The history of civilization, of the infant civilization of mankind, belongs to these four countries. The light has broadened and expanded as the day has advanced, but mankind will ever look back with interest on the misty dawn of civilization, on the small beginnings of progress and knowledge, for which the enlightened and mighty nations of the modern world are indebted to the early shepherds and cultivators of Egypt and Babylonia, of China and India. To Greece and to Rome belongs the credit of catching the light from the East, and re?ecting it with tenfold lustre on the West.
In studying the history of the earliest civilized nations of the world, we are unable to fix dates, or to trace the course of events with the degree of accuracy which marks modern history, or even the history of Rome and Greece. But nevertheless we possess sufficient materials with re gard to the earlier nations to ascertain the general course of events, to mark the great results achieved from age to age, and to trace the progress of knowledge, literature, and science, through the successive epochs of their national existence.
If this is true of Egypt, and Babylonia, and China, it is still more so in respect of India. The hieroglyphic re cords of the Egyptians tell us about ancient kings and pyramid-builders, of dynasties, invasions, and wars. The cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria and Babylon tell us much the same kind of story. And even the ancient records of China tell us more about kings and dynasties than about the progress and civilization of the people.