Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing. examples of bad taste for lecturers on Belles Lettres. There is another, which would deserve a dissertation, rather than a mere hint, had we not already trespassed on the reader's patience. Those who wish to contemplate the absurd speculations and degrading influence of infidel (not to say atheistic) philosophy, should read the Columbiad.

The notes to the Columbiad would require as much examination as the poem itself. This would bu a work of supereroga-tion, which could answer no snd but to swell this article; as it is better to do nothing, than nothing to the purpose, we chuse to oveplook them.

Art. VI. Vt aebi no Taheiti, e te fiarou mata mua i fiarou hafii iaitea te permit te ridini te fiarou no Taheiti. 12mo. pp. 48. Printed for the Missionary Society, London. 1810.

Art. VII. Cead leabhar na Gaoidheilge air na chur a gelo, chum maitheas fiuiblidhe noli JEirin air iartas agus castas na cuideachta Eirionaighe. 12rao. pp. 24. Printed at Shacklewell. 1810,

""THESE two small pamphlets are highly acceptable, as evidences of the rational zeal of our fellow subjects for the religious instruction of barbarous nations. They are praxes for spelling and reading the languages of people that are nearly* antipodes to each other, the natives of Taheiti and of Ireland. The former, though more civilized than most of their neighbours, are still, doubtless, very much below the standard of the Irish; yet, when the state of the latter is compared with that of most other inhabitants of Europe, we may be excused for connecting them with Taheitians, and styling them barbarous. The common Irish have always been so, from the earliest dawn of their history. On the probability of their always remaining in that state, the most opposite opinions are entertained. We earnestly long to see the favourable alternative demonstrated, and heartily wish success to every attempt that is made for their instruction and reformation. We understand the present tract to be the performance of Dr. Neilson of Dundalk; whose Greek Exercises we took occasion to commend in our second volume, p. 371, and who is also the author, we believe, of a valuable Irish Grammar, and a Dissertation on the Greek Idioms, li is gratifying to see so humble yet important a work as the present, undertaken by so respectable a scholar. It appears to have been formed on the model of the spelling book of the English Sunday School Society ; and is well adapted to introduce a knowledge of the sacred scriptures among the native Irish. A benevolent concern, indeed, for the welfare of this unfortunate race, has given rise to the compilation. It originated, Vol. VI. I i

we understand, in the laudable zeal of the Hibernian Society, at whose request it was drawn up, and at whose expense it has been printed. We cannot forbear availing ourselves of the present opportunity, to repeat our recommendation* of this excellent institution to the public patronage. Beneficence can scarcely find an object of greater importance or stronger claims, to promote, than the civilization of the Irish peasantry: and there is no method at once so easy and efficacious, by which individual exertions can promote it, as that of augmenting the funds of the Hibernian Society.

Of the Taheitian language, the other tract is the first genuine specimen that has been published. As such, it demands from us more ample notice, although it is designed solely for the use of missionaries in teaching the natives to read; a purpose for which it is very judiciously constructed. We learn that a grammar and dictionary of the language have also been composed, by the missionaries at Taheiti, and transmitted hither, with a view to publication. It will give us pleasure to learn that this object meets with sufficient encouragement; for we think it likely to throw much light on the ancient languages of eastern Asia. It is certain that •f" most of the Islands in the Pacific Ocean are occupied by people of one original nation and language, who came from that part of the Continent. They retain the same language, with trifling variations of dialect, from New Zealand to the Sandwich Islands, and from Tongatabbu to Easter Island. Yet this language is now no where spoken on the Continent. The Malay, which is said to resemble it more than any other, is generally understood to be compounded of several tongues. Most continental nations are greatly mixed with others, and Consequently their languages have been adulterated and gradually lost. The islanders of the Pacific, on the contrary, having no communication with other nations, have preserved their language nearly in the same state as when they first migrated from the continent, at a very remote, though uncertain epoch. This fact is indicated by so close a resemblance in the speech of islanders that were wholly unknown to each other. Such a language, therefore, yrfyl deserves the attention of oriental philologers; and it will probably very amply requite their investigation.

From the specimen before us, it appears to be peculiarly mellifluous, abounding with vowels, and wholly unencum

* See Review of the Report of a Deputation from the Hibernian Society, respecting the religious state of Ireland, Ed. Rev. Vol. III.

p. 1096. ■■■....:

bered with connected or compounded consonants*. We find, indeed, the names Jesus Christ frequently introduced; but they are evidently anomalous, as the letters j, s, and c (or k) have no place in the alphabet, and as there is no other instance of any syllable ending with a consonant We apprehend, therefore, that those names can hardly be pronounced by a Taheitian; nor can we conceive how they should be accommodated to the organs of speech, in a language that does not comprise any sibilant sound. The J, in Jehovah, is equally objectionable; and the final h is improper. If spelt, or pronounced, Yehuwe, .which is more analogous to the original, it would doubtless be easy to the Taheitians.

It may be necessary to set zealous etymologists on their guard, against misconceptions of a different kind. Various words used in this tract, are evidently supplied from our own and other languages, to express ideas which were new to the islanders. Terabi, is only our word syllable, aiwl Rulini, readings, adapted to Taheitian pronunciation. Moti, in like manner, appears to be borrowed from the French, Mots; our own terms, words, being found (we suppose) impracticable. In all nations, that have received Christianity from the Jews, the Greeks, or the Romans, the ecclesiastical terms of these languages were necessarily borrowed; and in those which had not a written language before they were evangelized, grammatical terms likewise were indispensable, as in the present instance.

In thrt alphabet (called here the A, E, B,) there are but nine consonants, viz. the two labial, and two palatal mutes, b, p, d, t ;f the aspirated labials v, f; two nasals, m, n; and one liquid, r. At some of the Islands, we know that they have also the guttural mutes, though not at Taheiti. The only vowel sounds here distinguished, are a, e, i, o, u, and w; but these admit of far more numerous combinations in the same syllable, than in our own language; for

* By connected consonants, we mean such as are not separated by,a vowel; by compounded, such as denote composite sounds: as our own and the Italian soft g, which has the power of dzh; and the Italian soft c, which has the power of our ch, or of tsh. The very frequent recurrence of these sounds in the Italian, precludes a comparison of that language with the Taheitian, which in several respects it resembles much.

•f- Of these, it is also known, that the Taheitians as frequently lose the distinction, as the Welch or the Upper Saxons; using p for b, and t for d, almost indiscriminately, so that they can hardly be said to hare more than seven consonants. <-■' 112

instance, ae, ap, ia, io, iu, oe, ui, eo, and iau. The powers of the vowels, as in English, are also varied, and are intimated occasionally (but, we suspect, imperfectly) by accentual marks, as a, a, a, 6, 1, 6. In a spelling-book which, does not contain one word of a different language, these sounds, of course, could not be explained; but from the name of the Island (which properly rhymes with our word weighty) it is evident, that the sounds given to the vowels e, and i, are those which all European nations, but ours, have agreed to affix to them. Trie circumflex is doubtless designed to lengthen the vowel; and this and other marks affixed to a, intimate its powers to be as various in the Taheitian speech, as in our own.

In all languages that we are acquainted with (the Masoretic Hebrew excepted), there is a lamentable deficiency of letters to express vowel sounds. The missionaries at Taheiti, having to introduce a written language among the natives, adapted the English alphabet to their sounds, as well as its deficiencies admitted. They have given lists of words containing from one to nine syllables, to each class subjoining exercises for reading. Various extracts from the scriptures are added, including the history of Creation, the ten Commandments, the Lord's prayer, &c. The tract concludes with several short forms of prayer. We select the Lord's prayer as a specimen, observing that it does not include the Doxology.

* Te Cure ta Jesus Christ e bapi tona hue pipi. Luke xi. 2.— 4. To matou medua niai te rai, ia ra to oe ioa, ia matauh'ia. Ia rido te hiau ia oe, iafarohia oe iunei, mai ti niai te rai. Homai tamatou maa, te mahana te maa, te mahana te maa. Ia matara ta matou hara, ia oe ra; matara te hara ia matou nei, • te taata hara ra. Ia ha matou havarehia, faora ia matou, iaha e rohia te ino. Ameni.'

It is to the undaunted enterprise and indefatigable diligence of Christian missionaries, that we are chiefly indebted for our knowledge of remote and uncivilized nations. While the genius of commerce, or of science, directs our way to their coasts, it is only' the man who will fix his abode among them, and lower his condition to theirs, in order to raise them to a level with himself, on whom reliance can be placed for accurate information of their manners or of their languages. While we contemplate with regret, though without surprise, the little success, of a religious nature, that appears as yet to have attended the Mission at Taheiti, we congratulate the Society who have supported it, on the proofs which they have received of the talents, industry, and, perseverance of their missionaries; and the lite rary public, on the promise which this specimen r.ffords, of a valuable accession to the general fund of philological information.

Art. VIII. The East India Vadt-Mecum; or, Complete Guide to Gentlemen intended for the civil, military, or naval Service of theHon. East India Company. By.Captain Thomas Williamson, Author of «The Wild Sports of the East.' 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 1000. Price 11. 8s. bds. Black and Co. 1810.

^"EARLY two years ago, the author of this work thought; proper to make his appearance as a mathematician ; with what degree of eclat may be ascertained by consulting our fourth volume (p. 824). The East India Vade-Mecum, however, is not by any means so bad a book as the Mathematics Simplified. Instead of being characterized only by ignorance and self-conceit, it contains a large quantity of useful information; and the style, though frequently incorrect, and though tinctured with affectation and flippancy, is lively and amusing. It certainly excites no particular admiration for Capt. W. as a man of philosophic acumen, scientific attainments, or literary taste; in fact, it can aspire to no higher praise than that of a detail of facts which fell under his own observation; yet upon the whole we think the volumes not altogether ill adapted to the purpose he has had in view. In this publication he communicates to the world a considerable part of that knowledge of Indian manners, which he has' acquired during 'a residence,' he says, 'of more than twenty years, in Bengal.' Not doubting that his details are with some few exceptions as correct as they are minute, we cannot but regard the performance as calculated to be of real use to Englishmen going out to India, especially to those who have appointments in any department of the Com

Sany's service. He gives some very good advice, as to the est mode of preparing for the voyage; and respecting the passenger's deportment. A large portion of the work, however, consists of delineations of Indian society. These are remarkable for a minute distinctness and vivid colouring, which it is not in the power of every describer to produce. It may therefore be easily conceived, that, while the work is peculiarly adapted to accompany those who embark for the East Indies, to relieve the weariness of a long voyage, to prepare them for new scenes, and warn them against probable embarrassments, it is at the same time an entertaining and informing book for readers in general. This will sufficiently appear from a few extracts, which we should be tempted to extend beyond a reasonable length, but that the nature of the work

« PreviousContinue »