Nothing but a thorough conviction of the importance of testing the stream of History at its very source, would have induced that process of investigation with whose partial results the reader is here presented.
A gigantic mass of absurdities now lies exposed, for a sifting examination. It remains for the patient sagacity of European scholarship, working upon both Occidental and Oriental materials, to re-build, I trust, upon no unstable foundation, that Temple of History which national vanity has destroyed, and whose ruins national Buddhism has obscured.
A thorough persuasion that no nation, as a body of men, would or could, gratuitously, through a series of ages, invent a series of tales, in themselves fabulous, in their results historical, — determined me in the resolution to enter upon a process which should test the doctrine of invention, or non-invention, and thus gain some criterion for an impartial and a final decision. That problem is now solved. A plain, practical, and positive appeal to the very language of the first Hellenic settlers, will give a correct answer to the patient inquirer after truth. Those primitive colonists have been traced with a precision that nothing but the singular cohesion of the constituent parts of that ancient form of society called “a tribe” could have secured. This is a species of argument that will be duly appreciated by the contemplative mind.
The evidence thus gained, is evidence drawn from no partial source — it is evidence drawn forth from nations whose impress is of the highest antiquity.
Amid the ruins of empires, or the transient memory of the mightiest conquerors. Time has very generally respected both the form and the name of the grand features of nature. Cities and Polities may have been swept from the earth; Dynasties of unrivalled splendour may have passed away, leaving scanty memorials, — possibly none — to record their renown; but it is not so with the history ineffaceably written on the venerable forms of mountains, seas, and rivers. These compose a language so vast and so enduring, that compared with them, the Pyramids, must be considered as dwarfed toys of agglutinated sand which must crumble to atoms before the structure of this language shall be destroyed.
One of the most valuable points, in connection with the results here wrought out, is this geographical basis. It has interpreted correctly, and it will continue to interpret correctly, those singular tales, in early Greek history, which have generally passed current with the literary world, under the name of “Myths.” They are now proved to be fables, just in proportion as we misunderstand them; truths, in proportion as they were once understood.
Our ignorance it is which has made a myth of history; and our ignorance is an Hellenic inheritance, much of it the result of Hellenic vanity.
The Sanskrit scholar will find a few irregularities in that process which I have developed. They are such as belong to a form compounded of the old Pehlvi and the Sanskrit; the latter serving as the basis, and the former the inflective power. A superficial glance over this branch of my investigation, will convey some idea to the philologist of two interesting facts. First. — The primitive dialects whence sprang the Greek of Homer. Secondly. The exact way in which the Greek consonantal and vocalic combinations were pronounced by Herodotean and Thucydidaean Greeks.
The apparent irregularities of orthography occurring in connection with the same word, will be found to be more imaginary than real. It will be well for the reader to accustom himself to such variations of form, but not of power, nor of signification. He will thus consider Lakedaimon, Lacedaemon; Cabul, Cabool, Kabul, Kabool; Tibet, Thibet; Cashmir, Cashmire, Casmir, Kashmire, Cashmere; Ladakh, Ladak, Ladac; Attock, Attac, Atac, Uttuck; Goclapes, Gooklopes, Guclopes, Cuclopes, Cyclopes; Panjab, Punjab, Punjaub, Panchab; Phenicia, Phoenicia, Phoenikia, Phainikia; as identical. And so with geographical nomenclature generally. When, however, such varieties appear in this work, they will, with few exceptions, be found to arise from the necessity of running parallel with the irregular meanderings of the Hellenic or Oriental streams. A notable example of the singular variety of these forms, will be found under the name Budha.
It is evident that two classes of literature must now be studied in connection with ancient Greece. First, — The Mythology of Greece, showing what Greeks thought and wrote in connection with their divinities, and the immense mass of legend in juxtaposition with them. Secondly, — The History, which at present lies buried
beneath this mythology; which, as forming the very earliest records of Hellas, must be studied like any other
portion of established history.
Henceforward, let us not, succumbing to an easy indolence, deny on theoretical grounds the existence of those truths which Geography has restored to History,
London, Dec, 1851