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we cannot but marvel and regret, that he should be so impatient and restive under slight rubs, real or fancied, and bear himself, at times, to borrow one of his own citations, " in the thickest troop of rival grammarians and lexicographers,
• As doth a lion in a herd of neat.” Nevertheless we have received some valuable hints, and not a little entertainment, from what he has here set forth, and from the splenetic view running through the whole ; though, of course, where so many and such weighty matters are to be gone over in the short space of twenty-four pages, it is only a very “ brief view" that can be given or taken.
We copy the following as a specimen of our author's strictures on the common version of the Scriptures.
The phrase, strain at a gnat, Matt. xxiii. 24, is a mistake, and evidently a misprint for strain out a gnat. The original does not signify to make an effort, but to strain liquor ; and the sense, as the passage now stands, is perverted. In the Bishop's bible, it is correctly expressed, strain out a gnat. It is remarkable that commentators insert a note of several lines to correct this mistake, instead of altering the spelling from at to out. It is strange that those who superintend the Oxford press in England, should suffer such an obvious misprint to remain, age after age, uncorrected.” — p. 2.
"The translation of the Greek daimon, which renders it devil instead of demon, is an error, occurring often in the New Testament.
“ If demons were considered as beings of a nature distinct from that of the grand adversary, the translation is palpably false : if they were considered as subordinate beings of the same nature as the grand adversary, then the translation confounds the subordinate beings with the chief.
“ The translation of the Hebrew word sheol by hell, in the Old Testament, is unfortunate, as it never signifies hell, in the sense now attached to the word, a place of torment. The same remark may be made respecting the version of hades in the New Testament, at least in several instances. Sheol and hades signify the grave or the invisible world; but hell is now understood to be the place of torment for the wicked after death. Illiterate or common readers always understand the word in this sense, unless otherwise informed, and a great part of them may never be otherwise informed. It was this false translation which occasioned the word to be introduced into the creed ; in which it is said “ Christ descended into hell,” a declaration that affirms what is now universally admitted to be a mistake.” — p. 3.
“ The words which, according to present usage, are ungrammatical, are very numerous. The senses of the words shall and should, have, by changes in usage, become improper in a multitude of passages; probably in a thousand.
Shall, says Bishop Lowth, in the second and third persons, (in declarative phrases) promises, commands, or threatens. But attend to the following sentences, 'God,' says Joseph, 'shall give Pharaoh an
answer of peace. Gen. xli. 16. Does Joseph in this passage, promise, command, or threaten ? Certainly not. He simply foretells; hence the word will should be used. God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.'
6. Our God shall fight for us,' says Nehemiah. Chap. iv. 20. Did Nehemiah intend to promise for God or to command him? By no
He intended only to foretell, and the phrase should be God will fight for us.'
“ One of you shall betray me,' says Christ to his disciples. Matt. xxvi. 21. Did Christ promise or command in this passage ? Not at all. He simply foretold, . One of you will betray me.'
— pp. 3, 4. He also adverts to another reason for some amendment of King James's Bible, which never has been and never can be urged with half its proper force, because the most striking examples and illustrations of the evil in question are of such a nature that they cannot be adduced; we mean the not unfrequent recurrence of indelicate or otherwise offensive words and phrases.
“ There is one objection to the present version of the Scriptures, of a different kind, but of no inconsiderable importance : this is, the use of indecent words and phrases; such phraseology as cannot be used in the coinmon intercourse of life, without the grossest offence to good manners. If such offensive language was used by people of the best breeding in the age of Queen Elizabeth, it indicates a state of society little refined, or rather semi-barbarous. However this may be, the refinement of manners in this age forbids the use of such phraseology in company; and men who have any respect for decency are obliged to omit many passages, and even whole chapters, when they read the Scriptures in their families, or before a congregation. The indelicate phraseology is particularly offensive to females, who, in some instances, have been known to dread an attendance on schools of instruction, for fear of being required to read words which cannot be uttered without a blush.” — p.4.
We are glad to be able to number Dr. Webster among the eminent Orthodox scholars whose consciences are alive on the subject of the necessity of an improved version of the Scriptures for popular use. Let any one answer the argument as here put by our author, if he can.
“If the friends of the Bible know or believe that there are errors in the popular version, how can they conscientiously object to the correction of such errors? If the sense of any passage of a translation is not the sense of the original, such passage, to the reader of the translation, is not the word of God. We are told from the pulpit, and in books on religious subjects, that the Bible contains the infallible oracles or revelations of God's will to man; but if the version does not convey the real sense of the original, then the erroneous passages are not a part of divine revelation.
“ There is reason to believe that inaccuracies in the present version, as well as the use of indelicate terms, have the effect to impair the VOL. XVIII. N. S. VOL. XIII. NO. I.
authority of the Scriptures; particularly with young persons. I hold it therefore to be a moral duty of the leading Christians of this country to devise some mode of uniting opinions on the subject of a revision and correction of the present phraseology.” — p. 5.
To our author's somewhat jaundiced eye every thing, it must be confessed, is “out of joint." Passing from Bibles to lexicons, grammars, and spelling-books, he says, of the book in best repute among us as a standard of pronunciation ;
“ The use of Walker's Dictionary in this country has been owing to the activity of booksellers. Had the same exertions been used in favor of Jones or Perry, Walker's book would never have had much circulation. In my opinion, it is the most defective and erroneous dictionary that has been published during the last half century.
“ If the orthoepists have done any good in Great Britain, where are dialects and differences of language without number, it is well ; but in this country, I am convinced, by fifty years' observation, that their books have introduced as many differences as they have corrected. Indeed the native descendants of the English in this country retain almost exactly the pronunciation which their ancestors brought from England, which was that of the best bred characters then, and so it remains to this day. Excepting one class of words, in which tu has been changed, both in England and in this country, into chu, which is the grealest corruption which the language has suffered since the Norman Conquest; the pronunciation of words, among men of education, has be little changed since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
“Well bred men in England, as I am informed, never take their pronunciation from books; they take it from current usage among the higher classes of society. This shows the reason why the members of Parliament, who visited this country a few years ago, had never heard of Walker, till they came to the United States.” — p. 11.
Dr. Webster gives a list of some of the most important of Walker's errors, from which we subjoin these :
“Walker pronounces kind, guide, sky, as kyind, gyide, skei. This is precisely the vulgar error in pronouncing count, gown, as if written keount, geown, and proceeding from a like cause, the ease of pronouncing e after the articulations k and g. This dandyism, so to speak, is rejected by Jameson, the last author on orthoepy.
“ Walker directs educate to be pronounced edjucate ; verdure, verjure; arduous, arjuous ; congratulate, congratshulate ; &c. This pronunciation Jameson condemns, and remarks that in solemn discourse, it would be intolerable.
“Walker, and some other compilers of dictionaries introduce suite, a French word, signifying a retinue or attendants, and pronounce it swete. This is wrong, not to say ridiculous ; for the word when it signifies a retinue, is the same as when it signifies a suit of rooms or a suit of clothes or cards. Jameson very properly rejects this distinction, and writes the word suit.
“Walker and other English orthoepists countenance that abominable anomaly, yumor, for humor. Let them then give us yerb, for herb, and yerth, for earth, as pronounced in the North of England.
“ Walker gives another vulgarism cowcumber, for cucumber ; so also Sheridan; but Jones kuk'umber. All of them except Jameson give umble for humble, but Jameson restores the h and gives the true word humble. What is equally wrong and disgusting, Walker justifies the vulgar pronunciation, bringin, singin, swingin.* When shall we be delivered from such anomalies and barbarisms?” – p. 10.
Other grave matters are discussed in this pamphlet, but we must pass them over, being only able to afford space for one more of our author's criticisms, in explanation of a Latin proverb in
“ Cui bono ? cui malo? To what good, to what evil will it tend ? Maunder. Treasury of Knowledge.
Cui bono? To what end or purpose ? To what good will it tend ? Usage. See Biblical Repository. Vol. I. p. 150 and 771. “ This is not all; the phrase in this sense has become proverbial. But the sense of the words, among the
Latins, was different. The true phrase is, cui est bono?’ to whom is it for good ? for whose benefit is it? Cui is not an adjective agreeing with bono; but the phrase consists of two datives.” - p. 13.
We would just observe in conclusion that Dr. Webster has given “ a few hints" on orthography and grammar, which we join with him in commending to the attention of “ statesmen, members of Congress, and heads of departments,” to go no higher. Nay, we even of the commonalty may be more interested than we think for, in lucubrations of this nature ; for we are told (p. 6), that a girl in the state of New York was chastised so severely as to cause her death merely because she pronounced gig, jig, -a catastrophe which our author assures us would certainly have been prevented, if the poor girl's alphabet had been pointed according to his system.
Religion in the Western States. We have long entertained a suspicion, that the statements current in this part of the country respecting the prevalence of infidelity and irreligion at the West, were liable to the charge of great and offensive exaggeration. Some remarks in the last number of the “Western Monthly Magazine," a journal ably edited by Judge Hall, and published at Cincinnati, Ohio, has confirmed us more and more in this opinion. Referring to several injurious representations of the Western people, which he has particularly mentioned, the writer observes:
* “Walker calls the two sounds of th, or eth, by the epithets flat and sharp. He might as well call them sweet and sour.
“ Thus we have had the same statement reiterated, in so many forms as to satisfy us, either that the people of New England have unaccountably fallen into an error, which is so widely spread that it is difficult to get their minds disabused, or else that a system of detraction has been carried on, in the execution of some plan, in which the people of these states are used as the instruments. That the men who make such state. ments believe them, is possible, but it is barely possible ; because all the evidence is the other way. We are bound to be charitable ; but when a man, who professes to have seen and examined for himself, describes the population of the West'as sinking progressively lower and lower in manners, intellectual churacter, and morals, we confess we find it hard to believe that he thinks he is telling the truth. When another tells us that a majority of the Western population doubt the divine origin of religion, and another, that one half are infidels, or that all are half infidels, we are tempted to wonder how it is possible that an acute and sober-minded people like those of New England, can be thus imposed upon. As they are a people that are not willingly imposed upon, we are sure that they will be obliged to us for a few facts, about which there can be no dispute.”—p. 107.
These facts we shall give, and without further comment except barely to premise, that though they may help to correct public sentiment in this quarter on the subject, some of them, in our view, are but little to the point, and that, altogether, they do not establish quite so much as the writer appears to suppose.
“We find nothing in the constitutions or laws of any of the Western states, which gives countenance to irreligion, or could occasion alarm to the most pious Christian; on the contrary, the direct tendency of all our public acts is to encourage and promote a respect for the forms and practices of religion. The constitution of Ohio declares that religion, morality, and knowledge are essentially necessary to the government and the happiness of mankind;' the same idea is repeatedly recognised in her laws, and in those of the other Western states. Laws for the suppression of vice and immorality,- for punishing blasphemy, - for the protection of worshipping congregations,— for guarding the solemnities of oaths, are as usual as elsewhere. Oaths are administered in all judicial proceedings, and in the qualification of persons for office, - a practice which would hardly be tolerated if one half of the population believed it to be an absurd mockery. No statute can be shown in which religion is treated with contempt, or the existence of a God denied. The Sabbath is even recognised by our lawgivers, who do not sit on that day, nor require the serving of process in civil cases, nor the performances of duties by public officers. Yet surely, if one half the population were atheists, these observances of the external forms of religion would not be adhered to; nor would our legislators thus carefully abstain from throwing the slightest disrespect upon religion, if they did not know that any other course of conduct would be offensive to their constituents.
5 But there are other facts. We have in the whole valley twentyfive colleges, into all of the faculties of which the clergy have found admission; most of the faculties are composed entirely of clergymen