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may indeed have been accidental; it is also true that two great festivals, Easter and Whitsunday, are established on historical events of which paganism knows nothing. But we must not forget that both of these have their prototype in Jewish festivals which have a distinct reference to the seasons of the year, and which, without deifying the powers of nature, seek to improve them as the means of leading the heart to nature's God. So that there is a general connection pervading all these forms of religion that unites even those Christian festivals with those of paganism and Judaism. To these also other Christian festivals have an analogy yet more striking ; such as Christmas, St. John's day, all-souls, all-saints, the apostles' day and that of the Virgin Mary. The analogies of Christmas and St. John's day, which occur in the summer and winter solstices, to the festivals of other forms of religion are particularly striking. Christmas is assigned to this period without the least historical evidence. It is indeed possible, but not at all probable, that the birth of Jesus occurred on the twenty-fifth of December. The traditions of antiquity were ex. ceedingly discordant on this subject, and it was not until the fifth century that the Romnish church decided upon the observance of this day. But the probable reasons for appointing this day in commemoration of the Saviour's birth have been already intimated.

May not the fathers of the church be presumed also to have had some reference to the festive seasons of the heathen in estab. lishing the cycle of Christian festivals ? or were they led by their own reflections to establish them with reference to the seasons of the year? The contrast between these and those of idolatrous nations which occurred at the same time would be the more strik. ing, and influential in gaining converts to the Christian faith. And if the course of nature were made to illustrate the significancy of a feast of the church, even though it carried the mind far beyond the limits of the natural world, the impression made by the festival would only be strengthened by the analogy. Certain it is that the ancient writers often insisted in their discourses on these analogies. Christianity rejected not the teachings of nature but sought to sanctify and give them a proper direction, by raising higher her voice of wisdom. Neither does she sunder the thread of history, but presses into the service of Christ the lessons which are drawn from the records of the past. Not indeed that the order of religious festivals was arranged with primary reference, either to any harmony, or to any contrast of them with the course


Comparative Philology.


of the seasons. The life of Jesus and the great events connected with the spread of his religion were the prevailing considerations in the institution of these festivals. But it is equally certain that the relations of Jewish and pagan festivals to the analogies of nature had also an important influence in establishing that harmony which subsists between those sacred festivals in the church and the changes of the year in the revolutions of the seasons.

“ These as they change are but the varied God-
Mysterious round! what skill, what force divine,
Deep felt in these appear!"




By B. J. Wallace, Professor of the Greek and Latin Languages in Delaware College,

Newark, Del.

COMPARATIVE Philology is a recent science. The name, no doubt, is taken from Comparative Anatomy in which a system is evolved by a careful examination of the relative structures and functions of animals. This comparison of languages had never been instituted, except casually, until the present century. Von Humboldt, Bopp, Grimm (and more recently Burnouf, Lassen and others) are here the great names. By bringing laboriously together the languages with the history and character of the nations of Middle and Western Asia, Northern Africa and Europe, they have developed the most brilliant results, the central and more valuable languages of the world classifying themselves into two great families, called respectively the Shemitish and the Indo-European. From these labors and as a foundation by others, a complete revolution has been nearly accomplished in philosophical grammar, lexicography, and the methods of classical study. Memory, instead of reigning supreme, and holding firmly immense masses of heterogeneous facts, now sits at the feet of her brother Reason. Grammar, from being one of the most uninteresting of studies, is becoming delightful. The foun. dations are laid in human nature, and the philosophical grammarian shows, or labors to show, how every branch of a verb, and ev. ery vowel-change, follows not caprice, but a natural law, and that speech instead of a farrago of contradictions, a mass of confused utterances, is the appropriate expression of the human soul every where, whose actings though sorely jarred by depravity show its original brightness, as through a veil, darkly.

Adelung estimates the whole number of languages and dialects known upon the globe at 3626. Balbi rates them at 2000. But very many of these are mere dialects; many indicate a common origin at no very remote period. By careful examination the number no doubt may be reduced to hundreds, and a very few hundred of distinct languages, especially if we exclude mere savage or outlandish idioms. But after all this reduction the question returns, Are these various modes of speech arbitrary, so that the learning of one but little facilitates the learning of ano. ther, or are they so connected as that it is by no means a prodigy, but might be an ordinary result of human industry to be acquainted with twenty or fifty languages? Comparative philology has solved this question. We will try, striving to avoid the fathomless abyss of Teutonic generalizing, and the flying cloud-land of French theorizing, to present some simple and intelligible views on this subject.

The soul of man is one. It struggles for utterance and articulate speech; the result must be, in its essence, everywhere the same. In utterance man always uses the same vocal organs. Here is another source of similarity. That is, thought and feeling must be essentially alike, the organs of expression are the same. Hence there must be, and there is, a general likeness in all articulate speech. There are, for instance, everywhere words to express existences-nouns; action gives rise to verbs, sudden emotions to interjections. Every language possesses these and a hundred other things because man is like man. But, as it has been well remarked,' there are two great classes of words, those which resemble external sounds, where sound is the echo of the sense, and those which struggle to express that which is peculiar to the soul, and for which there is perhaps no perfect picture in material things. The former class of words must be strikingly alike everywhere. It is in the latter that there will be the main diversity. The reason for the choice of one word here rather than another, though it cannot be considered arbitrary, is subtle, and

Introd. to the Hebrew Grammar of Nordheimer.


Semitic and Indo-European Languages.


perhaps will altogether, at least in many instances, elude our research. Then the modes of developing and connecting words are very various, and here it is that the greatest scope is given to the efforts of the comparative philologist.

The reader will observe that there is the greatest difference in the value of languages. Some are remarkably beautiful structures in themselves, will well reward the labor of examination, and their complete mastery is a mental discipline. Besides they may enshrine a noble literature. The character and history of the people whose it was or is, may be such as that it will be a matter of exceeding interest to study the nation in their speech. Or it may embody the solemn revelation of the will of the Creator to the creature. Other languages may be rude in structure, even unwritten, and there may be nothing to interest in the history of those who speak them, except that they are men. It is upon the former class, as was natural, that the philologists of our age have laid out their strength.

The Shemitish and Indo-European families include those languages which are specially interesting. The Shemitish languages are the Hebrew, Arabic, Chaldee and Syriac. With these also are to be connected the Phoenician, Punic and Samaritan. The union between them is close. Of these the Hebrew and Arabic are the most interesting.

Analogy, at first view, would lead us to suppose that the languages of India would bear a close affinity to the Shemitish, but the contrary is the fact. Oriental though they be, we must look for different analogies than those between Hebrew and Persian, Arabic and Sanscrit. This remarkable fact has given rise to the classification to which allusion has been made, and to which in consequence of the languages which it embraces, the name Indo. European has been given. This has been the field of most patient and thorough research, especially by the Germans. It appears that the cradle of this most extensive family, including the ruling nations and conquering races of mankind, was the region bordering upon the Black and Caspian seas. The reader will immediately connect this fact with the remarkable prophecy of enlargement to Japheth, and with the well-known facts in rela. tion to the Caucasian race. But we meet with what seems the perplexing fact that the languages of India are thus apparently allied, not to those of Western Asia, but to those of Europe. And the vital point in this subject leads every one directly to the San. scrit.

Sir William Jones makes this remark :? “ The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure ; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more excellently refined than either.” If we must take this with much allowance, still no one can receive the testimony of the patriarch of oriental literature but with deep deference. Milman says, “ The Sanscrit is an inexhaustible subject of itself; in its grammatical structure more regular, artificial and copious than the most perfect of the Western languages; in its origin, the parent form from which the older Greek, the Latin and the Teutonic tongues seem to branch out, and develope themselves upon distinct and discernible principles." Von Humboldt in complicated German sentences thus expresses himself: “ The Sanscrit language, as a later principle of interpretation, stands, as it were, at the end of a whole series of languages, and these are by no means such as belong to a course of study which for practical purposes is to a certain degree unserviceable ; on the contrary, they comprehend our own mother-tongue, and that of the classical nations of antiquity, and consequently therefore the true and direct source of our best feelings, and the fairest part of our civil. ization itself. No language in the world, that we are acquainted with, possesses in an equal degree with the Sanscrit the secret of moulding abstract grammatical ideas into such forms, as by means of simple and closely allied sounds still leave evident traces of the root, which often of itself explains the variation of sound (inasmuch as it essentially remains the same) amid the greatest complication of form: nor has any other language, by means of its inherent euphonic amalgamation of inflection, the power of forming such accurate and well-adapted symbols for expressing the conceptions of the mind."

Such being the opinions of the most eminent scholars, we advance with interest to an examination of the questions connected with this language. Two meet us at the threshhold, viz. the age of the language, and its relation to the dialects now spoken in India.

In regard to the age of Sanscrit, it may be remarked that eminent scholars differ in opinion. It would seem impossible to de

· Adelung's His cal Sketch of Sanscrit Literature. Translated and indeed re-modelled by Talboys, Oxford, England, a literary bookseller. It consists of lists of Sanscrit books with occasional remarks.

? Nala and Damayanti and other poems translated from the Sanscrit by Rev. H. H. Milman, late professor of poetry at Oxford, Eng.

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