Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

“In this, M. de Sacy is mistaken. It is probable, indeed, that he has not read my Grammar throughout.” p. 3.

“I hope M. de Sacy has not been willing to pass over certain particulars, and then to report them as wanting.” p. 4.

“ I cannot help treating his objection, therefore, in this place, as quite beneath himself, and perfectly childish.” p. 7.

“ The truth appears to be, that M. de Sacy has no adequate notion whatever of the real force of these forms.” p. 9.

“Can any thing short of perverseness, or a determination never to depart from the paths of custom and of ignorance(!) induce a writer to close his eyes, &c.”p. 10.

“It would be a work of supererogation to exemplify a thing of which every tyro in Hebrew is well acquaiifted, but, I doubt, whether any sort of proof would suffice to convince my learned reviewer.” p. 13.

“ M. de Sacy must necessarily be right, and because he believes he is so." p. 308.

“When the philosophy of language shall be substituted, as I trust it will, for the philosophy of technicalities, it will, perhaps, be found, that half a dozen rules will really comprehend more of the Arabic and Hebrew language, than all the ponderous volumes with which the world has been pestered by such philosophers as the Baron de Sacy." p. 310.

“ Had M. de Sacy stumbled on this, his Grammar would, perhaps, have been shorter by a few pages, and its rules intelligible.” p. 311.

“Fortunately, however, for poor Mr. Ewald and myself, literature and science have no Pope.” p. 312.

“ The truth is, that no such rule any where exists; it is the mere figment of M. de Sacy; and it has been framed for this particular occasion.” p. 323.

“Why does our savant object? I suppose, because he is determined to do so, and for no other reason.” p. 325.

“ Here, then, we have a trifling technicality, implicating one of the greatest savans of Europe in a ridiculous mistake.”

In these quotations, which are mere selections from a number that we marked upon perusal, there are two things which we think must offend every reader of taste. The one is the tone of contempt adopted towards the learned Baron. great the acknowledged merits of Professor Lee may be, and however just his criticisms in the present case, we are sure, that public sentiment will never sympathize with this apparent scorn of his illustrious contemporary. Another, and,

p. 326.

perhaps, still more offensive circumstance, is the vindictive style in which he justifies himself, by accusing his opponent; defending his own Hebrew Grammar by assailing the Grammaire Arabe. No doubt, there was occasion to call into question some of De Sacy's views of Arabic grammar, and, no doubt, as to many of the controverted points, the two tongues may be looked upon, and spoken of, as one. But what we allude to is something very different from mere objection to De Sacy's theories. A particular criticism offered by De Sacy, is sometimes met by a sweeping condemnation of his own work, or a sneer at some specific flaw in it, entirely unconnected with his own remark on Lee. This adds an air of personality to the pervading coarseness of the articles, which we are grieved to see sanctioned by authority so high. It ought, however, to be recollected, that we write with no further knowledge of De Sacy's own critique, than the reply affords, and cannot therefore undertake to say, that no provocation was there given, which would palliate or justify this mode of refutation. If we may form a judgment from the Baron's other writings, and the way in which he notices a criticism on his Grammar by Professor Lee, in a note to the last edition,* we should rather expect a punctilious adherence to old fashioned courtesy, than outrages

upon it.

We are so faș from making these remarks upon the style of the reply, because we think De Sacy altogether in the right, that on almost every point of Hebrew Grammar called in question, we think him very clearly in the wrong. The specimen here given makes us not a little sceptical about his merits as a Hebrew scholar. We had, indeed, before seen reason to believe, that the absorption of his faculties and feelings in one favourite study, had prevented any very close attention, during many years at least, to the details of other languages. At all events, the criticism quoted from the Journal des Savans, evince no accurate experimental knowledge of the Hebrew text. The reference to arbitrary technical definitions as fixed principles, and the adoption of the opinion so common among sciolists, that Hebrew is a chaos

a

* Vol. II p. 483.

+ There is one expression in the work before us which must make a Grecian smile. After speaking of the " antithetic future," a term introduced by Erpenius, and of the sense which he attached to it, the author adds; "en effet le mot devróseois, qui est grec,” &c. This “qui est grec,” strictly implies no more than a doubt of the reader's erudition.

of intractable anomalies, are symptoms which can scarcely be mistaken. It is not surprising therefore, that the exceptions taken to Lee's bold and startling views, are any thing but masterly. Even where we cannot agree with the grammarian, we have no hesitation in dissenting from the critic.

So much for the questions which relate to Hebrew Grammar. With regard to them, Professor Lee is on the vantage ground, and in repelling criticism, he was, perhaps, at liberty to use strong terms. But when he comes to make an application of the self-same principles to Arabic, and to identify the vindication of his own Hebrew Grammar with the condemnation of the Grammaire Arabe, his strides become too bold. We do not deny the affinity of the languages, and the identity of many forms and idioms. We do not even question Lee's assertion, that in the end, the phenomena of both may be reduced substantially to the same principles and standard. But the end is not yet come. Data ought surely to precede conclusions. It is here that we draw the line between Arabic and Hebrew. The Hebrew, which is studied in our schools of learning, is the Hebrew of the Bible. The whole of it is shut up in a single volume. Abundant time has been afforded for research, comparison, and combination, within bounds so narrow. It is easy to bring theories and systems to the test. A Bible and a concordance furnish the student with a pair of balances in which to weigh his grammar and his lexicon. The data being thus provided, let conclusions follow. Now if De Sacy's Grammar had professed to teach the Arabic of the Koran or Hariri only, the plan which he adopted would have been preposterous. With all the facts before him, a neglect to generalise would only have marked his own unfitness for the task. But the case was otherwise. He was to ascertain the principles which govern the formation and the usage of a language, which, as yet, was known but partially. How could this be performed without a copious and accurate induction of particulars? These particulars were to be found, not in one book, nor in the few. which, at that time, had been printed, but in libraries, whole libraries, of history, philosophy, romance, and poetry, as well as in the usus loquendi of a hundred nations, from the Niger to the Indus. He might easily have started with a bold hypothesis, and by convulsive efforts have adapted facts to it, or it to facts; but what would have ensued? The bubble would have burst, and De Sacy might, by this time, have been quite forgotten.

Upon these grounds we defend the Grammaire Arabe, as it appeared at first; both plan and execution. Upon the same grounds we are disappointed in its new appearance: not that the phenomena could all have been observed; for even yet how much remains to be decyphered and explained. But we must confess, that from the supplemental reading of near twenty years we looked for some approximation to philosophical arrangement, founded not on mere hypothesis, but on the comparison of facts already ascertained and stated. There are clear indications, it is true, of diligent and unremitted study, in the multiplication of examples and occasional changes in the phraseology. What was stated in the first edition as a strange anomaly, is now admitted among usual forms. What was hinted at as doubtful, is affirmed as certain ; what was censured as inaccurate, is recognised as genuine, and vice versâ what was laid down positively, is expunged or qualified.* It should also be mentioned, that the author has precluded the necessity of not a few additional details, by frequent reference to works which have appeared in this department of philology since his first edition. Among these may be named his own Chrestomathy and its sequel the Anthology,t together with the Arabic scholia upon various authors, which have been edited, within the above named period, by different orientalists. With respect to this last invaluable source of philological improvement, a very marked and gratifying change has taken place, since the first appearance of De Sacy's Grammar, and partly in consequence of the new impulse given by that work to the study of the language. In a note to the first edition, (Vol. II. p. 379) these words occur: “il est fàcheux que tout ce qui a été imprimé de scolies jusqu'à present, du moins la plus grande partie, soit défiguré par des fautes innombrables. Ou fera mieux d'étudier quelques chapitres du commentaire de l'Alcoran par Beidhawi." In the new edition (Vol. II. p. 510) these words are omitted, and the following inserted: "aujourdhui les moyens ne manquent plus pour s'exercer à cette étude.” Among the publications which have wrought this change, may be mentioned as among the most important, De Sacy's own magnificent Hariri,* and Freytag's edition of the Hamasa,t to which he constantly refers his readers, as well as to the Moallakat, edited by Menil, Vullers, Kosegarten, Hengstenberg, and others. Proceeding on the principle of mere detail, it is obvious that our author was exempted, by this change in the resources of the student, from the obligation to enlarge his Grammar, which would otherwise exist. That it did not rather lead him to modify his plan, though it may appear surprising, can scarcely be regretted, as the Baron's strength so evidently lies in the laborious arrangement of details. may be, that the lively and ingenious mind of Ewald, when brought to work upon De Sacy's rich materials, will produce, or rather has produced, a Grammar vastly better than either by himself could be expected to construct. Our only fear is, that in attempting to supply the Baron's lack of philosophy, the new cloth will take too much from the old garment, and the rent be made worse.

* Compare "je doute fort de la vérité de cette observation," (I. 740, 1st ed.) with “cette observation est fausse, et n'a aucun fondement," (I. 930, 2d ed.) See also the frank “j'ai eu tort,” of vol. II. $ 472, (2d ed.) and the positive " je persiste à croire,” of the old edition, (II. 240,) which is omitted in the new. Many similar examples might be added.

+ Chrestomathie Arabe, ou Extraits de divers écrivains Arabes, tant en prose qu'en vers, avec une Traduction Française, et des Notes. 2d ed., Paris, 1826.

Anthologie Grammaticale Arabe, ou morceaux choisis, de divers auteurs Arabes, avec une Traduction Française, et des Notes. 1829.

There is one improvement in the Grammaire Arabe which must not be overlooked. The second volume is enlarged by the addition of near fifty pages, on the subject of Prosody and Versification. This topic was omitted in the first edition, perhaps, because it had been somewhat overlooked in the author's private studies. It is stated by Ewald, in his Latin treatise on this subject, that the Arabic verses printed in the early publications of De Sacy, abound in false quantity and metrical anomalies. I It may have been this criticism which occasioned the addition to the Grammar now in question. So far as we have seen, however, Ewald's little work is neither cited nor referred to.

On the whole, the value of the work does not seem to be remarkably enhanced, nor does the proprietor appear to have expected that the second edition would displace the first, for we see that he has advertised the treatise on Prosody for sale apart, in order to accommodate the former purchasers.

* Les Séances de Hariri, publiée en Arabe, avec un commentaire choisi, par M. le Baron Silvestre de Sacy. Paris, 1822, folio.

+ Hamasæ Carmina, cum Tebrisii scholiis, primum edidit, indicibus instruxit, versione Latina, et commentario illustravit, G. G. Freytag. Bonn. 4to.

1 De metris carminum arabicorum libri duo. Auctore G. H. A. Ewald. Brunsviga. 1825. p. 139.

VOL. IV. No. IV.-4. A

« AnteriorContinuar »