CHAPTER FOUR ONE MIGHTY TORRENT

IN THE BEGINNING was the written word--so the historian would amend the ancient text. It was the fact of writing that was all-important; and in placing inscriptions in a different category from writings upon more perishable materials, we must not draw any deep line of division between them. Men learned to write on skins, clay, bark, and papyrus quite as early as on stone or metal, and they still write on them all. The adoption of parchment and paper as media for writing is important simply as it made written records far fuller and far more abundant. Browning's lines on Saul are full of historical truth in their expression of the unconquerable desire of mankind to record the past in manifold forms:

Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb--bid arise

A gray mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies,

Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know?

Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go

In great characters cut by the scribe,--Such was Saul, so he did;

With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,--

For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend,

In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend

(See, in tablets 'tis level before them) their praise, and record

With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,--the statesman's great word

Side by side with the poet's sweet comment. The river's awave

-79-

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