Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

particularly in the article of the country seats of noblemen, &c. which must be subject to constant variations. The description of cross roads, also, must no doubt be susceptible of emendations. One omission accidentally struck us, viz. the cross road from Cheltenham to Stow, and thence to Chipping Norton.

An account of Mr. Cary's successful action against a piracy of his work was given in our last vol. p. 46. He has not omitted to record it in the present volume, and thus repels a prior charge of plagiarism brought against him. Art. 35. A Critical Inquiry into the Moral Writings of Dr. Samuel

Fobnson. In which the Tendency of certain Passages in the Rambler, and osher Publications of that celebrated' Writer, is impartially considered. To which is added, A Dialogue in the Shades, between Johnson and Boswell. 8vo. 38. 6d. Cobbett and Morgan.

We entirely agree with this ingenious Critic in his unfavourable opinion of many sentiments and doctrines contained in the Essays of Dr. Johnson, which are here examined ; and which are considered as having by no means a tendency to promote the comfort and happiness of mankind. He appreciates more highly, however, the merit of the Doctor's poetical performances ; of his religious papers, also, (for the most part,) he is a warm admirer; and he does ample justice to the piety and good intentions of that great writer.

This is a wellwritten and even an entertaining performance. A considerable, if not the principal, part of it first appeared in the columns of a newspaper. The humorous Dialogue in the Shades, given in the Appendix, bears very hard on poor Bozzi: who is here made to acknowlege that he owed his untimely death to drinking too much mahogany !-alias gin and treacle.

CORRESPONDENC E. We are indebted to a noble Correspondent in Ireland, for the correction of an inadvertency in our Review for February last, p. 197, note : where Swift's character of Thomas Earl of Wharton was proposed to be compared with Pope's similar delineation, forgetting that the portrait drawn by the latter was that of Philip Duke of Wharton, son of the Ear! : with which distinction, the comparia son may still be made.-Our best acknowlegements are due to the Earl of G. for the very obliging expressioa contained in his letter : in return for which, we can only hope that he may long enjoy all the pleasures which literature can afford, and to which our humble efforts may contribute.

By a letter from Dr. Hutton of Woolwich, tre learn with regret that our account of his Treatise on Bridges (See Rev. for March last, P. 324.) has given him pain, which it was by no means our intention to inflict; and we assure the Doctor that he has attached a meaning to our remarks which we wholly disavow.–The observations respecting speculative men were not designed to apply personally to Dr. H. as individual censure; and the force of the objection was in a great measure diminished by the concluding remark in that paragraph. Indeed, it would be felo de se, in a body of men like Reviewers, to join in indiscriminate and vehement declamation against persons of a speculative turn.--With regard to our remark on the application or non-application of Dr. H.'s principles to the proposed Iron Bridge over the Thames, we stated it with doubt, and merely as our opinion; the reasons for which will farther appear in our account of Mr. Atwood's Dissertation on Arches, in p. 41, &c. of this Review.-By observing that certain of Dr. H.'s propositions were the same with those of Emerson, we had no intention to convey any imputation of plagia. rism, but merely thus to impart an idea of them to mathematical readers, who must be well acquainted with Emerson's work. -Even the delay of our account of the Doctor's tract is in his opinion a mark of hostility: but surely Dr. Hutton must be aware that, among the numbers of publications which issue from the press, it must be and is the lot of a great many to wait for notice in our Review much longer than his work was retarded; and in the present case the MS. was accidentally mislaid.

great

To conclude; we cannot admit the propriety of viewing the article in question in the light in which Dr. Hutton has placed it, and we positively disclaim all those motives of personal ill-will to which he has referred it.

INTELLECTUAL PHYSICS. A volume in 4to. with this title was printed in the year 1794, and distributed within a limited circle. A copy of it was put into our hands, and accordingly we gave an account of it in Vol. xx. of oor New Series, p. 292. It has lately been again circulated, and, pro. perly speaking, has now been first published; the author hoping that, * under the present circumstances of the world, and at the present crisis, some such induction up to first principles as this Essay pursues, some such truths as this induction elicits,' may lead to some good use. We shall be happy if the event should correspond with the laudable views of this respectable writer; who, we now learı from the prefixed advertisement, is Governor Pownall.

The packet from Wells is received, but we do not see what use we can make of its contents.

In our account of Dr. White's edition of Abdollatiph,

Rev, April

, p. 341. 1. 9. from the bottom, the word printed was incautiously substituted for published.-Professor Paulus did not print Dr. White's former edition of Abdollatiph, but merely publisbed the copies of it which the Doctor had presented to him, and printed only an explanatory preface.

P. 429. 1. 29. for ' war to peace,' r. prace to war.-P. 446. I. 8. fr. bott. for "Noctura,' r. Nocitura.

The Arpendix to Vol. XXXVII. of the M. R. is published with this Number, and contains various articles of FOREIGN LITERATURE, with the Title and Index to the Volume, as usual.

MONTHLY REVIEW,

For JUNE, 1802.

Art. I. Etymologicon Magnum, or Universal Etymological Dic.

tionary, on a new Plan. With Illustrations drawn from various Languages: English, Gothic, Saxon, German, Danish, &c. &c. Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish,-Galic, Irish, Welshi, Bretagne, &c. :--the Dialects of the Sclavonic; and the Eastern Languages, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Sanscrit, Gypsey, Coptic, &c. &c. Part I. 4to. Pp. 570.

1l. 15. sewed. Robinsons, &c. E TYMOLOGICAL discussions are generally conceived to be

peculiarly dry and uninteresting ; dullness and lexicography have been long very closely associated in the minds of the public; and if the author of a large volume on the origin and Telations of words do not come before them provided with a reasonable stock of tediousness, his erudition will be very

liable to be called in question. There are appropriate defects, it is imagined, which indicate corresponding excellencies; and characteristic faults, without which no species of composition can easily be admitted as genuine.--For the sake of the work that is now before us, we are inclined to hope that this rule will admit of some occasional exceptions; since it is altogether unprovided with the customary badge of dullness, and is even deficient perhaps in the ordinary gravity of learning. It has merits, however, which may be allowed to counterbalance these deficiencies; and which intitle it to be received as an erudite and ingenious performance.

It is no light nor vulgar praise, indeed, to the author of the present volume, (who, we learn from the preface, is Mr. Walter Whiter,) that he has been enabled to make an interesting and amusing book on such a subject. At the same time that he is more systematic and original than any of his predecessors, he has contrived to captivate the fancy and support the attention of the reader by the variety and felicity of his illustrations, by the vivacity of his remarks, and by the constant acuteness and perspicuity of his reasonings. VOL. XXXVIII.

I

Accuracy

Accuracy and precision were not, perhaps, to be expected in a production of this nature : but their place is here supplied by the utmost copiousness of materials. In this respect, Mr. W. has surpassed all former etymologists. If his instances be not always in point, they are always in abundance ; his reduction, if not uniformly correct, is at least sufficiently extensive ; and whatever may be thought of his theory, it must be confessed that he has supported it by a greater number of examples, and a wider range of illustration, than were ever employed on such a subject. He has derived his proofs from every quarter of the world, and from every rank of society: he has appealed not only to the classical languages of antiquity and the mingled dialects of modern Europe, but to the radicals of the Eastern tongues, the jargon of the wandering Gypsies, and the slang even of pick-pockets and street-walkers ; he has endeavoured to ascertain the rude metaphysics and unsteady associations, by which savages would be guided in the first formation of language; and he has taken into account the different changes that could be produced on it by the variations of the organ, the increase of ideas, the errors of ignorance, the perversions of caprice, and the daring irregularities of passion. In all this variety, much repetition naturally occurs : he has travelled in a course that leaps back repeatedly on itself; and he has often stopped to indulge himself with a view of the ob. jects which he had abandoned. Sometimes, he returns to an argument because it was left too weak and insufficient, and sometimes because its strengih had not been put to any proper use : he comes back, in short, at one time to borrow, and at another to lend; and he finds so many occasions for looking behind him, that the reader despairs of getting forwards. All this serves, indeed, to bind the different parts of the work more closely together : but it is binding them by a cord which is tied in a very puzzling knot; and we are sometimes more provoked with its intricacy than convinced of its strength.

Although, however, we are prepared to bear the most ample testimony to the genius and erudition of this singular writer, we are very far from professing to be converts to his system; or even from thinking that it possesses any great degree of probability. On the contrary, we cannot help considering the work as a new instance of genius misapplied; and of learning, industry, and talents, unprofitably wasted in the pursuit of an unattainable object. To deduce one language from another, to trace the present form of a word upwards to an older form of it, and to demonstrate the law of that variation to which it has been exposed, would form a task that may be generally practicable and often very useful: it would have a tendency to

promote

promote and preserve that purity and precision of expressioni, which are so grateful both to the taste and the understanding; and it would give us some insight into that moral and intellectual progress of our nature, with which we shall be the more able to co-operate, the more perfectly we comprehend it. The etymologist, therefore, who limits himself to this object, may reasonably hope to accomplish all that he has undertaken; he may satisfy both himself and his readers; and he may turn his learning and his sagacity to a good and a sure account. When, however, he presumes to go beyond these limits, and to determine, not the earlier, but the original form of words, he has plainly embarked on an enterprize of great hazard, and must proceed without any assurance of success; he must regulate his course almost entirely by conjecture ; and he must be guided in his conjectures by lights that are at once scanty, variable, and obscure. The analogies and metaphors, by means of which the significancy of language has been fixed and extended, are for the most part so extremely feeble and remote, that it seems impossible to ascertain them by any sort of reasoning à priori. There are many words, indeed, which bear the record of their descent in their features; and it is principally by comparing the fact, as it proves to be in these instances, with any conjecture which could have been previously formed respecting it, that we discover the fallacy of such a mode of investigation. Every thing, in short, that is not very obvious in this part of etymology, is always very uncertain : the greater part of words may be referred with equal probability to any one of an hundred radicals; and it seems as hopeless a task to determine their true original, as it would be to decide the original forms of the pebbles that are rounded on the shore, or of the clouds that are fleeting over the face of the heavens.

Such, however, is the task that must be undertaken by every author who professes to compile an Etymologicon Magnum; of to deliver a general theory concerning the origin and derivation of words. The fault is in the subject itself; and we are far from imputing to Mr. Whiter those deficiencies which belong to the nature of the work. For the means which he has em ployed to perform it, and the selection of expedients which he has adopted to facilitate it, he is more justly answerable.

The theory, which it is the object of this volume to illus. trate and confirm, may be stated in a very few words. After having laid down the two following preliminary positions; ist, that in all questions of etymology the vowels are to be entirely omitted or disregarded ; and, 2d, that certain consonants, which are recognized as cognate, are always to be considered as equivalent or identical; the author comprizes the whole of I 2

bis

« ZurückWeiter »