« ForrigeFortsett »
Lond., 1780, 2 vols. 8vo, Part III., in nificent, they as frequently degenerated into French, Paris, 1789, 12ino. Works, with the tumid and bombast. The Greeks too of Account by his Son, the Earl of Malmes | Asia became infected by their neighbours, bury, Lond., 1792, 5 vols. Svo; again, 1801, who were often, at times, not only their 2 vols. 4to, and royal 4to, and 1803, 5 vols. neighbours, but their masters; and hence 8vo; 1841, 8vo.
that luxuriance of the Asiatic style, un“Those who would enter more fully into this
known to the chaste eloquence and purity subject [grammar) will find it fully and accurately
of Athens. But of the Greeks we forbear handled, with the greatest acuteness of investiga
to speak now, as we shall speak of them tion, perspicuity of application, and elegance of more fully when we have first considered method, in a treatise entitled Hermes, by J. Harris, the nature or genius of the Romans. Esq., the most beautiful and perfect example of
And what sort of people may we proanalysis that has been exhibited since the days of Aristotle."-BISHOP Lowth: Preface to his Eng
nounce the Romans?-A nation engaged in lish Grammar.
wars and commotions, some foreign, some
domestic, which for seven hundred years But Horne Tooke ridicules Hermes.
wholly engrossed their thoughts. Hence
therefore their language became, like their English, Oriental, Latin, AND Greek
ideas, copious in all terms expressive of LANGUAGES.
things political, and well adapted to the We Britons in our time have been re purposes both of history and popular elomarkable borrowers, as our multiform lan- quence. But what was their philosophy?guage may sufficiently shew. Our terms in As a nation it was none, if we may credit polite literature prove that this came from their ablest writers. And hence the unfitGreece ; our terms in music and painting, ness of their language to this subject; a that these came from Italy; our phrases in defect which even Cicero is compelled to cookery and war, that we learnt these from confess, and more fully makes appear when the French; and our phrases in navigation, he writes philosophy himself, from the that we were taught by the Flemings and number of terms which he is obliged to inLow Dutch. These many and very differ- vent. Virgil seems to have judged the most ent sources of our language may be the truly of his countrymen when, admitting cause why it is so deficient in regularity their inferiority in the more elegant arts, and analogy. Yet we have this advantage he concludes at last with his usual majesty: to compensate the defect, that what we want in elegance we gain in copiousness, in which
Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento,
(Hæc tibi erunt artes) pacisque imponere morein, last respect few languages will be found
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos. superior to our own.
Let us pass from ourselves to the nations From considering the Romans, let us pass of the East. The Eastern world, from the to the Greeks. The Grecian commonwealths, earliest days, has been at all times the sent while they maintained their liberty, were the of enormous monarchy; on its natives fair most heroic confederacy that ever existed. liberty never shed its genial influence. If They were the politest, the bravest, and the at any time civil discords arose among them wisest of men. In the short space of little (and arise there did innumerable), the con- more than a century they became such statestest was never about the form of their gov- men, warriors, orators, historians, physiernment (for this was an object of which cians, poets, critics, painters, sculptors, arthe combatants had no conception); it was chitects, and (last of all) philosophers, that all from the poor motive of, who should be one can hardly help considering that golden sheir master; whether a Cyrus or an Artax- period as a providential event in honour of erxes, a Mahomet or a Mustapha.
human nature, to shew to what perfection Such was their condition, and what was the species might ascend. the consequence ?—Their ideas became con- Now the language of these Greeks was sonant to their servile state, and their words truly like themselves; it was conformable became consonant to their servile ideas. The to their transcendent and universal genius. great distinction forever in their sight was Where matter so abounded, words followed that of tyrant and slave; the most unnatural of course, and those exquisite in every kind, one conceivable, and the most susceptible of as the ideas for which they stood. And pomp and empty exaggeration. Hence they hence it followed there was not a subject to talked of kings as gods, and of themselves be found which could not with propriety be as the meanest and most abject reptiles. expressed in Greek. Nothing was either great or little in moder- Here were words and numbers for the ation, but every sentiment was heightened humour of an Aristophanes ; for the active by incredible hyperbole. Thus, though they elegance of a Philemon or Menander; for sometimes ascended into the great and mag- the amorous strains of a Mimnermus or
Sappho; for the rural lays of a Theocritus SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D., or Bion; and for the sublime conceptions of a Sophocles or Homer. The same in prose.
one of the most eminent of English authors, IIere Isocrates was enabled to display his
was born in 1709, at Lichfield, where his art, in all the accuracy of periods and the
father was a bookseller, studied at Pembroke nice counterpoise of diction. Here Demos
College, Oxford, 1728 to 1731, and after an thenes found materials for that nervous
unsuccessful experiment of teaching school composition, that manly force of unaffected
at Edial, near Lichfield, came to London in eloquence, which rushed like a torrent, too
| 1737, and from that year until his death, in impetuous to be withstood.
1784, may be considered as an author by Who were more different in exhibiting profession. In 1762 a pension of £300, contheir philosophy than Xenophon, Plato, and
ferred by George III., placed him beyond his disciple Aristotle? Different, I say, in
the reach of want. Among his works are : their character of composition ; for as to
Life of Richard Savage, Lond., 1744, 8vo; their philosophy itself, it was in reality the
Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749; Irene, a same. Aristotle, strict, methodic, and or- Tragedy..
Tragedy, Lond., 1749, 8vo; The Rambler, derly ; subtle in thought, sparing in orna
Lond., 1750-52, 2 vols. fol., The Dictionary ment; with little address to the passions or
of the English Language, Lond., 1755, 2 imagination ; but exhibiting the whole with
vols. fol., last edit. by Todd and Latham, such a pregnant brevity that in every sen
| Lond., 1870, 4 vols. 4to; The Prince of tence we seem to read a page. How exqui
| Abyssinia [Rasselas), Lond., 1759, 2 vols. sitely is this all performed in Greek! Let
18mo; The Idler, Lond., 1761, 2 vols. 12mo; those who imagine it may be done as well
Preface to his Edition of Shakspeare (Lond., in another language, satisfy themselves,
1765, 8 vols. 8vo), Lond., 1705, 8vo, new either by attempting to translate him, or by
edit., Lond., 1858, 8vo; A Journey to the perusing his translations already made by
Western Islands of Scotland, Lond., 1775, inen of learning.
8vo; The Lives of the Most Eminent EngOn the contrary, when we read either
lish Poets, with Critical Observations on Xenophon or Plato, nothing of this method
their Works, Lond., 1779-81, 10 vols. 12mo and strict order appears. The formal and
| (being Prefaces to Bell's Poets, 75 vols. didactic is wholly dropt. Whatever they
| 12mo). See Johnson's Works, Oxf., 1825, may teach, it is without professing to be
11 vols. 8vo; Poetical Works, Lond., 1785, teachers; a train of dialogue and truly po
cr. 8vo; Boswell's Life of Johnson, by lite address, in which, as in a mirror, we Croker, Lond., 1818, 8vo, or 10 vols. fp. behold human life adorned in all its colours 8vo. of sentiment and manners.
“Had Johnson left nothing but his Dictionary And yet though these differ in this man one might have traced there a great intellect, a ner from the Stagyrite, how different are genuine man. Looking to its clearness of definithey likewise in character from each other! | tion, its general solidity, bonesty, insight, and -Plato, copious, figurative, and majestic;
successful method, it may be called the best of all
Dictionaries. There is in it a kind of architecintermixing at times the facetious and sa
tural nobleness; it stands there like a great solid tiric; enriching his works with tales and square-built edifico, finished, symmetrically comfables, and the mystic theology of ancient plete: you judge that a true Builder did it.”— times. Xenophon, the pattern of perfect CARLYLE: Hero-Worship. simplicity; everywhere smooth, harmonious,
“Of the Prefaces to his own or other men's
works, it is not necessary to speak in detail. and pure; declining the figurative, the mar
The vellous, and the mystic; ascending but rarely
most ambitious is that to the Dictionary, which is
powerfully written, but promises more than it perinto the sublime; nor then so much trusting
forms, when it professes to give a history of the to the colours of style as to the intrinsic dig.
English language: for it does very little more than nity of the sentiment itself.
give a series of passages from the writings in the l'he language, in the mean time, in which Anglo-Saxon and English tongues of different he and Plato wrote appears to suit so accu ages. The Dictionary itself, with all its faults, rately with the style of both, that when we
still keeps its ground, and has had no successor read either of the two, we cannot help think
that could supplant it. ... The Preface to his
Shakspeare, certainly, is far superior to his other ing that it is he alone who has hit its char
introductory discourses, both fuller of matter ani acter, and that it could not have appeared more elaborate. His remarks on the great dra. so elegant in any other manner.
matist are, generally speaking, sound and judiAnd this is the Greek tongue, from its cious; many of them may even, on a subject suffipropriety and universality made for all that
ciently hackneyed, be deemed original."-LORD is great and all that is beautiful, in every
BROUGHAM: Men of Letters Time of George III.
“He was certainly unskilled in the knowledge subject and under every form of writing:
of obsolete customs and expressions. His explanaGraiis ingenium Graiis dedit ore rotundo tory notes, therefore, are, generally speaking, the Musa loqui.
most controvertible of any; but no future editor
will discharge bis duty to the public who shall mischievous and comprehensive innovation: omit a single sentence of this writer's masterly single words may enter by thousands, and preface, or of his sound and tasteful characters the fabric of the tongue continue the same; of the text of Shakspeare." --DOUCE: Must. of I but new phraseology changes much at once : Shaksp., Preface. “One of his most pleasing as well as most popu
it alters not the single stones of the buildlar works, The Lives of the British Poets, which he ing, but the order of the columns. If an executed with a degree of critical force and talent academy should be established for the culwhich has seldom been concentrated."-SIR WAL tivation of our style—which I, who can ter Scott: Life of Samuel Johnson.
never wish to see dependence multiplied, "Johnson decided literary questions like a law.
| hope the spirit of English liberty will binyer, not like a legislator. He never examined |
der or destroy-let them, instead of comfoundations where a point was already ruled. His whole code of criticism rested on pure assumption, Panga
piling grammars and dictionaries, endearfor which he sometimes quoted a precedent or our, with all their influence, to stop the authority, but rarely troubled himself to give a license of translators, whose idleness and reason drawn from the nature of things."--Lord ignorance, if it be suffered to proceed, will MACAULAY: Edin. Rev., Sept. 1831, and in his reduce us to babble a dialect of France. Essays.
If the changes that we fear be thus irreLEXICOGRAPHY.
sistible, what remains but to acquiesce with It is the fate of those who toil at the lower silence, as in the other insurmountable disemployments of life to be rather driven by tresses of humanity. It remains that we the fear of evil than attracted by the pros- retard what we cannot repel, that we palpect of good ; to be exposed to censure with liate what we cannot cure. Life may be out hope of praise; to be disgraced by mis- lengthened by care, though death cannot carriage, or punished for neglect, where be ultimately defeated; tongues, like gor. success would have been without applause, ernments, have a natural tendency to de and diligence without reward.
| generation : we have long preserved our Among these unhappy mortals is the constitution, let us make some struggles for writer of dictionaries; whom mankind have our language. considered not as the pupil, but the slave of In hope of giving longevity to that which science, the pioneer of literature, doomed its own nature forbids to be immortal, I only to remove rubbish and clear obstruc-have devoted this book, the labour of years, tions from the paths through which learning to the honour of my country, that we may and genius press forward to conquest and no longer yield the palm of philology, withglory, without bestowing a smile on the out a contest, to the nations of the contihumble drudge that facilitates their pro
nent. The chief glory of every people arises gress. Every other author may aspire to
| from its authors: whether I shall add any. praise ; the lexicographer can only hope to thing by my own writings to the reputation escape reproach, and even this negative of English literature must be left to time: recompense has yet been granted to very much of my life has been lost by the pressfew.
ure of disease; much bas been trified away; [We venture to inquire-Who have been | much has always been spent in provision more commended for their labours than for the day that was passing over me; but I lexicographers ?—E.g.: Du Cange, Hickes, shall not think my employment useless or is Raynouard, Somner, Suidas, Stephens, be noble, if by my assistance, foreign nations and fore Johnson, Adelung, Bopp, the Grimms, distant ages gain access to the propagators of Latham, Littre, Passow, Roquefort, Todd,
knowledge, and understand the teachers of Webster, Worcester, since Johnson? To
truth; if my labours afford light to the reposwhat, next to Boswell's pages, does Johnson itories of science, and add celebrity to Bacon, himself owe most of his reputation ? Un- to Hooker, to Milton, and to Boyle. doubtedly to his Dictionary.-S. A. A.) When I am animated by this wish, I look
I have, notwithstanding this discourage- with pleasure on my book, however defecment, attempted a dictionary of the English tive, and deliver it to the world with the language, which, while it was employed in spirit of a man that has endeavoured well. the cultivation of every species of literature,
That it will immediately become popular, I has itself been hitherto neglected ; suffered have not proinised to myself: a few wild to spread, under the direction of chance, blunders and risible absurdities, from which into wild exuberance; resigned to the tyr
no work of such multiplicity was erer free, anny of tine and fashion, and exposed to
may for a time furnish folly with laughter, the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices
and harden ignorance into contempt; but of innovation.
useful diligence will at last prevail, and No book was ever turned from one lan there never can be wanting some who dis guage into another without imparting some- tinguish desert, who will consider that no thing of its native idiom ; this is the most dictionary of a living tongue ever can be
perfect, since, while it is hastening to pub
SHAKESPEARE. lication, some words are budding and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be Shakespeare is, above all writers, at least spent upon syntax and etymology, and that above all modern writers, the poet of nature: even a whole life would not be sufficient; the poet that holds up to his readers a faiththat he whose design includes whatever lan- ful mirror of manners and of life. His charguage can express, must often speak of what acters are not modified by the customs of he does not understand ; that a writer will particular places, unpractised by the rest of sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the the world; by the peculiarities of studies or end, and sometimes faint with weariness professions, which can operate but upon under a task which Scaliger compares to the small numbers; or by the accidents of tranlabours of the anvil and the mine; that what sient fashions or temporary opinions: they is obvious is not always known, and what is are the genuine progeny of common humanknown is not always present; that sudden ity, such as the world will always supply, fits of inadvertency will surprise vigilance, and observation will always find. His perslight avocations will reduce attention, and sons act and think by the influence of those casual eclipses of the mind will darken general passions and principles by which all learning; and that the writer shall often in minds are agitated, and the whole system of vain trace his memory at the moment of life is continued in motion. In the writings need for that which yesterday he knew with of other poets a character is too often an intuitive readiness, and which will come individual; in those of Shakespeare it is uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow. commonly a species.
In this work, when it shall be found that It is from this wide extension of design much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that that so much instruction is derived. It is much likewise is performed ; and though no this which fills the plays of Shakespeare book was ever spared out of tenderness to with practical axioms and domestic wisdom. the author, and the world is little solicitous It was said of Euripides that every verse to know whence proceeded the faults of that was a precept; and it may be said of Shakewhich it condemns, yet it may gratify curi speare that from his works may be collected osity to inform it, that the English dictionary a system of civil and economical prudence. was written with little assistance of the Yet his real power is not shown in the learned, and without any patronage of the splendour of particular passages, but by the great; not in the soft obscurities of retire- progress of his fable and the tenour of his ment, or under the shelter of academic dialogue; and he that tries to recommend bowers, but amid inconvenience and dis- him by select quotations will succeed like the traction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may pedant in Ilierocles, who, when he offered repress the triumph of malignant criticism his house to sale, carried a brick in his to obserye, that if our language is not here pocket as a specimen. fully displayed, I have only failed in an at It will not easily be imagined how much tempt which no human powers have hith Shakespeare excels in accommodating his erto completed. If the lexicons of ancient | sentiments to real life, but by comparing tongues, now immutably fixed, and com- him with other authors. It was observed prised in a few volumes, be yet, after the of the ancient schools of declamation, that toil of successive ages, inadequate and de- the more diligently they were frequented lusive; if the aggregated knowledge and the more was the student disqualified for co-operating diligence of the Italian acade- the world, because he found nothing there micians did not secure them from the cen- which he should ever meet in any other sure of Beni; if the embodied critics of place. The same remark may be applied to France, when fifty years had been spent upon every stage but that of Shakespeare. The their work, were obliged to change its econ- | theatre, when it is under any other direcomny, and give their second edition another tion, is peopled by such characters as were form, I may surely be contented without the never seen, conversing in a language which praise of perfection, which, if I could obtain was never heard, upon topics which will in this gloom of solitude, what would it never arise in the commerce of mankind. avail me? I have protracted my work till But the dialogue of this author is often so most of those whom I wished to please have evidently determined by the incident which sunk into the grave, and success and mis- produces it, and is pursued with so much carriage are empty sounds. I therefore ease and simplicity, that it seems scarcely to dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having claim the merit of fiction, but to have been little to fear or hope from censure or from gleaned by diligent selection out of common praise.
conversation and common occurrences. From the Preface to The Dictionary of the Upon every other stage the universal agent English Language.
His love, by whose power all good and evil is
distributed, and every action quickened or who has mazed his imagination, in following retarded. To bring a lover, a lady, and a the phantoms which other writers raise up rival into the fable; to entangle them in before him, may here be cured of his deliricontradictory obligations, perples them with ous ecstacies, by reading human sentiments oppositions of interest, and harass them with in human language, by scenes from which a violence of desires inconsistent with each hermit may estimate the transactions of the other; to make them meet in rapture, and world, and a confessor predict the progress part in agony ; to fill their mouths with hy of the passions. perbolical joy and outrageous sorrow; to Ilis adherence to general nature has exdistress them as nothing human ever was dis- posed him to the censure of critics who tressed; to deliver them as nothing human form their judgments upon narrower prinever was delivered ; is the business of a ciples. Dennis and Rymer think his Romans modern dramatist. For this, probability is not sufficiently Roman; and Voltaire cenviolated, life is misrepresented, and language sures bis kings as not completely roya!. is depraved. But love is only one of many Dennis is offended that Menenius, a senator passions; and as it has no greater influence of Rome, should play the buffoon; and Volupon the sum of life, it has little operation taire perhaps thinks decency violated when in the dramas of a poet who caught his ideas the Danish usurper is represented as a from the living world. and exhibited only drunkard. But Shakespeare always makes what he saw before him. He knew that nature predominate over accident; and if he any other passion, as it was regular or exor- preserves the essential character is not very bitant, was a cause of happiness or calamity. careful of distinctions superinduced and ad
Characters thus ample and general were ventitious. His story requires Romans or not easily discriminated and preserved ; yet Kings, but he thinks only on men. He perhaps no poet ever kept his personages knew that Rome, like every other city, had more distinct from each other. I will not men of all dispositions; and wanting a bufsay with Pope, that every speech may be as- foon, he went into the senate-house for that signed to the proper speaker, because many which the senate-house would certainly have speeches there are which have nothing char- afforded him. He was inclined to show an acteristical: but, perhaps, though some may usurper and a murderer not only odious but be equally adapted to every person, it will despicable; he therefore added drunkenness be difficult to find any that can be properly to his other qualities, knowing that kings transferred from the present possessor to love wine like other men, and that wine another claimant. The choice is right, when exerts its natural power over kings. These there is reason for choice.
are the petty cavils of petty minds : a poet Other dramatists can only gain attention overlooks the casual distinction of country by hyperbolical or aggravated characters, by and condition, as a painter, satisfied with the fabulous and unexampled excellence or de- figure, neglects the drapery. pravity, as the writers of barbarous romances The censure which he has incurred by invigorated the reader by a giant and a dwarf; mixing comic and tragic scenes, as it extends and he that should form his expectations of to all his works, deserves more considerahuman affairs from the play, or from the tale, tion. Let the fact be first stated, and then would be equally deceived.
examined. Shakespeare has no heroes; his scenes Shakespeare's plays are not, in the rigordre occupied only by men who act and speak ous and critical sense, either tragedies or as the reader thinks that he should himself comedies, but compositions of a distinct have spoken or acted on the same occasion : kind : exhibiting the real state of sublunary even where the agency is supernatural, the nature, which partakes of good and evil, dialogue is level with life. Other writers joy and sorrow, mingled with endless vadisguise the most natural passions and most riety of proportion, and innumerable modes frequent incidents ; so that he who contem- of combination; and expressing the course plates them in the book will not know thein in of the world, in which the loss of one is the the world : Shakespeare approximates the re- gain of another; in which, at the same time, mote, and familiarizes the wonderful: the the reveller is hastening to his wine, and the event which he represents will not happen ; mourner burying his friend: in which the but, if it were possible, its effects would malignity of one is sometimes defeated by the probably be such as he has assigned ; and it frolic of another; and many mischiefs and may be said that he has not only shown many benefits are done and hindered without human nature as it acts in real exigencies, | design. but as it would be found in trials to which Out of this chaos of mingled purposes it cannot be exposed.
and casualties the ancient poets, according This therefore is the praise of Shakespeare: to the laws which custom had prescribed, that his drama is the mirror of life; that he selected some the crimes of men, and some