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his tropes are harsh, and his combinations uncouth.' It was the vaunt of Browne, that, ' beside the dialects of different provinces, he understood six languages.' The English prose of Milton, with its lengthened periods, abounding in Latinisms and inversions, is read only by the curious, who are willing to dive into an ocean of words, in the hope of discovering pearls. Hume was reproached by Dr. Priestley, for departing from the true English idiom, and leaning to that of the French. And the same objection was made to the style of Gibbon, who also superadded the transposition, and rhetorical pomp, of the writers of antiquity. Both of these distinguished historians were conversant with the French language, which they wrote with ease and correctness ; particularly the latter, whose first publication, the Essay on the Study of Literature, was in this elegant tongue.
A long residence abroad not only exercises an influence upon the modes of thinking of individuals — their tastes and judgments but their native language is thereby apt to lose that raciness, which is its distinguishing feature. John B. Rousseau, and the Huguenot divine, Saurin, have been censured by critics for anomalies of expression, which have been stigmatized as the 'stile réfugée' — the refugee style -a departure from purity, which was the result of their intercourse with strangers in foreign lands. Gibbon confesses, in his Memoirs, that the perusal of the English writers, since the revolution, most seasonably contributed to restore the purity of his own language, which had been corrupted by the long use of a foreign idiom,' during his residence at Lausanne, in Switzerland.
Our language,' says Johnson, 'for almost a century, has, by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonic character, and deviating toward a Gallic structure and phraseology, from which it ought to be our endeavor to recall it, by making our ancient volumes the ground-work of style, admitting among the additions of later times, only such as may supply real deficiencies, such as are readily adopted by the genius of our tongue, and incorporate easily with our native idioms.'
Here let it be observed, that the great lexicographer does not point out to the student of English, the Greek and Latin as models of imitation, but our vernacular writers; whose works he emphatically denominates the wells of English undefiled, the pure sources of genuine diction.' 'A mixture of two languages,' says he, in another place, 'will produce a third, distinct from both ; and they will always be mixed, where the chief part of education and the most conspicuous accomplishment is skill in ancient or in foreign tongues. He that has long cultivated another language, will find its words and combinations crowd upon his memory; and haste and negligence, refinement and affectation, will obtrude borrowed terms, and exotic expressions.'
It is worthy of note, that Addison was sneeringly pronounced no great scholar,' by some critics of the old school, because he addicted himself chiefly to the study of the writers of his native tongue, as the proper ground-work of English style. The happy effects of this discernment, however, may be seen in his inimitable essays, wherein the true English idiom is united with a gracefulness
of manner, and an elegance and purity of expression, which have rendered this author the best model of refined diction in the language.
Locke, an undoubted authority in matters of education, in reprehending the scholastic method of making themes, objects to the Latin for this purpose, inasmuch as an English student may never have an occasion once to make a speech in it as long as he lives, after he becomes to be a man. For," he adds, “it is a language wherein the manner of expressing one's self is so far different from ours, that to be perfect in that, would very little improve the purity and facility of his English style.'
• To write and speak correctly,' says the same author, 'gives a grace, and gains a favorable attention, to what one has to say; and, since it is English that an English gentleman will have constant use of, that is the language he should chiefly cultivate, and wherein most care should be taken to polish and perfect his style. To speak or write better Latin than English, may make a man be talked of; but he would find it more to his purpose to express himself well in his own tongue, that he uses every moment, than to have the vain commendation of others for a very insignificant quality.'
Through what language,' says our author, ‘must American genius shine in oratory, charm in poetry, and instruct in history, philosophy, and other forms of literary composition ? Through Greek and Latin? No, certainly; but through our mother tongue, forgetful of its descent from any other language. For the time is certainly coming, when that descent will be forgotten, or disregarded. The remembrance will not hang a perpetual incubus on our speech, detracting from its independence, and preventing its maturity. For the English tongue never will, nor can, be completely mature, until rendered so by independent cultivation.' This is as true, as that we should never have emerged from immaturity, as a nation, had we continued in our colonial dependance on Great Britain. An independent condition is essential to the perfection of all that is human. To suppose that the English language, which, in less than a century, will be spoken by three hundred millions of souls — first in standing among the races of men to suppose that it will still be considered the nursling of the languages of those specks of earth called Italy and Greece, whose pride, pomp, and power have long since passed away, is the consummation of romance not to pronounce it the height of absurdity. Ages on ages after those languages shall have become as become they must the Sanscrit of letters, will the English tongue continue to improve in all the higher qualities of speech — and it will improve the more rapidly, from being cultivated alone, without any reference to the source from which it sprang.
In conclusion, we cannot forbear to say, that we have seldom perused a pamphlet, wherein matter to arouse reflection, and manner to invite it, are more skilfully blended, than in the discourse before us. The life of Professor Caldwell has been devoted to literature and science. He has long been favorably known by his various publications; and this last, on a subject of universal concern, is worthy of universal consideration.
BY THE AUTHOR OF TWICE-TOLD TALES,' 'THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH,' ETC.
HPARKEN to our neighbor with the iron tongue! While I sit musing over my sheet of foolscap, he emphatically tells the hour, in tones loud enough for all the town to hear, though doubtless intended only as a gentle hint to myself, that I may begin his biography before the evening shall be farther wasted. Unquestionably, a personage in such an elevated position, and making so great a noise in the world, has a fair claim to the services of a biographer. He is the representative and most illustrious member of that innumerable class, whose characteristic feature is the tongue, and whose sole business, to clamor for the public good. If any of his noisy brethren, in our tongue-governed democracy, be envious of the superiority which I have assigned him, they have my free consent to hang themselves as high as he. And for his history, let not the reader apprehend an empty repetition of ding-dong-bell. He has been the passive hero of wonderful vicissitudes, with which I have chanced to become acquainted, possibly from his own mouth; while the careless multitude supposed him to be talking merely of the time of day, or calling them to dinner or to church, or bidding drowsy people go bedward, or the dead to their graves. Many a revolution has it been his fate to go through, and invariably with a prodigious uproar. And whether or no he have told me his reminiscences, this at least is true, that the more I study his deep-toned language, the more sense, and sentiment, and soul, do I discover in it.
This bell — for we may as well drop our quaint personification is of antique French manufacture, and the symbol of the cross betokens that it was meant to be suspended in the belfry of a Romish place of worship. The old people hereabout have a tradition, that à considerable part of the metal was supplied by a brass cannon, captured in one of the victories of Louis the Fourteenth over the Spaniards, and that a Bourbon princess threw her golden crucifix into the molten mass. It is said, likewise, that a bishop baptized and blessed the bell, and prayed that a heavenly influence might mingle with its tones. When all due ceremonies had been performed, the Grand Monarque bestowed the gift — than which none could resound his beneficence more loudly — on the Jesuits, who were then converting the American Indians to the spiritual dominion of the Pope. So the bell — our self-same bell, whose familiar voice we may hear at all hours, in the streets this very bell sent forth its first-born accents from the tower of a log-built chapel, westward of Lake Champlain, and near the mighty stream of the Saint Lawrence. It was called Our Lady's Chapel of the Forest. The peal went forth as if to redeem and consecrate the heathen wilderness. The wolf growled at the sound, as he prowled stealthily through the underbrush — the grim bear turned his back, and stalked sullenly away – the startled doe leaped up, and led her fawn into a deeper solitude.
The red men wondered what awful voice was speaking amid the wind that roared through the tree-tops; and following reverentially its summons, the dark-robed fathers blessed them, as they drew near the cross-crowned chapel. In a little time, there was a crucifix on every dusky bosom. The Indians knelt beneath the lowly roof, worshipping in the same forms that were observed under the vast dome of Saint Peter's, when the Pope performed high mass in the presence of kneeling princes. All the religious festivals, that awoke the chiming bells of lofty cathedrals, called forth a peal from Our Lady's Chapel of the Forest. Loudly rang the bell of the wilderness, while the streets of Paris echoed with rejoicings for the birthday of the Bourbon, or whenever France had triumphed on some European battle-field. And the solemn woods were saddened with a melancholy knell, as often as the thick-strewn leaves were swept away from the virgin soil, for the burial of an Indian chief.
Meantime, the bells of a hostile people and a hostile faith were ringing on Sabbaths and lecture-days, at Boston and other puritan towns. Their echoes died away hundreds of miles south-eastward of Our Lady's Chapel. But scouts had threaded the pathless desert that lay between, and, from behind the huge tree-trunks, perceived the Indians assembling at the summons of the bell. Some bore flaxen-haired scalps at their girdles, as if to lay those bloody trophies on Our Lady's altar. It was reported, and believed, all through New-England, that the Pope of Rome, and the King of France, had established this little chapel in the forest, for the purpose of stirring up the red men to a crusade against the English settlers. The latter took energetic measures to secure their religion and their lives. On the eve of an especial fast of the Romish church, while the bell tolled dismally, and the priests were chanting a doleful stave, a band of New-England rangers rushed from the surrounding woods. Fierce shouts, and the report of musketry, pealed suddenly within the chapel. The ministering priests threw themselves before the altar, and were slain even on its steps. If, as antique traditions tell us, no grass will grow where the blood of martyrs has been shed, there should be a barren spot, to this very day, on the site of that desecrated altar.
While the blood was still plashing from step to step, the leader of the rangers seized a torch, and applied it to the drapery of the shrine. The flame and smoke arose, as from a burnt-sacrifice, at once illuminating and obscuring the whole interior of the chapel, now hiding the dead priests in a sable shroud, now revealing them and their slayers in one terrific glare. Some already wished that the altar-smoke could cover the deed from the sight of Heaven. But one of the rangers - a man of sanctified aspect, though his hands were bloody - approached the captain.
“Sir,' said he, our village meeting-house lacks a bell, and hitherto we have been fain to summon good people to worship, by beat of drum. Give me, I pray you, the bell of this popish chapel, for the sake of the godly Mr. Rogers, who doubtless hath remembered us in the prayers of the congregation, ever since we began our march. Who can tell what share of this night's good success we owe to that holy man's wrestling with the Lord ?'
Nay, then,' answered the captain, 'if good Mr. Rogers hath holpen our enterprise, it is right that he should share the spoil. Take the bell and welcome, Deacon Lawson, if you will be at the trouble of carrying it home. Hitherto it hath spoken nothing but papistry, and that too in the French or Indian gibberish; but I warrant me, if Mr. Rogers consecrate it anew, it will talk like a good English and Protestant bell.'
So Deacon Lawson and half a score of his townsmen took down the bell, suspended it on a pole, and bore it away on their sturdy shoulders, meaning to carry it to the shore of Lake Champlain, and thence homeward by water. Far through the woods gleamed the flames of Our Lady's Chapel, flinging fantastic shadows from the clustered foliage, and glancing on brooks that had never caught the sunlight. As the rangers traversed the midnight forest, staggering under their heavy burden, the tongue of the bell gave many a tremendous stroke clang, clang, clang! - a most doleful sound, as if it were tolling for the slaughter of the priests and the ruin of the chapel. Little dreamed Deacon Lawson and his townsmen that it was their own funeral knell. A war-party of Indians had heard the report of musketry, and seen the blaze of the chapel, and now were on the track of the rangers, summoned to vengeance by the bell's dismal murmurs. In the midst of a deep swamp, they made a sudden onset on the retreating foe. Good Deacon Lawson battled stoutly, but had his skull cloven by a tomahawk, and sank into the depths of the morass, with the ponderous bell above him. And, for many a year thereafter, our hero's voice was heard no more on earth, neither at the hour of worship, nor at festivals nor funerals.
And is he still buried in that unknown grave ? Scarcely so, dear reader. Hark! How plainly we hear him at this moment, the spokesman of Time, proclaiming that it is nine o'clock at night!