Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

image of the Deity; whence el-langee means the sky, or sun's residence, and papa ellangee, or papa langee, fathers of the sky, or "spirits."

Allow me to offer you another instance or two. The more common etymon for death, among all nations, is mor, mort, or mut; sometimes the r, and sometimes the t, being dropped in the carelessness of speech. It is mut in Hebrew and Phoenician; it is mor, or mort, in Sanscrit, Persian, Greek, and Latin; it is the same in almost all the languages of Europe; and it was with no small astonishment the learned lately found out that it was the same also in Otaheite, and some other of the Polynesian islands, in which mor-ai is well known to signify a sepulchre; literally, the place or region of the dead; ai meaning a place or region in Otaheitan, precisely as it does in Greek. An elegant and expressive compound, and which is perhaps only to be equalled by the Hebrew zalmut (mis 4x) literally, death-shade, but which is uniformly rendered, in the established copy of our Bibles, shadow of death.

Sir, in our own language, is the common title of respect; and the same term is employed in the same sense throughout every quarter of the globe. In Hebrew its radical import is " a ruler or governor;" sir, s-her, or sher, according as the h is suppressed, or slightly, or strongly aspirated; in Sanscrit and Persian it means the organ of the head itself; in Greek it is used in a sense somewhat more dignified, and is synonymous with lord; in Arabia, Turkey, and among the Peruvians in South America, it is employed as in the Greek; and not essentially different in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France; the last country never using it, however, but with a personal pronoun prefixed; and it is the very same term in Germany, Holland, and the contiguous countries; the s being dropped in consequence of the h being aspirated more harshly; whence the Hebrew s-her is converted into her, used also commonly, as the similar term is in France, with the prefix of a personal pronoun.

The radical idea of the word MAN is that of a thinking or reasonable being, in contradistinction to the whole range of the irrational creation, by which the thinking being is surrounded. And here again I may boldly assert, that while in the primary sense of the word we have the most positive proof of the quarter of the globe from which it issued, and where mankind must first have existed, and from which he must have branched out into every other quarter, there is not a language to be met with, ancient or modern, insular or continental, civilized or savage, in use among blacks or whites, in which the same term, under some modification or other, is not to be traced, and in which it does not present the same general idea.

MAN, in Hebrew, to which the term is possibly indebted for its earliest origin, occurs under the form nan (maneh), a verb directly importing "to discern or discriminate ;" and which, hence, signifies as a noun, 66 a discerning or discriminating being." In Sanscrit we have both these senses in the directest manner possible; for in this very ancient tongue man is the verb, and can only be rendered" to think or reason;" while the substantive is mana, of precisely the same meaning as our own word man; and necessarily importing, as I have already observed, "a thinking or reasonable creature." Hence Menu, in both Sanscrit and ancient Egyptian, is synonymous with Adam, or the FIRST MAN, emphatically the man'; hence, again, MENES was the first king of Egypt; and MINOS, the first or chief judge, discerner, or arbitrator among the Greeks. Hence, also, in Greek, men and menos (Mev and Mevos) signify mind, or, "the thinking faculty;"

but vas, contracted, is mens, which, in the Latin language, imports the very same thing. In the Gothic, and all the northern dialects of Europe, man imports the very same idea as in our own tongue; the English, indeed, having descended from the same quarter. In Bengalee and Hindoostanee, it is manshu; in Malayan, manizu; in Japanese, manio; in Atooi, and the Sandwich islands generally, tane, tanato, or tangi; while manawe imports the mind or spirit; and in New Guinea, or Papuan, it is sonaman, a compound evidently produced from man. In this utmost extremity, this Ultima Thule of the southern world, I will just observe also, in passing, that we meet with the terms Sytan for Satan, or the Source of Evil; and Wath (Germ. Goth), for God.

But it may, perhaps, be observed, that in all the southern dialects of Europe, the French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, we meet with no such term as man; nor in the Latin, from which all these are derived, in which last language the term for man is homo. Yet nothing is easier than to prove, that even homo itself, the source of all these secondary terms, is derived from the same common root. This is clear from its adjective, which is hu-man-us: while every schoolboy knows that man, or men, though not in the classical nominative case of the substantive, is included in every inflection below the nominative case: as ho-min-is, homin-i, ho-min-em, ho-min-e; and it was formerly included in the nominative itself, which was ho-men; whence, nothing is clearer than that the particle ho is redundant, and did not originally belong to the word. And were any additional argument necessary, I might advert to the well-known fact, that this redundant particle is absolutely omitted in the negation of homo, which is not ne-homo, but nemo, and was at first ne-men; and which, like homo, or homen, runs, as every one knows, ne-mim-is, ne-min-i, &c, It is easy, however, to prove this redundancy of the ho, by showing the quarter from which it was derived. The old Latin term was ho-min, homin-is; which every one must perceive is literally the obsolete Greek μ, with the article added to it; y or ho-men, emphatically the man. The ho is also omitted in the feminine of homo, which is fe-min-a, and was at first feo-min-a, from feo, to produce; literally, the producer or bringer forth of man, or min. Nothing, as it appears to me, is clearer than this, though the etymologists have hitherto sought in vain for the origin of femiFrom feomina, or, without the termination, feomin, we have derived our own and the common Saxon term, woman; the f, and v or w, being cognate, or convertible letters in all languages; of which we have a familiar instance in the words vater, and father, which in German and English, mean precisely the same thing.

na.

But this subject would require a large volume instead of occupying the close of a single lecture. It is, however, as you will find, when we come to apply it, of great importance; and I must yet therefore trouble you with another example or two.

Youth and young are as capable of as extensive a research, and are as common to all languages, barbarous and civilized, as the word man. I will only at present remark that we meet with it in Hebrew, where it is (yuna); in Persia and Palavi, or ancient Persian, where it is juani ; in Sanscrit, where it is yauvan; in Greek, viov (yion), from vies or viavos ; in Latin, where we find it juvenis; in Gothic and German, where it is jung; in Spanish, joren; in Italian, giovan; in French, jeune; and, as I have already observed, in our own dialect, young.

The word regent, in like manner is, and ever has been, in equal use

ן,

among all nations. This, like the French regir, is derived from the Latin rege; which runs through all the southern dialects of Europe; while in Germany, and the north, the derivative recht is the common term for rule, law, authority. The Hebrew is (raj), a conspicuous or illustrious person; the Sanscrit, raja; the Greek, pa and pav; of the same exact import as the Hebrew; and hence ra, or raia, imports the sun, the most powerful and illustrious object in creation, among a multitude of barbarous nations, and especially those of the Sandwich Islands, and New Zealand; and ooraye and rayan-ai the day or light itself, in different parts of Sumatra. Our own term ray, common indeed to almost all Europe, ancient and modern, is obviously from the same source; and hence the Arabic (rayhe), fragrancy, odour; the poetic mind of the Arabians uniformly applying this image to legitimate rule and government.

The term name, in like manner, runs through all the leading languages of ancient and modern ages, almost without a shade of difference, either in its meaning or mode of spelling for we thus meet with it in Hebrew, Sanscrit, Arabic, Greek, Persian, Gothic, and Latin.

The same theory might be exemplified from many of the terms significative of the most common animals. Our English word cow is of this description, and may serve as a familiar example; a (gouah,) in Hebrew, imports a herd (as of oxen); the very same word in Greek, ye, means a yoke of oxen; in both which cases the word is used in a collective sense. In Sanscrit, gāva imports, as among ourselves, a single animal of the kind, or or cow; in Persian, and ancient Persian or Palavi, it is gow; in German, kuh; and among the Hottentots, as an example of a savage tongue, koos and koose; while among the New Zealanders, who have no cows, eu imports paps or breasts, the organ of milk.

Mouse is in like manner (musheh) in Hebrew, literally 66 a groper in the dark" in Sanscrit, mushica; in Persian and Palavi, mush; in Greek, μs, without the aspirate'; in German, mous; in English, mouse; in Spanish, musgano; all, as I have already observed, confederating in proof that the various languages, and dialects of languages, that now are or ever have been spoken, have originated from one common source; and that the various nations that now exist or ever have existed have originated from one common cradle or quarter of the world, and that quarter an eastern region.

Finally, and before I close this argument, and deduce from its fair and legitimate result, let me pointedly call your attention to that most extraordinary act of correspondence between all nations whatever, in all quarters of the globe, wherever any trace of the art exists, which is to be found in their employment of a decimal gradation of arithmetic; an argument which, though I do not know that it has ever been advanced before, is, I freely confess to you, omnipotent of itself to my own mind. Let me, however, repeat the limitation, wherever any trace of this art is found to exist; for in the miserable state to which some savage tribes are reduced, without property to value, treasures to count over, or a multiplicity of ideas to enumerate; where the desires are few and sordid, and the fragments of language that remain are limited to the narrow train of every-day ideas and occurrences, it is possible that there may be some hordes who have lost the art entirely; as we are told by Crantz is the case with the wretched natives of Greenland,* and by the Abbé Chappé with some families

* Sect. i. 225.

among the Kamschatkadales ;* while there are other barbarian tribes, and especially among those of America,† who cannot mount higher in the scale of enumeration than five, ten, or a hundred; and, for all beyond this, point to the hair of their head, as a sign that the sum is innumerable.

But, putting by these abject and degenerated specimens of our own species who have lost the general knowledge of their forefathers, whence comes it to pass, that blacks and whites in every other quarter, the savage and the civilized, wherever a human community has been found, have never either stopped short of nor exceeded a series of ten in their numerical calculations; and that as soon as they have reached this number, they have uniformly commenced a second series with the first unit in the scale, one-ten, two-ten, three-ten, four-ten, till they have reached the end of the second series; and have then commenced a third, with the next unit in rotation: and so on, as far as they have had occasion to compute? Why have not some nations broken off at the number five, and others proceeded to fifteen before they have commenced a second series? Or why have the generality of them had any thing more than one single and infinitesimal series, and consequently a new name and a new number for every ascending unit? Such an universality cannot possibly have resulted except from a like universality of cause; and we have, in this single instance alone, a proof equal to mathematical demonstration, that the different languages into which it enters, and of which it forms so prominent a feature, must assuredly have originated, not from accident, at different times and in different places, but from direct determination and design, at the same time and in the same place; that it must be the result of one grand, comprehensive, and original system. We have already proved, however, that such system could not be of human invention; and what then remains for us but to confess peremptorily, and ex necessitate rei, as the fair conclusion of the general argument, that it must have been of divine and supernatural communication?

It may be observed, I well know, and I am prepared to admit the fact, that the examples of verbal concordance in languages radically distinct, and not mere dialects of the same language, are, after all, but few, and do not occur, perhaps, once in five hundred instances. But I still contend the examples, few as they are, are abundant and even super-abundant to establish the conclusion; and the fact on which the objection is founded, instead of disturbing such conclusion, only leads us to, and completely establishes a second and catenating fact; namely, that by some means or other the primary and original language of man, that divinely and supernaturally communicated to him in the first age of the world, has been broken up and confounded, and scattered in various fragments over every part of the globe : that the same sort of disruption which has rent asunder the solid ball of the earth; that has swept away whole species and kinds, and perhaps orders of animals, and vegetables, and minerals, and given us new species, and kinds, and orders in their stead; that has confounded continents and oceans, the surface and the abyss, and intermingled the natural productions of the different hemispheres; that the same sort of disruption has assaulted the world's primeval tongue, has for ever overwhelmed a great part of it, wrecked the remainder on distant and opposite shores, and turned up new materials out of the general chaos. And if it were possible for us to meet with an ancient historical record, which professed to contain a plain and tRobertson, vol. ii. b. iv. 91.

Sect. iii. 17.

↑ Compare also with Stewart's Phil. Essays, vol. i. p. 150. 4to. Edin. 1810.

simple statement of such supernatural communication, and such subsequent confusion of tongues, it would be a book that, independently of any other information, would be amply entitled to our attention, for it would bear an index of commanding authority on its own forehead.

To pursue this argument would be to weaken it. Such a book is in our hands-let us prize it. It must be the word of God, for it has the direct stamp and testimony of his works.

LECTURE X.

ON LEGIBLE LANGUAGE, IMITATIVE AND SYMBOLICAL.

THE subject of the vocal organs, and the scales of tones and terms to which they give rise, which have just passed under review, led us progressively into an inquiry concerning the nature of the voice itself; and the origin of systematic or articulate language.

Systematic or articulate language, however, as we have already observed, is of two kinds, oral and legible; the one spoken, and addressed to the ear, the other penned or printed, and addressed to the eye. It is this last which constitutes the wonderful and important art of writing, and distinguishes civilized man from savage man, as the first distinguishes man in general from the brute creation. The connexion between the two is so close, that although both subjects might, with the most perfect order, find a place in some subsequent part of that comprehensive course of study upon which we have even now but barely entered, I shall immediately follow up the latter for the very reason that I have already touched upon the former. It will, moreover, if I mistake not, afford an agreeable variety to our philosophical pursuits; a point, which ought no more to be lost sight of in the midst of instruction than in the midst of amusement; and will form an extensive subject for useful reflection when the present series of our labours shall have reached its close.

Written language is of so high an antiquity, that, like the language of the voice, it has been supposed, by a multitude of wise and good men in all ages, to have been a supernatural gift, communicated either at the creation, or upon some special occasion not long afterwards. Yet there seems no satisfactory ground for either of these opinions. That it was not communicated like oral language at the creation of mankind, appears highly probable, because, first, it by no means possesses the universality which, under such circumstances, we should have reason to expect, and which oral language displays. No tribe or people have ever been found without a tongue; but multitudes without legible characters. Secondly, among the different tribes and nations that do possess it, it is far from evincing that unity or similarity in the structure of its elements which, I have already observed, is to be traced in the elements of speech, and which must be the natural result of an origin from one common source. The system of writing among some nations consists in pictures, or marks representative of things; among others in letters or marks symbolical of sounds; while, not unfrequently, the two systems are found in a state of combination, and the characters are partly imitative and partly arbitrary. And thirdly, there does not seem to be the same necessity for a divine interposition in the formation of written characters as in that of oral lan

« AnteriorContinuar »