« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
their loud disapprobation, what kind of a reception would he meet with, who should show, by his utterance, that he had no certain knowledge of the true mode of distinguishing long and short syllables? But we unhesitatingly think that some doubts of the kind indicated, exist in the minds of those who have made the most thorough investigation of this whole subject, and have the most complete comprehension of it in all its minute details. It is idle, then, to think, with our present knowledge, of reproducing the living language of Rome; and of course we cannot be urged to adopt a proposed pronunciation of the vowels only, or of any other mere portion of the letters, on the ground that that end is attainable.
But if, now, the sound of every letter, and combination of letters, in the Latin language, were settled theoretically, could we hope to revive the oral language of the Augustan age? We may answer this question by asking another. If you should select an intelligent man of our own nation, and give him the best conceivable description of the French language, as full and as minute as could be desired, and set him at work to acquire, without any oral instruction, the pronunciation of that language, could he be expected to come out, at the end of any given period of study, with anything like a French pronunciation of French? And if, now, you should send him back for further contemplation, and comparison, and private self-drilling, would he not be more likely to confirm himself in a vicious pronunciation, than to speak a tongue intelligible to a Parisian audience? And are we in as good a condition in reference to Latin, as the person supposed would be with respect to French? He is studying a contemporaneous language; and if any doubt arises in his mind, he can send out his written inquiries to those who speak that language in its purity, and who will return him full written answers. His native language also is known to those who furnish him his written instructions, and they are, therefore, able to refer him, for comparison, to sounds with which he, as well as they, are familiar. The student of Latin pronunciation, on the other hand, can only gather up scattered, and, for the most part, incidental information, from ancient authors, and combine it with his observations on the progress of changes in the affiliated languages of Europe, and the present pronunciation of those languages. Has not, then, the student of French a far better reason to expect success, than the student of a lost pronunciation of an ancient language? As we have said already, it is as difficult to describe a sound to those who cannot hear it, as to describe a color to those who cannot see it; and he who fancies that, with our present knowledge, to say the least, the dead language of Rome can be made to sound again with the natural tones of life, can hardly, in our judgment, have realized the length, and breadth, and depth, of the problem. As well might one think to make a satisfactory lifelike portrait of Augustus from the verbal descriptions of his person which have come down to us, or expect that twenty different artists, of rare skill, would, from the same verbal description, however minute, produce the same portrait of a person whom they had never seen. They might, it is true, compare their work while it was in progress, and, by giving up, each of them, a little here and a little there, come out at last with pictures alike. But then, the fine lines which give the expression—the true life of the picture-would not be drawn from the description furnished them, but from their own combined and corrected conceptions.
Similar, we think, must, at last, that pronunciation of Latin be, which the whole world of scholars shall finally agree to adopt, if they shall ever come to an agreement on the subject. It will not be derived, without any doubt or question, from satisfactory materials, but will be the result of compromises of judgment among various scholars, who will agree at last to call their combined system the right one. And although it may be as nearly right as it is possible that it should be, it will yet, in our judgment, fail of being such a language as the ancient crowds of the Forum would have listened to without an explosion.
To some, this may seem a discouraging view of the case ; and we should agree with them, if we thought it a thing of prime importance to secure this ultimate result, which is beyond our reach. But we do not think the subject of pronunciation any less important, on this account. It is desirable that we should be made acquainted with all well established facts, and that the field of these investigations should continue to be diligently cultivated; for everything that can be learned stands intimately connected with the language and life of Rome, and will have a philological significance. But the value of the knowledge we already possess, and may yet obtain, on this subject, does not depend on our being able to make it complete. The painter, it is true, may not be able to put upon the canvas a perfect and life-like picture of Julius Agricola, but we are no less interested, on that account, in the beautiful description of his person which has been preserved to us by his biographer. It is difficult for us to learn how to read Latin poetry, in the Roman manner, according to quantity; for the modern ear is satisfied with regarding accent in reading, and pays a strict regard to time, only in singing; nor do we confidently know how the Romans accomplished it. But this ignorance, or want of skill, in reading as the Romans did, does not destroy our interest in the metrical systems of the Romans. And the like may be said of all the knowledge which lies within our reach, on this subject.
When, now, it is proposed to the English scholar to say yam for jam, and Tseetsayro, or Keekayro, for Cicero,--to give up a system of Latin pronunciation in which the great majority of Latin scholars who speak English are agreed,—a system which is by no means without a rational basis, and is pliable enough to enable him to illustrate all the new knowledge which is gained, from time to time, in this branch of study, and is urged to substitute for it either a “true system of Latin Pronunciation” which is not certainly known to be a “true system” at all, but only likely to give him, in practice, a caricature of the ancient pronunciation, or a “continental” system, that he may pronounce as the Germans do, or as the Italians do, though not by any means as the Romans did, then he may reasonably reply, that he is not satisfied that the substitute proposed is such as makes it worth his while to incur for it the evils and difficulties involved in the change.
ARTICLE VII.-PURITAN HISTORY.
The Puritans: Or the Church, Court, and Parliament of
England, during the reigns of Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth. By SAMUEL HOPKINS. In three Volumes. 8vo.
Vols. I and II. pp. 549, 539. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. The History of the Puritans, or Protestant Nonconform
ists; from the Reformation in 1517 to the Revolution in 1988; comprising an account of their principles; their attempts for a farther Reformation in the Church ; their sufferings; and the lives and characters of their most considerable divines. By DANIEL NEAL, M. A. Reprinted from the text of Dr. Toulmin's edition ; with his life of the author and account of his writings. Revised, corrected, and enlarged, with additional notes. By John O. CHOCLES, M. A. With nine portraits on steel. In two volumes. 8vo. Pp. 534, 564. New York: Harper & Brothers.
NEAL's History of the Puritans, though often spoken against by partisan writers in the interest of the Anglican establishment, holds its place as a standard work. Written and published more than a hundred years ago, it was revised and vindicated during the life-time of its author. Half a century afterwards, it was reëdited with annotations by the learned and diligent Joshua Toulmin, confirming and correcting the text. The first American edition, in four volumes, had long been out of print, when the late Dr. John 0. Choules prepared for the Ilarpers the edition, in two volumes, which is now accessible to all American readers. Although the notes of the last editor add less to the value of the work as edited by Toulmin than might have been expected, they add something, but the great merit of the edition is that it brings the history of the Puritan controversy in England, “ from the Reformation in 1517 to the Revolution in 1688," within the reach of all who have any disposition to study a subject so
intimately related to the history not only of our own country and churches, but also of British law and liberty, and of Christianity everywhere. Neal's History of the Puritans is necessary to the completeness of the library which ought to be in every parsonage.
The new work which Mr. Hopkins is giving to the public on a part of the same subject, and of which two volumes are before us, is exceedingly unlike its time-honored predecessor. Neal's history, though written with much simplicity and clearness as well as correctness of style, has never been a very fascinating book to general readers, not even to those whose religious and ecclesiastical sympathies might be expected to make it interesting to them. This new history, beginning with the reign of Edward VI, and to terminate with that of Elizabeth, is more brilliant and entertaining, and, at the same time, more philosophical. In the dramatic form which it often assumes, in the picturesque details which it gives, in its life-like representation of the personages that figure in the story, there is a charm rarely felt by the reader of Neal's more formal and stately narrative. Yet, in that charm, there comes a suspicion that what seems so much like a historical romance, is not exactly history; and the reader can hardly be satisfied till he makes some comparison of the new with the old, verifying perhaps by the sober testimony of Neal, some of the identical passages which, as Mr. Hopkins tells the story, seem most like fiction. It may be safely suggested to purchasers, that, in any well furnished library, Neal's History of the Puritans ought to stand on the same shelf with these attractive volunes.
But the work before us is by no means a mere reproduction of the materials collected by Neal. Mr. Hopkins seems to have explored very thoroughly all the original sources of information, so far as they are accessible in this country; and he has made good use of them. We are compelled to acknowledge that, though we were at first suspicious, the more we read his work, the more confidence do we have in its value as a history. The excessive and elaborate archaism of language in the dialogues offends us; now and then a word, where the