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derived from the study would amply repay even such an expenditure, if it were incurred. The object, then, of our remarks, will mainly be to point out some of the high practical purposes subserved by the science of philology, and to prove that, to every intelligent and cultivated mind, it will be a source of pure and peculiar pleasure. There is no study that can be made at once more interesting, more instructive, and more entertaining, than that of language, that is, of the origin, inflection, use, and distinction of words in our own language and in that of other nations. To the pleasure and profit of this study, an eminent writer of the present age has thus borne evidence, while referring merely to our own language : "In a language like ours, where so many words are derived from other languages, there are few modes of instruction more useful or more amusing than that of accustoming young people to seek for the etymology or primary meaning of the words they use. There are cases in which more knowledge of more value may be conveyed by the history of a word than by the history of a campaign;" and another writer of our own day has aptly compared language to “ fossil poetry,” evidently meaning by the simile (as Dean Trench observes), that, just as, in some fossil, curious and beautiful shapes of vegetable or animal life, the graceful fern or the finely vertebrated lizard, such as now, it may be, have been extinct for thousands of years, are permanently bound up with the stone, and rescued from that perishing, which would otherwise have been theirs ; so, in words are beautiful thoughts and images—the imagination and the feeling of past ages, of men long since in their graves, of men whose very names have perished, but which these, that would so easily have perished too, have preserved and made safe for
This comparison has, indeed, a deeper and more comprehensive significance than seems to have been intended by its author. It has been well observed by another writer, that many a single word is in itself a concentrated poem, having stores of poetical thought and imagery laid up in it. If it be examined, it will be found to rest on some deep analogy of things natural and things spiritual—bringing the one to illustrate and to give an abiding form to the other.
“He who spake first of a dilapidated fortune,” observes this writer, "what an image must have risen up before his mind's eye of some falling house or palace ; stone detaching itself from stone, till all had gradually sunk into desolation and ruin. Or he who to that Greek word, which
signifies that which will endure to be held up and judged by the şunlight,' gave first its ethical signification of .sincere,' beautiful, or, as we sometimes say, 'transparent,' can we deny to him the poet's feeling and eye? Many a man had gazed, we are sure, at the jagged and indented mountain ridges of Spain, before one called them Sierras,' or “Saws,' the name by which now they are known, as Sierra Morena, Sierra Nevada; but that man carried his imagination into a word, which will endure as long as the everlasting hills which he named."
Of the great moral truths contained in single words we find an apt illustration in an instance, which, rather curiously, has been similarly noticed by Bishop Butler, and by Montaigne, the French essayist. Our readers are doubtless familiar with the solemn testimony which, by means of this word, the former compels the world to bear against itself; how he forces it to acknowledge that all its light amusements and pleasures fail to afford any solid satisfaction or enjoyment. They are only “pastime;" they serve only, as this word confesses, to pass away the time, to prevent it from hanging an intolerable burden on men's bands; all they can do at the best is, to prevent men from attending to, or discovering of, their own internal poverty, dissatisfaction, and want. Montaigne's words, on the same subject, are well worth quoting :
“ This ordinary phrase of “past-time,' and passing away the time, represents the custom of those wise sort of people who think they cannot have a betier account of their lives than to let them run out and slide away, to pass them over and to balk them, and, as much as they can, to take no notice of them, and to shun them, as a thing of troublesome and conteinptible quality. But I know it to be another kind of thing, and find it both valuable and commodious, even in its latest decay, wherein I now enjoy it, and Nature has delivered it into our hands in such and so favorable circumstances, that we commonly complain of it if it be troublesome to us, or slide unprofitably away.”
We have no intention, at least in this paper, to enter on that more profound and learned investigation of the Science of Language, to which our subject would very naturally lead us. Our simple desire is, to awaken some curiosity and attract some attention to a study, which we do not say we believe, but we know to be far less cultivated than it deserves to be. A well-directed study of " etymology” we believe to be one of the most available and most powerful instruments of education by which a wise and well-informed teacher will always be able to relieve and lighten studies, which sometimes would otherwise be felt as heavy, and by which, also, he may often succeed in awakening the curiosity and fixing the attention of students, hitherto dull, listless and to use a common, but very unjust term——“ stupid.” Our opinions on the great importance of this enlightened study of language, as a leading element in all sound education, have been formed and confirmed by a very wide and various experience in the education of persons of all ages and of both sexes, and, as we look back over that experience of so many years, we cannot recall a single instance in which we altogether failed in deriving from this study, as an educational means, the benefits indicated, while, in the vast majority of cases, it has proved at once a source of elevated intellectual pleasure, of. sound mental and logical culture, and at the same time, both to teacher and taught, a ready reliever of the heavier parts of education. But it is by no means in the college hall or school alone, that we would now advocate the prosecution of this study; por, if it once be cultivated in a proper and scholarly spirit, will it ever be restricted to such narrow limits. The man or woman who has in early life acquired a taste for philology, will retain it through maturer years ; and we promise it will prove to them a source of satisfaction and pleasure, which, in the evening of life, or in seasons of bodily illness, or mental depression, they would be unwilling to resign for the greatest rewards of ambition or avarice. And, indeed, old age is the very time when intellectual pleasures of this sort at once afford the greatest relief, and are the most keenly appreciated, for well says the Roman orator, in his admirable Treatise on “Old Age:''
Quæ sunt igitur epularum aut ludorum cum his voluptatibus comparandæ ? Atque hæc quidem studia doctrinæ. Quæ quidem prudentibus et bene institutis pariter cum ætate crescunt, et honestum illud Solonis sit, quod ait versiculo quodam, ut ante dixi, senescere se multa in dies addiscentem; qua voluptate animi nulla certe potest esse major.”
We claim, then, for the study of etymology, or, to use the wider and more comprehensive term, philology, that it is, in the first place, a powerful and most valuable instrument, both in the effect which itself directly exercises upon the mind, and in the light and sunshine that it reflects upon other studies; and that the benefits thus derived from it survive and grow with man's growing years. But we claim also, that its study is absolutely essential to an intelligent appreciation of all that is best and most beautiful in the language and literature of our own and other lands; that, in
fact, its cultivation is a primary condition of true and sound æsthetic culture. We claim, also, that even such a moderate acquaintance with its principles, as any person can nowadays easily obtain for himself in such a country as ours, will show it to be a citadel and defence of some of the most valuable facts in history, and some of the loftiest principles of moral truth. Lastly, we claim, that a greater cultivation of this and other cognate studies, of a liberalizing and refining character, is peculiarly and powerfully called for by many
of the facts and features of our social and political institu• tions, in which, as we have formerly remarked, there is too great a tendency to measure everything by a
66 dollar value, and to look with silent contempt, if not avowed disdain, upon everything that is not likely to “pay” in that “ dollar" sense. It is notorious (to advert to the last point first) that America, blest as she is with genius, talent, energy, of the highest order and on the grandest scale, has not yet evinced a suitable appreciation of the higher learning, or, indeed, of all learning, not as means towards an end, but for its own sake; and yet, in the same spirit in which we have previously written on this subject, we unhesitatingly maintain that her national greatness can never be complete until she has fully realized that appreciation; and, moreover, we assert that she has now, in all other points, attained so high a standard as a nation, that it is incumbent upon all her loyal and loving sons to unite heart and hand to remedy this defect, to supply this crying want. Well said Wordsworth :
“We live by Admiration, Hope, and Love,
In dignity of being we ascend." Very clearly did the great poet feel, as he penned those lines, that "man liveth not by bread alone" as a nation, any more than as an individual. i National well-being consists, says Dr. McHenry, " in the development of the proper humanity of a nation, in the cultivation and exercise of the reason and moral nature, and in the subordination to these of all the lower principles. It is found in the wisdom, the intellectual cultivation, and the virtuous energy of a people ; and of these, the light of pure and lofty science is the quickening impulse and the genial nutriment. All pure and elevated Truth is in itself good, and it does good. It is of God, and it leads to God again. Without its noble inspira
tion, we may indeed serve the turn of this world's lowest
--we can gain money, grow fat, and die—but we are not fitted for the better ends even of this world." "He," says Bishop Berkeley,“ who hath not. meditated much upon God, the human soul, and its chief good, may possibly make a shrewd and thriving earth-worm, but he will indubitably make a blundering patriot, and a sorry statesman.” We cannot pause to analyze all the evils and dangers that threaten America from this blemish and deficiency in her educational system, or, rather, in the hearts and intellects of those who mainly guide that system ; but we must allude briefly to a few of them. These, it is clear, arise chiefly from the excessive extension of that commercial or money-making spirit, to which we have already referred, and of that political partisan spirit, which is the natural growth of our free institutions. Both these spirits are good-nay, they are essential to our commercial progress and success, on the one hand, and to the security of our freedom, on the other. No systems of government and civil policy are, however, without their own peculiar drawbacks ; nor is our great and free Republic, proud as we are of her success and power and fame, without her own peculiar share. The danger here lies in the want of all checks or counteracting influences, such as exist under various forms in other countries, and the probability of these two spirits of pelf and politics thereby gaining an undue ascendency. It is against this danger, and it is not a future or an imaginary one, we would have some guard erected. Any person who is at all familiar with our public and social life, especially in our large cities, will at once acknowledge the truth and force of our remarks. Having referred to the “ dollar” standard, by which all things are too generally measured, in some former articles, we need now only glance at the other aspects of the question. Taking our system of government for all in all, we hold it to be the best and justest in the world; but in its very freedom, we repeat, lies its danger. It is especially the justest, because man has the right of self-government, or, rather, the people have that right. In order, however, that this right should be well and wisely administered, it is quite as necessary that the collective popular ruler should be duly fitted, by education, for its exercise, as that the prince, under a monarchy, should be so trained. Defective moral and mental training is liable, in either case, to produce the most disastrous