« PoprzedniaDalej »
The volume before us does not profess to bring forward any new discoveries. It simply aims at collecting the light which we have already, and at concentrating this light upon the dif. ferent hypotheses, which have been advanced for the explanation of existing phenomena. In pursuance of this plan, Part I. is devoted exclusively to American Antiquities. These are divided into two classes ;—the first including remains of more recent origin, “which have manifestly proceed. ed from an uncivilized people," and the second embracing those older monuments in the United States, Mexico, Central America and South America, which must be referred to nations of great cultivation. It is hardly necessary to observe that the author has brought together, and exhibited in a small compass, the most important discoveries which have been hitherto made. Part II. contains an elaborate examination of the claims of different nations in the old world to be regarded as the progenitors of the aborigines of America. In it the author also discusses the mode by which their passage to this country was effected.
We will state his conclusions in his own language: “1. The three great groups of monumental antiquities in the United States, New Spain and South America, in their style and character present indications of having proceeded from branches of the same human family. 2. These nations were a rich, populous, civilized and agricultural people; constructed extensive cities, roads, aqueducts, fortifications and temples; were skilled in the arts of pottery, metallurgy and sculpture; had attained an accurate knowledge of the science of astronomy; were possessed of a national religion, subjected to the salutary control of a definite system of laws, and were associated under regular forms of government. 3. From the uniformity of their physical appearance; from the possession of relics of the art of hieroglyphic painting ; from universal analogies in their language, religion, traditions and methods of interring the dead; and from the general prevalence of certain arbitrary customs, nearly all the aborigines appear to be of the same descent and origin; and that the barbarous tribes are the broken, scattered and degraded remnants of a society originally more enlightened and cultivated. 4. Two distinct ages may be pointed out in the history of the civilized nations—the first and most ancient, subsisting for a long and indeterminate period in unbroken tranquillity, and marked towards its close by the signs of social decadence; the second, distinguished by national changes, the inroads of barbarous or semi-civilized tribes, the extinction or subjugation of the old
and the foundation of new and more extensive empires. 5. The first seats of civilization were in Central America, whence population was diffused through both continents, from Cape Horn to the Arctic Ocean."
In relation to the question of origin he comes to the following result: “The Red race, then, appears to be a primitive branch of the human family, to have existed in many portions of the globe, distinguished for early civilization ; and to have penetrated at a very ancient period into America. The Amer. ican family does not appear to be derived from any nation now existing ; but it is assimilated by numerous analogies to the Etrurians, Egyptians, Mongols, Chinese and Hindoos; it is most closely related to the Malays and Polynesians; and the conjecture possessing perhaps the highest degree of probabil. ity, is that which maintains its origin from Asia, through the Indian archipelago.”
He rejects unhesitatingly the hypothesis that the original emigration was across Behring's Straits; although “it is not to be denied,” he says, “that there are some tribes in North America which may have proceeded in modern times from Siberia ; for example the Chippewyans, and perhaps the Sioux, the Osages, Pawnees and some of the northwestern nations.” “On the other hand, the evidences of an early knowledge of the compass in China, of the great maritime skill of the Malays, and of their navigation, in remote ages, of the Asiatic seas, the facts stated in relation to the peopling of islands by the accidental drifting of canoes, and more than all, the actual proof of the distribution of population over the numerous and distant islands of the great Pacific, from Asia to Easter island, render it unnecessary to resort to the violent hypothesis of a northern route. What greater obstacles were there, to impede a passage from Easter island to the American coast, than attended a migration to Easter island ? Indeed this island itself appears to have been successively occupied by different families; and its pyramidical edifices, and its colossal obelisks and statues are closely analogous to the American monuments.”
We have not room to examine these conclusions. We will barely remark that the time does not seem to have come for a confident and satisfactory result. There are many points which need a fuller investigation. We want a Champollion to read our hieroglyphics. And, happily for future generations, the era of discovery is not yet closed. Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood may bring back stranger reports than any we have yet heard. The inscription recently found at Grave Creek,-supposed by Mr. Schoolcraft to be in Druidical char acters,—may open a new field to the antiquarian. We do not yet despair of finding the Ariadnean thread to this labyrinth of wonders.
14.-An American Dictionary of the English Language ; ex
hibiting the Origin, Orthography, Pronunciation and Definitions of Words. By Noah Webster, LL. D. Abridged from the Quarto Edition of the Author ; to which are ad. ded a Synopsis of Words differently pronounced by differ. ent Orthoepists; and Walker's Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin and Scripture Proper Names. Revised Edition ; with an Appendix containing all the additional Words in the last Edition of the Larger Work. New York: White & Sheffield. 1841. pp. 1097 large
8vo. Webster's American Dictionary was first published about twelve years since in two volumes, quarto. An Abridgment of this great work, in one octavo volume, was prepared by Mr. Worcester of Cambridge, and Professor Goodrich of Yale College, under the general superintendence of the author, and published in 1829; in which the vocabulary was considerably enlarged, the definitions of words, as given in the larger work, were retained and new ones occasionally added, and the illustrations and authorities omitted, excepting in doubtful and contested cases, where they were carefully retained. The Abridgment was thus rendered a valuable substitute for the original work, and in some respects an improvement upon it.
The venerable author has recently given to the public a new edition of his original work, containing his last corrections and improvements. These, in all important particulars, are introduced into this Revised Edition of the Abridgment, chiefly in the form of an Appendix, at the end of the volume. They consist principally in the addition of about fifteen thousand words to the vocabulary of the first edition of the large work, and such changes of definitions as the improved nomenclature, in some branches of science, has required. Of a variety of words which have borne two forms, the author has retained only that form which he deems most proper, preferring to write afterward, backward, etc. without the s, and while instead of whilst, etc. He has also changed the pronunciation of some disputed words, in conformity, as he judges, with general analogies or more recent usage.
We cannot be expected in this brief notice to enter upon a critical examination of the merits of Webster's Dictionary, From the nature of the work it would be preposterous to claim for it the honor of a perfect standard ; and its principles, as well as the imperfections which belong almost of necessity to its execution, are open for discussion. We regard it, however, as on the whole the best lexicon of the English language which we at present possess; and, until a better shall be provided, intend to keep it by us for consultation. At the same time we shall adopt in practice the sentiment of the author, that, “ in a work of this kind, embracing, as it does, the whole circle of ideas embodied in the language of a nation, the utmost efforts of the lexicographer are only an approximation towards the end in view.”
15.—A Grammar of the Greek Language. Part I. A practical
Grammar of the Attic and common Dialects, with the Ele. ments of general Grammar. By Alpheus Crosby, Prof. of the Greek Lang. and Lit., Dartmouth College. Boston :
Crocker & Brewster. 1841. pp. 257. It has been supposed by many that the grammar of Sophocles has left hardly any thing to be attempted, or even desired, in the same department. His Greek origin, it has been thought, gave him advantages for unfolding the principles of the language, which others could not hope to possess. But the work before us shows that one scholar, at least, does not regard the door as having been closed against further effort. This volume of Prof. Crosby is professedly incomplete ; "the remainder,” he informs us,"containing Syntax, will be published with as little delay as possible.” It would be premature to form a definitive opinion upon its merits, until the whole shall have appeared. A cursory perusal of the portion now given to the public has afforded us much satisfaction. The author is an accomplished scholar; and he has bestowed much thought and labor on the subject of general grammar, as well as the peculiarities of the Greek. His investigations seem to have been prosecuted with an earnest desire to refer facts to principles, to educe from the phenomena of speech the key to their solution. We have been particularly interested in his remarks on some topics which are apt to be left without satisfactory explanation.
The work is designed to contain the elements of general grammar, the rules of Greek grammar, so far as they apply to the Attic and common dialects, and a series of tables illustrative of Greek inflection. Those portions which treat of general grammar may be studied separately, or in connection, with
the rest, or omitted altogether. The tables are also published separately in duodecimo for beginners, in large quarto for more advanced students. The whole is handsomely and accurately printed. 16.—The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod, with Sovereign
Antidotes for every case. By the Rev. Thomas Brookes, of London, 1669. Boston: Seth Goldsmith ; Crocker & Brewster; Gould, Kendall & Lincoln; and Tappan
& Dennett. New-York: J. Leavitt. 1841. pp. 246. There were certain Psalms which Luther could never understand till he was afflicted ; and no man is fully qualified to administer comfort to others till he has sought it for himself. It was in this way that Thomas Brookes received his training as a son of consolation. “ The afflicting hand of God hath been very heavy upon myself, and upon my dearest relations in this world, and upon many of my precious Christian friends." He was a “preacher of the Word” at London in the seventeenth century. This little treatise seems to have been originally published in 1669. It was reprinted by the Religious Tract Society in 1826. The present edition has been prepared by the Rev. Mr. Adams of Boston. He has compared the edition of the Tract Society with that of 1669 in his possession, frequently restoring the author's illustrations and idiomatic words. In his Introductory Note he remarks: “I would go far to find another work which would excite the same interest with which I first read this volume ; and it is with pleasure that I think of the instruction and consolation which it will afford to many of the sons and daughters of sorrow."
17.--Syllabus to Lectures on Chemistry. By Charles Upham
Shepard, M. D., Prof. of Chemistry in the Medical College of the State of South Carolina, and Lecturer on Natural History in Yale College. Charleston, S. C.: S. Babcock & Co. New-York : Wiley & Putnam. New Ha
ven: B. & W. Noyes. 1841. pp. 204. The character of this work is indicated by its title; it contains a full and well digested Syllabus of the author's course on Chemistry. His motive for preparing and publishing such an outline is given in the “ Advertisement.” “Having noticed the pains which some of my audience have been at to tran. scribe the leading facts communicated in my lectures, both by taking notes at the time of their delivery, and subsequently by consulting the tables of composition, temperature and physi