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To inculcate the dignity of all honest labour, the Talmud relates the following story: Simon, a scavenger (the lowest occupation apparently in the social scale), told the celebrated Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakki, the Lord Bacon of his day, “I am as great as you are, and accomplish as much.” “How so?'' “You make public offices your business, and my labours also are devoted to public benefit; for I clean pits and cisterns, that you may have your wells clean, for baptisms and drinking.” “Truly you are right,” said the Rabbi. Hence the greatest Jewish Rabbis learnt a craft, and laboured with their own hands.*
WORK, AND ITS DERIVATIVES.
The transition was easy and natural from study, to art as one of the highest results of study; and we pass no less naturally from art to work in general, which is represented by the Greek Epyov, the Latin Opus, and the Hebrew word Melachah, amongst the various meanings of which words are to be found many curious and instructive differences. Greek. Latin. Hebrew.
Labour, &c., but no-
Primarily ministry, thing implying pain. Toil, task, diffi- Labour, pains, Service on which one The other noticeable culty, Business,
terms are “embroi. Agriculture, Act or deed, but Work, labour, busi- dery," as if it were Exploit, no reference to
ness; but nothing "work" par excellence. Crime, "crime,”
like pains or toil, Anything upon which Need,
Fortification, implying that work one is engaged —e.g.
Necessary, is grievous; or like In rising she dropped Plural:-Acquire
crime or sorrow, her work.—Johnson's
ance : scornful term for pretension, boasting; e.g.“ What a piece of work he makes about it;” say his almsgiving, his family descent, or the occupation on which
he is engaged. * See Dr. Ginsburg's Art. Labour, in Kitto's Cyc. Bib. Lit., new edition.
The most noticeable feature of the varied meanings for the Greek word, is the association of exploit, as a special form of work, with crime as its companion, which is so constantly illustrated in the history of the Greek internal dissensions and wars; and the further remarkable association of acquirements and sorrows, as the result of work. To the reader of Greek history or biography, illustrations of this connection will be familiar; for many instances will occur to his recollection, in which the elevation gained by great men, in consequence of works done for the good of the State, was the very cause of their subsequent sorrow and ruin, arising from the democratic impatience of individual superiority. But it would be difficult to find an illustration more concise and general than what is supplied by Plutarch, in his life of Alcibiades.
On one occasion popular jealousy was roused, and there was a project' of banishing him from Athens. By a clever manoeuvre, however, he caused the vote of expulsion to fall upon a low buffoon, named Hyperbolus, instead of himself: upon which Plutarch makes the following comment; -“This sentence of ten years' banishment, called ostracism, was made use of to humiliate, and drive out of the city, such citizens as at any time outdid the rest in credit and power; indulging, not so much perhaps their apprehensions as their jealousies in this way, for no mean or obscure person had ever fallen under the punishment; so that the comic poet, speaking of Hyperbolus, might well say,
The man deserved the fate; deny 't who can.
In the Roman history we have examples of banishment, and rasing of great men's houses; but in these cases, it was not simple jealousy, but fear, and a real or virtual judicial sentence, which decreed the punishment. Macaulay has embodied the Roman feeling, with reference to its great or powerful citizens, in his lay of Virginia, where he makes the excited populace, even whilst stoning Appius Claudius to death, recount the services rendered to the State by the very families, whose names they are recalling with somewhat of hatred for the characteristics associated with them.
Though the great houses love us not, we own, to do them right,
live in our camp-fire songs. Beneath the yoke of Furius oft have Gaul and Tuscan bowed, And Rome may view the pride of him of whom herself is proud. A Cossus, like a wild cat, springs ever at the face, A Fabius rushes, like a boar, against the shouting chase."
In the Roman mind, the idea of work has a higher and more honourable place than we can discern in that of Greece; for whilst the Latin dictionary agrees with the Greek in adding toil and difficulty to the meanings of work, it differs from it in associating also the senses of earnestness and benefit, which we do not find amongst the Greek meanings. Thus “Omni opere," "with all your heart,” will be sought for in vain, as a derivative phrase from “epyov ;” and whilst the Greek, as well as the Roman, has “duty" as an adjunct of “work,” the Roman adds “expedient,” as well as necessary, as if whatever was a duty was also beneficial; which is not found amongst the Greek senses. “Compulsion," "force,"
distress," "affliction," are the meanings of the Greek avayan, “necessity;" but we find nothing noble or beneficial associated with them; whilst its Latin representative, necessitas, in addition to "necessity, or fate," means also "constraint from a bond of relationship, or tie of friendship,” and also the characteristic Roman idea of duty to the State, “office," “duty," "service."
The Hebrew idea of Work has been sufficiently dwelt upon in the previous section on “Art;" it will be sufficient to point out that “duty," "service on which one is sent," is the foundation of the Jewish idea of work, and there is nothing in the Hebrew meanings of the word, like pain or toil, or anything that implies that work is grievous, or associated with crime.
Our own dictionary exhibits some curious differences when compared with the others; for whilst "agriculture" and "military operations” are the forms of work specially signified by opus and epyov, embroidery or needlework is described as work par excellence, in our own dictionary. War and tillage were the two grand occupations of the Greek and Roman man; whilst the woman was too generally a toy or a slave, legally or practically, in both these nations. But amongst ourselves, the German and Christian characteristic of reverence for woman is reflected in our dictionary; and the embroidery, for which our Saxon ancestors were noted, and its representative needlework in the present day, are honoured with the special title of work; a word, which of itself would not call before the English mind the idea of fortification, or even of agriculture, unless accompanied by some such prefix as rural, or military.
The English dictionary would lead us to attribute earnestness to the manner in which everything is done, however trivial it may be in itself; for the quotation already introduced, “In rising she dropped her work,” seems to imply that, “whatever our hands find to do, we do it with our might," and therefore worthily bestow upon it the title of work. The English mind recognises the dignity of work so fully, that it is impatient at hearing this honourable title claimed for what is unworthy of it; and therefore, whilst it bestows the name upon everything, however small, which is a legitimate occupation, it resents its application to what does not deserve it, and, as our quotation shows, it converts the word into an epithet of scorn when it is assumed by mere pretension or fuss.
The national differences exhibited in the various meanings of this word are scarcely less curious than those already reviewed.
To rejoice in or be glad, but
not to rejoice with.
Is no form of salutation.
Good luck to you. The Greek was an impulsive, sociable fellow, somewhat like the Irishman of the present day, always ready for either a fight or a feast; and when he was in good spirits himself, he could not help saying “Good luck” also to his neighbour ; but the Roman had no idea of general sociability. He would be magnanimous when his foe had fairly given in, and would allow him to rejoice if he liked under his own vine or figtree, provided it was of Roman planting ; but he had no notion of offering spontaneously the privileges and matters for rejoicing, which his inherent Roman selfishness made him only yield for their full price in some form or other.
The Hebrew words for rejoice are very numerous, and they also imply,—what is not found in either the Greek or Roman words, — laughter, smiling, dancing, and other outward manifestations of joy; for the Jews were a joyous race, and their festivals formed a large portion of their yearly life. Even in the present day, where they are sufficiently numerous to constitute a society, or an approach to a nation, they retain this characteristic; and the Jew, however subdued in his manifestations before strangers, does not conceal or keep down the joyous expressions of his feelings when amongst his own people. Causing others to be glad as well as himself is likewise an essential form of all the Hebrew words for rejoice.