Page images

Japanese pupils. The real positive of more must be sought in a very different quarter. Sanscrit, maha, great, a present participle of mah, to grow, increase; Persian mih; Greek μéyas, méyados ; Gothic, mikils; Old German, mihhil; Icelandic, mikill; AngloSaxon, micel; Latin, magnus. For the comparative, we have Greek, μwy; Gothic, maiza; Latin, major; Icelandic, meiri; Old German, mero; Anglo-Saxon, mara-cum multis aliis. If these comparatives are not from a more simple and primitive form than the positives now extant, the medial consonant may be dropped euphonic gratiâ. It re-appears in Myiotos, and maximus, i. e., mag-simus, but not in Gothic, maists, nor any of its Germanic brethren. This example may direct us where to look for the verbal roots of many of our simple adjectives.

ODD. Owed, wanted to make up another pair.' ORT, ORTS, from Anglo-Saxon, orettan, deturpare, i. e., made vile or worthless.'-Tooke.

Just as much as Cinderella's cock-tailed mice were identical with the coctiles muri of Semiramis. Odd does not signify deficiency but surplus; ort has not the least connexion with orettan; and both are, in fact, different forms of the same word. In Icelandic, oddr, is a point, cuspis; Danish, odd, the same; Swedish, udd, a point, also odd in the English sense. In German, the primary meaning of ort is also point. To establish a connexion between the two, we must have recourse to the Bavarian dialect. In this, ort not only denotes point, but also beginning, the end of a thread or skein—and what is most to our purpose, ort oder eben, is exactly our odd or even. In odd, the idea is that of unity, a single point, hence one over; orts are waste or superfluous ends, leavings. The latter is the German form, the former the Scandinavian, in which the r is assimilated to the following consonant, by a very common process in Icelandic-e. gr., broddr, a sting, AngloSaxon, brord; rödd, voice, Anglo-Saxon, reord.

SPICK and SPAN.-These words have been sadly tortured by our etymologists-we shall, therefore, do our best to deliver them from further persecution. Tooke is here more than usually abusive of his predecessors; however, Nemesis, always on the watch, has permitted him to give a lumbering, half Dutch, half German, etymology, of shining new from the warehouse'as if such simple colloquial terms were formed in this clumsy round-about way. Spick-new is simply nail-new, and span-new, chip-new. Many similar expressions are current in the north of Europe; fire-new, spark-new, splinter-new, also used in Cumberland; High German, nagelneu, equivalent to the Lower Saxon spiker-neu, and various others. The leading idea is that of something quickly produced or used only once. The Icelandic spann siguities not only chip, but


spoon, whence we may infer, that as the Latin cochlear denotes the employment of a shell to convey pottage to the mouth, our unsophisticated ancestors once used a chip for the same important purpose. We hope none of our exclusives' will quarrel with the word or the thing on this account; for our part, we think that those little disclosures of ancient manners are not the least interesting part of etymology.

STEP-FATHER.-Tooke refers this with great confidence to the Danish stedfader, q. d., pater vicarius; proving that he knew little either of the history or analogy of language. Stedfader is a corrupt word of yesterday: the genuine term stivfader is legitimately connected with all the older dialects; and we would sooner believe, on the authority of Mascarille, that the Armenians change nis into rin, than that our ancestors ever converted sted into step. We have no doubt that Junius is right in referring the word to steop, orphanus. The simplest, and consequently the original forms, Icelandic, stiupr, Old German, stiuf, do not denote step-father or mother, but step-child, orphan; and all doubt respecting the parent-verb is removed by the Carlsruhe glossary of the eighth century, in Graff's Dintiska, which gives us pim arstiuphit suniu=ultra urbabor (orbabor) filio.-We take this opportunity of observing, that those who wish to investigate the original forms and significations of the Teutonic tongues, must seek them in the vocabularies of the eighth and ninth centuries, where they are sometimes more plainly developed than in the Gothic of Ulphilas. The mere English or Latin scholar, however, had better let them alone, as it requires considerable knowledge of languages, and a certain skill in conjectural criticism, to use them to any good purpose. For example, potho, apostolus, conveys no idea to those who do not know that bothe, in modern German, is a messenger; and lancnasech, aquilus,* has by some been interpreted eagle, and by others, dark-coloured, dusky; whereas, it means neither, but having a long (aquiline) nose. a very ancient glossary preserved at St. Gall, we find, singularis, epur-to understand which, we must remember the German eber, a boar, and the Italian cinghiale, or French sanglier, wild boar. This, which was written in the seventh century, illustrates the early formation of the rustic Roman; and the following specimens equally show the antiquity of some familiar terms in our own language:-Clausura, piunte (pound); scopa; pesamo (besom); pala; scufla (shovel); sublimitare; drisgusli (threshold) :-stool, thronus, seems to have lost a little of its pristine dignity.


Farmatia (pharmacia), poisun, seems to show that the compiler of this glossary was not an apothecary. The author of Douglas would have been delighted with nectareus, van clarette," unless he had discovered that claret does not here mean Lafitte or Château Margaux, but sweetened winę, clary.

z 2



[ocr errors]

WRITE. The Germans undoubtedly derived their verb schreiben, and probably the art of writing with pen and ink, from the Romans. But the existence of an older verbrizan, originally, like the Anglo-Saxon writan Icelandic rita, denoting sculpere, incidere, as well as the general diffusion of Runic characters among the various tribes, seem to imply that they were not wholly without letters before the Roman period. Otfried accurately discriminates between the two words. In the account of the woman taken in adultery, he says, Christ reiz mit demo fingero,'-4-digito exaravit; but Pilate's, What I have written, is,thaz ih serib, quod scripsi, Graben appears from the glossaries to have been similarly employed to denote literas incidere, also to write. The preterite of graben, gråob, grub, furnishes an etymology for Grub Street, which we would recommend the inmates of that classical region by all means to adopt. of joy tour { bra w tur arad


Sed manum de tabulu We have endeavoured to show that the field of English philology is far from being exhausted, and we should be glad to see it treated with something of the same rigorous and scientific application of principles and copious induction of particulars, that have been exercised upon some of the sister tongues. Much has been done and is still doing by the Germans and Danes, which ought to excite our emulation, and which we may turn to our own advantage.

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

ART II The Worthies of Yorkshire and Lancashire being Lives of the most distinguished Persons that have been born in, Tor connected with, those Provinces. By Hartley Coleridge. 8vo. Leeds, 1834.


[ocr errors]

THIS collection of lives is, in our judgment, a work of such unusual merit, that it seems equally an act of justice to the author and a service to sound literature to rescue it from the common mass of county histories and provincial biographies, with which, in consequence of its title and the place of its publication, it runs the risk of being confounded. "Mr. Hartley Coleridge proved himself a genuine poet by the beautiful sonnets, &c. which we noticed some time ago in this Journal, and which we trust will not long remain unaccompanied by others of a similar strain. In this volume he has not only given us many very lively and well stored narratives of the lives of eminent persons, but has contrived to interweave in them a series of literary and philosophical criticisms, which generally, for their truth and delicacy, and


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

always for their ingenuity and beauty, deserve, and will richly repay, the careful perusal of every man of lettersJsult is true, indeed, that we should not be disposed to rate some of the names in this collection quite so highly, much less to measure/their relative worth and importance, as the author himself, seems, inclined to do. Still, it may be allowed that the least distinguished of these persons deserves a place in any appropriate record ; and it is one advantage of a local biography, that much of that which in itself is deeply interesting, but which, from the limited sphere of its exhibition, could attract little of public attention, is thus preserved in special repositories for the occasional uses of general literature and science. We may mention, as an instance of the sort of matten to which we allude, the life of Dr. Fothergill in the work before us; in which, by the by, we are surprised that Mr. H. Coleridge has not recorded, amongst the Quaker-doctor's good deeds, his origination, and direction of William Bartram's botanical expedition into the Floridas in 1773. Bartram's account of this tour*-a cheap reprint of which would be as acceptable to the common as to the scientific reader was greatly admired by Mr. H. Coleridge's lamented father, who used to say that it was the latest book of travels he knew written in the spirit of the old travellers. It is, indeed, an admirable volume, and we doubt very much whether there are half a dozen other works, of which the American literature has so much reason to be proud; nor will any one lay down the book without a feeling of gratitude to Bartram's kind and intelligent patron.

We have lately expressed our opinion of the great difficulties attending biographical composition-not the least of which arises from the exactly contrary impression being generally prevalent, of its comparative ease Hinc venice minus. To write the life of an individual in the present day justly, adequately, and with spirit, not only requires, as it always necessarily must require, something of the executive talents of the dramatist, the novelist, and the historian, combined and converged; but, in addition to this, implies an emancipation from the influence of the many vicious examples of modern times, and a clear perception of the antithetic distinction which exists between biography and, history, as species of literary composition. True it is, so manifold are the links of human sympathy so strong the vulgar appetite for any garbage of anecdote quicquid de quoque that, aimless, and indigested as are most of the Lives, of which there has been so enormous a crop of

[ocr errors]

Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, &c. By William Bartram. Philadelphia, 1791, London, 1792. tTable Talk, vol,i.p.61, most tuloqotdog data


late, they nevertheless interest the common reader, and find purchasers with sufficient readiness to insure a continuance of the trade. Such crude and trashy compilations may well be easy of execution to one who has taken his first degree in Grub Street; and really some of the subjects of very recent biography deserved nothing better, or in a better manner, to be said of them; but genuine and legitimate biography is now-a-days little understood or appreciated-certainly much less so than formerly and even the popularity of the well-known Life of Nelson,' and of some few other admitted instances of excellence in this line, seems to be entirely without effect in teaching its true character and limits. The whole of this subject is remarkably well stated and illustrated by Mr. H. Coleridge in his Introductory Essay:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In history,' he there says, all that belongs to the individual is exhibited in subordinate relation to the commonwealth; in biography, the acts and accidents of the commonwealth are considered in their relation to the individual, as influences by which his character is formed or modified-as circumstances amid which he is placed-as the sphere in which he moves-or the materials he works with. The man with his works, his words, his affections, his fortunes, is the end and aim of all. He does not, indeed, as in a panegyric, stand alone like a statue-but like the central figure of a picture, around which others are grouped in due subordination and perspective, the general circumstances of his times forming the back and fore ground. In history, the man, like the earth on the Copernican hypothesis, is part of a system; in biography he is, like the earth in the ancient cosmogony, the centre and final cause of the system.'-p. 5.

And he afterwards adds, with equal wisdom and eloquence:'We cannot be supposed to censure the study of history; we only wish it to be properly balanced by studies which tend to keep the eye of man upon his own heart, upon the sphere of his immediate duties, of those duties where his affections are to be exercised and regulated, and which, considering man as a person, consider him as sentient, intelligent, moral, and immortal. For simply to think of a man as a sentient being is inconsistent with that hard-hearted policy which would employ him, reckless of his suffering or enjoyment, like a wedge or a rivet, to build up the idol temple of a false national greatness; to regard him as intelligent, or rather as capable of intelligence, condemns the system that would keep him in ignorance to serve the purposes of his rulers, as game cocks are penned up in the dark that they may fight the better; to regard him as moral, corrects the primary conception of national prosperity; and to revere him as immortal, commands peremptorily that he shall never be made a tool or an instrument to any end in which his own permanent welfare is not included.'-p. 7.

And we may with some seriousness remark, in the spirit of this fine passage, that it ought to be one of the chief aims, as it may

« PreviousContinue »