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that they were not the original inventors, but merely religious observers of the system. It is remarkable, that the names of many letters in the Hebrew, Greek, and Irish alphabets, are nearly allied. Take for instances the following:
This resemblance demonstrates their descent from one original parent language; which similarity in the names, as well as in the formation of the letters, cannot be attributed to mere chance.
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If, as some have surmised, the use of letters was taught by Adam or Enoch, this knowledge at the dispersion, would be carried away by those of mankind who moved north, as well as those who proceeded to
the the east, the south, or west of Babel. And supposing this invaluable art was only found out after the separation, it would even then have been communicated by degrees, to those tribes that lay most remote, especially if there was any intercourse by trade. This was evidently the case with regard to the inhabitants of these islands.* At a very early period, the Phoenicians, coasting along the shores of the Mediterranean, made settlements in the isles of Cyprus and Rhodes, and extending their navigation, passed successively into Greece, Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia; nor did the southern parts of Gaul and Spain escape them. About 1260 years before the Christian aera, instigated by the love of gain, they entered the ocean, and landed on the western coast of Spain. That country is said to have presented them with the same spectacle that America in the sixteenth century, did to the Spaniards. Though destitute of arts and industry, the inhabitants possessed abundance of gold
and silver, with the value of which they seemed so little acquainted, that they exchanged them freely for oil, glass, and other trinkets. Silver, in particular, was so plentiful, that the Phoenicians, unable to convey away all they had obtained, were obliged to take out the lead with which their anchors were loaded, and put that metal in its place. From Spain, and the northern parts of Gaul, they visited Great Britain and Ireland. The former supplied them with tin, the latter with copper, lead, and silver, extracted from the above mines.*
These adventurers, to secure their commerce, planted colonies, and built cities in all the countries to which they resorted. From the smallness of their territories, they could not possibly have effected all this, had not the revolutions and emigrations occasioned by the conquests of Joshua, favoured their designs. The inhabitants of
See O'Halloran, chap. vi. p. 122.
Palestine, finding themselves threatened with immediate destruction, by the irruption and devastation of the Hebrew tribes, took shelter in Sydon, which, not being large enough to support the multitudes of these exiles, the Phoenicians employed them to make settlements, and extend their commerce in foreign parts. *
But no event render these people more famous than founding Carthage, the subsequent greatness of which made an important figure in the history of mankind. Situated on a bold projection of the African continent, in the very centre of the Mediterranean; she comprehended within her view the east as well as the west, and embraced, by the extent of her trade, all the seas, and all the countries of the known world. An excellent port offered a secure asylum to ships. The natural fertility of the adjacent soil—the happy site of the town, surrounded by a cluster of islands and territories, conveniently situated for traffic—the adventurous spirit of its merchants and mariners—the skill and industry try of the artisans and manufacturers, together with the wisdom of the government, which was never shaken by seditions, nor oppressed by tyranny, till the later periods of the commonwealth—all contributed to the sudden increase and rapid improvement of the Carthagenian colony. From the enlargement of its territory it became a separate state, which soon rivalled, and afterwards surpassed the mother country. In a duration of seven hundred years, its dominion comprehended the finest portion of;Africa, as well as a part of Spain, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, with the Baliaric and Fortunate islands.
The freqenl intercourse of nations that possessed all the arts and sciences then known, with the inhabitants of these islands, would greatly contribute to their civilization. The knowledge of letters, among other things, would be introduced. That their use was known before the arrival of the Romans, is evident, from Caesar's observing*, that the Druids did
* Bel. Gal. lib. 6.