Billeder på siden

most vulgar handicrafts. It is to degrade the learned languages, not less than to insult our own, to employ them, as they too often are employed, to stimulate public curiosity towards some obscure nostrum, or some novelty of dress or furniture. Eureka Shirts,' 'Resilient Boots,' 'Eupodistic Bootmaker,' 'Panklibanon Ironworks,' Antigropelos,' 'Euknemida,' 'Soterion,' are a few examples of this most classical vulgarity*; we only wonder that the 'Patent Knife Cleaner' has been contented to be unbaptized in 'well-sounding Greek.'

The principal excellences of a language consist in copiousness, meaning by that word distinct expressions for distinct things; in variety, or different expressions for the same thing; in precision; in ductility; in energy and in harmony. The English language, on the whole, will probably sustain comparison with any ever spoken by man. In ductility and in power of transposition it yields to Greek and German; and to many other languages in some one point or other. But few have ever combined all the excellences of language in so high a degree. Coleridge doubts whether it yields to the Greek and German even in those points in which their superiority has been generally conceded. 'It may be doubted,' says he, on one occasion, whether a composite language like the English is not a happier instrument of expression than a homogeneous one like the German ;' and on another he declares, 'As to mere power of expression, I doubt whether even the Greek surpasses the English.'

When we reflect on the enormous breadth both of the Old World and of the New, over which this noble

* Punch is the proper party to deal with such follies.

language is either already spoken, or is fast spreading, and the immense treasures of literature which are consigned to it, it becomes us to guard it with jealous care as a sacred deposit-not our least important trust in the heritage of humanity.* Our brethren in America must assist us in the task.

* Mr. Harrison's volume contains many instructive observations on the structure of the language, and a very copious and useful collection of illustrations on most points connected with English syntax and composition; but as regards the history of the language, and its relation to the other members of the Teutonic family, his work is far inferior to that of Dr. Latham. The latter is, in fact, only too full and profound for young students; and we think the author would confer an important favour on such (especially on that increasing class of youths who require a manual for the matriculation examinations of the London University), by inserting in a future edition of his Elementary Grammar' those chapters of the larger work which strictly bear on the history of the English language and its dialects. Like Grimm's 'Deutsche Grammatik,' to which Dr. L. so frankly acknowledges his obligations, the larger volume largely overlaps his immediate subject.

*** Dr. Latham has since published a volume which meets the objects pointed out in the latter part of this note. The writer has pleasure in recommending it to the attention of students. It is entitled 'A Hand-Book of the English Language.'



ENGLAND, say the Roman Catholics, will inevitably return to her allegiance to Rome, and is rapidly returning even now. This event, indeed, Cardinal Wiseman in his far-famed 'Pastoral,' and Father Newman in his equally celebrated 'Sermon,' have, after the manner of prophets, and as it were in poetic rapture, represented as history, un fait accompli. 'Catholic England' (says the former, not very felicitously snatching a metaphor from the heretical philosophy of Galileo), 'has been restored to its orbit in the ecclesiastical firmament, from which its light had long vanished, and begins anew its course of regularly adjusted action round the centre of unity; the source of jurisdiction, of light and of vigour:' and Father Newman thinks that nothing less than the ' resurrection' of our Lord is worthy to illustrate the might and majesty in which the Catholic Church in England is reasserting her life after the entombment

* 1. Mornings among the Jesuits at Rome. By the Rev. M. HOBART SEYMOUR, M.A. Third Edition. London : 1850. 2. Letter to the Right Hon. the Lord John Russell. By JOHN EARL OF SHREWSBURY. 8vo. 1851.

3. Cautions for the Times, addressed to the Parishioners of a Parish in England. By their former Rector. 8vo. London. Nos. I. II. III.

4. The Pope, considered in his relations with the Church, Temporal Sovereignties, &c. By COUNT JOSEPH DE MAISTRE. Translated by Rev. ÆNEAS Mc. D. DAWSON. 12mo. London.

of centuries. 'It is the sepulchre opening,' he tells us, and Christ coming forth.'

The people of England hastily misinterpreting these evidently prophetic visions of the future into a literal expression of the present, and yet reasonably conjecturing that sober men could not have employed such gigantic hyperboles simply to signify that the Pope had created a Roman Catholic Archbishop and twelve suffragans for the behoof of the minority amongst us who are of the Romish persuasion, (who were rendered neither more numerous nor more important in consequence of that event) were, not unnaturally, very angry; angry that their country should be represented as not being what it is, and as being what it notoriously is not; that their actual religious institutions and convictions should have been 'ignored,' as the phrase is; and that an insult should have been offered to the majesty of the empire by the breach of laws which had not been repealed, though the penalties had been abolished. Their not unnatural interpretation unhappily derived plausibility from the similar mistake of the Romanist periodicals

[ocr errors]

which immediately informed the nation that the only rightful spiritual authority was henceforth centred in the Romanist hierarchy, and that its bishops and clergy claimed the obedience of every baptized person amongst us, even in spite of his protests and against his will; and all 'under pain of eternal damnation!'

But, as Cardinal Wiseman justly says, every document has its peculiar characteristics, appropriate to the species of composition to which it is referrible ; and the Cardinal's Pastoral being evidently poetry, and the Father's Sermon oratory, and both of them prophecy, in which the future is made present

and the distant near, we immediately arrive at the proper interpretation of phraseology which, too literally viewed, seemed so preposterous and insulting. Had the Cardinal's language been designed to convey the meaning which it unhappily suggested, nothing would be left for us but to say that Dr. Wiseman can hardly be that wise man of whom The Wise Man' says that 'the wise man's eyes are in his head.' If it were possible to suppose that he designed his metaphor to apply to anything but a remote future, he must be convinced amidst the present hurricane of agitation that our beloved country' does not pursue her planetary way' round the sun of the Papacy with much of celestial harmony;' and that his arduous duty for some time to come must be

[ocr errors]

To curb this runaway young star,

This wild colt of a comet, which too soon

Breaks out of bounds o'er the ethereal blue.'

That England is really on the eve of reconversion to Romanism, is a proposition of which the recent enthusiastic demonstrations on behalf of Protestantism might justify a trivial doubt. But we pause at such a conclusion, when we remember the 'infallible' truths of which Rome undertakes to be the guarantee, although every appearance of argument and reason, and of the very senses, is against them. If 'bread may be 'flesh,' and 'wine' may be 'blood,' every proof to the contrary notwithstanding, even, so • mediantibus speciebus,' we may be at this very moment transubstantiating into Romanists amidst all our disclaimers; perchance have only the 'accidents' of Protestantism remaining.

But whatever be the value of the hypothesis, we shall just now assume its truth, for the purpose of

« ForrigeFortsæt »