Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

adjectives, again. They are only different species of the noun, In like manner, substantives and verbs. It must always be a question, whether the substantive was originally a verb, or the verb originally a substantive. What we call the article, is evidently only a kind of pronoun. Verbs infinitive are neither more nor less than nouns; and in Hebrew, consequently, are often put in regimine. And as to participles, or rather that species of words which have been termed participles, and classed with the verbs as such, the fact is, these are nothing more than attributives of one form or other, into the etymology of which nothing, having the least connection with tense, has ever entered. In fact, I have come, at length, to this conclusion; that the division of words into parts of speech, is barbarous, fanciful, and unworthy of the dignity of language: and I have consequently determined, in the course of my future philological studies, to dismiss all idea of parts of speech from my mind; which really will be found very much to simplify the pursuit, and to remove many difficulties from the learner's path.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. The mode is very simple, certainly. Miss Bradford. Alas, I must go now. What an intellectual treat! [Exit.]

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. Grammatical concords, I conceive, are another fiction. Talk of the verb agreeing with its nominative case? Why; the nominative case is in the verb; and what we call the nominative case, is only another word, in apposition with it. And as to nouns, and adjectives, in agreement, having the same form-forms, after all, are nothing. What signifies the form of a word? I look, for my part, to the word itself, not to the form. Some people think they can ground doctrines of Scripture, upon the forms of words. But until it shall be made to appear probable, that the Sacred Writers did usually involve

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Charles, you are now beginning, though, I trust, without understanding your own meaning, to talk something worse than nonsense; and you must pardon me for interrupting you. The plural verbs, nouns, and adjectives, which the Bible so repeatedly uses, in speaking of the Godhead, do, most incontrovertibly, attest and vindicate the cardinal and saving doctrine, of the most blessed, holy, and undivided Trinity. The man who does not see this, (I mean, if he has looked into the subject,) must, I fear, be blind.-Come; suppose we begin with Syriac. Take down that New Testament, there; and open where you please.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. The Syriac language holds an intermediate place, between the Hebrew and the Greek. And

there are several Greek words, which come originally from the Hebrew, but which we could never perhaps have traced, had we not known the change experienced by them, in passing through the Chaldee and Syriac.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Very true. For instance, Taupos. However, our object, at present, is not to etymologize, but to construe. Choose your own place.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. Allow me first, sir, if you please, just to make a memorandum of that word, in my pocket-book. (Writes.) There it is, ETYMOLOGIZE. I think I never met with that word before; and I may be glad to make use of it. Etymologize.-Etymologize.-Etymologize.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Perhaps I never did.-Where do you begin?

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. What a handsome copy of the Syriac New Testament. Worthy of the excellent Society which published, and the learned Professor who edited it.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. A very learned Professor, a very excellent Society, and a very handsome book.-Suppose you take the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Turn to the first of Acts. (After a pause.) What, cannot you find the place? Give me the Testament.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. To say the truth, sir, if you will allow me to explain my sentiments, the fact is-I am satisfied in my own mind, that the characters in which a language may happen to be written, are no essential part of the language itself. Now with regard to Syriac, for instance. The language itself is a very important and most interesting one. But as to the Syriac character, sir, inasmuch as the New Testament is also printed in Hebrew letters, I cannot say that I have particularly made the character a very marked object of my attention. This is really a matter of a good deal of nicety; but I hope I have made myself understood.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Perfectly. Well, then, reach down Hutter. There he stands, in two volumes folio; lettered on the back, Novum Testamentum xii. Linguis.-There, either volume. -There you will find the Syriac in Hebrew characters. Now, then, choose your place.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. Has he not also published the Old Testament, in six languages, sir?

Rev. Dr. Bradford. There stands a part of the Old Testament, published by him in six languages, a little to the left. Where do you begin? (A pause.) Any place.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. Here are two columns with Hebrew

characters.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Well. Cannot you tell which is Hebrew, and which is Syriac?

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. The affinities of the Syriac and Hebrew languages are numerous and striking. The Chaldee is a kind of intermediate step. Buxtorf's Chaldee and Syriac Grammar is a useful little work. But, on the whole, I think there is no grammarian like Alting. Yet, what extraordinary men were the Buxtorfs!

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Extraordinary indeed. And I fear we are not sufficiently thankful, that such men should have been raised up. Well, that is quite sufficient in Syriac. As you have Hutter open before you, suppose we try a little German.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. The languages of Christian Europe will fall under three principal divisions, in one of which the German takes the lead.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Some say the Dutch. Come, a verse or two of German. Have you got the pronunciation? That, to me, was one of the greatest difficulties. (A pause.) Proceed, two verses will suffice.

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. It will be necessary to mention, sir, that, according to my humble opinion, the principle which I have already laid down respecting the characters of languages, as it affects the Syriac, equally holds good with regard to the German. To the German character, sir, I cannot say that I have paid any very particular or minute attention. Indeed, even in Germany itself, I happen to know that the use of Roman type is beginning, very generally, to supersede the old letter.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Is the Deutsch-Zigeunerisches Wörterbuch in Roman type?

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. What book is that, sir?

Rev. Dr. Bradford. I mean, Bischoff's dictionary of the Gipsy tongue, which lately reached you from the continent. I say, young man, is that book in the Roman type, or in the old German letter?

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. (looking a little pale, and staring.) Yes, sir-No, sir-That is, sir-Let me see, sirOh, now I recollect, sir. The German part is in German characters, but the Gipsy is in Roman. So I was able, you see, just to run over the Gipsy words, and get some general idea of the language; which of course was my chief object, in sending for the book, sir.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Very well, very well. That, perhaps, may serve for an explanation. There is no occasion to put yourself in an agitation, or to talk yourself out of breath.

[ocr errors]

Now, then, for Arabic. Golius, I think, you have not yet got. What lexicon do you use?

Enter Miss Bradford.

Miss Bradford. I just looked in to say the Bibles are gone to the school. How goes on the examination? Rev. Dr. Bradford. I think we are beginning to see our way a little.

Miss Bradford. By the bye, now I am here, I should like to ask a question, respecting Gesenius's larger Hebrew Grammar. You are upon the subject of languages; my question relates to languages; consequently I shall not interrupt you.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Very logically argued. Here is the book, 1817.

Miss Bradford. Well, here at the end, p. 880, I found a few words in English. "The books, which I did you say of." He seems to refer to p. 744, where I find only, "The books, which I did." Pray, what does he mean? I long to know why he quotes English-and such English, too.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Give me his book, Flora. Let me see. Oh, the matter is clear enough.-Gesenius, you must know, though his works are of the neologian or infidel school, is a very great Hebraist. In his grammars, he occasionally illustrates Hebrew idioms, by the languages of modern Europe: and he has been much applauded, for the reading and knowledge thus displayed. This, then, is one of his illustrations from the English. First, in the text, "The books, which I did." Here, however, there is a trifling inaccuracy: therefore he corrects it at the end of the book; "The books, which I did you say of." The neologian school, you see, has some distinguished ornaments.-Now then, Charles, if you please, let us proceed with our Arabic.

Miss Bradford. Arabic! you don't say so. My dear Peter, that is, Dr. Bradford, I really must stay; indeed, indeed I must, intrude or not intrude; to hear what Charles has to say about Arabic. He has such a clever way of explaining things; and so clear he makes them. Oh, Arabic, Arabic, if I could but learn Arabic! We must take it up, Charles, positively after Coptic. Oh, Charles Bradford Brereton, you are so clever, and such a linguist. I hope you will never be a Gesenius.

Rev. Dr. Bradford. Amen, from my soul. But, Flora, you are somewhat too complimentary to Charles. I suppose more young men are spoiled for life, if not ruined for eternity, by the compliments of their female friends (mothers and sisters always included), than by

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. (much recovered.) Since it is

my aunt's request, I will beg your permission, sir, to make a few remarks on Arabic. Allow me, in the first place, to advert, very briefly, to a remarkable absurdity. The Arabic is the most copious language in the world. It is plainly a dialect of the Hebrew. Yet there are persons who would persuade us, that the Hebrew was the most defective. What can be more improbable?

[ocr errors]

Rev. Dr. Bradford. There, Charles, you are right. People have confounded two ideas, which are totally distinct. We have, comparatively speaking, but few remaining relics of the language; that is, only the inspired books, which compose the Sacred Volume; and hence some persons have taken it for granted, that the language itself was scanty. But you will perhaps see something of mine upon this subject, in a periodical that comes out (D. V.) on New-year's Day, which will put the matter in a clearer light. There never was a more groundless assumption. We have every reason for supposing, that the Hebrew language was most copious. Yet the contrary has been most impudently asserted, and pertinaciously re-echoed ; till learned men, and wise men, yes, and even some good men, have been led to believe it.-Nevertheless, as to the study of Arabic, it is by no means to be—

C. Bradford Brereton, Esq. Nevertheless, as to the study of Arabic, as my uncle was going to say, it is by no means to be depreciated. There, sir, I have the honour of agreeing with you most cordially. In fact, the matter stands thus. When one language is derived from another, it will generally be found to contain some of the roots of the original, with their sense more or less altered by use. This, probably, is the case with Arabic, the first-born daughter of the Hebrew. Hence the light, which it affords to the Hebrew scholar. For instance, I find a root in the Bible, the true meaning of which is disputed. Well then, we have the same root in the Arabic, with its meaning, perhaps, a little varied. Hence, what important light is thus thrown upon the text of Scripture. Let us take a modern instance. The English language, as every body knows, is a dialect of the German. Some say of the Dutch, some say of the Saxon, some say of neither one nor the other: however, let us say the German, for argument's sake. Now, in the course of derivation, the German roots have, in many instances, experienced some change of meaning, indeed; yet still we have them. For instance, "flint," in English, means a hard kind of stone; while the German word "flinte," is commonly used for a gun or fowling-piece. Now suppose a time to arrive hereafter, when the German shall have become a dead language, the

« VorigeDoorgaan »