Puslapio vaizdai

the word "Grecian." Everybody else was content with one "e;" but he, recollecting the cornucopia of es, which Providence had thought fit to empty upon the mother word Greece, deemed it shocking to disinherit the poor child of its hereditary wealth, and wrote it, therefore, Greecian throughout his Homer, Such a modest reform the sternest old Tory could not find in his heart to denounce. But some contagion must have collected about this word Greece; for the next man, who had much occasion to use it-viz. Mitford *-who wrote that "History of Greece" so eccentric, and eccentrically praised by Lord Byron, absolutely took to spelling like a heathen, slashed right and left against decent old English words, until, in fact, the whole of Entick's Dictionary (ablaqueation and all) was ready to swear the peace against him. Mitford, in course of time, slept with his fathers; his grave, I trust, not haunted by the injured words whom he had tomahawked; and, at this present moment, the Bishop of St. David's reigneth in his stead. His Lordship, bound over to episcopal decorum, has hitherto been sparing in his assaults upon pure old English words: but one may trace the insurrectionary taint, passing down from Cowper through the word Grecian, in many of his Anglo-Hellenic forms. For instance, he insists on our saying-not Heracleida and Pelopidæ, as we all used to do-but Heracleids and Pelopids. A list of my Lord's barbarities, in many other cases, upon unprotected words, poor shivering aliens that fall into his power, when thrown upon the coast of his diocese, I had-had, I say, for, alas! fuit Ilium.

Yet, really, one is ashamed to linger on cases so mild as those, coming, as one does, in the order of atrocity, to Elphinstone, to Noah Webster, a Yankee-which word means, not an American, but that separate order of Americans, growing in Massachussets, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, in fact, a New Englander*—and to the rabid Ritson. Noah would naturally have reduced us all to an antidiluvian simplicity. Shem, Ham, and Japhet, probably separated in consequence of perverse varieties in spelling; so that orthograsophical unity might seem to him one condition for preventing national schisms. But as to the rabid Ritson, who can describe his vagaries? What great arithmetician can furnish an index to his absurdities, or what great decipherer furnish a key to the principles of these absurdities? In his very title pages, nay, in the most obstinate of ancient technicalities, he showed his cloven foot to the astonished reader. Some of his many works were printed in Pall-Mall; now, as the world is pleased to pronounce that word Pel-Mel, thus and no otherwise (said Ritson) it shall be spelled for ever. Whereas, on the contrary, some men would have said: The spelling is well enough, it is the public pronunciation which is wrong. This ought to be Paul-Maul; or, perhaps—agreeably to the sound which we give to the a in such words as what, quantity, want—still better, and with more gallantry, Poll-Moll. The word Mr., again, in Ritson's reformation, must have astonished the Post-office. He insisted that this cabalisticallooking form, which might as reasonably be translated into monster, was a direct fraud on the national language, quite as bad as clipping the Queen's coinage. How, then, should it be written? Reader! reader! that you will ask such a question! mister, of course; and mind that you put no capital m; unless, indeed, you are speaking of some great gun, some mister of misters, such as Mr. Pitt of old, or perhaps a reformer of spelling. The plural, again, of such words as romance, age, horse, he wrote romanceës, ageës, horseës; and inasmuch as the e final in the singular is mute, upon the following equitable consideration; that, that is, by a general vote of the nation has been allowed to retire upon a superannuation allowance, it is abominable to call it back upon active service-like the modern Chelsea pensioners-as must be done, if it is to bear the whole weight of a separate syllable like ces. Consequently, if the nation and Parliament mean to keep faith, they are bound to hire a stout young e to run in the traces with the old original e, taking the whole work off his aged shoulders. Volumes would not suffice to exhaust the madness of Ritson upon this subject. And there was this peculiarity in his madness, over and above its clamorous ferocity, that being no classical scholar (a meagre selftaught Latinist, and no Grecian at all) though

*Mitford, who was the brother of a man better known than himself to the public eye, viz., Lord Redesdale, may be considered a very unfortunate author. His work upon Greece, which Lord Byron celebrated for its "wrath and its partiality," really had those merits: choleric it was in excess, and as entirely partial, as nearly perfect in its injustice, as human infirmity would allow. Nothing is truly perfect in this shocking world; absolute injustice, alas! the perfection of wrong, must not be looked for until we reach some high Platonic form of polity. Then shall we revel and bask in a vertical sun of iniquity. Meantime, I will say that to satisfy all bilious and unreasonable men, a better historian of Greece, than Mitford, could not be fancied. And yet, at the very moment when he was stepping into his harvest of popularity, down comes one of those omnivorous Germans that, by reading everything, and a trifle besides, contrive to throw really learned men-and perhaps better thinkers than themselves-into the shade. Ottfried Mueller, with other archæologists and travellers into Hellas, gave new aspects to the very purposes of Grecian history. Do you hear, reader? not new answers, but new questions. And Mitford, that was gradually displacing the unlearned Gillies, &c., was himself displaced by those who intrigued with Germany. His other work on "the Harmony of Language," though one of the many that attempted, and the few that accomplished, the distinction between accent and quantity, or learnedly appreciated the metrical science of Milton, was yet, in my hearing, pronounced utterly unintelligible, by the best practical commentator on Milton, viz., the best reproducer of his exquisite effects in blank verse, that any generation since Milton has been able to show. Mr. Mitford was one of the many accomplished scholars that are ill-used. Had he possessed the splendid powers of the Landor, he

would have raised a clatter on the armour of modern society, such as Samson threatened to the giant Harapha For, in many respects, he resembled the Landor: he had much of his learning-he had the same extensive access to books and influential circles in great cities-the same gloomy disdain of popular falsehoods or common-placesand the same disposition to run a muck against all nations, languages, and spelling-books.

"In fact, a New Englander." This explanation, upon a matter familiar to the well-informed, it is proper to repeat occasionally, because we English exceedingly perplex and confound the Americans by calling, for instance, a Virginian or a Kentuck by the name of Yankee, whilst that term was originally introduced as antithetic to these more southern States.

profound as a black-letter scholar, he cared not one straw for ethnographic relations of words, nor for unity of analogy, which are the principles that generally have governed reformers of spelling. He was an attorney, and moved constantly under the monomaniac idea that an action lay on behalf of misused letters, mutes, liquids, vowels, and diphthongs, against somebody or other (John Doe, was it, or Richard Roe?) for trespass on any rights of theirs which an attorney might trace, and of course for any direct outrage upon their persons. Yet no man was more systematically an offender in both ways than himself; tying up one leg of a quadruped word, and forcing it to run upon three; cutting off noses and ears, if he fancied that equity required it; and living in eternal hot water with a language which he pretended eternally to protect.


And yet all these fellows were nothing in comparison of Mr. Pinkerton. The most of these men did but ruin the national spelling; but Pinkerton-the monster Pinkerton--proposed a revolution which would have left us nothing to spell. It is almost incredible-if a book regularly printed and published, bought and sold, did not remain to attest the fact that this horrid barbarian seriously proposed, as a glorious discovery for refining our language, the following plan. All people were content with the compass of the English language its range of expression was equal to anything: but, unfortunately, as compared with the sweet orchestral languages of the Spanish the stately, and Italian the lovely-it wanted rhythmus and melody. Clearly, then, the one supplementary grace, which it remained for modern art to give, is that every one should add at discretion o and a, ino and ano, to the end of the English words. The language, in its old days, should be taught struttare struttissimamente. As a specimen, Mr. Pinkerton favoured us with his own version of a famous passage in Addison, viz., "The Vision of Mirza." The passage, which begins thus, "As I sat on the top of a rock," being translated into, "As I satto on the toppino of a rocko," &c. But luckilissime this proposalio of the absurdissimo Pinkertoniot was not adoptado by anybody-ini whatever-ano.

Mr. Landor is more learned and probably more consistent in his assaults upon the established spelling than most of these elder reformers.


Pinkerton published one of his earliest volumes, under this title "Rimes, by Mr. Pinkerton," not having the fear of Ritson before his eyes. And, for once, we have reason to thank Ritson for his remark-that the form Mr. might just as well be read Monster. Pinkerton in this point was a perfect monster. As to the word Rimes, instead of Rhymes, he had something to stand upon the Greek rhythmos was certainly the remote fountain; but the proximate fountain must have been the Italian rima.

This most extravagant of all experiments on language is brought forward in the “Letters of Literature, by Robert Herou." But Robert Heron is a pseudonyme for John Pinkerton; and I have been told that Pinkerton's motive for assuming it was-because Heron had been the maiden name of his mother. Poor lady, she would have stared to find herself, in old age, transformed into Mistressina Heronilla. What most amuses one in pursuing the steps of such an attempt at refinement, is its reception by "Jack" in the navy.

that does not make him either learned enough or consistent enough. He never ascends into AngloSaxon, or the many cognate languages of the Teutonic family, which is indispensable to a searching inquest upon our language; he does not put forward in this direction even the slender qualifications of Horne Tooke. But Greek and Latin are quite unequal, when disjoined from the elder wheels in our etymological system, to the working of the total machinery of the English language. Mr. Landor proceeds upon no fixed principles in his changes. Sometimes it is on the principle of internal analogy with itself, that he would distort or retrotort the language; sometimes on the principle of external analogy with its roots; sometimes on the principle of euphony, or of metrical convenience. Even within such principles he is not uniform. All well-built English scholars, for instance, know that the word fealty cannot be made into a dissyllable: trissyllabic it ever was* with the elder poets-Spencer, Milton, &c.; and so it is amongst all the modern poets who have taken any pains with their English studies: e. g. "The engle, lord of land and sea,

I com

Stoop'd down-to pay him fe-al-ty." It is dreadful to hear a man say feal-ty in any case; but here it is luckily impossible. Now, Mr. Landor generally is correct, and trisects the word; but once, at least, he bisects it. plain, besides, that Mr. Landor, in urging the authority of Milton for orthographic innovations, does not always distinguish as to Milton's motives. It is true, as he contends, that, in some instances, Milton reformed the spelling in obedience to the Italian precedent: and certainly without blame ; as in sovran, sdeign, which ought not to be printed (as it is) with an elision before the s, as if short for disdain; but in other instances Milton's motive had no reference to etymology. Sometimes it was this. In Milton's day, the modern use of Italics was nearly unknown. Everybody is aware that, in our authorised version of the Bible, published in Milton's infancy, Italics are never once used for the purpose of emphasis-but exclusively to indicate such words or auxiliary forms as, though implied and virtually present in the original, are not textually expressed, but must be so in English, from the different genius of the language. Now, this want of a proper technical resource amongst the compositors of the age, for indicating a peculiar stress upon a word, evidently drove Milton into some perplexity for a compen

*“It ever was”—and, of course, being (as there is no need to tell Mr. Landor) a form obtained by contraction from fidelitas.

+ Of this a ludicrous illustration is mentioned by the writer once known to the public as Trinity Jones. Some young clergyman, unacquainted with the technical use of italics by the original compositors of James the First's Bible, on coming to the 27th verse, chap. xiii. of 1st Kings, "And he" (viz. the old prophet of Bethel) "spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him ;" (where the italic him simply meant that this word was involved, but not expressed, in the ori ginal), read it, “And they saddled HIM;" as though these undutiful sons, instead of saddling the donkey, had saddled the old prophet. In fact, the old gentleman's directions are not quite without an opening for a filial misconception, if the reader examines them as closely as I examine words.

ing name of Did, which is the same thing as Tit

since T is D soft. Did was a very great man indeed, and for a very short time indeed. Probably Did was the only man that ever bade for an empire, and no mistake, at a public auction. Think of Did's bidding for the Roman empire: nay, think also of Did's having the lot actually knocked down to him; and of Did's going home to dinner with the lot in his pocket. It makes one perspire to think that, if the reader or myself had been living at that time, and had been prompted by some whim within us to bid against him, we-that is, he or I-should actually have come down to posterity by the abominable name of Anti-Did. All of us in England say Livy when speaking of the great historian, not Livius. Yet Livius Andronicus it would be impossible to indulge with that brotherly name of Livy. Marcus Antonius is called-not by Shakspere only, but by all the world-Mark Antony; but who is it that ever called Marcus Brutus by the affectionate name of Mark Brute? "Keep your distance,” we say, to that very doubtful brute," and expect no pet names from us." Finally, apply the principle of abbreviation, involved in the names Pliny, Livy, Tully, all substituting y for ius, to Marius

satory contrivance. It was unusually requisite | logy, he must call Didius Julianus by the shockfor him, with his elaborate metrical system and his divine ear, to have an art for throwing attention upon his accents, and upon his muffling of accents. When, for instance, he wishes to direct a bright jet of emphasis upon the possessive pronoun their, he writes it as we now write it. But, when he wishes to take off the accent, he writes it thir. Like Ritson, he writes therefor and wherefor without the final e; not regarding the analogy, but singly the metrical quantity: for it was shocking to his classical feeling that a sound so short to the ear should be represented to the eye by so long a combination as fore; and the more so, because uneducated people did then, and do now, often equilibrate the accent between the two syllables, or rather make the quantity long in both syllables, whilst giving an overbalance of the accent to the last. The "Paradise Lost," being printed during Milton's blindness, did not receive the full and consistent benefit of his spelling reforms, which (as I have contended) certainly arose partly in the imperfections of typography at that æra; but such changes as had happened most to impress his ear with a sense of their importance, he took a special trouble, even under all the disadvantages of his darkness, to have rigorously adopted. He must have asto--that grimmest of grim visions that rises up to nished the compositors, though not quite so much as the tiger-cat Ritson or the Mr. (viz. monster) Pinkerton-each after his kind-astonished their compositors.


But the caprice of Mr. Landor is shown most of all upon Greek names. Nous autres say Aristotle," and are quite content with it, until we migrate into some extra-superfine world; but this title will not do for him: "Aristoteles" it must be. And why so? Because, answers the Landor, if once I consent to say Aristotle, then I am pledged to go the whole hog; and perhaps the next man I meet is Empedocles, whom, in that case, I must call Empedocle. Well, do so. Call him Empedocle; it will not break his back, which seems broad enough. But, now, mark the contra- | dictions in which Mr. Landor is soon landed. He says, as everybody says, Terence, and not Terentius, Horace and not Horatius; but he must leave off such horrid practices, because he dares not call Lucretius by the analogous name of Lucrece, since that would be putting a she instead of a he; nor Propertius by the name of Properce, because that would be speaking French instead of English. Next he says, and continually he says, Virgil for Virgilius. But, on that principle, he ought to say Valer for Valerius; and yet again he ought not; because, as he says Tully and not Tull for Tullius, so also is he bound, in Christian equity, to say Valery for Valer; but he cannot say either Valer or Valery. So here we are in a mess. Thirdly, I charge him with saying Ovid for Ovidius: which I do, which everybody does, but which he must not do; for, if he means to persist in that, then, upon his own argument from ana

*He uses this and similar artifices, in fact, as the damper in a modern piano-forte, for modifying the swell of the intonation.

us from the phantasmagoria of Roman history. Figure to yourself, reader, that truculent face, trenched and scarred with hostile swords, carrying thunder in its ominous eye-brows, and frightening armies a mile off with its scowl, being saluted by the tenderest of feminine names, as "My Mary.'

Not only, therefore, is Mr. Landor inconsistent in these innovations, but the innovations themselves, supposing them all harmonised and established, would but plough up the landmarks of old hereditary feelings. We learn oftentimes, by a man's bearing a good-natured sobriquet amongst his comrades, that he is a kind-hearted, social creature, popular with them all! And it is an illustration of the same tendency, that the scale of popularity for the classical authors amongst our fathers, is registered tolerably well, in a gross general way, by the difference between having and not having a familiar name. If we except the first Cæsar, the mighty Caius Julius, who was too majestic to invite familiarity, though too gracious to have repelled it, there is no author whom our forefathers loved, but has won a sort of Christian name in the land. Homer, and Hesiod, and Pindar, we all say; we cancel the alien us; but we never say Theocrit for Theocritus. Anacreon remains rigidly Grecian marble; but that is only because his name is not of a plastic form-else everybody loves the sad old fellow. The same bar to familiarity existed in the names of the tragic poets, except perhaps for Eschylus; who, however, like Cæsar, is too awful for a caressing name. But Roman names were, generally, more flexible. Livy and Sallust have ever been favourites with men: Livy with everybody; Sallust, in a degree that may be called extravagant, with celebrated Frenchmen, as many the President des Brosses, and in our own days

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with M. Lerminier, a most eloquent and original | How does he like, for instance, Sipahee the mowriter ("Etudes Historiques"); and two centuries dern form for Sepoy? or Tepheen for Tiffin? with the greatest of men, John Milton, in a At this rate of metamorphosis, absorbing even the degree that seems to me absolutely mysterious. consecrated names of social meals, we shall soon These writers are baptized into our society-have cease to understand what that disjune was which gained a settlement in our parish: when you call his sacred Majesty graciously accepted at Tilliea man Jack, and not Mr. John, it's plain you like tudlem. But even elder forms of oriental speech him. But, as to the gloomy Tacitus, our fathers are as little harmonised in Christendom. liked him not. He was too vinegar a fellow for leagues of travelling make the Hebrew unintellithem; nothing hearty or genial about him; he gible to us; and the Bible becomes a Delphic mysthought ill of everybody; and we all suspect that, tery to Englishmen amongst the countrymen of for those times, he was perhaps the worst of the Luther. Solomon is there called Salamo; Sampbunch himself. Accordingly, this Tacitus, be- son is called Simson, though probably he never cause he remained so perfectly tacit for our jolly published an edition of Euclid. Nay, even in this old forefathers' ears, never slipped into the name native isle of ours, you may be at cross purposes Tacit for their mouths; nor ever will, I predict, on the Bible with your own brother. I am, myfor the mouths of posterity. Coming to the Ro- self, next door neighbour to Westmoreland, being man poets, I must grant that three great ones, a Lancashire man; and, one day, I was talking viz., Lucretius, Statius, and Valerius Flaccus, with a Westmoreland farmer, whom, of course, I have not been complimented with the freedom of ought to have understood very well; but I had no our city, as they should have been, in a gold box. chance with him: for I could not make out who I regret, also, the ill fortune, in this respect, of that No was, concerning whom or concerning Catullus, if he was really the author of that grand which, he persisted in talking. It seemed to me, headlong dithyrambic, the Atys: he certainly from the context, that No must be a man, and by ought to have been ennobled by the title of no means a chair; but so very negative a name, Catull. Looking to very much of his writings, you perceive, furnished no positive hints for solvmuch more I regret the case of Plautus: and I ing the problem. I said as much to the farmer, am sure that if her Majesty would warrant his who stared in stupefaction. What," cried he, bearing the name and arms of Plaut in all time "did a far-larn'd man, like you, fresh from Oxcoming, it would gratify many of us. As to the ford, never hear of No, an old gentleman that rest, or those that anybody cares about, Horace, should have been drowned, but was not, when Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Martial, Claudian, all have all his folk were drowned?" "Never, so help me been raised to the peerage. Ovid was the great Jupiter, was my reply: "never heard of him to poetic favourite of Milton; and not without a phi- this hour, any more than of Yes, an old gentlelosophic ground: his festal gaiety, and the bril- man that should have been hanged, but was not, liant velocity of his aurora borealis intellect, form- when all his folk were hanged. Populous Noing a deep natural equipoise to the mighty I had read of in the Prophets; but that was not gloom and solemn planetary movement in the an old gentleman." It turned out that the farmind of the other; like the wedding of male and mer and all his compatriots in bonny Martindale female counterparts. Ovid was, therefore, rightly had been taught at the parish school to rob the Milton's favourite. But the favourite of all the Patriarch Noah of one clear moiety appertaining world is Horace. Were there ten peerages, were in fee simple to that ancient name. But afterthere three blue ribbons, vacant, he ought to have wards I found that the farmer was not so entirethem all. ly absurd as he had seemed. The Septuagint, indeed, is clearly against him; for there, as plain as a pike-staff, the farmer might have read Naï. But, on the other hand, Pope, not quite so great a scholar as he was a poet, yet still a fair one, always made Noah into a monosyllable; and that seems to argue an old English usage; though I really believe Pope's reason for adhering to such national rivalships: French travellers in India, like Jacquemont, &c., as they will not adopt our English First Meridian, will not, of course, adopt our English spelling. In one of Paul Richter's novels a man assumes the First Meridian to lie generally, not through Greenwich, but through his own skull, and always through his own study. I have myself long suspected the Magnetic Pole to lie under a friend's wine-cellar, from the vibrating movement which I have remarked constantly going on in his cluster of keys towards that particular point. Really, the French, like Sir Anthony Absolute, must "get an atmosphere of their own," such is their hatred to holding anything in common with us. 2. They are to be sought in local Indian differences of pronunciation. 3. In the variety of our own British population-soldiers, missionaries, merchants, who are unlearned or half-learned-scholars, really learned, but often fantastically learned, and lastly (as you may swear) young ladies-anxious, above all things, to mistify us out

Besides, if Mr. Landor could issue decrees, and even harmonise his decrees for reforming our Anglo-Grecian spelling-decrees which no Couneil of Trent could execute, without first rebuilding the Holy office of the Inquisition-still there would be little accomplished. The names of all continental Europe are often in confusion, from different causes, when Anglicised: German names are rarely spelled rightly by the laity of our isle: Polish and Hungarian never. Many foreign towns have in England what botanists would call trivial names; Leghorn, for instance, Florence, Madrid, Lisbon, Vienna, Munich, Antwerp, Brussels, the Hague-all unintelligible names to the savage Continental native. Then, if Mr. Landor reads as much of Anglo-Indian books as I do, he must be aware that, for many years back, they have all been at sixes and sevens ; so that now most Hindoo words are in masquerade, and we shall soon require English pundits in Leadenhall Street.*

The reasons for this anarchy in the naturalisation of
Eastern words are to be sought in three causes: 1. Inside barbarians.

an absurdity was with a prospective view to the rhymes blow, or row, or stow, (an important idea to the Ark) which struck him as likely words, in case of any call for writing about Noah.

The long and the short of it is-that the whole world lies in heresy or schism on the subject of orthography. All climates alike groan under heterography. It is absolutely of no use to begin with one's own grandmother in such labors of reformation. It is toil thrown away and as

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[Gardening was one of the favourite pursuits of Mary Stuart. She had brought from France a little sycamore plant-the first, according to tradition, which had ever been seen in Scotland; this she planted in the gardens of Holyrood, and from this parent stem arose the beautiful groves of sycamore which are now met with in Scotland.]

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WITH a snort and a tramp, the war-horse came,
Like a thunder cloud, with his eyes of flame;
The steam of his breath was a mist around,
And his snort was the bray of the trumpet's sound;
His tramp was like march of ten thousand men,
And its echoes like march of another ten,
And down his flanks, in a steaming flood,
The sweat it ran, and the sweat was blood.

A stallion as black was that steed as night,
Save on fetlocked forehead a star of white,
And his deep-set eyes were two fires of flame;

And his name like the cloud whence their lightning came ;

And his chest was the force of a mighty storm;

And the air from his breath was fiercely warm ;

And his snort was the blast of a clarion far,

As he sniffed the battle and neighed ha! ha!

With a toss of his mane, and a flash of his eyes,
Over the plain that black horse flies,
And each tramp of his hoof leaves a print of blood,
And cities are crushed in the sanguine mud;
And o'er man and woman, and little child,

He tramps till the plain is with corpses wild;

His course it is ruin, and death beside,
And he swims each stream with a crimson tide.

No bridle, no saddle, no harness hath he,
And his mouth foams froth, but his mouth is free:
He tosses his head with a wild steed's pride,
Afar in a desert without a guide ;-
But his path is ruin, his tread is death,
His hoofs are bloody, and hot his breath,
And that hell-black steed has a kindred guide,
For 'tis Satan that hell-black steed doth ride.

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