goodwin, for instance, and Mr. Chabas, and before them Dr. Birch and M. de Rougé—have successfully translated texts so frightfully mutilated that in many places only fragments of letters