صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

stamp and many others, their predecessors, of great and varied learning, is not less in the matter than the manner of their inquiry: instead of running into every corner of the earth like the ethnologists, and scribbling down in a hurry incorrect vocabularies of a hundred different tongues, they have applied themselves patiently to the investigation of a single family of languages, or even of a single language, and the result is, that we know more concerning the inward and outward relations of those languages, than all the centuries, which have passed over the world since Cadmus, dreamt of. We know the laws by which those languages are bound, as to themselves, and as to the families of which they form a part; and what is perhaps of more importance still, we have an insight into the system which we must pursue when we wish to extend the circle of our inquiries, and to embrace a larger field of action. It is but just to say, that certain fortunate circumstances have aided us; we have, in consequence of many new discoveries, materials to work upon which our fathers had not; perhaps we owe the completeness of Grimm's “Deutsche Grammatik” to Graff's happy discovery of the old High Dutch glosses in Paris. The connection of the various Teutonic tongues, which that mighty work so clearly lays open, with all the principles and bidden laws that rule it, has long been felt, though indistinctly: hence Minsheu and the compilers of our earliest word-books have referred frequently to the dialects of Germany for explanations of words occurring in our own, though.obviously with great reluctance, if the word could, by any straining of letters, be referred to a Hebrew, Greek, or even Latin original. The Saxon scholars of the last century fully recognized that connection, and failed not to make use of the helps which it held out to them. On the other hand, those who had studied the Eastern languages had been struck with the multitude of words which they found there, resembling in form and meaning others which they were well used to, not only in Greek and Latin, but in German also. The inquiry was pursued; bistory, tradition, national customs, were all carefully investigated, and the conclusion which was at last forced, even upon the most reluctant, was, that so close an intimacy subsisted between these various peoples, as could only be explained by the hypothesis of their having had a common origin, perhaps even at one time a common dwelling-place. The time, the manner, and the causes, of their separation, were differently stated, according as each man differed in his interpretation of the meagre notices which ancient history has left us respecting our ancestors, but all agreed that Sanskrit or Saxon, Greek or Roman, we formed, in fact, but one widely extended and widely conquering tribe; a

conclusion which a little startled that miserable race of scoffers who see in the earliest record of mankind a mere collection of old wives' fables. It may be added, that our notices of other languages than those belonging to this tribe, gave us reason to believe that no such connection existed between ourselves and other tribes, scattered over the continents and islands of the globe.* The identity of the languages, called from this observed community between two distant peoples, Indo-Teutonic, having been thus settled,t it remained to show what variations the genius of each people had introduced; and when this detailed inquiry shall be completed, the whole subject will have been exhausted. It is not to be expected that any one man will yet be found competent to undertake the whole of this vast labour; nor is it indeed desirable: but the task is eminently capable of being broken up into various divisions, with each one of which a single student may easily grapple; and as they must all labour to one end, and with one aim, much is fairly to be looked for at their hands. The work of Professor Jakel is such a one: though not quite fair in its title, (for though Teutonic, the Latin language need not be German,) it is a learned and generally satisfactory inquiry. We shall give some account of his theory, and of his manner of treating the subject; correcting him as we see cause, by the aid of his learned German brethren, and furnishing to those who are engaged in this most captivating study, a few principal rules for the conducting of etymological researches, which, as we hope, will be found to place it in a new and interesting point of view.

The general outline of the Professor's argument, as contained in the introductory pages of bis book, is as follows. Similarity of speech is evidence of an intimate connection between two peoples. If the resemblance be found in words which denote parts of the body, the first relations of society, the first wants, regulations, and generally clements of life, it argues a connection of race. (Call these sort of words Class I.) If the similarity be found in words referring to art, science, religion, and the objects of instructed life, (Class II.) we are led to assume a less intimate connection, and an influence later in point of time; for the only possible cases in which such a similarity of words can

The entire discrepancy of the languages (for they are many) spoken in the interior of South America, was noticed by Professor Martius, of Munich, to the writer of this article; in everything they differed from ours, and most remarkably from one another.

+ The very learned work of Col. Vans Kennedy “ On the Origin and Affinity of the Principal Languages of Asia and Europe,” besides a most ingenious theory to account for their identity, contains long lists of words which are common to the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and German languages: he has given upwards of 900 such words, and, had he chosen it, might have given more.

be met with are three. 1. Original unity of race. 2. Conquest of one people by the other. S. Intimate spiritual communion in matters of art, science and the like. From the greater or less resemblance between two languages in the manner of composition, declension, derivation and syntax, the original affinity, the earlier or later influence are also to be judged of. It will sometimes happen that, from the addition or omission of letters, from the peculiar mode of accentuatiou adopted by one people, the words common to two languages cannot be at once detected. It even becomes doubtful to which of the two the word really belongs : if however in one we find the original and as it were ground-sense of the word, while in the other we have only isolated and derivative instances, we shall have no scruple in assigning the word to the former.

A very great similarity does appear between many words in Latin and German, and in words of both classes: for instance, in Class I, the words pater, vater; frater, bruder; nasus, nase; auris, ohr; habeo, haben; velle, wollen ; esse, essen, and the like; and in Class II. propositus, probst; prædicator, prediger; monasterium, münster; mile, meile; all of which latter words appear late in the, German language, while those of Class I. could not have been introduced by the Romans. There are but three ways of accounting for this resemblance:

A. Original unity of language.
B. Passage of the words from Latin into Germany.

C. Passage of the words from German into Italy. With respect to the first supposition he saysEven if we concede that there was an original language common to all the peoples of the Caucasian stock, which is pointed out to us by the connection of many families of words, and declensions of words in those languages which are spread abroad from the Atlantic to the Indian ocean, and that the influence of the Sanskrit is visible in them all; yet can we not deny that often the languages of near-neighbouring peoples, yea even of such as live intermingled one with another (as for instance, German and Sclavonic) bave but little in common, whence a very early separation of these stems must be assumed; wbile, on the other hand, the languages of other, perhaps widely separated peoples, stand much nearer to one another. Consequently there still remains the inquiry, which of the individual connected languages is the older, and which, in a natural manner, can be easiest derived from the other ? History supersedes the inquiry whether the English is derived from the German or the German from the English.* But how stands the case with the similarity between the Latin and German, of which history says nothing at all ?”

* If Professor Jäkel means the modern English, we say that it is derived from the Anglo-Saxon, and not from the German; if lie means the Anglo-Saxon, we deny bis

case,

B.-If the Latin words were adopted into the German language, it must either have been during the wars of the two nations, or at a period previous to all history. If the Germans had no names for the parts of the body, and the rest of Class I. till the time of Julius Cæsar, they must have been the rudest people of the world, scarcely more exalted than the beasts of the field; but this, history itself gives the lie to. Or, the old language must have been eliminated by the Romans, which, from their transitory rule in Germany, is in the highest degree improbable. Moreover, if this had been the case, we should have had synonymes for Class I., which is of all others the exact set of words wherein fewest synonymes are found. How, besides in this would these Latin words have got among the Saxons and Scandinavians, and into lands where Romish foot never trod, many of these words being even unknown in German itself? Was it then in a pre-historic time that the Romans wandered into these lands? If so, their own language was then itself unformed, for it is no original tongue, but, like the people that used it, a mixture and flowing together of foreign materials. Besides, wherefore should that people, having abundant room at home, wander from the wild and fruitful Italy to the rude rough climate of the north? Are we too to believe, since a multitude of these words are also found in Persian and Sanskrit, that they first strayed from the Latins to the Germans, and from these to the inhabitants of Persia and India? “ 'This would be no less than to turn backward the whole progress of people-wanderings, and to cry shame at once upon nature, and all the traditions of history."

C. It therefore only remains that we adopt the third supposition, and attribute the observed similarity to this, that the Germans gave these words to the Latin language. “ And to this no important objection can be made ; for the German is no mixed tongue but a primal one of great individuality, distinguished by its manner of laying the tone upon the root syllable, by its declensions, compoundings, and syntax; the tongue of a numerous people, from whom the inhabitants of most other European Jands descend, who never long beheld a conqueror within their boundaries, and who, in spite of the many smaller tribes which dwell within them, preserved this spiritual element so faithfully, that the great British philologist Murray*

proposition. The Anglo-Saxon is as old a language as the Old High Dutch, (of the eighth or ninth centuries, co-existent with it, but not at all derived from it; probably indeed older than it, for its forms are, as hereafter will be seen, much nearer to the Gothic. Jäkel is unfortunately capricious in his use of the word Deutsch (German); sometimes he means Indo-Teutonic by it, sometimes he means merely one dialect of that great stem, viz. the Old High Dutch. Most of what we shall have to condenu in his book rests upon his not having sufficiently kept in mind the distinction between sister languages, and languages born of one another.

+ These are the words of the author, not of his reviewer, who holds Murray in no such light.

says, he knows no purer language than the German, of all those which are spoken from the Indian to the Atlantic Oceans. Why then should wealth go beyging to beggary? Our forms are the purest, the fullest, and bave maintained themselves; while the Southerns, either out of a striving after euphony to which they have sacrificed clearness, or from some motive of convenience, have theirs dulled and imperfect."—p. 7. Is it now probable that the purer, fuller language was derived from the mixed and impure, or vice versa? History and the science of the world speak for the latter supposition.

We may then assume, that very early, perhaps 2000 years before our era, German tribes burst out of Asia and wandered westward : that having then remained some time to the north of the Danube, and become over-populous, a portion of them went to the north, another portion southward, while a third remained behind: the northen portion probably went to Sweden, over the Danish islands, while the southerns crossed the Danube and the Alps, and there took and retained possession of Italy—History certainly says nothing of all this,” (p. 9) but history says just as little of the peopling of Scandinavia by German peoples, and yet no one dreams of denying this. Why too, when we know that Britain, Gaul and Spain were so peopled, should we make an exception in favour of Italy, which lies so directly in the road? The silence of the Roman historians upon this point proves nothing one way or the other; their old traditions were lost,* and as when they began to write history they were corrupted by Grecian influence, they looked in every thing for a Grecian origin; moreover they knew absolutely nothing of the northern nations. Yet even the Greek authors had a glimmering tradition that they came from the Land of Oaks.t

τηλόθι δ' ισχε δρυός πέλεκυν, κοκύαι γάρ έλεξαν

αμιν, ως πρότεραι ματέρες εντί δρύες. We know that the Greek colonists who came to Italy found a race of men there, the Aberrigines, or Aborigines, whom they called Autochthones, but others (see Dionys. x. 5,) Genarchai, i.e, origins of the race. Festus says, these men were called Aborigines, “ qudd errantes convenerint in agrum, qui nunc est populi Romani, fuit enim gens antiquissima Italiæ.” We see, therefore, that even the ancients looked upon these people as men who had wandered from the head stem of their race. Keltie and Iberian stems were also known to have early peopled Italy; but it must not be forgotten that the name Kelt was as common among the Romans as Scythian was among the Greeks, and

* No thanks by the way, for that, to ourselves, if the tale of us be true!

+ The name of Germany. Sonst hiess es nur das Land der Eichen!” Körner's " Leger und Schwert,” p. 23.

« السابقةمتابعة »