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Page:Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol 19.djvu/18

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Some conjectures on the progress of

differences and yet the co-existant affinities of those races constitute one of the strangest, and most interesting subjects of human study. Identity exists among them, in the radical formation of language, with a total variance of custom ; while in another case, custom and appa- rent habits are identical, with a difference of the very system of speech, irreconcileable as yet by any current theories in philology. The most striking of these instances, is perhaps, that of the ancient Egyptians, and the modern Hindoos, whose affinity of customs is indisputable, even to the institution of castes, and segregation ; whose distinctive dress is precisely similar ; — whose symbolic representations of deities in many instances correspond wonderfully ; and who indeed to any one that looks observingly on the memorials of the extinct nation, while resid- ing among the extant one, present in their modes and habits of life, of labour, — the shape of tools, boats, and utensils, and a hundred minutiae of fact speaking to the eye, but tedious and trifling to detail, the appear- ance of one people. But if between two races that reckon the periods of their substantive existence, not by centuries but by milliads, there still abide in the one that lives, after the contingent influences of so many revo- lutions, so striking a resemblance to that one which nationally exists no more how much greater must not that similarity have been in times when both flourished, powerful and independent, at a period long anterior to the records of written history, in contemporaneous greatness ? Now if on the one hand, the Egyptian hath left us (save in the papyri the examination of which is in its infancy) no historical record of himself beyond what lie in temples and in tombs, with their remains of art, their pictures, and their half-read hieroglyphics, — so on the other does the Hindoo, with an extant literature, vouchsafe us little or nothing of the definitely historical, amid much acute philosophy, much gorgeous poetry, mystical and imaginative theology, and legislation of a singular wisdom, fitted only for a highly civilized people. But, on either hand, meagre though to the historical interest of the lists of Egyptian kings, and all apocryphal the romance of Hindoo heroic poetry, we have fortunately preserved with each the representation of a people, whom chronology helps us in setting juxta-posed in the zenith of their power at corresponding periods. If then after a lapse, say, of two thousand years, the one race still be similar to that other which exists no more, while its records of things done anterior to that time, prove usages and