« AnteriorContinuar »
languages, as the German and Italian ; but finds an analogy in the mute e of the English and of the French. The object of the Hebrew Shewa was, we apprehend, to express this half-vowel, and not, as some suppose, to denote the mere absence of all vowel sound.
5. All the Shemitish dialects, with the exception of the Ethiopic, are written from right to left. In the same way Greek was originally written, as the most ancient monuments testify.
The limits of a review do not permit us to enter into minute details. But these general statements are, we apprehend, sufficient to show, that the Shemitish languages have a fair claim to be considered a part of the Indo-European stock.
Before we conclude, it is proper to say something with more immediate reference to the work under review.
There are two modes of treating grammar. The one embraces simply the facts or principles of the language; the other aims at an explanation of the facts, and a philosophical deduction of them.
In grammars designed for young pupils, or for merely practical purposes, the former mode is sufficient. But for the Hebrew language, which differs so widely from our own, and is taken up at a maturer age, as a part of a liberal education, the second mode is desirable in itself, and is almost necessary to relieve the mind from the multiplicity of facts. While, however, the true nature of language was not understood, it was natural to expect that efforts in this way should fail. But the firm basis given to the study of language, by the late investigations in comparative philology, under the guidance of a few gifted minds, convince us, that we now stand on a different ground. It is now time to apply the rich stores amassed by Humboldt, Bopp, and Grimm, to grammatical treatises of every kind.
This, we think, is the peculiarity of the grammar before us. Conversant with the writers just alluded to, and impressed with the importance of the philosophy of language, the author has attempted a rationale of the phonetic system of the Hebrew on physiological principles—a system, as is well known, closely inwrought into the very texture of the language. Unless we greatly err, Dr. N. has cleared up this dark spot in Hebrew grammar, attached to it an uncommon degree of interest, and led on the student to enlarged views of general grammar.
The volume before us contains only the orthography and etymology of the language. A second volume, containing the syntax and a chrestomathy, is to follow.
The author, in our view, has been peculiarly happy in his mode of exhibiting the three primary vowels, a, i, and u; and of deriving e and o from them; p. 10 ff. : this, as we have shown above, accords perfectly with the vocalism of the IndoEuropean languages;- in his statement of Holem written defectively, p. 14;-in his lucid exhibition of the principles of syllabication, p. 17;-in his explanation of the compound Shewas, the Pattah furtive, and their relation to the gutturals, p. 20 ff. ;--in his new distinction of Daghesh compensative and Daghesh conservative, p. 24 ff.;-in his neat explanation of the consonant changes which proceed from euphony, p. 48 ff., and in his synopsis of vowel changes, p. 69. These topics occur in the first book, which relates to orthoëpy and orthography. The second book opens with an interesting chapter on roots and the formation of words. His idea, that the Shemitish roots were originally monosyllabic, is worthy of the attention of Bopp and Grimm.
His opinion, that the root lies in the verb rather than in the noun, is so far correct; but, in our view, the true root, consisting of consonants only without vowels, is an idea anterior both to the noun and verb. This we have alluded to above. His next chapter, on the personal pronouns, with their use in the inflection of verbs, will be found of great practical value. His ingenious comparison of these pronouns with those of other languages, both singly and as connected with the verb, must stagger those who deny the connection between the Shemitish and the Indo-European languages. His derivation of the imperative from the future, his explanation of the Waw conversive and of the Pilel of verbs Ain Waw, of the construction of numerals, and of the Daghesh lene in bina, might also be mentioned. That which will especially please the learner, is his happy arrangement of the verb, and its irregularities.
There are, however, in this work, some principles with which we are not prepared to accord; although we are aware, that much may be said in their favor; as, for example, his account of the origin of the final letters, which appear to us to have been the original forms from which the others were derived, to render the character cursive, p. 6.-His opinion, that the Hebrew characters were originally syllabic, and that the resolution of syllables into vowels and consonants was subsequent in the order of time, p. 9.—His idea, that the aspirate sound of the
Begadkcphath letters was the original, and preceded the unaspirate; for, though the Masorites may have had this opinion, yet a comparison of the Indo-European phonology leads us to the contrary conclusion, p. 28.-The denial of what may be called retrograde assimilation, p. 26.-His doubt of the usual derivation of the Hebrew article from 577, pp. 25, 253, 258 ff. His idea of assimilation, which, however, is certainly ingenious, p. 52.--And his view of the primary use of the accents, p. 33. Most of these points, though interesting objects of discussion, are not of such a nature as to affect the general character of the grammar.
The typographical execution does honor to the press from which it emanates. The Hebrew is printed with remarkable correctness.
The author, who is of German birth and education, is a man of talents and enterprise. Although young, and recently arrived in this country, he has already attained an honorable station in the University of New York. He is advantageously known as a language teacher in that city and elsewhere, and is now mingling himself with our literature in one of its most important branches. As friends of literature, we wish him success.
ART. VIII.— WHO ARE THE TRUE CONSERVATIVES?
Within a few years, the word conservative has become a term of frequent use among us, and apparently of great consequence in the estimation of not a few of the literary, political, and religious parties of the day. With the introduction and general use of the term has been connected the prevalence of certain peculiar opinions, and as the philosophy and history of language both teach us, it could not have been otherwise, inasmuch as the frequent use of a new term is always the signal of some movement in the minds of those who receive and give it currency.
The history of the term is brief, and can easily be traced, since in its present somewhat peculiar signification, it has been employed but for a very short period of time.
It was adopted originally by the Tory party of Great Britain, after their ominous defeat in the passage of the Reform Bill, at the suggestion, probably, of the wiser and more moderate of their leaders, who hoped to rally part of the Whigs to join with Vol. X.
themselves, under a name so auspicious, in a united effort, to save the altars and throne of the imperial nation. From England, it speedily passed across the Atlantic, and has been eagerly taken up by more than one party, in politics and religion, and with a prodigious flourish of trumpets, and a loud cheer of defiance to the foe, has already been imprinted upon their banners. We now no longer need to search for it in the classic pages of the London Quarterly, nor in the political articles, exuberantly intolerant, of the severe but good-natured Blackwood; but it meets the eye in the pages of many of our daily prints, which commend or censure all men and all opinions, according as they are, or are not, “thoroughly conservative.” We hear it, also, usque ad nauseam, from the mouth of the genteel aristocrat of our cities, and also in the daily discourse of the talking philosopher of our colleges, who renounces the people and “all their works," with the customary ardor of academical orthodoxy. In certain of our periodicals, also, it is of so frequent occurrence as quite to surfeit those who prefer the strength of argumentation to the endless reiteration of the watch-word of a party, and who would relish the piquancy of satire, or even the coarse abuse of an unlicensed pen, above the querulous sighing forth, on one doleful key, of the same lamentations upon “the times.” Our preachers, also, begin to introduce it into their discourses, and after deliberately and coolly classing themselves and their own opinions on the conservative side, and their opponents on the side of fanaticism and folly, so finish the argument, and close with the appropriate practical inferences. There are those even, who seem more anxious to preach conservatism than the gospel of their master, and are more careful to imbue their hearers with their own wholesome prejudices, than that they should be animated with the healthful influences of the divine spirit. In short, so common has the term become, that those who appropriate it to their own party, will, if not especially watchful, soon render themselves liable to be charged with cant, that dreadfully vulgar offense, which, in their judg. ment, is not a venial transgression, but is clothed with all the fearful associations, that belong to a “mortal sin." Surely, they ought to tremble, for we hear of the conservatives among the abolitionists, and other movement parties of the day-a certain proof, that the term must have been esteemed of sovereign efficacy and of wondrous reputation, and that it is soon to lose its appropriate and very peculiar charm.
We are very far from the opinion, that there is no such thing as radicalism, or that there are no parties abroad which deserve
not the appellations Disorganizing and Destructive. Never, perhaps, in our country, was there a more pressing need of true conservative principles, and a louder call for a really conservative influence. An unclean spirit has indeed gone out into the length and breadth of the land, and taken possession of its low and its high places. Her brood "of sundrie shapes, yet all illfavored,” have entered the sanctuary of the domestic circle and the holy temple of God's worship, and defiled them both. Their senseless and fantastic tricks; their brazen self-confidence; their perversions of holy writ; and their uncharitable judgments of all who differ from them, excite the mirth and jests of the scornful, and move the foreboding anxiety of those who can trace the end to which these movements tend, and in the history of the past, can take note of the destructive ravages which in other times have followed indications precisely similar in kind, only more widely spread in extent. When grave philosophers and sober divines, begin to grow warm for “the rights of woman,” and men of influence and moral worth are so morbidly sensitive, lest the treasuries of our benevolent societies should be defiled with the price of blood and the wages of iniquity; when warlike zealots for peace dishonor the magistrate whom God has ordained, and pluck from his hand the sword with which God has armed him, for “a terror to evil-doers,” it is surely time for all good men and true to look about them, and seriously to ask themselves, whether the days of the Fifth Monarchy Men, of Sir Harry Vane and of citizen Danton, are not again to retnrn.
The pulpit has been perverted and degraded, by this mad spirit ; aad the day and the hour set apart for the worship of God, have been desecrated into a season for the indulgence of unhallowed excitement and of party animosity. In politics, it has almost extinguished the ancient and honorable spirit of statesmanship, and made it to be but a pitiful scramble for the rewards of office. It has not only corrupted the manners and morals of most of our acting politicians, but it has extinguished the feeble remains of principle that lingered within their minds, and led them to proclaim, with brazen assurance and seared consciences, the doctrine, that in politics, there is neither right nor wrong, and between principles no difference, except on the ground of probable success.
We may trace, alas ! too distinctly, the presence of the same rash and heedless spirit, in many of our benevolent and reforming associations. One-sidedness of mind, illiberality and narrowness of spirit, a furious and mad excommunication of all