Page images
PDF
EPUB

ment is the law of love, as it respects our neighbour's reputation; though, in the connexion of human affairs, the violation of it may likewise affect his proper ty and life; and bearing false witness in a court of justice among us, may be perjury, robbery, and murder, as well as calumny. In such important concerns we should attest nothing, of which we have not the fullest assurance; and every human passion should be watched, that our evidence may not be warped by any of them. We should be exact to a word in reporting what we know, and in speaking the truth, and no more than the truth. Equal caution is required in juries, and in the judge who decides the cause. The malicious invention and circulation of slanderous reports, to the injury of a man's character, is a heinous violation of this com mandment. To do this in sport is an imitation of the madman, who "throws about arrows, firebrands and death" for his diversion. To spread such stories as others have framed to the discredit of our neighour, when we suspect them to be false or aggravated; or even if we suppose or know them to be true, when there is no real occasion for it, is prohibited by this law; for the practice results from pride, selfpreference, malevolence, or conceited affectation of wit and humour. Severe censures, bitter sarcasms, ridicule, harsh judgments, ascribing good actions to bad motives, innuendos, misrepresentations, collecting and vending family anecdotes, and various other practices of the same nature, can never consist with it.

This commandment is frequently violated by authors. A lie or slander is far worse when printed, than when only spoken. Religious controversy is often disgraced by the most abominable calumnies; for bigots of all par ties agree in mistating the ac tions, misquoting the writings, and misrepresenting the words All lies are of their opponents. a violation of this law. They are in every possible case an abuse of speech, and of our neighbour's confidence, and a derogation from the value of truth; and almost always injurious to mankind. Even injurious thoughts, groundless suspicions, and secret prejudices, or envy of the praises which others receive, consist not with the spirit of this precept, which requires sincerity, truth, fidelity, candour, and caution in all our conversation and conduct, and a disposition to honour in every man what is honourable, to commend what is commendable, to vindicate and excuse what can be vindicated and excused, and to conceal what may lawfully be con cealed; and in every respect to consult his reputation, and even to rejoice in his credit and renown, as we should were it our own, and might reasonably desire he also should. In our own case we all feel the reasonableness and excellence of the preWe cept in its strictest sense. value, and are tender of our own reputation; we expect to be treated with candour, respect, and sincerity; and we are greatly pained and affronted, when we are imposed upon, or held forth to scorn, ridicule, and censure, by the tongues or pens of others,

But through the exorbitancy of self love and want of love to others, we are prone in an amazing degree to violate the same rules with respect to our neighbour, without much remorse, or sense of guilt. Nor can words express how heinously this reasonable commandment is every day transgressed in almost every company, and among persons of all characters.*

With the ninth commandment in view, does it not appear

ON

THE

strange, that any professors of Christianity should allow themselves to speak evil of others? And more strange still, that doing so should constitute a material part of their religious character? Such mistake the nature of the religion of Christ, and do more injury to his cause, than the most open enemies. If any man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain.

Miscellaneous,

PHILOLOGOS.

For the Panoplist. ly true, that the Welch is a branch of the same stock; for

AFFINITY BETWEEN

THE LANGUAGES OF EUROPE
AND ASIA.

IT has been often asserted by learned philologists, that the scripture account of the origin of all mankind from a single pair is strongly supported by the affinity, which exists between the languages of Europe and Asia. This opinion is doubtless just, and has received no small support from the inquiries of the Asiatic Society in India; it be ing found that the Persic and the ancient language of India, the Sanscrit, had a common origin with the Hebrew. It is well known, that the Hebrew is the most ancient language, of which we have any knowledge, and that the Greek, Latin, and all the Teu: tonic dialects sprung from the Hebrew, or from the same original stock with the Hebrew, Arabic, Chaldaic, and Coptic. It is equal

....

Scott's Commentary.

to this day many words in the Welch are Hebrew, with very little alteration.

Within a few years past, etymological inquiries, which had been long neglected and held in little estimation, have been revived by some of the most learned men in Europe; new and important discoveries have been made; and new light thrown upon the origin of languages, which of course illuminates the obscure pages of ancient history. It is probable that important discoveries are yet to be made; for, notwithstanding most of the learned, as well as unlearned are satisfied with the researches of other men, and employ their time and talents in reading and retailing the beauties of classical authors; yet there are a few investigating minds, like the late Sir William Jones, which look for truth beyond the surface of things and received opinions.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

In this exhibition or collection of the pronouns, the words, which are obviously derived directly from the Hebrew, are designated by the same character. Thus the second and third person singular, and the first person plural, in several of the languages, bear unequivocal marks, in their orthography, of a direct descent from the Hebrew. The less obvious resemblances are not designated; but several other derivations, though less obvious, are equally certain. Thus the first person of the Greek, Latin, and Teutonic dialects, Ego, Ik, are doubtless from the Hebrew ani, which probably was pronounced in a different manner from what we should suppose from the letters. The Greek su and the Latin tu are mere diaJectical variations of the second

nosotros vos-vosotros ellos, ellas

elles, ellas

person of the Hebrew ati. The third person of the Hebrew eme and em are preserved in the Teu tonic article dem and the English them. This word was formerly an article or pronominal adjec tive in the Saxon, as it is still in the German., In dem himelen in them or the heavens-is the Ger man use of the word. In Saxon it was used in the genitive and dative cases, in the same manner, and in the singular number as well as plural, " innan tham watere" in the or them water, was correct primitive English, Our common people retain the original use of this pronoun, with some variation; they use it in the nominative as well, as in the ob lique cases, of the plural, but never in the singular number, Their practice, except as to the use of the word in the nomina:

tive, is warranted by the original drawn. In order to arrive at a construction of the language, but has long been discountenanced by authors.

It will be observed, that the first person of the pronoun in the Welch is mi or vi; m and v being cognate and convertible letters. This word mi, pronounced me, in the nominative, seems to have given rise to the French moi, in the nominative, but corresponds with the accusative case of the word in Greek, Latin, and English. Mi is the nominative case also in the Cornish and Armoric dialects of the Celtic. In the Teutonic dialects the affinity is very 'obvious; the harsh guttural sounds of Ego and Ik, being softened only in the southern pronunciation of I, je, yo and eu.

W.

For the Panoplist.

ON THE STATE OF LITERATURE

IN NEW ENGLAND.

THIS subject may lead to some profitable reflections on the causes, which tend to enlighten or obscure, elevate or debase the human mind. I am well aware that this is a subject sometimes handled, and frequently glanced at; but the field here entered cannot be presented to the eye at a single view.

The first inquiry, which naturally offers itself, is; What is the present condition of literature, in this part of our country? In reply, it might seem presumptuous and dogmatical to attempt an exact representation of every minute feature in the general character. Some traits, however, may be faithfully

just view of the subject at the present time, it may be useful to trace the changes, which, within the course of a few years, the general taste has experienced.

One important alteration has taken place, by exploding that false, but highly flattering doctrine, that all men were speedily to become learned. This was sedulously taught, greedily embraced, and warmly extolled, about the beginning of the French revolution, when such a flood of ungodliness burst upon the world, laying waste the labours and the hopes of man, and threatening to overwhelm every thing desirable in complete destruction. It was inculcated and believed, that information alone was necessary to reform mankind; and what was still more captivating, that all men could almost instinctively, and by the native energy of their minds, acquire this information; that learning had, till that happy era, been confined to a few men, who were possessed of some talents, indeed, but were neither warmed with philanthropy, nor endowed with minds sufficiently comprehensive to fit them to become the instructors of mankind; that the human powers had been unaccountably held in chains, and that the time was arrived, when the latent energies of man were to display themselves, and liberate their unconscious possessors from the thraldom of ignorance and prejudice; when every barrier of superstition was to be broken down, and every strong hold of injustice demolished; when truth was to become omnipotent, and the blaze of science to

dispel all the darkness in which the world was involved. The causes of this wonderful change, and more especially the manner in which the philanthropists were to produce it, were forgot ten to be explained. However, the enchantment took effect.

How unfounded soever these pretensions were, they had at least the influence to make multitudes of the common people think themselves surprisingly enlightened. The most difficult and abstruse opinions, those which had undergone the most thorough examination of the ablest men, and the decision of which was yet sub judice, were determined by all descriptions of persons. To mention a common instance; it was thought a matter almost too easy to require a moment's consideration, to direct what form of government was the best at all times, and in all places, throughout the world. The duty of legislators, judges, and executive officers, in all the boundless variety of circumstances, was perfectly evident, as soon as the subject was named. The decisions of Minos were not received by the Cretans with more implicit hom age, than each man thought due to his own. If any one had the audacity to question their correctness, submission was de manded with the peremptoriness of a papal bull, and the objector was set down for a man of a narrow and bigotted mind, and a selfish heart. The same was the case with respect to religion and morals, and every subject important to man. What it would be right, and what wrong, what wise, and what foolish for the Creator of heaven and earth

to do, (if, indeed, any Creator were acknowledged,) was resolv ed with as little hesitation, and as little reverence, as are exhibited in the ordinary transactions of life. The result of this selfconfidence was, that all became teachers, and the relation of learner scarcely existed but in name. And although these instructors clashed with each other, or with themselves, each one regarded himself as an oracle, uttering truths under the direction of infallible reason. The empire of science was overrun with a swarm of poets and philosophers, naturalists, historians, and dramatists, numerous as the locusts of Egypt. Innovation succeeded innovation, and system was demolished after system. Sir Isaac Newton was apprehended in danger from the puny efforts of St. Pierre, till serious men stood wondering what would be the issue, and when the impetuous tide would cease to rise. Nothing was thought easier than to assume the chair of philosophy, and become an instructor of mankind. It was almost forgotten that prudence and modesty were commendable traits in the human character. The time was preeminently arrived, when "the child was to behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable."

But there is one happy circumstance attending all visionary schemes with respect to the things of common life and daily observation. Though for a time they may dazzle and allure, yet experience will detect their fallacy and expose their absurdity. Thus the doctrine, which has been mentioned, has

« PreviousContinue »