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tion it may have combined their varieties. The more deeply we look into the structure Beyond this we can affirm nothing; and ra- and diversities of language, the more does this ther than hazard an idle speculation, are wonder augment upon us; mixed, however, willing to leave the question in the obscurity with great perplexity, in regarding the multiwhere probably it must ever remain. tude and variety of these different forms,
hitherto reckoned only by approximation, We have now completed the outline of this but certainly exceeding some hundreds in inquiry, as far as the physiological argu- number. Many of these are reducible, with ment is concerned. It has, we think, been more or less deviation, to certain common rendered, on purely scientific grounds, next roots—others do not yet admit of such to certain that man is one in species-highly affiliation-others, again, have been so imperprobable that all the varieties of this species fectly examined or recorded, owing to the are derived from one pair, and a single want of a common phonetic system, that no locality on the earth. There are no difficul- sure place has yet been assigned to them in ties attending these conclusions so great as the series. those which other theories involve-and it It is to this seeming chaos of tongues that may be accepted as a further indication of the labors of modern scholars and philosotruth, that, in proportion as our knowledge phers
phers have been earnestly directed; not in the several sciences connected with this simply for the solution of questions as to the subject has become larger and more exact, structure, diversities, and connections of lanin the same proportion have these difficulties guage, but with yet higher aim, in regard to lessened or disappeared. Armed, then, with the origin and progress of nations. Ethnothis strong presumption, derived from one logy owes many of its most precious docusource, we approach the second part of the ments to these researches. They have aided argument, as originally proposed ; that, to it where the records of bistory were obscure wit, depending on the history of human lan- or altogether wanting ; and it cannot be guages in their various forms, and connection doubted by those who have watched the with the history of nations over the globe. course of this science of late years that it is But on this theme, needful though it be to destined to advance much farther by the the completion of the subject, and largely same prolific methods of inquiry. We have embodied in the works before us, we cannot before noted the names of some of the emiat present enter further than to show its in- nent men engaged on the subject. The timate relation to the inquiry, and the general Discourse on Ethnology" by Chevalier Bunresults to which it leads. It is far too copi- sen is a remarkable example of these labors, ous to be dealt with in the small space we and of the philosophical refinements which have at our disposal, and too complex to have been added to the study of language. The admit of any intelligible abridgment. vague and partial conjectures of etymology,
That language should exist at all, and that and the crude catalogues of words caught by it should exist among every people and com- the untutored ear, are now replaced by a munity of the earth, even those lowest in the close and critical research into the principles scale of civilization, is in itself a cogent argu- of language, and into analogies of a higher ment for the unity of man as a species. As class than those founded upon words and is the case with so many other wonders sounds alone. We could willingly pursue amidst which we live, its very familiarity dis- this topic further, but must limit ourselves guises to us the marvelous nature of this simply to what may show the vast aids great faculty of speech, confided to man, and derived from this source to the study of the to man alone, by the design of his Creator.* history of Man; and the increasing certainty
of the conclusions, as the materials become * We will not, by widening the definition of language, embarrass ourselves with the question whether this faculty be not possessed by various character and culture. Of the writers who have animals subordinate to man." Admitting fully the sought to assi'nilate the language of inferior ani. expression of Cuvier, in comparing the faculties of mals to that of man, the late Dr. Maculloch is the brutes with those of man, “ Leur intelligence exé- most able, and in his posthumous work on Natural cute des opérations du même genre,” we still believe Theology will be found a very ingenious chapter that no just definition can identify the mere in- on this subject, defaced, it must be owned, by a stinctive communications by sound, however modi- style and spirit of writing which robs his works. fied, through which the wants of animals are ex- of half their value. In this case it seems less his pressed and supplied, with those wonderful forms object to elevate our notions of the faculties of and devices of language which have rendered even the lower animals, than to degrade our estimate grammar itself a science, and an index of human of the human being.
larger, and the methods of using them more speech; whether the rudest or the most comprehensive and exact.
philosophical of inventions. Without engagThe classification of languages is, in truth, ing in a warfare of definitions, which here, the classification of mankind--the migration as in so many other cases, are the real matand intermixture of languages are records of ter in dispute, we may safely state it to fulfill the changes and movements of man over the all the probable conditions of language in its face of the globe. From the singular multi- earliest and most simple form. M. Bunsen plicity, however, of these forms of human goes so far as to consider it as a monument speech, a person new to the subject might of antediluvian speech, insulated from others well suppose it impossible to arrive at any by physical changes on the globe, and recertain issue ; while those who have gone taining those primitive and fundamental chardeepest into it find certain limits, which no acters which have elsewhere merged into genius or labor can surmount. Neverthe secondary and more complex forms. Withless, in relation to our argument, this very out following him into this bold speculation, multiplicity, like that of the physical varieties it is sufficient to say that, even if the Chinese of mankind, becomes an evidence of com- language were proved to stand absolutely mon original. Whatever opinion be held as alone in its most prominent features, we could to the primitive source of language—and recognize in this no proof of a separate stock many have found cause to consider it of of mankind. The physical characters of this divine communication—we may fairly pre- people distinctly denote them as belonging to sume that the numerous varieties of speech, the great Mongolian family; and as the mononow existing, had their origin in the de- syllabic form of language does not extend to tached localities and under the various con- other nations of that race, we are not entitled ditions in which portions of mankind were from its peculiarities to deduce a conclusion early spread over the earth. Their forma- which is opposed to these less dubious marks tion, and the changes they have undergone, of a common original. have been determined by the faculties, feel- We are left, then, amidst this multitudiings, and social instincts, common to the nous array of tongues, with no more certain whole species, and requiring analogous modes clue of origin than those common necessities of expression by speech. Accordingly, we of social life and intercourse which belong to find that the grammatical relations of different the species. These, however, are necessities languages, apart from those technical forms in the strongest sense of the word. They which disguise them to ordinary observation, compel the formation of language, and even are more certain and closer than the con- of the more essential grammatical forms nection by words and roots. Were there which it assumes. To explain its multiplied more than one species of mankind, and were varieties we can do no other than admit, the type of one race really inferior in its ori- what is probable, indeed, on other grounds, gin to that of another, nothing would be so the early separation of the human race into likely to attest this as the manner of commu- distinct communities, and the dispersion of nication of thought and feeling. Language those into localities so far detached as to itself would become the surest interpreter of give cause and scope for the formation of this difference. But its actual varieties, new languages ; some of them retaining obonly partially coincident with the degree of vious traces of a primitive root, and collatercivilization and social advancement, offer no ally connected more or less closely with such lines of demarcation ; and, however other tongues; others, again, seemingly in
; great the differences, all possess and manifest sulated in origin and independent of all such in their structure a common relation to the connection. The latter case is obviously the uses or necessities of man.
one most difficult to conceive, compatibly The most peculiar class of languages, that with a single origin of mankind; and in seekmost detached from others in its genius as ing for explanation we feel ourselves forced well as forms, is undoubtedly the monosylla- backward upon periods of time which may bic, as spoken and written in China and cer- well alarm the imagination and discourage tain conterminous countries. The singulari- inquiry. Recent research, however, has done ties of this inorganic language, as it may well a good deal to abate these difficulties ; and it be termed, have furnished endless matter of is important to remark here, as we have done discussion to the most accomplished philolo- in respect to the physical diversities of mangists. It has even been made a question kind, that the more minute the inquiry, the whether it should be termed the most imper- more do all differences and anomalies disapfect or the most perfect form of human pear from view. A mere superficial regard to words and sounds often leaves widely | illustrate and verify both. Yet we have said asunder what a rigid analysis of methods enough to show how closely the history of and roots will exhibit as closely related in human language is connected with that of origin, and dissevered only by successive the human species--and, further, how strongsteps, which are sometimes themselves to be ly these researches tend to the same conclutraced in existing forms of speech. The phi- sion as that already deduced from physiololosophy of language thus becomes a guide to gy, viz., that man is of one species, and deethnology, the best interpreter of the history rived from a single pair primitively created of nations.
on the earth. There yet remain two inquiWere we not limited here to a mere out- ries, to which, notwithstanding their interest, line of the subject, many instances might be we have only slightly adverted—those, namegiven of these recent discoveries in philology ly, which regard time and place in their relawhich have removed old barriers of time and tion to this great event. But, to say nothspace, and thrown their light forward upon ing of the intrinsic difficulty of these quesfields of knowledge still unexplored. It is tions under any circumstances, we consider interesting to note how much these discover that they cannot reasonably be brought into ies, as well as the classification and nomen- view until we have first mastered, as far as clature of languages previously adopted, con- it may be done, this preliminary science of nect themselves with the recorded tripartite human languages. Our physical knowledge division of mankind into three great families of man, as a part of the animal creation, is after the Scriptural deluge. Some of the wholly inadequate to such inquiries; and he most remarkable results recently obtained are must, in truth, be an adventurous reasoner those which disclose relations, hitherto un- who expects to draw from either source any suspected or unproved, between the language certain solution of them. of Ancient Egypt and the Semitic and Japhe- We may possibly at a future time resume tic languages of Asia ; thus associating to this important subject in the greater detail it gether in probable origin those three great requires. Meanwhile, we hope to have alroots which, in their separate diffusion, have ready justified the assertion with which we spread forms of speech over all the civilized prefaced this article, that there is no subject parts of the world. Taking the Japhetian, of science of deeper interest than that which or Indo-Teutonic branch, as it has lately regards the natural history and original conbeen termed, we find these inquiries embrac- dition of man. Even were the questions it ing and completing the connections between involves less remarkable, and less important the several families of language which com in regard to the present and future condition pose this eminent division of mankind; al. of the species, the methods of argument and ready dominant in Europe for a long series of sources of evidence are such as may well enages, and destined apparently, through some gage and engross every scientific inquirer. of its branches, to still more general domin- The evidence is drawn from all parts of creaion over the globe. We may mention, as tion from the mind, as well as from the one of the latest examples of the refined bodily conformation of man himself. The analysis of which we are speaking, the com argument is one of probability; always tendplete reduction of the Celtic to the class of ing to greater certainty, though, it may be, Indo-Teutonic languages, through the labors incapable of ever reaching that which is comof Bopp, Prichard, and Pictet; whereby an plete. But this is a method of reasoning eighth family is added to this great stock, well understood to be compatible with the and the circle completed which defines their highest philosophy, and peculiarly consonant relations to one another, and to the other to our present faculties and position in the languages of mankind.
universe. And if “ in this ocean of disquisiIn closing our remarks on this subject, we tion fogs have been often mistaken for land,” must again repeat, that we have almost ex- as in so many other regions of science, we clusively limited them to what regards its may at least affirm that the charts are more general connection with the primitive history correctly laid down than ever before; the of man ;-unable to include that vast body bearings better ascertained ; and that our of knowledge which has given philology a reason can hardly be shipwrecked on this place among the sciences, and associated it great argument, if common caution be obwith ethnology by relations which serve to served in the course we pursue.
From Fraser's Magazine.
ON MR. MACAULAY'S PRAISE OF SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE.*
A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
This often-quoted passage has commonly , But now that the occasion is long past, it been employed in such a way as to imply may not be without its use that we should that the quoter has an interest in the doc- look calmly at his assertions, and try to see trine which it expresses, and can afford to with some precision where the fallacy is. For despise "a little learning" and "shallow that there is a fallacy, even his own concludraughts." We believe that Mr. Macaulay sions must make apparent to any sober thinkwas the first person who had the spirit to re- er; and even the audience, who shouted fuse to join this general league of self-com- their laughing applause when the orator told placency, and to take the other side on gen- them how far they were superior to the aseral grounds. A little while ago, at a pub- trologists and alchemists of the middle ages, lic meeting at Edinburgh, he made a speech must have had some misgiving when he asin which he took for his thesis the absurdity serted that each of them, and even most of of these fears of the danger of superficial their daughters, were more profound geolearning. This thesis he illustrated with his graphers than Strabo, and deeper astronoown peculiar brilliancy and fertility. What,
What, mers than Kepler or Tycho Brahé. They he asked, is the standard of shallowness ? can hardly have believed that a man who, Is it anything fixed? Is not the profound like Strabo, knew the whole history of geoness of one age the shallowness of the next? graphical discovery up to his own time, and The same knowledge which made Ramahoun had present to his mind the aspect of almost Roy profound among the Hindoos would every city and every shore, was a shallow have made him superficial among Edinburgh geographer in comparison with one of us, men. The boarding-school girls of this day merely because we can repeat the names of are profound geographers in comparison with Otaheite and New Zealand, and recognize a Strabo. Gulliver, who was a giant in Lilli- map of Baffin's Bay when we see it; or that, put, was a pigmy in Brobdignag. The pro- simply because we know how many satellites found astronomer of a few centuries back of Saturn have been discovered, and how was an astrologer : the profound chemist, an many small planets there are between Mars alchemist. Herschel and Faraday enable us and Jupiter, we are better astronomers than to smile at such profundity.
those men who, three centuries ago, settled When an orator has delighted his audience the form of the planets' orbits, and made by a series of lively sallies, which at the same out the irregularities of the moon's motions. time please their imagination and gratify their If we hold this, we must also assert ourselves vanity, it is an ungracious task to set coldly to be more profound astronomers than Newto work to point out the fallacy of the argu- ton, because we are apprised of the discovery ments and the falseness of the illustrations. of Uranus and Neptune ; and greater geograAnd we must suppose that this was the rea- phers than Rennel and Malte-Brun, because son why the many eminent and able men who we know where Boothia Felix and Mounts listened to Mr. Macaulay's defence of “a Erebus and Terror lie. little learning" acquiesced, by their silence, But it is evident that all such assertions go in the doctrines which he then put forward. upon the supposition, which is palpably ab
surd, that because the whole body of know* The Danger of Superficial Knowledge ; an ledge existing at the present day is greater Introductory Lecture to the Course of Natural Phi: than it was at any previous time, therefore losophy in the University of Edinburgh, delivered on the 1st and 2d of November, 1818. By J. D.
we who possess any portion of that knowledge Forbes, Esq., F.R.S., &c. London: John W. Parker, I must know more than any one who lived a West Strand.
few generations ago. The absurdity of this fancy is surely palpable enough. Granted | better than Glauber himself did at least,
| : that the world knows much more now than it we can give them their systematic name : we did in the time of Galileo, do we therefore can call them sulphate of soda; but do we necessarily know more than he did ? Grant- know as well as he did what will be the efed that much that was new and difficult fects of mixture in the hot way and in the cold then is easy and familiar now, may there not way, upon oil of vitriol and soda ;-how salts still be many things which were easy to him are made, and changed, by heat, and soluand which yet are difficult to us? Surely it tion, and distillation ? We can name such is a very baseless and self-complacent delu- things; but do we know anything more than sion to identify ourselves with our age, as if the name? We can laugh at the alchemists we must needs share in its attainments, know and their dreams of finding silver and gold in much because it knows much, be profound lead and iron; but can we take a piece of ore, because it is profound. We might object to and ascertain what silver and what gold is in calling the knowledge of the present day it, which men could do three centuries ago? “ more profound” than that of former times, If we do not know what the men of the fifmerely because it is more advanced, more ex- teenth and sixteenth centuries did knowtended. We might say, that an astronomi- knowledge which was true, and which has cal lecturer of the present day is not necessa- only been transformed and translated into rily more profound than Galileo, Kepler, Ty new language in modern times, not superseded cho, merely because he is acquainted with dis- and rejected—what right have we to plume coveries made since their time. We might ourselves upon a fancied superiority over reasonably object to a scale of profundity by them, merely because we have learnt to rewhich the world grows every year deeper peat some of the phrases in which knowledge and deeper in its knowledge. But grant more recently acquired has been expressed ? such a scale. Let it be that the world in The great masters in our time may be supethe nineteenth century is a very profound rior to those who have preceded them in the world. Let the ocean of its acquirements be extent, and, if you please, in the profundity deep as well as wide. Is there no such of the knowledge which they possess; but thing as a shallow draught from a deep ves- such men are never led by their superiority sel? Is it not possible that the stream may to think lightly of the discoverers and men of be shallow though the source be deep? May science who have preceded them; and if we, not a man have a superficial acquaintance merely because we live among the great men with a profound subject ? And is not this so of our age and country, and have the opporwith regard to ordinary readers? Do they tunity of hearing their voice and listening to know astronomy or chemistry profoundly, the truths which they utter, are led to desmerely because it is profoundly known in this pise preceding philosophers for their inferioritheir day? Do they really know the sciences ty, what does this prove, but that we are better than the astronomers and chemists of conceited through the smallness, not the largethe sixteenth century ? It is easy to laugh ness of our knowledge ?
What does it prove, at astrologers and alchemists, and to please except precisely what the poet says, that and amuse ourselves by thinking how far our views and our knowledge elevate us Shallow draughts intoxicate the brain ? above their absurd projects and fables : but let us recollect that there has been a stage And does not the very different temper of intermediate between them and us, and let the most profound men of science in all times us ask if we are equal to the men of that in- show to us, that termediate stage? We know that there are planets which Galileo or Copernicus did not Drinking deeply sobers us again? dream of, but have we as exact a knowledge of the motions of Venus, and Mars, and Jupi- All this may be said, granting the truth of ter, as they had ? Can we determine the Mr. Macaulay's illustration allowing that places of these planets at any given time, as knowledge goes on constantly growing a larthey could do ?-—as even Ptolemy and the ger and larger mass, a deeper and deeper Greek astronomers could do? It is easy to well,—allowing that the generations of men laugh at those who calculated nativities, but are of a constantly increasing stature, so that
; have we any right to laugh at those who the intellectual giant of one age is the intelcould calculate eclipses, which probably we lectual pigmy of the next; so that man, in could none of us do? And so in other sub- this respect, is like Gulliver, a giant to the jects. We know what Glauber's salts are, Lilliputians who preceded him, a pigmy to