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IX. THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN ENGLAND
The Sixth Report of the Common Law Commis-
sioners on the Inns of Court.
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
Art. I. - Means of ascertaining the Genuineness and In
tegrity of Ancient Writings. 1. A History
of ihe Transmission of Ancient Books to Modern Times; or a Concise Account of the Means by which the Genuineness and Authenticity of Ancient Historical Works are ascertained; with an Estimate of the Comparative Value of the Evidence usually adduced in support of the Claims of the Jewish and Christian Scrip
tures. By Isaac Taylor. 8vo. London. 1827. 2. The Process of Historical Proof Exemplified and
Explained ; with Observations on the Peculiar Points of the Christian Evidence. By Isaac Taylor. 8vo, London. 1828.
We have placed the titles of these books at the head of this article, not with the intention of entering into any minute analysis of the respective works to which they helong, but for the purpose of recommending them to our readers, and as introductory to an inquiry, we propose to institute, into a particalar branch of the Process of Historical Proof."
The former of these works, namely that relating to the “ Transmission of Ancient Books,” is the most succinct and comprehensive statement of the subject in the English language, with which we are acquainted. It makes no pretension,
as the author himself says, “to communicate information to those who are already conversant with matters of antiquity, literary or bistorical, and whatever might seem recondite, or whatever is still involved in controversy, has been avoided. Nor has the author loaded his pages with numerous references, which, though easily amassed, would have increased the size of the volume without being serviceable to the class of readers for whom he writes.” The only work in English, to be named in comparison with this treatise, is that of Mr. Astle.* And this, though very elaborate and trustworthy, and superbly einbellished with fac-similes of ancient manuscripts, and in all respects, a learned and valuable work, is yet too minute in its details to be of general interest, and too expensive to be within the reach of the great mass of scholars in this country.
The design of the latter of these books, Mr. Taylor states, as follows : — “ After exemplifying, in a signal instance, the ordinary process of historical proof, I have endeavored to suggest hints for analyzing, with fairness and freedom, the Christian Records, viewing them merely as the materials of history.” And "instead of taxing the attention of the reader, by placing before him a set of abstract principles of evidence, or of distracting his attention by adducing a multiplicity of instances, he proposes to select a single instance, and to exbibit, link by link, the entire chain of proof by means of which the absolute certainty of events alleged to have taken place nearly five hundred years before the birth of Christ, may be satisfactorily established. He selects the bistory of Herodotus, and the principal events of the Persian war, as affording fair samples of this species of reasoning, in the two departments of literary and historical proof.”
This design, we think, is carried forward to a very successful issue. The genuineness of the work of Herodotus is satisfactorily established, and the argument from the genuineness to the authenticity of the history very well put. But the parts of the treatise which strike us as particularly valuable, are the chapters on the “Use of Ethical Writings as the Materials of
* The Origin and Progress of Writing, as well Hieroglyphic as Elementary, Illustrated by Engiavings taken from Marbles, Manuscripts and Charters, ancient and modern ; also some account of the Origin and Progress of Printing Second edition, with additions. By Thomas Astle, Esq., F. R. S., F. A. S.; and Keeper of the Records in the town of London. 4to. London. 1803.