Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

given by the poet's hundredth birthday, amounted to about $52,000. There are twenty branch institutes; four of which, to aid those at Weimar, Munich, Frankfort, and Lübeck, have received from their governments corporate rights. The interest only of the capital is to be spent. An article in the charter of the Institute prohibits the giving of the names of persons who receive aid, or any intimation whatever as to their identity; while it leaves the recipients free to declare, if they choose, that they have been thus assisted.

It is an institution of piety and humanity, they say, as yet in its earliest beginning. As the years roll on, they bring to the German nation two days to be remembered,—that on which Schiller was born, and that on which he died. On these days they ask for offerings, which shall testify at once to the pervading influence of the Schillercultus, and to its fruitful results for good among the German people.

In the address upon Schiller, however, which Jacob Grimm delivered on the 10th of November, 1859, before the Academy of Sciences of Berlin, and which that learned body has thought worthy of a place in their published Transactions, that curious grammatical inquirer inveighs against this desecration of so illustrious a name by connecting it with an institution of charity for the relief of mediocre writers, for Dichterlinge, whom one should rather discourage than recognize. Rising talents, he affirms, need no such aid. Every rich gift endows itself in these days. Let them rather spend the money they will gather, in visible works of art, which shall mark the birthplace and the footsteps of Schiller with gleams of joy for ever. If to encourage letters is to endow idleness, doubtless we should agree with Jacob Grimm. But to help on those who give their lives to help on mankind is an effort not unworthy of the patronage of so great a name even as that of Schiller. If aid of this sort had not come often and plentifully to him, Germany might have lacked a leader, and the world been poorer by many thoughts.

We pay more heed to Herr Grimm when he instructs us in other things. The new French translation of Schiller, he says, executed under the superintendence of Regnier, who possesses a critical acquaintance not only with modern but with Old German literature, is for the most part to be commended. Goethe and Schiller were in the habit of working over their poems many times. Their texts are often as various as in Middle High-German poems, and the new reading is not always to be preferred to the old. But the great obstacle to the thorough renovation of the text is the monopoly which the publisher of Schiller (Baron Cotta) still has in his works. The long connection of both poets with a permanent and enterprising house was of great service to them, indeed a desirable thing; but the lapse of time has changed it into an annoyance to the nation. Nobody disputes the right of an author to the fruit of his labors during his life, or of his heirs after his death. But as no author can foresee the extent of his popularity, so, in the agreement between Goethe or Schiller and their publishers, it cannot be supposed that either party anticipated or provided for the unheard-of demand for their writings,

VOL. LXXIX.-5TH S. VOL. XVII. NO. I.

13

which has existed in Germany for the last half century. The objection which Grimm makes to such monopoly, so long as it stands in the way, as in this instance it seems to do, of the application of independent criticism, and of new editions embodying the results of that criticism in text or arrangement, is very proper. But, for our part, we do not see why he who builds a house should have a longer tenure of it, in himself and his heirs, than he who builds a history, provided the right of the public to the use and improvement of the property be properly guarded.

Grimm admits the propriety of a limitation for a certain period, but complains, that, in the case of these great writers, the time has been too much extended by special privileges. Upon that point he furnishes some curious information. By a Prussian Cabinet-order of Feb. 8, 1826, the copyright in Schiller's works was extended for twenty-five years. A decree of the Confederation of 23d November, 1838, granted the privilege of exclusive publication to Schiller's heirs for twenty years. When the latter period was on the point of termination, the heirs solicited an extension of it to 1878; and in 1854 the Prussian government proposed to the Chambers a special law for that purpose, which was to override the general legislation upon the subject. The Chambers declined to pass it. Thereupon appeared, on the 6th of November, 1856, a decree of the Confederation, according to which the copyright privilege was to continue till 1867, in favor of all authors who deceased before the 9th of November, 1827 (the date of a former decree of the Confederation). Schiller's works, therefore, as well as Goethe's, without enjoying special privileges, although they were the occasion of the passing of the law, will become common property on the 10th of November, 1867; yet not in all Germany, since in Saxony, the seat of the publishing business, there exists a law, passed in 1844, which secures the copyright privilege for thirty years to the works of those authors who died before the 1st of January, 1844; that is to say, till 1874. At the end of the year 1867, therefore, there will be a wretched condition of things, if Saxony upholds within its territory the copyrights in works of authors such as Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, &c., which, in the rest of Germany, are the property of the public.

IN a language like the English, so much governed by custom, and so little by rule, there is, of course, a wide field for discussion of the propriety of phrases, and for difference in the choice of words. One is hardly aware, indeed, how capricious often is the use of our language, till he has looked at a list of words and phrases like those collected at random by the Dean of Canterbury as being objectionable in point of vulgarity or grammar. The Dean's little book, however, though full of suggestions, is far from being conclusive. He is much inferior to Trench in philosophical analysis and grammatical

*

The Queen's English: Stray Notes on Speaking and Spelling. By HENRY ALFORD, D.D., Dean of Canterbury. London: Strahan & Co. Cambridge: Deighton, Bell, & Co. 1864.

keenness. His criticism is for the most part shallow. He is more useful when he puts questions than when he answers them. Of course, as an Englishman and a clergyman, he cannot be expected to allude to this country otherwise than with an arrogance only surpassed by his ignorance.

The Dean complains that it is a common trick on this side of the Atlantic to write honor, &c., instead of honour, 66 as part of a movement to reduce our spelling to a uniform rule, as opposed to usage," thus obliterating all traces of the historical formation of words; since we get honor not directly from the Latin honor (spelled in exactly the same way), but from the French honneur. Certainly, the Church of England is in no danger if it do but have men enough of this sort to defend it. Think of the audacity of the railway porter who could speak of this dignitary as "the old party in a shovel." "Control, however, never acquired a right to be spelt with a 'u.' It comes from the French contrôle,' i.e., contre-rôle; and the original meaning is still found in the name controller, when applied to finance, i.e., an officer whose duty it is to keep a counter-role or check on the accounts of others," - not to be spelt comptroller therefore.

The following criticism is too important not to be quoted:

"Which of these two is right? — the Misses Brown, or the Miss Browns? For the former it may be said, that Brown is the name of the whole species, and that the young ladies, being individuals of that species, are Misses; for the latter, that, each of the young ladies being Miss Brown, the whole taken together, or any two or more, are Miss Browns. So that either way is justifiable. Usage is all but universal in favor of the latter in conversation. We may say we met the Miss Browns, not the Misses Brown. But we can hardly justify this, our colloquial practice, if we bring in Mrs. Brown, and say we met Mrs. and the Miss Browns. For by enumerating thus, first the individual, and then the species, we bind ourselves to the former way of spelling. The sentence as I have last given it is inaccurate, because it really says that we met Mrs. and the Miss Browns; i.e., one Mrs. and one celebrated Miss, rejoicing in the name of, not Brown, but Browns. If we had wished to keep to the ordinary colloquial usage in this case also, we ought to have said that we met Mrs. Brown and the Miss Browns."

The plural of attorney and money is attorneys, moneys, just as the plural of key is not kies, but keys. The word means takes a plural or singular verb according as the mode of action is singular or plural. "The best means is," and "the latest news is," are right if you refer only to one mode of action or one piece of news. Sanitary and sanatory are different words. Then Sanitary means appertaining to health; sanatory means appertaining to healing or curing. "The town is in such a bad sanitary condition that some sanatory measures must be undertaken." In alluding to the mistakes in newspapers, the Dean says he read somewhere, that somebody might be immersed in a heavy fine, the word meant, of course, being amerced. He is rigid in requiring the h in humble to be aspirated, and thinks it very funny "that an American friend of ours ventured to tell us candidly, that we spoke English with a strong English accent."

Pronouncing duty, &c., dooty is an offensive vulgarism. These kind of things instead of this kind may be incorrect, but is inevita

ble. This much, that much, as measures of quantity may not be elegant, but they are correct; thus much is better. Replace has come to signify just the opposite of its real meaning. "Lord Derby was replaced by Lord Palmerston, means to us was succeeded by, &c.; to our grandfathers it would have signified that Lord Palmerston put Lord Derby in again. The usage is borrowed from the French word remplacer, i.e. remplir la place. Nothing can well be worse in grammar than a superior man, an inferior person. Talented, also, is as bad as possible; and so is moneyed, which is generally made worse by being spelt monied. Subjective and objective are terms as correct as they are indispensable.

The following note was written after a tithe dinner in Devonshire: "Mr. T. presents his compliments to Mr. H., and I have got a hat that is not his, and if he have got a hat that is not yours, no doubt they are the expectant ones."

Being written, instead of in process of writing, is bad because written is a past participle; but it is in such general use that we can do nothing more than avoid it. To put an adverb between the preposition to and the verb, as, " to scientifically illustrate," is a practice that cannot be reprobated too severely. Different to instead of from is against all reason and analogy. "Few ladies, except her Majesty," instead of besides her Majesty, is a common blunder. For what is her Majesty excepted from? a few ladies? Mutual means reciprocal; a mutual friend of husband and wife is sheer nonsense. Riding in a carriage, instead of driving, may be defended from the Bible." "He that setteth not by himself" (Ps. xx. 42 in the Prayer-book version), i.e. is not self-conceited, setteth not store by himself, as we say even than. I have heard a parish clerk pronounce these last words, he that sitteth not by himself, in allusion I suppose to the squire's pew." Found, a gold locket, &c.; the owner may have the same by applying &c., is a frequent error.

66

One of the great sources of the deterioration of the language is to be found in the newspapers. A man is always an individual, or a person, or a party; a woman is a female, or, if unmarried, a young person; a child is a juvenile, children are the rising generation. If you call a woman a female, why not call a man a male? A man going home is always an individual proceeding to his residence. We never eat; we partake. There is no such thing as a place; it is a locality. Nothing is placed; it is located. Most of the people in the place is a vulgarism to those who can write the majority of the residents in the locality. We do not show feeling, we evince it. We do not ask; we conceive a desire. We do not thank a man; we evince gratitude. We never begin any thing; we commence. If the newspaper men want to say that a man spent his money till he was ruined, they say, his unprecedented extravagance eventuated in the total dispersion of his property. We speak of a man as of the Hebrew persuasion, why not describe a man of color as of the negro persuasion? Men do not break their legs now-a-days, they sustain a fracture, and so on to the end of the chapter, as he will learn who readeth.

GEOGRAPHY AND TRAVELS.

*

Not only has Africa risen into note as the hunting-ground of Europe but the gainful eyes of English commerce are fastened upon its exhaustless stores of ivory; and the artist, sated with familiar scenes, is penetrating the interior to obtain new studies for his adventurous pencil. An Australian explorer, the artist of Dr. Livingstone's expedition, Mr. Thomas Baines, besides some valuable maps, furnished a large amount of curious and instructive sketches of the natives, the animals, the scenery of the Damara land, a dozen degrees north of the Cape of Good Hope. For those acquainted with the rapidly increasing literature of this no longer unknown land, his book contains nothing very novel; though its author has enriched the English museums with many new specimens of insects and plants, as constant attention was given to hunting up curiosities in every department of natural history; and, but for the disaster which befell his expedition, few travellers would have done more than this unpretending sketcher to throw Africa open to the view of the untravelled world. Evidently, we have had no more honest story of hardy adventure in this savage land; none more free from the desire of making the narrative a romance and its author a hero by impossible achievements and incredible hardships, than this "South-west Africa." Mr. Baines's failure was unavoidable. In the fever-region, he and his ivory-hunter companion, Campbell, are taken down by disease just as they seemed to have accomplished their object, the Zambesi river, by which he would have crossed the continent, and secured an easy passage back to the Cape. His narrative snaps off suddenly, like one of Mr. Emerson's lectures; leaving the reader to conjecture what he must have suffered by famine, fever, the murder of his attendants, the defeat of his well-planned expedition. Another chapter, explaining what his father only alludes to in the preface, would have added interest to the story and made a suitable peroration. His absence from England, we hope, means that he is engaged in new explorations, not that sickness has prostrated his vigorous frame, or failure crushed his adventurous spirit.

THE people who could make a biblical critic and a resolute heretic out of a dignitary of the conservative English Church must be an interesting people. Mr. Grout † does not seem, like Bishop Colenso, to have found flaws in the arithmetic of Scripture from the suggestive

* Explorations of South-west Africa: an account of a journey in 1861 and 1862, from Wawisch Bay on the Western Coast to Lake Ngami and the Victoria Falls. By THOMAS BAINES. Longman: London. 1864.

† Zulu Land; or, Life among the Zulu Kafirs of Natal and Zulu Land, South Africa, with Map and Illustrations, largely from original Photographs. By Rev. LEWIS GROUT, for fifteen years Missionary of the American Board in South Africa. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Publication Committee. 1864. 12mo. pp.

351.

« VorigeDoorgaan »