Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

more than all the adults who speak the Eng- one year before Webster's Dictionary appearlish language in the whole world.

ed superintended the publication of an ediThus he prepared especially his countrymention of Johnson's Dictionary, improved by for his forth-coming dictionary. From the Todd, which seems to have been an exact beginning he was a reformer, perhaps too ar- copy of the English book, except that Wordent and hopeful at first. But who does not cester took the liberty 01 introducing some recognize in this trait in a young man, the changes in Johnson's spelling. In this dicpromise of far more extensive usefulness than tionary he retains the u in all such words as in the opposite. He who begins as an ardent honor, endeavor, vigor, and the k on the end innovator, may be tempered into a consistent of such words as grammatic, classic, music progressionist, but he who commences as a and Puritanic; he also exhibited some anomconservative, will naturally become stereotyp- alies in spelling, as connexion, with an x, ined into a violent and prejudiced defender of flection, reflection, &c., with ct; villainous antiquity, both the evil and the good. was spelt without the i, and vermilion com

For many years subsequent to this, he was menced vir, and many other words as few interested in political subjects, devoting how - Americans, if any, would now spell them. ever, some attention constantly to his favorite constantly to his favorite | It is now urged by the friends of Mr. Wor

It pursuit. Soon, however, his mind became cester, that in publishing this edition of Todd's wholly absorbed in his work. Ten years of Johnson, he was merely an editor, spending unremitted labor he devoted to the study of /but little labor on it, and only careful to get all the ancient languages from which the

out an exact edition of the original bookEnglish directly or remotely is derived ascend

that he did not introduce a single new word ing to the Sanscrit. The product of these into it, and is in no way responsible for it. labors.is extant in a manuscript volume con- | We think the defense well put. We see no taining a “Synopsis of the principal words

signs in the preface that Mr. Worcester had in twenty languages, arranged in classes un

yet any ambition to be a dictionary maker ; der their primary elements or letters." All

indeed three years afterwards he calls himself this was but a part of his work. Twenty-two

only “a Compiler,”, and we have no reason years after the beginning of his labors, ap

to suppose that he ever thought of improving peared in 1828 the first edition of his great

the spelling of a few words till he had seen it dictionary, which was soon reprinted in Engela

done by another, viz: Noah Webster. He land, where it was received with great favor,

does indeed, in his preface to Todd's Johnand elicited the highest commendations from

son's Dictionary, state that some “ words are the best scholars. After that he devoted many conceive

conceived to be deviations from the right oryears to the improvement of his work as it th

thography, according to Johnson's principlespassed through its successive editions.

(the italicism is our own,) and they have been Two years after the first edition of Web

altered in this dictionary.” His only ambister's American Dictionary appeared, Mr. J.

tion seems to have been to have the words E. Worcester, also an American, began his

used more than once in the dictionary, whethlabor as, to use his own words, “ the Com

er alone or compounded with others, always piler of a Dictionary."* He had, however,

spelt alike. * First words of the Preface to Worcester's Compre

The next year, however, appeared that great hensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary. Third Edition. Boston: Otis Clapp. 1834.

new work, Noah Webster's American Dic

tionary. In this the u was left out of all such method is recommended ; and indeed a man words as honor, and the final k dropped gen- might search carefully for hours and not find erally from words of more than two syllables, one single word varying in its spelling from the termination re always pronounced as er, that authorized in the last editions of Weband which had already been changed into er ster's dictionaries. And to crown the whole, in some hundreds of words, was also changed Worcester, in his preface acknowledges his in the twenty still remaining (excepting only indebtedness to Webster, even for some two for a special reason) and a very few oth- changes in orthography. er improvements introduced, all analogical The true state of the case is this : with the laws of the language, all simplifi- 1. Webster made some changes in orthogcations, and the most of which are retained raphy which he elaborately defended and conin his present dictionaries.

sidered improvements. In 1830, two years after Webster's Dic- 2. Mr. Worcester, when compiling a small tionary was published, Mr. J. E. Worcester dictionary two years afterwards, acknowlpublished the first dictionary, it is claimed, edged the propriety of the most of those changof which he had full control. In the mean-es, both directly, and also indirectly, by time, however, having shown himself to be a adopting them. faithful editor, he had been employed to 3. Both the friends of Dr. Webster, since abridge Webster's Dictionary, and seems to his death, and also Mr. Worcester himself, have accomplished the work satisfactorily. lately, have receded from a few of these In his own book, he says of Dr. Webster's changes, and Mr. Worcester has receded from Dictionary, that it is “a work of vast learn- a few more than Dr. Webster's friends. ing and research, containing far the most com

This is the substance of the whole controplete vocabulary of the language that has yet

versy about the orthography of some dozen or appeared, and comprising numerous and great

two of words, of which it would seem that improvements upon all works of the kind

every rational man would say that it is not a which have preceded it with respect to the

| matter of sufficient consequence to excite the etymology and definition of words.”*

attention and least of all the anxiety of any Having had tht benefit of this experience, body.

| body. Dull is spelled with double 1 — so

Dull he compiled a dictionary of his own, in which

is dullness, by Webster-so was it once by he followed Webster's spelling almost through- Mr. Worcester. Mr. Worcester now writes it out. The silent u, so often referred to, is

with one l. Pray did he commit a capital dropped, and also the useless k. Words form

crime when he used the double l, or will it erly written ise have ize; the silent e in the

offend any man of common sense as well as middle of such words as blamable, disappears;

good taste to see the analogy of the language words formerly terminating in al pronounced

still preserved ? awl, have all as befall, miscall; foretell, down

There are certain Latin words ending in us, hill, end in double l; dullness, skillful, and

such as defensus, expensus, offensus, sensus, all of that class of words are written in two

&c., from which certain English words are demethods with double 1 and single l, that a

rived, such as sense, sensible, offense, offenwriter may have his choice, but Webster's

sive, defense, expense. Now, as the words in Worcester's Comp. Dictionary. 3d edit- Latin are written with an s, and everybody ion, Boston : Clapp.

I writes the most of them in English with an s, Noah Webster recommended that we write ments. When he comes to an English word, them all with an s, and who does not see the the origin of which he did not detect, he simppropriety of the recommendation? It was ly states “ It may be from such an origin," doubtless by mistake, when in spelling, “ ev- or nobly acknowledges that he is ignorant of ery man did what was right in his own eyes," its parentage. Few, however, are such inwhich, however, was often wrong-that the stances in his book. His work is a perfect practice of substituting c for s in a half doz- thesaurus of philological wealth. en of those words arose. Let the defenseless. But there is still another feature in which practice disappear. Still, if anybody chooses Webster's large Dictionary surpasses every to write expense with a c, it is not likely that other which I have examined in any language, the currents of the ocean or of thought will that is, the accuracy, order and fullness of its be much disturbed.

definitions. Dr. Webster seems to have This whole dispute about the orthography had a genius for defining. He is never led of a few words is Lilliputian, since the two astray from the exact sense of the word by lexicographers are nearly alike, and we have sound or by fancy. His definitions are not noticed it only because compelled to it by the only original but clear and to the point. The task imposed upon us.

numerical order in which the various meanWe rise to a higher region, a region of in

gion of in ings are arranged, keeping them apart, very vestigation and thought. A Dictionary is a

much aids the mind, and very often presents definer of words. Those winged messengers

either a history or a philosophical developof thought are caught and for a time held fast ment of the word exceedingly pleasing and in the hand and mind; their nativity, pedi

| instructive. I presume that no unprejudiced gree, age, history and present power are person

power are person will deny this remarkable excellence, sought, and each leaves behind a daguerreo- at least in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. type and biography of itself for the world to As it regards the pronunciation, Webster,

and those who have improved this feature of gaze upon. The study of language is the study of his dict

study of his dictionary since his death, have enjoyed thought. Even etymology is a vast gold as good opportunities to determine the correct mine studded full of emeralds and diamonds,

amonds pronunciation as any others, and there are no and if occasionally a lump of vulgar dirt ap

defects in the system adopted to indicate pears it is evaporated to dryness and divested

sounds in Webster's dictionaries. It should of all that would offend.

be borne in mind that it is possible to err in

both extremes. If simple words, universally The etymological researches of Noah Web

pronounced correctly, are loaded down with ster were, to say the least, stupendous. We

signs, the mind of the young pupil is rather would not speak of them with extravagance,

cumbered than aided, and Worcester himself we do not claim for him exemption from all

has well said, “ that in speech, as in manners, mistake but we simply point to his work and

he that is most precise is often the least pleaslet it speak for itself. Next to the fullness

ing, and that affectation is less pardonable and exactness of his histories of words, what

than rusticity.”* we have most admired, in the etymological

Webster's Dictionaries, especially as iminstructions of his dictionary, is the entire

proved in this respect and reduced to one unabsence of all affectation of learning and especially of all whimsical and baseless state-! * Preface to 3d edition of Com. Dictionary, page 14.

iform standard of pronunciation throughout city; as the sight of blue sky in the cloudy : the series, leave nothing to be desired on that heavens ; like a fresh mountain breeze on a point-though that point, important as it is, weary plain. is small compared with the value of correct. The music of to-day has no soul. It is definitions.

Jdull, formal, artificial. Still, the sweet meloIt is claimed that Mr. Worcester introduces dies of singing birds, the soul-felt music of synonymes into his definitions. We do not growing apple-blossoms, of springing violets, deny it, but regard it as a serious defect that of fresh green grass, the constant murmur of his definitions are too much of that character. meadow brooks goes on, as it began in the There are not a dozen genuine synonymes in creation. There are still the music of the the language, and the beauty of a definition pines, the thorough base of the thunder, and is that it is expressed exactly by a phrase or soul-moving strains from silent solid mounsentence, and not approximately by half a tains. Nature, herself, is in harmony; but man dozen other words neither of which conveys has ceased to sit at her feet an humble learnthe same idea. The beauty of Webster's defi- er. He has heard her voice thrice; once in nitions is their brevity, comprehensiveness his soul as he listens, again in the sweet songs and precision. They tell just exactly what she breathes in the valleys and on mountains, you want, nothing more nor less. In the and yet again in the echoes of her melodies, smaller books they are too brief to be abso- songs of shepherds, of inspired maidens, of lutely perfect, but excellent even then. holy prophets, in the sacred book.

Great as were the qualifications and labors Let the melodies of to-day borrow of the of that good man and practical teacher, Noah | voices of the past and from the ever living Webster, the dictionaries now bearing his songs of nature, their spirit and their beauty. name are not solely his productions. Others, eminent men in various professions and de

For the Schoolmaster. partments of thought, have contributed to its

Ancient Coins.---No. 2. stores, and under the enterprise of its publishcrs it is a work of which the nation should

BY MAXFRED. be proud and which all its youth should study. -New Hampshire Journal of Education.

As we stated in our first article, the Roman

series of coins fixed the date of events, and For the Schoolmaster.

our intention is to give in this article the in Good Music.

scription of several coins issued by the Ro

mans, and relating to the island of Britain, in Whex a music reader has become wearied the early part of the Christian era. with formal, straitened music, consisting of a In the year of our Lord 43, Claudius, upon succession of chords in regular position, like the invitation of a discontented Briton, reso many stripes of figured calico, he loves to solved to attempt the reduction of the island, shut out for a while their continuous sound, and the year following, he personally engaged and listen to some minor tune, sung, perhaps, in the war, and after some brutal contests by a tremulous voice, but with such pathos near Camelodunum, now known as Colchester, and tenderness as melts his heart and brings received the submission of the natives of that an involuntary tear to his eye. It is like the vicinity. In honor of this, the Senate sursinging of a wild bird in the streets of a great named him “ BRITANNICUS," and some gold

and silver coins found in choice collections, tories attaching a buckler to a palm tree, at the bear on the reverse a triumphal arch, on which foot of which two captives sit sad and soris inscribed the words • De Britaxxis," – rowful, and the words, “ VICTORIAE BRITTANover the Britains. This is the first occasion NICAE,” encircling the scene, tell who those on which allusion is made to Britain on the captives are. coinage of Rome.

| During a portion of the time between A. D. Light began to dawn upon the Empire, 285 and 303, Britain assumed an independent when, past his sixtieth year, Vespasian as- position, and several coins were struck to sumed the purple, A. D. 70. A coin, struck proclaim the victories of Carausius, who was at that period, commemorates the event. Up- appointed to the command of “the channel on the reverse, the emperor is raising a pros- fleet,” and to vindicate his claim to a share in trate female from the ground (signifying Rome) the empire of the world. On the reverse of while Mars looks approvingly on, and the one of these coins is a galley, indicating the motto, "Roma Resurges,"—Rome thou shalt chief source of his strength, and on the rerise again,-encircles the group.

verse of another is a lion with a thunderbolt, A large brass coin was struck by decree of significant of the bold bearing which this anthe Senate, in A. D. 121, to commemorate the cient sea-king assumed. arr:val in Britain of one of Rome's greatest Constantine, afterwards surnamed the Great, generals, Hadrian. It bears on the obverse, and who was the first Christian emperor, in “ HADRIANUS Avgustus, Consul III (tertium a. D. 313, became sole possessor of the impePater Patriæ.” Laureated bust of Hadrian, rial power. In token of his faith he inscribwith the chlamys buckled over his right led the monog

ed the monogram of the Redeemer upon his shoulder. Reverse, "AdvenTvs Avgusti Bri banner and his coin. This monogram was TANNIAE.” In the exergue, “ Senatus Consul | formed by the Greek letters Chi and Rho, the to.” An altar, with the fire kindled, placed initials of the name of Christ. The monogram

etween the emperor in his toga, who holds is well displayed on the reverse of a coin of a patera, and a female figure, a victim lying Magnentius, who died A. D. 353. The Alpha at her feet. The plans of the emperor were and Omega which accompany the symbol, inthought to have been so well laid as to have dicate the faith of the emperor in the divinity placed Britain effectually under the control of of Christ, -" The beginning and the ending, Rome, which event called forth another coin, which is, and which was, and which is to bearing on the reverse, “BRITANNIA," and come, the Almighty.” representing a female figure scated on a rock,

For the above descriptions, we hold ourself having a spear in her left hand, and a shield

| indebted to an English work entitled, “ The by her side; this figure probably personifics

Roman Wall," by the Rev. John Collingwood Rome, and represents the secure possession

Bruce, M. A., in which may be found wood she obtained of that island. The reverse of

engravings of each of the coins herein treated the copper coinage of Britain still bears the same figure. In this, Britain still bows to

| Note.-The portion of the inscriptions printed in Rome. The coins of Severus, who died at

italics does not occur on the coins. They are thue York, England, February 4, a. D. 211, also

written out that the reader may fully understand the record his victories. One of these, bears on meaning of the initials and abbreviations which are the obverse, the laureated head of the fero- here often met with. The inscriptions as found on the cious African, on the reverse, two winged vic-coins are printed in Roman letters.

of.

« AnteriorContinuar »