« AnteriorContinuar »
“THERE was a German, who laid himself out for the conversion of the Jews, lately in London, one of the most surprising linguists in the world : he formed a resolution, when but five years of age, of learning the languages in use amongst the Jews, without any reason that could be assigned ; so that the pure Hebrew, the Rabbinical, the singia Judaica, which differs from both, and almost all the modern languages of the then European nations, were as familiar to him as his own native tongue. With this furniture, and with great knowledge of God and love to Christ, and zeal for the salvation of souls, he had spent twelve of the thirty-six years of his life in preaching Christ in the synagogues, in the most apostolic manner, warning the Jews of their enmity to God ; of their misery, as rejected by him ; of the only hope that remains for Vol. III, No. 3. Q
them, by returning to their own Messiah ; and by seeking from him righteousness of life, and placing their souls under the sprinkling of the blood of that great sacrifice. God blessed his labours in many places ! In Germany, Poland, Holland, Lithuania, Hungary, and other parts through which he had travelled, more than 600 souls owned their conversion to his ministry, many of whom expressed their great concern to bring others of their brethren to the knowledge of that great and blessed Redeemer ; and besought him to instruct their children, that they might preach Christ also.” Dr. Doddridge adds, that he heard one of his sermons, as he repeated it in Latin ; that he could not hear it without many tears ; and that he told him that sermon converted a Rabbi, who was master of a synagogue. . [Gen. Mag.
ON THE EV ILs or BACKBITING. PEAce, harmony, and love are some of the graces of the Divine Spirit, which create a little heaven upon earth, wherever they are found to prevail ; while the contrary tempers must have just the contrary effects. The sin of backbiting stands registered in the word of God, not only as a great evil in itself, but as being very mischievous in its consequences and effects. It is a great evil in itself: it is recorded as being one of the worst of crimes committed by the Heathen world, who are said to be full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, and malignity. From these principles, we have next whisperers and backbiters; while even on the same list are next registered the haters of God.” The Psalmist observes, that such are not to be reckoned among the real citizens of Sion ; for he, the real citizen, “speaketh the truth in his heart, he backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour;”t and in the fiftieth Psalm we have the following sharp rebuke of the same evil : “Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit: thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son :” and in the 120th Psalm, David offers up this prayer against the same evil: “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue;” and then adds, “What shall be given unto thee, or what shall be done unto thee, thou
false tongue 2 Sharp arrows of the Almighty, with coals of junio per.” Even among the professors in primitive times, this spirit was unhappily found to exist. St. Paul thus complains against some belonging to the Corinthian church : “I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would ; and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not : lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.” But it is enough further to observe, that it is a direct violation of the ninth command ; while the evil consequences which attend a backbiting spirit are incalculable. Chief friends are separated thereby ; and the spirit of mutual patience, forbearance, brotherly love, and all these milder graces, which so eminently belong to the Christian character, are entirely forgotten and thrown aside. It were well if all professors would but remember, “that the tongue is a fire-a world of iniquity :” that it “defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell ;” and that “it is an unruly evil, which no man can tame.”
Now, notwithstanding these evils are so glaring, and the consequences so pernicious, yet there is scarce a backbiter upon the earth who cannot make an excuse for his crime. I mention some of them : “I spoke nothing but the truth ; and where is the harm of that f° But we are never in a right spirit, or fit to speak at all, but as we are enabled to sheak the truth in love. let such apologists for themselves
* See James iii. 5, &c.
ask their consciences the following question : “Are they ready to repeat the same words, and in the same spirit, they formerly uttered behind your back, when they next meet you face to face 3’” Besides, as most backbiters speak at random, and by mere report, where would be the harm of going personally to such people, that if falsely accused they may have a fair opportunity of explaining themselves It is amazing, what astonishing mischief is done by the false colouring that is frequently put upon the words and actions of others, quite the reverse of their real purpose and design
This sin of backbiting, perhaps, may discover itself by other yehicles, than by the tongue. When the envenomed anonymous letter-writer sends you his rancorous charge, is not he a backbiter 2 First, You may almost depend upon it, that he is just as free with his tongue as he is with his pen. Then let his charges be ever so cruel and unjust be gives you no opportunity to speak for yourself, while he perplexes your mind with a thousand suspicions against others, not knowing who this clandestine writer can be. If he writes in a good spirit, need he be ashamed of his name : If he writes in a bad spirit, should he not be
ashamed of himself that he ever wrote at all 2 Of the same description, I conceive, are the writers of anonymous pamphlets. I mean so far as the characters and sentiments of individuals are attacked. If such sort of opponents mean a fair and honourable attack, why not first make themselves known to the persons whose sentiments or conduct they design to oppose! If we have no party designs, or any other unjustifiable motives, why secrete our names. And does it not bear the mark of that which is very men and cowardly, in a very high degree ? In short, truth is fair and open, and loves to appear best in the light. Let truth and love be guides to each other, and the world will be a thousand times happier than it is. I find, however, that I am on a subject that will soon outgrow my design. Short papers are best for magazines. I drop these hints that others may take up the same subject, especially as it is so much calculated to promote the general good. May peace be within the walls of all our houses 1 May peace rest upon Zion universally . And “ may the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep all our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord " Ev. Mag.
Bebiew of the Eriettit Bebicu,
Concluded from page 84.
The Reviewers allege that the “omission of u in honor, favor, &c. militates against a rule adhered to in J. e cases; that of preferring e orthography of the language from
which a word directly comes to ours, whatever its origin may have been.” This rule was followed by Dr. Johnson in many cases, with evident . propriety, because it best answered
the purpose of writing, which is to represent sounds to the eye, and in many cases, the orthography of words received from the Latin, through the French nation, is best adapted to express the pronunciation, as in the example Johnson gives, entire, instead of tnteger. But to the Reviewers, it may be replied, that retaining u does not preserve the French orthography of the words mentioned, which is honeur, fl. veur; and therefore the rule, if just, is not applicable to the case. The French acted with wisdom in adapting the orthography to their pronunciation; and this is an unanswerable reason why the English should not fol. low them, for their spelling does not suit the English pronunciation. The rule, however, is far from be
ling generally adopted in our estab
lished practice ; nor can it be adopted as a general rule, for in a multitude of cases, it is impossible to know whether a word was taken originally from the Latin or the French. Indeed a careful inspection of particut. lar words and classes of words will show that no general rule has been followed. We write legal and lateras. Is this the Latin orthography, omitting the termination Or is it the masculine gender of the French : If so, why do we write motive, figurative, relative, the feminine gender of the French, and not the masculine motif, Jiguratif, relatif. If we have followed the Latin in legal and lateral, why not in futile, volatile, omitting the ter. mination, fitti!, volatil. We have received many words in ic from the French igue; perhaps public, music : yet we have conformed to the Greek and Roman originals in the orthography. Words in ous deviate from the French as well as the Latin, as odious, frecious. Nourish, flourish, debt, doubt, indorse, &c. are neither Latin nor French. Confessor, predecessor, protector are from the French confesseur, predecesseur, protecteur, yet always written without it; and what crowns the contradictions on this subject, is, that even thosc, who pretend to follow the French in honour, fivour, depart from it in the derivatives, honourabic, favourabłe, which the French write without it, honorable, favorable. The truth is, the history of our
language exhibits a series of contradictions and absurdities, partial corrections, mixed with gross blunders, and repeated efforts .#. learned to refine and improve it, without rejecting numberless barbarisms. Formerly all words of the class under consideration were written with w, authour, debtour, candour. inferiour, ancestour, traitour, &c. without any ref. erence to the question, whether they were of French or Latin original. The English have retrenched u from the whole class, except perhaps ten or twelve. We are pursuing the alteration to a uniform consistent rule : the omission of it is now the prevailing usage in the United States ; and as far as respects this class of words, it is an improvement which ought to be encouraged. The Reviewers are far from expecting that the public will approve of some of my corrections of orthography; yet they express their own approbation of particular instances. in general they observe that a lexicographer should adopt the prevailing orthography of the age in which he writes. This rule, if received without qualitication, is fraught with mischief to our language. Indeed it is impracticable ; for in some classes of words, the usage is not ascertainable, the orthography being unsettled. But the rule itself contradicts the ...'. adopted in every other ranch of literature, that errors are to be corrected, when discovered or c/ears roved to be such. Dr. Johnson ... s. to the rule generally, as laid down by the Reviewers, but not without exceptions. He deviated from the principle—“ Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus una " why correct one error, when you cannot correct the whole For in words, where the orthography had been “altered by accident or depraved by ignorance,” he heid it to be his duty to inquire into the true of thography, by tracing them to their originals, and deciding in favor of the etymology. See Preface to his Dictionary. I hate pursued the same rule ; and have attempted only the correction of a fes, palpable anistakes and incong, wiries. Nor ought any lexicographer to decide every case by numbers. When the practice is unsettled, it is his duty to inquire into the original of words, and establish that orthography which is etymologically correct, or which is best suited to give the true pronunciation. In selecting authorities, he ought not to be guided exclusively by a majority of numbers ; but when he finds a smaller number who are correct upon principle, he should decide in favor of their practice, in preference to the authority of greater numbers who are evidently wrong. There is an obvious propensity in writers to a regular orthography, a strong inclination to purify the language from its barbarisms, which, in defiance of custom, gradually corrects a mistake, łops off an excrescence, and retrenches superfluity. Thus, since the days of Dr. Johnson, publick, musick, politick, &c. have lost the A deposit and repooit, have lost e, u is retrenched from many words, as ambassador, error, &c. and the merchant who should follow Johnson's spelling of the words ensurance, endorsement, would not escape ridicule. Some of the greatest authors in the English nation wrote examin, determin, imagin ; among these are Camden in his Britannia ; Lhuyd in his Archeologia, and Davenant on the revenues of England. Newton, Camden, Lhuyd, Hooke, Prideaux, Whiston, Bolingbroke, Middleton wrote scepter, theater, sepulcher, &c. Pope, Dryden, Hoole, Camden, Thompson, Goldsmith, Edwards’ Hist. of W. Indies, Gregory, &c. wrote correctly mold, for mould. How shall these diversities be prevented A certain part of writers will spurn the chains of authority, and prefer correctness to custom ; while others from indolence, convenience, or ignorance, will follow their lexicons. There is therefore but one plain rule for the lexicographer to pursue, that of determining doubtful cases by etymology or analogy. A regular orthography, or that which falls into cstablished analogies, is the highest authority ; and to this, after some struggles with habits, men will ultimately submit. Is it not the most mischievous doctrine, that we must be bound by common usage, whether right or wrong Must we sanction the most obvious errors, and add our authority to ren
der them perpetual What, because former writers were negligent, or failed of arriving at truth, i. ill-directed researches, are posterity obliged to recognize their mistakes : The Reviewers themselves have decided this principle, in their remarks on each and either, for they say, “if Saxon writers, and the translators of the Bible confounded the proper meanings of these words, did they bind all their posterity to do the same 2" In that case the question is inapplicable, for no such confusion is found. But the Reviewers, in one case, admit the right in posterity to alter, correct and improve language ; which right, in another case, they deny. But I will never degrade the business of lexicography, by complying with the erroncous principle of adhering, in every case, to common usage. I will not, like the English lexicographers, sanction what is admitted, on all hands, to be wrong. What, shall I admit the barbarous word comptroller, because this or: thography can claim the authority of common usage? Shall I, like Johnson, introduce it with the authority of Shakespeare, Temple, and Dryden 2" Far be from me such a dereliction of my duty. The lexicographer's business is to search for truth, to proscribe error, and repress anomaly. This is the only direct and easy method to purify our language from the corruptions and barbarisms entailed upon it by the Norman conquest, and by the ignorance and negligence of writers. Few men have an opportunity to investigate the origin of words. Most men even of letters confide in the de
* I take this opportunity to correct a mistake in the Preface to my Dictionary, page 17; in which I have represented johnson as having mistaken the etymology of this word. This is an error occasioned by my misapprehending his meaning—an error, I believe, that has been common. johnson mention: the mistake of others ; , but by setting down comptroll, and its derivatives, with the exemplifications, he has, directly contrary to his intentions, spread the ise of this orthography—as gross a blunder as ever was made.