George Smith

Abstract

THE untimely death of Mr. George Smith at the early age of thirty-seven, is a loss that can ill be repaired. Scholars can be reared and trained, but hardly more than once in a century can we expect a genius with the heaven-born gift of divining the meaning of a forgotten language and discovering the clue to an unknown alphabet. The marvellous instinct by which Mr. Smith ascertained the substantial sense of a passage in the Assyrian inscriptions without being always able to give a philological analysis of the words it contained, gave him a good right to the title of “the intellectual picklock,” by which he was sometimes called. The pioneer of Assyrian research, and the decipherer of the Cypriote inscriptions, he could be all the less spared at the present moment, when a key is needed to the reading of those Hamathite hieroglyphics to which the last discoveries he was destined to make have given such an unexpected importance.

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SAYCE, A. George Smith . Nature 14, 421–422 (1876). https://doi.org/10.1038/014421a0

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