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The English dictionary exhibits the double meaning of rejoicing ourselves, and making others joyous also; for the verb is both active and intransitive in our language.
The last word which will be commented upon in detail is Victory; in the meanings of which the English dictionary exhibits a feature which, compared with the others, may furnish material for thought.
Greek. Νικη (probably
from νη εικω, ,
not to yield), Conquest, Victory.
vinco, to con
English. Victory, Triumph over
As a nation we appear to shew less signs than the heathen, and still less than the Jews, of believing, in our heart of hearts, that the fate of a battle is decided by an overruling Providence, however much we may consider it the proper thing to say so in our formal thanksgivings for victory. The Romans had but one word for the result, and the goddess by whose aid it was brought about; and although the Greek dictionary does not bring this strongly into light, the idea was deeply grafted in the Greek mind. It is interesting to notice how Plutarch again and again falls back upon this theme, in his life of one of his most favourite characters Timoleon. Some God or other, it might seem, accompanied all his following actions, as though it were on purpose to add grace and ornament to his personal virtues.
“ Others, letting their attention turn rather to the changes and revolutions of this life, could not but see in them a proof of the strength and potency with which divine and unseen causes operate amidst the weakness of human and visible things."
“ And this that the city came to be taken by storm, &c.] we must in justice ascribe to the valour of the assailants, and the conduct of their general; but that not so much as a man of the Corinthians was either slain or wounded in the action, this the good Fortune of Timoleon seems to challenge for her own work; as though, in a sort of rivalry with his own personal exertions, she made it her aim to exceed and obscure his actions by her favours; so that those who heard him commended for his noble deeds might rather admire the happiness than the merit of them.” And-omitting many others in a like strain—we may conclude by what is almost his own concluding sentence: “The noble and glorious achievements of Timoleon compel our unbiassed judgment to pronounce them the work, not indeed of Fortune, but of fortunate merit; though he himself ascribed his successes to the sole favour of Fortune, and, both in his private letters and public speeches, would say that he was thankful to God, who, designing to save Sicily, was pleased to honour him with the name of its deliverance.
In the Hebrew National Songs the characteristics of their word for victory are strikingly apparent:
“ They got not the land in possession through their own sword, neîther did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.”
“I will not trust in my bow; neither shall my sword save me; but thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us."
Self depreciation is here the first thought of the victorious Jews-salvation, or deliverance, is the second ; and when we do meet with a song of triumph, it is not in the Rule Britannia strain, but it is the Lord Jehovah who has triumphed gloriously.
“I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously : the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy."
And Miriam, with her chorus of women, takes up the strain :
“Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
If this view of victory had been habitual to the English mind also, the celebrated order of Cromwell, “Say your prayers, and keep your powder dry," would never have become celebrated, or inscribed to him alone; for it would have been the standing rule of the army, and Cromwell would have no more monopolised the credit of it, than Moses or David of such songs as those just quoted.
The foregoing words are but a few of those which have proved fertile in interest during their examination ; but if they should serve to point out an additional source of pleasure to others, in the study of what is sometimes thought to be a dry book-viz., a National Dictionary--they will have accomplished their object.
TENTH ORDINARY MEETING,
ROYAL INSTITUTION, March 6th, 1865.
J. A. PICTON, Esq., F.S.A., PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
The Rev. E. Hassan and Mr. John Hey, M.R.C.S., were balloted for, and duly elected members.
Mr. T. J. Moore exhibited two specimens of the Japanese Glass Coral (Hyalonema Sieboldi of Gray), lately added to the Derby Museum. Mr. Moore also drew attention to a statement which has been lately published in a Manchester paper, and thence been copied in Liverpool papers and in the Times. It related to a fraud stated to have been practised by some excavators at the Macclesfield New Cemetery, by foisting cleverly manipulated recent shells upon collectors as genuine fossils, and contained a statement by one of the workmen, “ that they had deceived the museums of London, Manchester, and Liverpool," —a statement probably without any foundation whatever. Mr. Plant had exposed the imposition at Manchester, and no specimens whatever of the kind referred to had found their way to the Derby Museum or, as he was requested to say by Mr. Turner, to that of the Royal Institution. The statement rested solely on the authority of one of the workmen, and those who would not stick at a fraud would scarcely adhere to the truth relating to it. Such an assertion would not readily receive credence among geologists, but might be supposed by others to have some foundation; hence it became desirable to give it a full and direct contradiction.
Mr. Nisbet exhibited some cones of Banksia from New Holland.
Dr. Edwards called the attention of the society to the figures produced by grains of sand upon vibrating plates; and also to some remarkable experiments with upright wires, which formed definite figures at their vibrating extremities, under the influence of special notes.
Dr. Collingwood, in illustration of the subject, referred to some recent discoveries of the auditory hairs of Crustacea, which supplemented over various parts of the body the special apparatus of the ear. These hairs were in organic connexion with nervous filaments, and were shown to vibrate only under the influence of special notes.
Mr. Gray made some remarks in reference to some criticisms upon his paper on the Arithmetic of Building Societies.
A paper was then read of which the following is an abstract: