Page images
PDF
EPUB

literalem explicant, quæ ipsis ex majorum traditione accepta, melius quam nobis nota erant.' The Phænician, one of the Shemitish dialects, has become, as before remarked, nearly extinct. The history of the Samaritans is interesting on account of their connexion with the Jews, being of a like origin and a kindred religion ; but the treasures of their language are so small, that the acquisition of it may be properly superseded by other studies of more prominent and real importance. Perhaps the same may be said with equal justice of the Æthiopic, especially as it is so intimately connected with the Arabic, ihat a' knowledge of the latter will afford nearly all the aid, which could be derived from a combined acquaintance with both. The Samaritan Pentateuch, which was unknown in Europe till the seventeenth century, although quoted by the Fathers, was at length procured from the east by archbishop Usher, and was printed by Morinus in 1632 from a copy deposited in the oratory of St Honoré. It at first, as might be expected, excited much curiosity, but, although ancient, its authority and value are not wisely placed above, nor put in competition with the worth of the Hebrew text. The Samaritan Pentateuch, together with the Psalms, Song of Solomon, and New Testament, in Æthiopic, may be found in Walton's Polyglott.

From these remarks, it will be easy to infer our opinion respecting the study of the cognate dialects of the Hebrew. To a professed biblical critic, one who makes the interpretation of the Bible his whole study, they are all of them important, but we should find no fault with the ordinary theologian, if he should exercise the wisdom and summon up the resolution to become acquainted merely with the Aramæan and the Arabic.

These, the Arabic and the Aramæan, which includes the Chaldee and Syriac, we trust will never be neglected by our young men, (those, we mean, who are preparing for the pulpit,) from principle, although we fear they will often be neglected from necessity. The Arabic in particular is not a language, like the others, which was living, but is dead, whose great men Aourished, but are no more, whose works existed, but have perished. It is a living language, is very extensively spoken, and is worthy of peculiar attention. A vast number of Arabian writers flourished during that dark period, when Europe was enveloped in ignorance. Animated with New Series, No. 9.

8

the true literary ardor, “they seized and transmitted the torch of science,' when, if it had been left to other hands, it would have fallen and been extinguished. Under the patronage of Almamun, who was a great lover of learning, they translated the best Greek authors, and they did not want among themselves for men, who excelled in history, in poetry, in mathematics, and medicine. With how much sweetness and simplicity they could touch the lyre of the muses is known to many of our readers from the Specimens of Arabian Poetry,' which Professor Carlyle presented to the English public. In justice to the fine taste and poetical feeling, as well as the scholarship of their amiable translator, we cannot forbear copying one of these specimens. It is written by Ben Yousef, who for many years acted as vizier to Abou Nasser, sultan of Diarbeker. He was passionately devoted to literature, notwithstanding his high station in political life, and composed the following stanzas, as in his travels he passed through the beautiful valley of Bozaa :

The intertwining boughs for thee

Have wove, sweet dell, a verdant vest,
And thou in turn shall give to me,

A verdant couch upon thy breast.
To shield me from day's fervid glare

Thine oaks their fostering arms extend,
As anxious o'er her infant care

I've seen a watchful mother bend.
A brighter cup, a sweeter draught,

I gather from that rill of thine,
Than maddening drunkards ever quaffed,

Than all the treasures of the vine.
So smooth the pebbles on its shore,

That not a maid can thither stray,
But counts her strings of jewels o'er,

And thinks the pearls have slipped away.' Princes were poets, and in many instances the sons of song were treated like princes. If our readers wish to be further informed on the subject of the Arabic and the other related dialects, to understand the treasures they contain and their connexion with biblical criticism, we refer them to the Dissertations before us, particularly that of Jahn, and note G of Professor Stuart. Such works also, as Sismondi's Literature of the South of Europe, Gesenius' Geschichte der Hebräischen Sprache und Schrift, Eichhorn's Einleitung, and Walton's Prolegomena are calculated to give some true idea both of its nature and importance.

Another topic, introduced into the Dissertations, relates to the best mode of studying languages. Many of the remarks made by Gesenius, and the other authors of these Dissertations, on this point, are grounded in the nature of the human mind, are confirmed by their own experience in teaching, and are worthy the attention of the scholar, whatever his country and wherever he may be educated. It is a grand point in the acquisition of languages, while the faculties are kept in patient and vigorous exercise, not to burden them with too many dry details, and especially not to overload and constrain the memory. In the study of the Hebrew, after a person has become fundamentally acquainted with the theory of the vowels, and made himself master of the pronouns, verbs, and declensions, he ought not to be denied the pleasure of attempting to construe, and should endeavour to connect the theory and the practice, the grammar and the interpretation. Grammar," ' says Jahn, is merely the medium of learning the languages with more facility, but the medium is not to be so commuted for the ultimate end, that more pains should be bestowed on the former than on the latter.' The Hebrew syntax, though not deficient in general principles, exhibits a multitude of peculiarities and exceptions. To commit to memory the whole of it, together with all the multiplied rules and exceptions, which appear in other parts of the grammar in the first instance, is unadvisable. They had better be learned by a recurrence to them, as occasion may require, after the student has begun to construe; a recurrence which will be pleasing, if he has imbibed the spirit of oriental literature. Let the student, after he has studied the whole or a part of a book, pursue the method of Wyttenbach, peruse it again carefully, and repeat the perusal, till he has trodden familiarly the crooked path of its anomalies, and its beauties begin to open more fully upon his mind.

ART. VI.—Memoirs of Algernon Sydney, by George Wilson

Meadley, with an Appendix. 8vo, London, 1813. No portion of English history presents stronger claims to attention than the last sixty years of the seventeenth century, a period in which that nation made the most rapid advances in civil and religious freedom. It is impossible to

trace without lively interest the progress of the spirit of free inquiry to which the reformation gave birth, and the great change in manners and opinions which resulted from it. This revolution in the minds of men was gradual, and for a long time unnoticed. The novel doctrines of the rights of subjects and the duties and accountableness of sovereigns, began early in that century to be agitated, rather as matter of speculation ihan with any view to their practical application. These opinions, however, soon gained ground, and began to be openly advanced and defended, when an ill-timed and oppressive exercise of the royal prerogative roused the resentment of the nation and led to a struggle, which terminated in the overthrow of the monarchy, and the death of the sovereign. Tb reaction, which naturally succeeded to a revolution so sudden and violent, had the effect to replace his son on the throne, with a degree of precipitancy and imprudence which gave no opportunity to obtain any provision for the security of the rights of the subject. These rights were accordingly disregarded by a profligate and thoughtless prince, who forgot even the trifling stipulations on which his restoration depended. The spirit of liberty had now however proceeded too far to be extinguished; the nation soon became sensible of its error; this weak and unprincipled family was again driven from the throne, and the century closed with the accession of William III, and the establishment of the British constitution nearly in the form in which it actually exists. Among the actors in this extraordinary train of events, are to be found some of the most illustrious names in modern history. Of this number Algernon Sydney is one of the most conspicuous His noble descent, his ardent and lofty spirit, the boldness of bis opinions, and the intrepidity with which he supported them, the misfortunes of his life, and above all his untimely and cruel fate, conspire to excite an unusual degree of As generally happens to those who fall a sacrifice to opinions, his memory has been cherished by his friends with the most enthusiastic devotion; and we may add, what can be said of few martyrs, that those who have discovered the least indulgence for bis political creed, lave rarely denied him the merit of consistency and disinterestedness. The part he took in political affairs is well known to the readers of history, but we have been furnished, until the publication of the volume under review, with very scanty information respecting his private life.

Nor is the deficiency so fully supplied by this work as we had reason to expect from the author's preface, in which he mentions the advantages he derived from having access to the manuscripts at Penshurst, and other important papers. Although by no means a new publication in England, Mr Meadley's book is very little known in this country, we shall therefore give a short abstract of its contents, which may enable the reader to form a tolerably correct judgment of the author's success.

Algernon Sydney was descended from a line of ancestors equally distinguished by rank and merit. His great grandfather, sir William Sydney, was a favorite of Edward VI, who bestowed on him the park and manor of Penshurst in Kent; sir Henry Sydney, who was viceroy in Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth, and the well known sir Philip Sydney, were his great uncles.

His grandfather, sir Robert Sydney, governor of Flushing, was raised to the peerage by James I, as baron Sydney of Penshurst, and afterwards created viscount Lisle and earl of Leicester. From him the title descended to his son, who seems to have inherited with it no small share of the talents and virtues of his illustrious progenitors. He married the lady Dorothy Percy, daughter of the earl of Northumberland. Algernon, their second son, was born in 1622, and appears to have given early indications of uncommon powers. In 1632, at the age of ten years, he, with his elder brother, the lord Lisle, accompanied his father in his embassy to Christian IV, king of Denmark. In 1636 his father was appointed ambassador to the court of France, and wishing to have his sons under his immediate inspection, he again took them along with him, and to his instructions, and the objects presented to the mind of young Sydney at that period, is in a great measure ascribed his early bias to political inquiries. On the return of lord Leicester to Eng land, his son was sent to Italy, and resided some time at Rome during the pontificate of Urban VIII.

On the death of the unfortunate lord Strafford, the earl of Leicester received the appointment of lord lieutenant of Ireland, (June 14, 1641,) but owing to some distrust of him, which the king had afterwards imbibed, he could not procure his despatch. He sent, however, his two sons into Ireland, the lord Lisle being at the head of a regiment of horse, in which Algernon, then in his nineteenth year, commanded a troop.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »