« VorigeDoorgaan »
with joy, with joy and grace-xapis. Think States have degrees as human bodies have : of him who
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter—and the Grave; Sternitur, et dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos ;
and no hope seems so vague and visonary as of the Spartan, who "smiles in dying;" re
that of making, by any combination of cirmember the luxury of beauty which pervades lot, or of reviving a dead nationality: What
cumstances, an exception to the common and saturates every image, every word of is true of the individual is true of the mass their poets, whose very storms are set to of individuals; and what is true of the body music, like some tempest-chorus of Handel of a man is no less true of his mind, and or Beethoven; with the oldest of whom the crooked beak of the careering ship cuts musi- incarnation of his mind. Alas, the noble
consequently of his language, the completest cally through the billows-billows so deeply tongue is dead :amethyst, and set off with such dazzling foam, that we seem to be sailing in fairyland :
The learned Greek, rich in fit epithets,
Blessed in the lovely marriage of sweet words. 'Εν δ' άνεμος πρησε μέσον εστίον, αμφί δε κύμα Στείρη πορφύρέον μεγάλ' αχο, νης Γούσης. The salute of the primitive Romans, like
their social character, their manners, their inWe are not sure whether this single word stitutions, was founded upon the idea of xaups be not a better key to the people than bodily strength, vigor, aptitude for war: all the sage books from Gronovius to Grote. with them virtue (virtus, manhood) was syIn Homer one does not meet with much nonymous with being "frigoris et famei pavariety of greeting : indeed forms could hard tiens"—their ideal man was ly have flourished at such a time. Everybody appears to be acquainted with every
Patriæ idoneus, utilis agris, body else in the throng of the onslaught as
Utilis et bellorum et pacis rebus agendis. perfectly as so many Tipperary boys at a faction-fight; for they almost always pre-“Salve," "vale”—be healthy, be strong ! lude their encounter with a little chaffing, to Surely this is as perfect a portrait as xaspe, the same effect as the “Come out, ye thief as Shalum. What a people that must have o' the world, till I bate the skin aff the ugly been, where virtue signified manliness, and bones of you!” We say to the same effect, valor (literally strength) at the same time for the Homeric heroes use, even in their value and courage ; a man's whole value bemost excited moments, language which never ing in the measure of bis valor. These are loses a character of majesty, still further a pair of convertible terms, whose existence heightened by the sonorous recitative of the forms the best commentary on the elder divine hexameter. The comedy-writers, no history of Rome. Was not the poet right less than the great Mæonian, afford in- when he cried out in that noble rapture, numerable examples of chaffing, often of a truly rich, inaginative, and altogether Hel- Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, caveto : lenic luxuriance: but we must not allow our
Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos ? pen to linger in these “ shady spaces.” As to the Neo-Greeks, having lost all distinctive for true valor, virtue, manliness, consists nationality, they of course have not pre- quite as much in sparing the overthrown as served anything really original in language. in warring down the proud. A people with Theirs is a vile piebald jargon, with just so such words familiarly in their mouths could many traces remaining of the glorious speech not help being dominant. What a tone of of old as to make the contemplative more frank gravity, of rough military bluntness keenly feel its degradation ; like a baker's there is in all their older language! One oven piled up of ruin-stones, among which man meets another, by whose side he may glances out here and there some broken bit have stood when the savage-eyed sbaggyof Phidian bas-relief put in upside down. haired Gaul was hurled back in the full fury The Greeks of Otho say si xaveis? what dost of his shrieking onset from the steady line of thou?-a phrase which evidently could by the Legion, and he says to his-not friend or no possibility have grown up indigenously “bruder," but--fellow-citizen,“ be healthy," among such a chattering, cheating, unprofit be strong.” But observe, as they declined able people. Our wise old poet, Lord Brooke, from the “barbata simplicitas,” bow their says
salutations grew more and more ingenious :
Occurrit quidam, notus mihi nomine tantum, simply upon the state of our digestion. This Arreptâque manu : Quid agis, dulcissime rerum?- indeed is more profound than it seems; and Suaviter, ut nunc est, inquam, et cupio omnia quæ vis.
the connection between "pulchrè concoquere"
and “nihil timere," is so close, delicate, and This dulcissime rerum, something like the mysterious, that the only aim of half the “my dear creatures" and "childs” of Con- metaphysical and political treatises that have greves's and Farquhar's fops, is a shrewd ever been published, is to trace the bond argument of degeneracy; a Roman of the which unites them. The French theorem days of Camillus who should have used a just quoted was promulgated at a time when phrase of such effeminate turn, would have the whole surface of society, nay, the very been pulled up before the Censor and foundations of right and wrong were heaving swinged for corrupting the morals of the and cracking: and it was received with some Quirites. We too hear occasionally, "Oh alarm by the few. On the whole, it was a you sweet, dear little thing!" but it is said merry sort of a time--pleasant but wrong; only to a baby, and it is but young ladies of and was admirably formulized by Madame sixteen who say it. On the other hand the Du Barri (Madame's own existence being Quid agis ?—what dost thou?-is evidently nothing else but an intense individualization a good deal older than the Dulcissime rerum, of the epoch) in her " après nous le déand characteristic of the true manners--die luge !"- --à mot to the full as picturesque as rect straightforwardness and indomitable ac- the equally renowned exclamation of Titivity. "Pretty well, as times go," answers berius: poor Horace, "and I am your most obedient;"
'Εμου θανοντος γαια μιχθησω πυρι ! dying to get rid of the unmerciful toga. After the final extinction of constitutional holder. Čupio omnia quæ vis is far from liberty and order in Rome, when slavery and being a badly devised phrase for the purpose of showing a man politely to the door; conquest went hand in hand, and marched
with such colossal strides over the prostrate but it bears strong marks (as indeed does the very idea of showing a man to the door world, there was reigning throughout society at all, nay, even the abstract notion and precisely the same selish levity, the same entelechy of a bore) of being the product of desperate laissez aller, the same want of
earnest belief, and neglect of everything but an advanced civilization. The Romans, in the plump days of Ho momentary pleasure and profit, as character
ized the state of Europe, but especially race, had grown to be a singularly idle, France, just before the tremendous eruption quidnunc, gaping, lounging tribe ; but they of the long-confined volcano. The locomocontinued to attach an inordinate value to tive was spinning along, sure to go off the heulth, inasmuch, as a fit of illness kept them rails at last, and all they had to do was to home their miserable lodgings, and deprived them time. The greatest blessing of life was then
in the meantheir mornings at the audiences of their pas a good stomach and a bad heart." The tron, at the bath, or in the fish-market. Thus form of salutation, used the first thing in the
Romans, it may be remarked, had another the very effeminacy of their present life contributed to keep up the old salve, vale
, and morning and the last thing at night-the last, other corporeal good wishes, which had Catullus to his brother's memory
too, at a funeral, as in those lovely lines of been invented as an expression of military courage, and of a readiness to plough or Nunc et in ætornum, Frater, ave atque vale ! fight with equal energy for the good of Rome, to devote oneself with Decius to the being the sacramental words used when the Infernal Gods, or sup on “turnips roasted in corpse was burning on the pile, and the a Sabine farm :"
mourners circled around it thrice in sad pro
cession, crying out the final adieu. What Bene nam valetis omnes,
can be the original meaning of the word ? Pulchrè concoquitis, nihil timetis :
It seems we must wait for that until Etruria finds a Rawlinson; but if we knew its pedi
gree, who doubts that we should find it as and this line of the poet gives us a perfect characteristic as salve or vale ? anticipation of the famous dictum of Madame
In the languages derived from the Latin, Du Deffand, who asserted that all happiness or rather from the corrupted Latin called and misery, all virtue and vice, depend Romanz, we can see the same delicacy of
VOL. XXI. NO. IV.
shoding; but if we were able to make all the the phrase gives one a high idea of the tone collections and researches which the full dis- of personal character which must anciently cussion of such a subject requires, we should have predominated in the dominions of the be obliged to write, not an article, but an catholic kings; as do Quede VS. con Dios : Encyclopædia. We must content ourselves Queremos hacerle a VS. cuantos obsequios with a few indications. The Genoese in the sean posibles :—Mi alegre mucho de ver a middle ages used to say Sanita e guadagno VS., y de conocerlo, Señor Doctor :- Beso
= Health and gain : a phrase combining the las manos a VS. :-Soy de VS. The hightwo elements of their character in such per- ly elliptical form of the last salutation is fection that no commentary can either sim- worthy of notice. It should be noted also, plify or condense it. But the Italians have that the Spaniard, with all his religion, does been metamorphosed since the merchant not place the religious idea first, as the Orienprinces and the golden book—“Bottom, thou tal does, but says Vaya con Dios! He is art translated !"—and until some better not of the mind of honest Dogberry—" and means than they have of late been trying put God first, for God forbid but God should shall have raised them up again into men, we go before such rascals.” In “ May you live must content ourselves with taking them as muchos anos," or a thousand years, however, they are, and remarking the Crescele in san- one plainly perceives traces of the Moor. tila of the priest-ridden Neapolitan, and the An Englishman would never be able to con“I am your slave” of the liberal Piedmontese. quer so far his inracinated dread of what he The same pliable, pitiable servility may be in his ultra-poetical slang calls humbug and traced through most of the forms of the flummery, as to use so hyperbolical a formula, country, dedications of books, subscriptions Life, too-mere life in the abstract—is much of letters, and so forth; there is hardly an less desirable under our cloudy skies and idiom which does not partake of this faint among our easterly winds than in Spain ; for odor. In Come sta ? Come state ? we have which reason the wish for long life could never packed together the nearly opposite tenden- among us be a common greeting. We reserve cies which go to make up the main ground- it for solemn occasions, as Long live the Queen! work of the Italian character—an extreme Above all, note the “ VS.” so prodigally nervous mobility, expressed in the come, com- used. Does not the very exaggeration of bined with the altogether unprogressive in this contraction--a contraction which must dolence of the state. Surely this must be a have been gradual, and each step dictated nation not destined for a sudden re-develop: | by the wish to save time—indicate the proud ment of vitality. And is not Italy the land politeness of “your Don,” who would have of farniente? To stand, to be, to exist, in such a hundred times a day to "brook the stab” a region, is in itself such a blessing that life if he omitted "phrase of courtesy.” And if fleets lazily and sunnily away, without giving this process took place where time is of so a temptation or a motive to more activity little value-a fact proved no less clearly by than is required for the procuring of a sufti- the language--above all others fertile in big, cient quantity of iced water and maccaroni. rumbling, rolling, long-tailed words--than by In the toil-compelling north such a phrase as their siestas, guitar-strumming, and interminCome slute ?-ihe very syllables of which able screeching of romances--what must seem to come out languidly, as when one is have been the frequency of call that finally lying half asleep under the shade of a great screwed Vuestra Mercedes into Ustedes patulous beech-tree in a blazing midsummer (spoken) and VS. (written) ? noon-would be impossible.
Comment vous portez-vous ? Most readily In Spanish, one finds, superadded to the do we acknowledge the flood of light which Italian immobility and passiveness, a certain has been thrown on French phrases* by M. smack of the fine old Castilian pride and haughty gravity :
* M. Tarver's work is really a valuable addition Don Hermogenes. Buenas tardes, Señores. to our Dictionary shelf-the most important shelf in Don Pedro. A la orden de VS.
every man's library. The nice skill with which he Don Antonio. Felicisimas, amigo Don Hermogenes. has compared and contrasted the phrases of the two
most influential of modern tongues can hardly be “ Good late," instead of " Good evening,” is over-praised. Such a book might well deserve a of the same stamp with that other Hispani- distinct notice ; but we are happy to take this cism of calling the evening sereno. Vaya con opportunity, meantime, of saying that one of the Dios, Señor Caballero! has a relish of strong years, and we should be at a loss to name another
volumes has now been in constant use with us for five self-respect mingled with religiosity, and recent one of its class which we have found more Tarver--but every syllable of this deserves just as the French mind is a heap of flutterto be studied by a Bopp or a Grimm for half ing odds and ends, all alive and dancing—all a cannister of Canaster at least, that all the herissé, to use their own admirable wordprofound essence-quinta pars nectaris--may yet the result an inimitable medium, not for be completely extracted and distilled out of poetry or eloquence, nor lofty reasoning, but it ad residuum, by the bee-like acumen of for chat--which they are the only people to some linguistic Berzelius, or philological render neither bald nor disjointed. Latin, Scheele. This little phrase of three words with all the Roman flowingness and music (for the vous being repeated only counts for taken out of it, snipped, and nipped, and one) contains the very soul of the French clipped, like a Versailles yew-tree. Think character, their manners, their history; and of French being precisely--as far as elemennot only gives the portrait of their Past, but tary structure and origin are concerned—the helps us to an almost infallible prognostica- same tongue as Italian, and then calculate tion of their Future. Qualitas is monstrously what must be the difference of idiosyncrasy developed in proportion to quidditas. How from one and the same plastic substance to is the formula, not what. He busies himself have produced two such fabrics. The effect mainly with the shapes and shows of things; is far more astonishing than if the two had and therefore comment is the prominent and had quite independent sources, and is truly leading stroke in that involuntary photograph an overwhelming proof of the power of nawhich he strikes off fifty times a day. Then tional character to give its own form and the portez-vous. How do you carry your pressure to language, just as the larva of the self? Outside, externally, superficial ginger- insect lends its shape to the silky envelop. It bread work in every letter of it. An impres- is the same as to the pronunciation; where sionable, eager, restless, vivacious manner of we find the process begun by cutting off all man, always ready to make love—and a droll the ends the inflections--of the grand imsort of love it is nowadays-or to cock his perial words, carried still farther, as far, incap. over his eyes, and “mourir pour la deed, as it will go, and all so completely patrie;" doing trivial things in a solemn way and solemn things in a trivial one; a tigre
Dismembered, maimed, hacked, rent, and torn, singe, as he was called by the rates who as nearly to have driven the Académie frantic, knew him best, and now and then a singe- and to have extorted from unhappy Charles ligre. Sterne's old story of the little barber Nodier those plaintive lamentations which we proposing to “immerge the wig in the ocean," may perase with much profit in the “Essai will be true to the end of the chapter. A sur la Linguistique"--one of the cleverest vaporing, acting, aggressive, demonstrative small books of its age. For instance, let us people, on whom little things and great make compare the words Pucem, Salutem, et Fraan equally strong and equally fugitive im- ternitatem--pronounced not after the abominpression; jesting commonly at everything able English guise, which Milton justly calls except trifles, and never more irresistably “as ill-hearing as law-French," but with the comic than when crying with all their true broad Trasteverine sound of the vowels. might to be serious--for instance, play- --fine, rolling, organ-like vocables, with a ing at constitution-making--a spectacle that smack of the old Roman majesty in their reminds one of a party of little Emmies and very intonation—compare them, we say, with Carries playing al companies. In this Coin- pé, salu, e fraternité. ment vous portez-rous ? one sees the theatri- Comment ça va-t-il ? How that goes it? cal character in perfection, the instant iden. Even here we have not been able in our tification of the person speaking with the per literal translation to give any account of the son spoken to, which is ihe definition of thea- miserable unfortunate t stuck in, euphonice tricality. The whole language how like the gratia, between the verb and the second nopeople! Every phrase composed of a heap minative: and what a truly Gallic flippancy of minute particles, y, ne, ça, and so forth, in the ça! The old Middle-Age French, on
the other hand, bears a general character of useful. The idea was happy, and the execution has uniformity and strong religious feeling. been most laudably careful. We have been infinitely “ Adieu, vous die, messire Gauvain, mon obliged to it in reading the lighter French literature chier et doulx ami!” as we have it in Merlin of this day—so full of vocables fresh from the mint l'Enchanteur. All such“ skipping measures," of camp or guinguette, and lively audacious turns, such fantastical off-hand quaintnesses and qwvavta OUVETOV, undreamt ef by " the forty”— which would bave puzzled Voltaire as much as
familiarities as Comment ça va-t-il ?—PorlezJobnson.
vous ? and the like, could have had no existence in those times; they would have magne," but even more powerfully perhaps been as discordant with their serious, simple by the tone of German metaphysics, and by tone, ase London slang with a tournament. the German supremacy in music. As for And here we may remark that slang—a word personal practical activity, whether of body of wide meaning, including all the ideas and or mind, for taking, in short, the bull by the expressions that spring from the notion of horns, the German makes but an indifferent knowingness--slang, we say, could in no wise chulo; and the bull will have him over his have existed at a period of Faith, of pure head in a moment, thereby producing a child-like trust in matters of knowledge, of funcion of no unedifying kind at his expense. state, and of religion. With slang we must His ordinary salutation, when he meets you be careful not to confound humors, which are in the morning, sauntering along the Kartoffelquite a different thing—as different as Cor- gasse or the Amalienstrasse, as the case may poral Nym from Sam Weller, or Bobadil be, is Wie geht's ? How goes it ? Not, How from the Game Chicken. The modern Gas- do you get on? but it-things in generalcons, in their patois, which has retained much a pure abstraction, a reines Vernunftwesen, more resemblance to Latin than we see in quite independent of himself or you, express“ Frenshe of Paris”—being, indeed, nearly ed by es--a - word of the most unseizable pure langue d'oc-say Coumo vas ?-and meaning and in its most unseizable form. It herein we may plainly mark the difference is that mysterious abstract it, that ideal of between the more indolent and sensuous nonentity, which is to get on, but whether, Southern and the eager, mocking, trivial or how? Let the Sphynx answer. It is es Parisian. Indolent-for observe how the which is to go; we humans are but mere subject of the phrase is altogether suppress-playthings in the hand of an uncontrollable ed, while we have none of the jags and tags Destiny ; feathers, down-particles, gossamers of language that dangle about its classical driven onward by the resistless roaring whirledition ; for though Coumo vas and Comment wind of ANArKH. If we think for a moça va-t-il are much alike as far as the funda- ment of the ideal vagueness of this chaotic mentals are concerned, the former consists of particle, our brain begins to “turn o'the toe only two words while the latter contains five, like a parish top;” we dare not pursue it the greater part of which are little insignifi- | into the unfathomable void of breathless incant particles, not at all necesary for the terlunar space. This touches us nearly, the intelligibleness of the proposition. The Gas- German element being so mingled in our own con, then, is evidently a more easy-going sort character; but we shall presently see how of a person, and does not give himself the of this element we have taken only so much trouble to waste good breath. He is of the as harmonizes with the rest of our nature— mind of the noble wit who exclaimed against so like and yet so unlike that of our Saxon the absurdity of a man's muddling away his forefathers. Again, in Wie geht's ? there is income in paying bills. It may perhaps ap. a stronge tinge of simple cordiality, perfectly pear odd that, in a nation which has so long in accordance with the friendly, homely, ceased to possess any claim to the title of familiar life of the Germans of all classes : religious, the formula adieu should have kept among whom--we speak of them as in the its footing. We must allow for the impres- anti-reform ages--you could find surprisingly sion bequeathed by the Roman Catholic little difference in accent, idion, or turn of faith, an impression likely to remain more thinking between the Prince of Saxe-Pumdurable on manners than on sentiments. pernickelhausen and his Serene Highness's This, and the convenience of the phrase postilion. In this brief Wie geht's ? the itself, together with the difficulty of changing whole tournure seems to breathe a comfort--for nothing is at bottom so immutable as able, easy-going, good-natured spirit, the language, apparently the most frail and very atmosphere of the puppet-show court chameleon-like of things--have contributed and lazy bourgeoisie of a queer, quaint, to maintain “ adieu," and probably it will last sleepy, Lilliputian city of old amiable Deutschwhen Notre Dame is a play-house.
land. The same thing may be said of the Madame de Staël stole and popularized J. parting words of “our fat friend" in the P. Richter's saying, that to the German was plum-colored inexpressibles and apple-green reserved the empire of the air—an acute and coat, with the somewhat frowzy cap on his beautiful judgment, corroborated not only by head, the plethoric bloated umbrella in bis the vague and phantasmagoric character of hand; for on the Amalienstrasse, from morn German literature, and particularly poetry, till dewy eve, in all weathers, rain or shine, when she was manufacturing her “ De l'Alle- summer or winter,