Зображення сторінки

as we have said, as presumptive evidence in its favor, sufficiently strong to throw the burden of proof upon him who calls its genuineness in question. This presumption is strengthened by the concurrence of any of the following circumstances; and, in the same degree, as they are united in support of the genu. ineness of any book, the evidence becomes more and more conclusive, until it rises to moral certainty.

2. There may not be discoverable in the work any motive for perpetrating a forgery, or of perpetuating a deception.

3. There may be obvious throughout a document, an expression of honesty, candor, reality and fair-dealing, analogous to the impressions we receive from individuals with whom we are personally acquainted in common life, and which are irreconcilable with the supposition that a deception should be systematically attempted in regard to the antiquity or any other claim of the book.

4. Various copies of the same work may exist in various and distant parts of the world, in different versions or translations, and of different dates; and if the work in question is not one of a didactic or imaginative character, but derives its importance solely from its being a statement of facts, and if these facts are of an ancient period which the author declares that he himself had known either personally, or from credible authority; - then this general adoption and estimation of the book can only be accounted for on the ground that the writer is worthy of credit, and that bis writing, in all important respects, is what it purports to be.

5. There may be nothing monstrous or improbable, or all circumstances considered, any thing unlikely to take place, related in the narrative. And if the production be such, as might naturally be expected from the known character, means of information, object, and condition of the reputed author, this would be an additional proof of its genuineness. And this conclusion would be still further strengthened, if what at first seemed incongruous, either in regard to the character and opinions of the writer, should be found, on more thorough examination, to be fitting or necessary to the work in question.

6. A book may exbibit a minute accuracy in its allusions to the existing persons, events, manners, and circumstances of the times in which it purports to bave been written. And all this may be so inartificial as to preclude the idea that it is supposititious. And this argument is greatly fortified, if from the na

ture of the case, these allusions could only have been suggested by a personal knowledge of the facts. Theological scholars know how forcibly this remark is illustrated by the allusions in the Gospel Narratives and Apostolical Epistles, viewed in connexion with the varied and eventful history of Judea at the alleged period, and the utter extinction of the whole Jewish polity, which ensued soon after the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. This criterion, it is true, like many of the rest, is more directly applicable to the authenticity of the history, than to the genuineness of any particular writing or book which contains it. Still, that it is also a strong presumptive proof of the latter, is plain from the fact, that if such allusions were wanting, or if they could be proved to be erroneous, the proof of its spuriousness would be decisive.

7. Documents by various authors, at different times, may be found concurring in the same events, and what is more decisive, not stating these events circumstantially, but implying and proceeding upon them as established and well known facts.

8. The historical succession of events may be supported naturally and consistently. The importance of this rule will be made apparent from considering that if any signal event, or the appearance of any distinguished personage, or the prevalence of any doctrine or controversy, which were known to have taken place in a subsequent period, were antedated or alluded to in the work in question, it would be a decisive proof of its spuriousness. The history of the world is a connected history; and when any important event occurs, it leaves its mark on the age, and not only so, but it is necessarily connected with what precedes and follows it, as well as with the cotemporaneous history of the times.

9. When the friends of the presumed author of a book, and his associates and cotemporaries generally, or those who lived near to his time, do not deny, or do adinit it to be his work, it is to be received as an argument in favor of its genuineness, since these are best able, and most interested, to decide upon the subject.

10. It is a confirmation of the same result, if the language and style of the work in question, resemble those which characterise the reputed author in other acknowledged writings of his; since the lines of a man's countenance are scarcely better known, than his prevalent modes of associating and expressing NO. 90.



[ocr errors]

his thoughts and sentiments. Every body, almost, understands, and applies, this rule of judging continually. This rule, moreover, as will soon be shown, applies to the use of language generally, in any era, as well as to the style of any particular author.

11. But a very decisive criterion of the genuineness of books reputed to be ancient, is that furnished by References and Quotations. This is well stated by Mr. Taylor, whose language we here borrow. “A single reference found in one author to the works of another, who, in his turn, needs the same kind of authentication, may seem to be a fallacious, insufficient and obscure kind of proof; for this reference or quotation may possibly be an interpolation, or the reference may be too slight or indefinite to make it certain that the work now extant is the same as that mentioned. But the validity of this kind of proof arises from its amount, its multifariousness, and its incidental character. For though a single and solitary testimony may be inconclusive, many hundred independent testimonies, all bearing upon the same point, are much more than sufficient to remove reasonable doubt ; and if some of these references are slight and indefinite, others are full, particular and complete. If some are formal and direct, and such, therefore, as might be supposed to have been inserted with a fraudulent design, others are altogether circuitous and incidental. If some have descended to us through the same channels, others are derived from sources as far removed as can be imagined from the possibility of collusion. A work may happen to want this kind of evidence, and yet, on other grounds, possess a good claim to genuineness. But, in fact, almost all existing remains of ancient literature are abundantly authenticated by the numerous and explicit (and undesigned] quotations, or descriptions that occur in other works.

And there are very few books that do not contain some direct or indirect allusions to other works ; so that the remains of ancient literature, taken as a mass, contains within itself the proof of the authenticity (genuineness) of each part.” The completeness and force of this species of evidence, can be estimated only from a minute examination of particular examples. And all illustrations of this description, both the nature and limits of this article oblige us to forego. Those who wish to appreciate duly the validity and strength of this kind of proof, are referred, as a familiar

example, to the "Horæ Paulinæ, or the truth of the Scripture History of St. Paul,” by Paley ; which is not only the most original of all his works, but comprises one of the most decisive arguments, of the kind, in the language.

These Quotations and References, we may, however, briefly observe, are of various kinds. Thus they may be literal, whether or not ascribed, expressly, and by name, to their author. From these, two things may be ascertained;— First, the existence of the work quoted, at the time in which the writer who makes the quotation, wrote; – and, Second, the identity, and even the correctness of any extant text, so far as these quotations are concerned.

Again, there may be incidental allusions. These may be sufficiently obvious to show that one writer was known to the other, and yet so remote and plainly undesigned, as to preclude all suspicion of interpolation or artifice of any kind. In like manner, there may be coincidences of this description, which plainly shew, either that both writers derived their information from the same common source, or that the one copied from the other. And, in the latter case, if the work of the one bears the plain impress of originality, and is in perfect accordance, in style, manner and spirit, with other acknowledged writings of the author, he is to be taken as the original authority, and the other as the quoting party, thereby establishing the previous existence of the work which is quoted from.

And, again, in point of fact, most authors, now generally admitted to be ancient, whose works are extant, have been distinctly referred to, named, criticised, commented upon, and described, by subsequent writers. Lists of their productions, summaries of their contents, biographies of the writers, in which their works are mentioned and classed in the order of time, are to be found ; by means of wbich all the important parts of the original works may be identified and compared with the purported copies of them now extant.

Some ancient Treatises again, contain ample quotations from previous authors, together with a list of all those, in the order of time, who wrote on some given subject previously to the age of the author.

And again, Controversies of every description afford abundant occasion for quotations, and those, too, which being cited for some express purpose, that has long passed away, are beyond all suspicion of having been interpolated.

13. Translations, provided they have been made near to the time assigned as that in which the original author lived, and correspond with the text in question, and have come down to us through means different from those by which the alleged original work has been preserved, afford a conclusive test of genuineness. And if, further, there be several of them in different languages, they render the evidence of Genuineness complete.*

14. There is yet another source of proof, tending to the same result, distinct in itself, yet like the above, derived from internal evidence, or from the writings themselves. This is to be found in the language in which the book in question is written. To make this plain, it must be remembered, that“ a language is, at once, the most complete, and the least fallible of all historical records." Almost any work of any kind, in any language, may be forged, but no man can forge the language in which the work is embodied. It bears, and always must bear, the exact" form and pressure" of the times.t “The precise extent of knowledge and civilization to which a people have attained, -nothing more, and nothing less, is marked out in the list of words, of which they have made use. The common objects of nature; the peculiarities of climate; the works of art; the details of domestic life ; political institutions ; religious opinions and observances ; philosophy, poetry and art; every form and hue of the external world ; and every modification of thought, find in language their representatives.' If we know, therefore, accurately the vocabulary of any language, we are possessed, thereby, of a great mass of facts

The student on this subject will perceive that hints on this part of our inquiry, have been derived from the following sources. Johannis Clerici Ars Critica, Part III. Sec. II. March's Michaelis, Part I. Ch. II. Less, Geschichte der Religion, pp. 485 – 634. Lardner's truly great work contains specimens throughout, of all these different kinds of quotations.

# Father Mabillon thus poetically alludes to this fact, and thus repudiates the rash hand, which (to prevent Priscian's head from being broken) would dare to reduce the language of ancient writings to grammatical rules. “ Ut suus unicuique arti idiotismus constat; sic etiam Rei Diplomaticæ inest proprius loquendi modus, qui magis ex usu pendet, quàm ex Grammaticæ regulis. Sunt quos salebrosus ejusmodi stilus offendit, quem dum ad genii sui captum emendare conantur, idem fere committunt, atque illi, qui in prato floribus sponte nascentibus consperso, decussis agrestibus flosculis, ocellos, tuberosas, aliaque id genus in fictilibus vasis substituerent. Plus enim delectat nativa illa rerum varietas, quàm affectata in loco peregrino elegantia. - De Re Di. plomatica Lib. Sec, Cap. I. p. 54.

« НазадПродовжити »