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terpretation which the first view of the passage suggests to every reader, which is, that he really did offer her in sacrifice.
On this we remark, finally, that while we go for the adoption. of the "plain rules of common sense" in ascertaining correct "views in biblical transactions," and for "realising a distinct idea of the times and position of Jephthah," we have more instead of "less reluctance" to admit an interpretation of his vow which involves the morality of an act of one so highly commended by an inspired writer, and thus confirming the captious sceptic in his cavil against the morality of the Bible, whatever may chance to have been our "first" view of the matter; especially when a more comprehensive critical investigation of the whole subject compels us to exonerate this honoured parent from so vile an imputation. With us vastly more reliance should be placed upon sober, intelligent, patient, sacred thought, in such examples of obscurity and difficulty, than upon mere first views; not, however, because we esteem the "plain, common-sense first views of ordinary readers" less, but because we appreciate the diligent research, the rigid and enlightened scrutiny of the pious, intelligent, critical biblical student more. On this ground we cheerfully place the two theories, leaving the reader to decide the issue.
ART. V.-1. Trench on the Study of Words. 12mo, pp. 236.
2. Fowler on the English Language. New York: Harper & Brothers. 8vo, pp. 675.
3. Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms. New York. 8vo. 4. Richardson's English Dictionary. London.
WHEN an ordinary workman digs out from the quarry a block of sandstone, it may seem to him but so many square feet of rock that may be used in building a wall. If his attention. should be attracted to the curious marks that appear on its surface, they will do little more than excite a momentary curiosity. But let the keen eyes of a Hugh Miller or an Agassiz rest upon this rock, and it becomes instantly a record of the deepest significance. These mysterious marks become hieroglyphics instinct with meaning; and in tracing them out there is revealed the history of an undated past. In the curling surface of the rock the geologist detects the ripple-marks that
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tell the story of an ancient sea that rolled its peaceful waves along the beach during the long, still summer night, and of the morning breeze that covered gently with the sifted sand the traces of this rippling tide, and sealed them up in perpetual remembrance. In the dotted marks that indent it, he sees the trace of the pattering rain-drops that came suddenly down from the summer sky upon the smooth, dry strand, and passing quickly away, left braided on the retiring cloud that beautiful bow that was afterward selected by God as the symbol of hope to man. And as he looks yet closer, he finds the footprints of living things, that have here daguerreotyped themselves to distant generations. A yet further examination reveals to him the very forms of the ancient dwellers in these waters, entombed in this enduring sarcophagus, and presenting in strong hieroglyphics at once their biography and their epitaph. In the structure of their jaws, and the contents of their stomachs, they betray the nature of their food; in the forms of their fins and skeletons, they evince their habits; and in the attitude of terror, resistance, and struggle that they bear, they tell the story of a sudden and violent death. There rises thus to the reading eye the picture of this ancient world, with its swarming tribes of life; now gambolling in the sunshine; now fleeing in terror before the tempest and the earthquake; and now lashing the waves into foam in the fury of their deadly and terrible contests. Other fossils will tell him the story of a more advanced period in the earth's history. In the stomachs of the huge saurians that he finds, are yet preserved the undigested remains of the enormous reptile, the capture of which demanded that terrible combat, which in the end may have cost the victor his life, by a fit of saurian dyspepsia. In others he finds the remains of the very vegetables and trees whose enormous fossils are built into the coal measures, or deposited beside the unwieldy frame that once devoured them. As the geologist gazes on these stony pictures, there rise to his eye those ancient forests and marshes, with their towering tree ferns waving like queenly palms in the hot and mephitic atmosphere; reeds that stand like the mast of "some tall admiral;" and huge club-mosses shooting fifty feet in the air; while rolling their ponderous bulk in the tepid waters, or browsing lazily amid this gigantic herbage, are reptiles to which the crocodile of the Nile is but a whisking lizard, and forms of mylodon, megatherium, and dinotherium, that seem but the horrid creations of the sick man's dream.
All this history, and much more, is written in these stony annals of the past; and yet, generation after generation might quarry, and hew, and build these rocky registers, in utter ignorance of their wonderful contents. Hugh Miller the
mason might have used these rocks as building stone just as well if Hugh Miller the geologist had never discovered them to be the archives where God had deposited the history of a world.
Now, precisely the same state of facts exists in regard to the words that we use in daily life. They have been formed in the remote past. They have lived in other elements of thought, and served other uses of action than the present. They have mingled with the changes of human history, and contain imbedded in their structure a record of these changes, which a careful inspection will enable us to trace with great distinctness. Words are in truth the fossils of history; embalming in their very structure the record of facts that have found no other memorials. Their value in this respect has only been fully known in our own day, that has given birth to the science of comparative philology. This science, by comparing the various languages of the earth, is detecting facts of history and ethnology that have found no other record. It is yet in its infancy; but the results already reaped give promise of a rich harvest when more abundant materials for its use shall have been collected.
It is not our purpose to attempt a sketch of this young science, nor is it needful for our present design. They who are ignorant of all languages but their own, may find much to interest and instruct in studying that, even though they never venture into the tangled thicket of comparative philology. Indeed, it has been well said that "the discovery that words are living powers has been to many a man like the dropping of scales from his eyes, like the acquiring of another sense, or the introduction to a new world.”
Our object is rather to induce those who have turned but little attention to this subject, to devote more careful study to it, by giving some insight into the treasures contained in words. Could we be assured that Trench's little volume on "the Study of Words" was known generally to our readers, we should deem a further prosecution of this subject comparatively needless, for some of our best illustrations have been taken from its pages. But as the study of words has usually been esteemed a very dry topic, this most entertaining and instructive volume has probably been but little read by the masses. It is our purpose to endeavour to show, that dry as this subject seems generally, it may, like the dry carcase of the lion that Samson slew, contain a hidden treasure of sweetness; that very valuable uses may be made of words beyond their use in speaking and writing; and for these ends to select from any source facts suitable for our purpose, without giving in each case a formal acknowledgment of the author or the book. If
the profound philologist shall consider some of our illustrations commonplace, and some of our etymologies questionable, we hope that he will remember that the commonest things are those that most men overlook; and that there exists the widest room for difference of opinion as to the etymologies of words, and that even a doubtful etymology may illustrate a true principle.
To give a notion of the subject in hand, let us select a simple illustration. Take, for example, an every-day transaction, the dating and signing of a letter. The words "dating," signing," and "letter," have wrapped up in them certain historical facts. We have derived the word "date" from the Roman custom of inscribing a letter as "datum," "given" on a certain day, though the custom has been long laid aside; the word "signing," from the ancient use of the signet-ring, and the later custom of our illiterate ancestors in making the sign of the cross in place of their names, which they were unable to write; and the word "letter," from the Latin litera, which again is from lino, in allusion to the use of waxen tablets in writing. All these words indicate our connection with old Rome, through a rude and uncultivated ancestry. But the same fact is yet further embodied in the date. The amazing power of Rome in impressing her practical organizations on the world, and her mission thus in human history, is seen in the fact that we adopt her calendar, deriving the very word from the kalends, or "calling days," in which the augurs proclaimed kalenda, or called out the beginning of another month. The name of the month that we write is Roman, and embodies some fact in Roman life, either the name of a god, like the months of Janus (January), Mars (March), Maia (May), or Juno (June); or a religious ceremony, like February, from februo, to lustrate or purify; or a climatic fact, like April, that records the opening (aperio) of the leaves; or the two great Cæsars, Julius and Augustus; or the fact that the old Roman year began in March and consisted of but ten months, in the numerical designation of the four closing months of the year. The names of the days of the week also carry us back to Rome, but indicate that we have received this notation through a Teutonic ancestry, where the dies solis became Sun-day; dies luna, Mo(o)n day; dies Martis, Tuisco's-day; dies Mercurii, Woden's-day; dies Jovis, Thor's-day; dies Veneris, Freia's-day; and dies Saturni, Saturn's-day. And it may be a betrayal of the ignorance of our fathers, that while the Roman arrangement was astronomical, or rather astrological, the Teutonic nomenclature was adopted as if it were purely mythological, and governed by the names of the Scandinavian divinities. In the date of the year we record
that awful fact in the world's history, that God was made manifest in flesh, and dwelt incarnate on earth. And in most cases, the name of the place where we date from has some historic relations, and will connect us with some person or place of the past, either in the old world or the new, that determined the adoption of this name. It will thus be seen that as we look into the most familiar words, we find fossilised facts, one within another, each carrying us farther back towards the remote and unrecorded past.
There is much curious history, doubtless, wrapped up in names, now irrecoverably lost. The very fact that surnames became necessary embodies an historical fact. A sur-name, or super-name, is simply an added name, and implies the arising of reasons for this addition. In feudal times, a single name only was necessary, as is practically the case now among the slaves of the South, because the legal relations of the serf did not demand any more specific designation. As the feudal system began to disintegrate, and the enlarged intercourse of the people united with their enlarged rights to give importance to particular persons, it became necessary to adopt some expedient to distinguish between different individuals. Among the Romans we find a system, which like every thing else about that wonderful people, indicates that tendency to compact. organization that was so striking a feature in their national life. The Roman citizen had three names,-the first, or prænomen, indicating the individual; the second, or nomen, the gens or clan; and the third, or cognomen, the family. Thus in Marcus Tullius Cicero, Marcus is the individual name, Tullius indicates his descent from the Tullian gens or clan, and Cicero the particular family of that gens from which he descended. Such a methodical nomenclature obviously indicates an advanced state of civil and political life. But it is otherwise with our surnames. They indicate no settled conditions of life, no definite relations of families, but a state of transition in which mere accident determined the.choice of the name. The simplest and perhaps earliest designations would be those of relation. Thus, from the sons of Robert, John, William, &c., we have Robertsons, Johnsons, Williamsons, Jamisons, Thomsons, Dicksons, Wilsons, Harrisons, and others. The same fact was expressed by the Highlanders in the prefix Mac; by the Normans in the word Fitz (which is only a corruption of filius, son); by the Welsh Ap; the Russian suffix witz; the Polish sky; and the Spanish er; while the Irish extended the nomenclature to the relation of grandson by their O, or Oy. The next step. would naturally be the expression of remoter relations; and the kinsfolk of Tom, John, or Jean, Wat, &c., became the Tomkinses, Jenkinses, and Watkinses, although in some cases