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The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times in India, South-western Asia, and Southern Europe History and Chronology of the Myth-making Age


THE object of the present short article is not so much to call the attention of the readers of NATURE to two works by Mr. J. F. Hewitt, late Commissioner of Chota Nagpore, who has devoted many years of hard work to the elucidation of the history of the ruling races of prehistoric times in India, south-western Asia, and southern Europe, as to mention some of the difficulties connected with the history and chronology of the myth-making age. To discuss at length and in detail the contents of the three volumes the titles of which appear at the head of this review would require several numbers of NATURE, or a whole volume, and while an attempt is here made to indicate the general line of his arguments and the trend of his opinions, the reader, if he wishes to become master of the subjects as treated by Mr. Hewitt, must read the works themselves. Mr. Hewitt brings to bear upon his studies a knowledge of several Indian dialects, and a general knowledge of what other investigators have written about subjects which are germane to his own; his observations and opinions have not been formed hastily, and every fair-minded reader will, after a perusal of his works, arrive at the conclusion that he is an honest, even if sometimes mistaken, seeker after facts, and that, so far as his knowledge will allow him to do so, he sets the truth before those who will take the trouble to read what he has written. The chief importance of his books, in the writer's opinion, is the proof which they afford of the little value of philology in arriving at any decision as to the religious views and practices of early nations; moreover, we cannot help wishing that when Mr. Hewitt was making his quotations he had taken the trouble to give the words and passages on which he bases his arguments in the languages in which they were originally written. We have no intention of finding fault or of making carping criticisms, but Orientalists other than experts in Indian languages would have felt much more comfortable if they could have seen before them the Babylonian, or Assyrian, or Egyptian forms of the words which he quotes. The answer to this objection is, of course, that the use of mixed Oriental types is a costly luxury to an author, and to many it will seem a sufficient one; meanwhile, let us thank Mr. Hewitt for what we have, and then proceed to consider generally the aim and scope of his work.

The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times in India, South-western Asia, and Southern Europe.

By J. F. Hewitt. Vol. i. Pp. lxv + 627 (1894), 18s. Vol. ii. Pp. xxxv + 382 (1895), 12s. (Westminster: Constable and Co., Ltd.)

History and Chronology of the Myth-making Age.

By J. F. Hewitt. Pp. xlviii + 682. (London: Parker and Co., 1901.) 15s. net.

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The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times in India, South-western Asia, and Southern Europe History and Chronology of the Myth-making Age . Nature 66, 145–147 (1902).

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