Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

different cabinets of Germany. This engaged | tions, as of individuals, must be to assure the him till day-break; presently, some one means of existence by internal exertion and knocked violently at the door of the house; increase of the necessaries of life ; and thus it is opened ; and in comes Monsieur * * * * ambassador from one of the German courts, progressively to concentrate such a mass of who, absent from Bern since the day before, provision and its resources, of wealth, and of had returned in haste, and presented himself numbers, at home, as to render its commerto his colleague to ask him the details of an cial, and next, its political relations with oth. event which was in every body's mouth. er powers an object of national interest What was the astonishment of his German abroad. - The rapid progression of domes. excellency, on entering Monsieur de Talley tic colonization and agriculture, the ceaseless rand's closet, to see him dressed as a miller. development of manufacturing and trading As the carnaval had long been over, he activity, and the eager spirit of enterprise thought that this diguise was the effect of a too early apprehension.

and speculation thus generated and borne “This anecdote ran through the whole city, with avidity into foreign lands, have secured and since that time Monsieur de Talleyrand for America a broad basis of stability at was never designated by any other title than home, and a weight and consideration of the ambassador-miller.".- vol. iv. p. 96. amongst ihe ancient states of thc eastern

hemisphere totally unparalleled in the histo. The style of these volumes is slight, and

ry they are serviceable chiefly, as already ob. and rational pride her actual growth and ex

of the world. But, comparing with honest served by us, in displaying the general ami- traordinary development of resources, the ability of Madame Hortense, and the system American nation appears in some measure of scandal so active and widely ramified to have overlooked the fact that growth and through French society, where every report, maturity were necessarily successive: and however obviously impossible, obtains ample that in the physical as well as political world belief throughout its day. The details we the activity of the limbs impedes to a cerhave quoted assist our impressions, and give tain degree, though it cannot altogether prefair, though slight and incidental lights into vent, the loftier efforts of the mind; and characters for whom once all the world therefore, that the highest class of intellectu. was a stage.

al exertion, requiring the absorption and concentration of all the mental faculiies for its own object and purposes, though likely to need an occasional stimulus from physical motion, was yet incompatible with a gener. al system of movement.

While foreign na ART. JII. A Dissertation on the Nature tions therefore, and England in particular,

and Character of the Chinese System of supplied the staple of American literature, Writing, by Peter L. Du Ponceau, LL. the latter claiming, and with justice, the earD. : to which are subjoined a Vocabulary lier triumphs of British achievements as, of the Cochinchinese Language, by Fa- equally with ours, her just inheritance of ther Joseph Morrone, Roman Catholic fame, yearned also for intellectual distinc. Missionary at Saigon; with References to tions of her own; and felt and resented Plates, and Notes showing the Affinity of with a national and pardonable prejudice the the Chinese and Cochinchine.se Lan. apparent injustice when her writers in a guages, foca, by M. de la Palun : and, a common language were not admitted to the Cochinchinese and Latin Dictionary, in full participation of modern British literary use among the Roman Catholic Missions glories. in Cochinchina. 8vo. Philadelphia, On the other hand, the rapid and eager 1838.

development in America of energies and re.

sources already alluded to as unparalleled The short existence of the United States in the pages of history, created in the older of North America as an independent na. world, and most of all in Great Britain, a tion, and the fact of that existence having feeling of jealousy on some points, and a been engendered in a high state of civilization, tendency to disparagement on all. England has naturally led, on the part of the Ameri- could not behold the successful rivalry in can nation itself, as on that of its contempo. commerce of her own political offspring raries in Europe, to a considerable degree of without an indefinite sense of doubt for the invidious comparison. The newly.formed future, and of mortification at the remem. people, conscious of individual intellect and brance of a portion of the past. She was civilization on the one hand, and of collective therefore no way disposed to grant to her energy on the other, have been but too prone forward child a single concession that could to forget that the first aim and business of na- be fairly withheld from her; and to the

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

claim for literary distinctions she replied, as has produced union where only discord exLeonidas to the Persians' demand for arms isted, lulled the clash of arms by the deep —“Come and take them." Equally in breathings of the lyre, converted hostile rieither case the first assumptions of an untried valry into generous emulation, soothed jarpower conld expect no other answer. ring interests into consentaneous intercourse,

But with nations as with individuals, a brought countries that the ocean separated to state of mutual distrust and irritation is less rejoice and hail openly a facilitated commuoften the result of malevolence than of mu. nion, and even led the sterling sense of the tual ignorance. A freer intercommunication great American nation to reprobate the wild is re-knitting the ties which war and jea- outbreak of their borderers against their lousies had broken asunder; and perhaps peaceful sister. To the just and impartial in the political as in the human frame, the tone so nobly assumed by the best periodiunion of the severed parts, if not carried on cals of America in the late unfortunate through precisely the same channels as be- events, a tone in which her literature pre. fore, may yet be confirmed and maintained scribed :ind echoed abroad the real honesty, by an increase of vessels at each point, mul- honour, and interest of the nation, we may tiplying simultaneously on both sides, and firmly attribute the discouragement shown sympathetically and instinctively seeking by the government at Washington to lawand uniting with each other. The name less outrage, and the continuance of peace, and fame of Washington Irving in Great so jeopardized by those acts.

5 The wea: Britain were tangibie evidences to the United pons of war, we will trust, have perished;" States that no mean jealousy of her literary and Jonathan must claim from us hence. powers depreciated the merit of her writers forth the remembered “ pleasantoess" of a amongst the English. The author iu ques. brother. tion, it is true, won golden opinions from It is with these feelings we open the volourselves by his eager and almost sacred ume before us, in a spirit of frank and veneration of this his ancestral land; but in friendly criticism; the more so as being the all cases of irritation a generous concession first work of this nature which it has fallen on one side produces corresponding conces- to our lot to review, and the candid and sion on the other; and our “nation of shop. moderate tone of the writer invite us to a keepers" rendered the truth mathematically discussion, for the purpose of ultimate union demonstrable to their brethren of the rather than difference. Though we must stores” by the irrefragable evidence of hos- confess ourselves to differ widely from the pitality and money: The heads of houses author on many points

, and more particuvied with each other in their welcome to larly on the first of his tivo propositions, we the stranger: the peers opened to him their trust to be able to express, with our dissent, doors; the booksellers their purses; and all our high opinion of that independence

of was triumph and gratulation, from Mel. judgment, which spurns following a tract bourn to Murray

merely because it is usual, and assumes for If of all literature the wings of imagina- itself a course of inquiry which is certainly tion were foremost in crossing the broad open to all. In England, we are aware, it Atlantic, the praise which has since attended is but too much the fashion to hold certain the names of Bryant, and Percival, Brown, opinions on oriental language and history Cooper, and Willis, has had its consequent. as so many articles of faith, and the more so ly due effect in the west. The theological when all known facts militate the most labours of Dwight and Channing, the sci- strongly against them. Herein, it is true, ence of Silliman and a host of fellowv-labour. consists the merit of such faith, but the ers, following in the same train of distinc- credo quia impossibile est, is the favourite tion, have strengthened the cordialities of dogma of the philological Catholic; and all brotherhood in birth and pursuits ; and the who gainsay that doctrine, upon whatever learned labours of Doctor Du 'Ponceau grounds, are guilty of the sin ihat shall uot evince how frank and honest is the literary be forgiven unto men. feeling subsisting between the two countries. Doctor Du Ponceau's work is put forEvery page of the volume before us bears ward to maintain these two propositions: evidence for the author of the sympathy he 1. That the Chinese characters primarily entertains, and justly expects from us in re- represent words; and not ideas, as is gene. turn, for all that refers to the advancement rally asserted. of knowledge. Were there no other, this And he deduces from this as an absolute in itselt would be the proudest of triumphs corollary-so at least we consider his argu. for literature ; that by acting on the common ment-springs of feeling, and searching out the 2dly. That other nations cannot, as is sommon sources of our best emotions, it lasserted, employ or understand the Chinese

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

-p.ix.

character, independent of the Chinese lan-phors instead of plain intelligible language, guage, for a system of pasigraphy, or uni- and by looking beyond nature for the exversal writing

planation of her most simple operations." To the first of these propositions we must distinctly demur.

The remark concerning China seems a To the second we reply, that it is a question favourite with the learned Doctor, for he of fact, not of argument; requiring, as the subsequently quotes it a second time (p. 16) learned author renders evident, very distinct with a similar expression of concurrence; proofs to maintain it.

yet it can scarcely be just and true, we sub. But we hold that, whichever way the fact mit, since India and Egypt have both of them may lie, the second proposition has no con. puzzled the learned world as much, if not nection with the first.

more, than the Chinese language-nor can The station held by Doctor Du Ponceau we discover the slightest evidence throughas President of the American Philosophical out the volume, of metaphors substituting Society, of the Historical Society of Penn- plain language by way of cause, or of any sylvania, and of the Philadelphian Athe one " looking beyond nature” for it. næum, &c., entitle his opinions to careful Doctor Du Ponceau proceeds to say, consideration. But in our quality of Re

" The learned writer above cited does viewers, looking less at persons than things, we are bound to say, that the arrangement the Chinese language. If he meant the

not tell us what he means by the words of his book appears to us defective; that spoken idiom (as it is affected to be called,) there is a want of the first principle of logic, there does not appear any difficulty or definition ; that assertion, however frequent- cause of embarrassment. The Chinese ly made and dexterously managed, requires language, (properly so called) is a simple the aid of argument and proof; and that from idiom, and peculiarly the Kou-wen, or anthe vocabularies, furnished by the volume, cient language, essentially elliptical; its the author ought to have drawn particular chiefly consists in the juxtaposition of those

words are monosyllabic, and its syntax il!ustrations of his argument.

words, aided by a certain number of partiIn the course of our inquiry we shall cles, which stand in the place of our gramcome to the remainder of the obj.ctions, and matical forms and inflexions. A great therefore only the first needs notice here. number of those words are homophonous, The question is opened and discussed in an but they are distinguished by accents and Introduction of thirty-two pages, which, it tones; and, upon the whole, the peoappears, was written last; then follows the ple who speak this language find no difbody of the work, consisting of 102 pages, perhaps more elliptical than any other ;

ficulty in understanding each other. It is and going over, of course, the same line of more is understood by it than is actually argument which appears for the third time expressed; but no difficulty arises from as A. in the Appendix, and is condensed it. Ideas and perceptions are awakened there into a letter of fourteen pages addressed by the Chinese monosyllables, as well as to Captain Basil Hall. These successive by those grammatical forms which may discharges may be extremely serviceable in be called the lu.xury of our idioms. the way of platoon firing; but we doubt the philologists of Europe. But if, by the

“Here, then, is nothing that can puzzle whether any American tactitian would make Chinese language, the learned author this main battle against so formidably meant the written characters, (and in that trained a host as the Chinese scholars whom sense only I can understand him, he says the Doctor so gallantly assails: he should what is unfortunately too true ; and by the bear in mind that this is not a mere ques use which he makes of the word language, tion of bush-fighting at Saratoga, but that he shows that he has not yet discovered his adversaries are the learned of all Europe he very properly notices, and which must

the true cause of the embarrassment which and China itself, whom he attacks upon strike every one who has attended to the their own ground, confessing himself igno- subject. rant of the locality.

« The Chinese characters do not, more We must differ from our author in the than any other graphic system, constitute first sentence of the Introduction.

a languuge in the proper sense of the word.

Metaphorically, indeed, they may be so “ It is a just and true remark of the Rev. called, and so may the groups formed by M. Gutzlaff, that 'nothing has so much the letters of our alphabets. We do not puzzled the learned world in Europe as the read by letters; we read by groups of Chinese language.' We need not go very those little signs, representing words and far to find out the cause of this embarrass- sentences. No one, who is not in his A B C, ment. It is produced, like many other dif- will spell a word when he reads, or even ficulties that occur in almost every science, think of the sounds of its component fig. by the abuse of words, by the use of meta- ures. This is so true, that there are words,

23

VOL. XXI.

such as the word awe, in which not a single use of the same characters. How far this is one of the sounds attached to the three founded in truth, the subjoined vocabularies letters that compose it is heard when it is of the Cochinchinese language, which emread. In the word ought, none is heard but ploys in its writing the Chinese characters, that of the letter t. Our eye catches the will, I think, sufficiently show. However it group, and our mind the sound and sense may be, it will not affect the principles on of the written word, all at the same mo- which I intend to demonstrate that the Chiment; it does not stop to take notice of nese graphic system is founded ; nor will it each letter; the physical and mental pro- in the least support its preteniled extraordincesses are performed at the same instant, ary, and I might say, almost miraculous prowith the rapidity of thought, which is ex- perties. ceeded by nothing that we can form an "I endeavour to prove, by the following idea of. These groups, therefore, might dissertation, that the Chinese characters realso receive the name of ideographic signs present the words of the Chinese language, or characters, and their aggregate and va- and ideas only through them. The letters of rious combinations might be called a writ- our alphabet separately represent sounds to ten language. But every one will under- which no meaning is aitached, and are there. stand that this word, so applied, would be fore only the elements of our graphic system; only metaphorical.”—pp. ix. X.

but, when combined together in groups, they We shall pause here to remark, that is represent the words of our languages, and

those words represent or recall ideas to the we do not read by letters, we read by the mind of the reader. I contend that the Chisounds they recall. By these sounds we nese characters, though formed of different do not mean the names we give to these elements, do no more, and that they repreletters; but though letters when grouped sent ideas no otherwise than as connected are sometimes modified in sound as regards with the words in which language has clothed each other—and this is all the Doctor's ar- them, and therefore that they are connected gument can fairly reach—do they therefore alphabet separately taken, but as the groups

with sounds; not indeed as the letters of our lose their essential nature in the group?- formed by them when joined together in the How can we judge of the whole group with form of words.”—pp. xi. xii. out its parts? not separate, certainly, but in combination. What is the whole but the In opposition to this we must assert, that sum of components? And can this sum, or the Chinese characters do represent differ. combination of parts, exist without them? ently from ours; for they are arbitrary and What is awe, but the short a or wh (one of convey their object, not the name of it, 10 the sounds of u in English;) the w, (, u,) the mind; and this without direct reference prolonged by the final e? the three letters, to its sound: whereas our alphabetic forms or elementary sounds, collapsing into one always refer primarily to sound. complex sound, or word, so received and Doctor Du Ponceau seems much embarrecognized for the purpose of speech.

rassed by the want of a term familiar enough, "To apply these principles to the Chinese we should have imagined, in England, to system of writing is the object of the follow- render it so in America likewise ; ing dissertation. All those, I believe, (imay syllabary, or table of syllables, as distinct say almost without exception,*) who have from an alphabet, or table of lellers. written on the subject, have represented the All savage nations began with picture writing of the Chinese as a separate, inde. writings, says Doctor Dů Ponceau; "the pendent language, unconnected with the original forms of a number of their charac

ounds of the human voice, and consequently ters show that the Chinese began in the with speech; a language acting vi propria,

same manner." We would refer the Docand presenting ideas to the mind directly through the eye, without passing through the lor to the oldest specimen extant, as given mental ear, in which it is said to differ from by Hager, from an ancient sculptured rock, our alphabetical system. Hence it has been wherein but two characters bear any resemcalled ideographic, and the language prop- blance to actual form, and these are of sererly so called, the oral language, is repre-pents. We would remark to our readers, sented as nothing more than the pronuncia- that one of these bears the serpent form in tion of that which has usurped its name and combination with a smaller sign; which its place.

“In proof of these assertions, it is said that combination is precisely the form signifying the Chinese writing is read and understood hostility amongst the Nabatheans, by nations who cannot speak or understand serpent alone signified with them guile of one word of the spoken idiom, but who make a rtifice.

The Chinese in general, tve are aware, "Dr. Morrison is the writer who has said refer to the same origin, and they are, pose the least upon the subject. He has been more sibly, right, judging by analogy: but the not, however, contradict the opinion that is gen-inscription referred to; the Chinese tale of erally received."

characters drawn from the tortoise's shell,

we mean

as the

in part

from the foot-prints of animals, and from ideas, it only represents words, by means of constellations; the absence of the original the combination of other words, and therepictorial system in that kingdom; and the fore I have called it lexigraphy.”—pp. xiii.

xiv, fact we instanced in a previous number, of distinguishing the genders by perfect and

After noticing the three first classes of imperfect lines, all seem to point to an op. characters, our author repeats his previous posite conclusion from Doctor Du Pon- assertiou, ceau's, and justify the general opinion, (which was also that of De Pauw,) that the “ It has been seen that the first has long two systems are radically distinct. Our be?n entirely out of use, and is now superauthor is perhaps right; but how can he seded by arbitrary signs, which have no con take upon himself to afirm positively that nection with ideas, except by recalling to the their primary signs were

mind the words by which the ideas are ex" the

pressed."--p. xvii. abridged forms of their pictures and metaphors, but so altered as to be no longer re

Now it appears to us clear, that if the cognized ?"

form or character did not represent a sound He then proceeds to observe,

it could not be said to represent a word: - The number of those primary or simple

but that simply, the thing which that word characters is not known; it is to be presumed represented to the ear, the character repre. that it was not greater than could be easily sented to the eye: the idea conveyed by the retained in the memory. The Chinese gram. picture of a horse or dog was transferred to marians, under the name of keys, or radicals, the character substituted for that picture: have reduced them to the number of two but as all the world would understand what hundred and fourteen ; but of these several the picture itself represented, the natives of are compounded, se that the number was all countries would understand it without a probably still smaller. Be that as it may, reference to the sound of the name, and two hundred words, more or less, having without necessarily recalling that sound.-signs or characters to represent them, by joining two, three, or more of them together, and But as, if they did recall it, each country. using them as catch words to lead to one that man would give it a different sound; as had no sign to represent it, could produce an horse, cheval, pferd, asp, &c., it is evident, immense number of combinations; and a still that the character answering to, and recallgreater one, by joining to these, and combining, so many various sounds, could not be ing with them, the new compounds; and so confined to any one of them; i. e. not to they might proceed in the same manner ad infinitum. By means of that system, with any one word.

But the author proceeds thus, quoting some modifications, the Chinese succeeded in representing all the words in their lan- from, and animadverting on, M. de Reguage. The ideas were only an ingredient musat. in the method which they adopted, but it was by no means their object to present them to Co To express abstract ideas, or the acts of the mind unaccompanied by the word which the understanding, they (the Chinese) have was their model, and which, if I may use a altered the sense of those simple or compound bold metaphor, sat to them for its picture; a characters which represent material objects, picture, indeed, which bore no resemblance or they have made of a substantive the sign to the object, but which was sufficient to re- of a verb, which expresses a corresponding call it to the memory.

action. Thus the heart represents the mind ; "From this general view of the Chinese a house is taken for man; a hall for woman; system of writing, it is evident that the object a hand for an artificer or mechanic, &c.'of its inventors was 10 recall to the mind, by Unfortunately for this theory, the sense of visible signs, the words of which their lan- the characters (as corresponding with the guage was composed, and not to represent words) has not been in the least altered; it is ideas independent of the sounds of that lan- the sense of the words that has been changed, guage. But the number of those words being and the characters have followed. In the too great to admit of merely arbitrary signs, Chinese spoken language, a sailor is call. the forms of which could not easily be re ed a ship-hand, a monk a reason house, or tained, without some classification to help house of reason, &c., and the writing only the memory, they thought of some mode of applies the appropriate character to each of recalling, at the same time, something of the these words. The language is full of similar meaning of each word, and that was done by metaphors; east-west signifies a thing, or combining together the signs of several of something; elder brother with younger bro. them, so as to make a kind of definition, far, ther, signify simply brother, without distincindeed, from being perfect, but sufficient for tion of age, &c. The writing does no more the purpose for which it was intended. And than represent these words by the characters that is what the Chinese literati, and the si- appropriated to each ; the metaphor is in the nologists after them, have been pleased to language, not in the writing. eall ideographic writing ; while, instead of • Dr. Marshman wonders that he has never

« AnteriorContinuar »