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now, for his earthly work, of little moment in his own day, is of none at all in ours,
was a grim-looking yet genial man, the Bergrath August von Einsiedel. His elder brother, Hildebrand von Einsiedel, at first a page, was in 1776, the year in which Herder came to Weimar, made a chamberlain to the Dowager-Duchess Amalia ; and August, who had chosen the army for his career, and was by this time hating it heartily, having got a furlough, came to Weimar in the autumn of that year or the winter of the next, to visit his brother. Hildebrand as Lewes writes in that Life of Goethe (I. 344, Am. ed.) which, in spite of its many blunders, will never cease to charm us jovial, careless Epicurean; his name meets us on every page of the Weimar chronicles. Among his follies may be mentioned the characteristeric adventure which we shall presently relate. There were never two men more distinct in character, in aim, in the events of their lives, than Hildebrand and August von Einsiedel. Hildebrand was a clever, courtly gentleman, whose life, after the first flushes of youth had faded, was well enough to be forgotten. August was a keen, bold thinker, with a great yearning for knowledge, of an original mind, in profound sympathy with those violent revolutions which were threatening to shake the world to its foundations. His inquiring spirit, his lofty thought, could not but arrest the attention and command the respect of a man like Herder, — however different his own religious views, however much he despised that philosophy which could only teach men contempt of their race and of the world. August von Einsiedel believed in nothing, — neither in the mercies of God, nor in the ways of men; but he uttered his negations with such perfect good-humor, and with such a lively wit, that you pitied even the honesty of the man. “ Above all things he hated charlatans in science,” says Caroline Herder, in her brief and clear and inaccurate description of him, “ who stood most in the way of all real progress"; and he and Herder, always inclined to be rebellious, while never ceasing to be reverent, would sit half the night through, cheerfully smoking their pipes and discussing the verities of the world ; and while Herder could not but look with compassion upon the man, so richly endowed, going to waste and lost to all noble service, he could not also fail to be instructed by the wide range of thought of the philosopher, — of so obstinate a turn, withal, as to refuse always to believe what he could not understand.
Quitting the army presently, of course, Einsiedel went to Göttingen to study, and there developed that craving to peer into the origin of things which he had caught, it may be, from Herder. The primeval history of the human races led him to long to see the primeval lands; and he was well fitted for that silent and watchful wandering by which the great traveller enriches always the world he has forsaken; for there was hardly any branch of knowledge of which he did not know at least the deficiences. Meanwhile, he went to the Mining Academy in Freiberg in Saxony, to learn of the celebrated Werner, and accepted afterwards a post in the government administration of the mines. But life to such a man as Einsiedel meant freedom to follow his own
path, to whatever end it should lead. In vain Herder admonished him, since he could not control fortune, to bow cheerfully to the yoke. But, like the rest of us, Einsiedel had the problem of his own life to solve, and thought he could do this best for himself. At the Christmas time, and often in the summers, in these years, we find him at Weimar on a visit; but, however delightful Herder's society may have been, and however Battering the distinction of being so well received by so eminent a man, there was another attraction, of a different sort, never suspected in so erudite a philosopher and so keen a wit; he was in love with the wife of a chamberlain of the court, a friend of the Herders, and she with him. And when, in May, 1785, after having succeeded in obtaining assistance enough from the French government to set out upon his long-wished-for journey to Africa, he bade his friends in Weimar a long farewell and left them, the wife of our chamberlain suddenly died in the absence of her husband, and was buried with becoming demonstrations of grief. But one of those busy members of society who are always where they are not wanted, persisted in asseverating that he saw the lady after her funeral, in Strasburg. It was incredible; but he was clamorous, and so to convict him of lunacy they opened the coffin, and found — an artificial figure. This is the characteristic adventure with which Mr. Lewes libels that “careless Epicurean,” Einsiedel, – that innocent chamberlain to the DowagerDuchess Amalia, an inexcusable error in one so familiar as Lewes must have become with the personages who take part in the story which he tells so well.
There is nothing in the subsequent career of August von Einsiedel to amuse or instruct us. Like the rest of his life, his journey to Africa was a failure; the plague interfered with his projects, and gave him time to awake from his long dream that there was something in the East which the West could not give him. He frankly confessed that he found the trouble to be in himself. The chamberlain's wife, who of course had followed his dusty fortunes to Africa, obtained a divorce upon their return, and in 1788, during Herder's absence in Italy, they were quietly married. But it could not be perhaps, certainly was not, a happy marriage, and we infer that after several years they separated again.
Shortly after his return, Einsiedel wrote to Herder, in his sententious and lofty way, the sarcasm ill concealing his necessities, to inform him that he had resolved to become a man of letters, even an academician in Berlin; “ for I remember to have heard from La Grange, that he got fifteen hundred thalers as director of the mathematical class, and had nothing to do but to write a couple of treatises once a year, which he could despatch in a few days; and once a week or once a fortnight. to meet with his colleagues, who read papers which he did not understand, indeed, but to which he did not listen. That was not so bad, and although I am not a man of letters, I do not doubt that I could immediately become one." Finally, these are the first letters of August von Einsiedel which have ever been published, and they may as well be the last; for we may not say of him as of some of those
silent shapes which flash out their lustrous beauty upon us from the dark backgrounds of our human history, —
'Ανδρών δικαίων χρόνος σωτήρ άριστος.
SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE.
The science of Comparative Philology, or Linguistics, as Mr. Marsh calls it, is a new one, and one of which the majority of educated men in this country have but a very vague idea. A tolerably clear notion of the European branches of the Aryan or Indo-European family of languages, a vague idea that these were all derived from the Sanskrit (which they were not), a somewhat shadowy conception of the boundary line between this family and the Semitic, and a faint recollection of having heard the word Turanian, this is about the sum and substance of wbat is generally known in our community by those who have not made linguistics their study. For this class the volume before us is designed.* Great skill is shown in presenting in a popular and comprehensible form so complicated and difficult a subject, and great practical knowledge of the wants of an Anglo-Saxon audience. The lecturer does not often wander off into impenetrable mazes of German erudition. As for the spelling, he does not seem to have made more changes than any scholar is bound to in these days. We do not, see why we must spell Aryan and Chingis-Khán; but we know very well from experience that such changes are sure to be snapped up by the admiring world, and we may as well submit at once.
The treatise is partly theoretical, on language in general, and partly devoted to giving a view of the Aryan, Semitic, and Turanian families. This latter is admirably clear, succinct, and scholarly. A valuable table in the appendix contains a complete classified catalogue of the languages in these families.
Of the theoretical discussions which are scattered through the book, we will give a brief sketch. Prof. Müller is a firm believer in the unity of the human race, - a belief which necessarily carries with it that of the common origin of all languages. He chooses, however, to keep the two subjects separate, and is careful to do no more here than prove that all languages might have had a common origin, throwing then the burden of proof upon the other party. This common origin consisted in an indefinite number of monosyllabic roots, "phonetic types, produced by a power inherent in human nature," — by “ an instinct of the mind, as irresistible as any other instinct,” — and then reduced by “natural elimination” to the final type. An example of the prodigious fertility of the human mind in the production of these elements of speech is seen in the Arabic, which has 200 names for sword, 1,000 for lion, and 5,744 relating to the camel. The number of the phonetic types is theoretically infinite; practically, it is reduced to
* Lectures on the Science of Language, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, in April, May, and June, 1861. By Max MÜLLER, M. A. New York : Charles Scribner.
four or five hundred. Thsee roots are of two classes. — predicative, containing an idea, and demonstrative, pointing out and making detinite. At first these roots were used simply and without change, and in this stage the Chinese has remained to this day. Then came in the law of Phonetic Decay ; the demonstrative roots, appended to the predicative to mark various relations, underwent changes and corruptions, until their original form would no longer be recognized, the predicative root meanwhile remaining unchanged. This process is called agglutination, and this is the character of the Turanian languages. But in the Aryan and Semitic languages both roots have undergone phonetic decay, and roots are combined freely with each other by an amalgamating process. These three stages he calls Radical, Terminational, and Inflectional.
Through these three stages he thinks that all our most advanced languages have passed, and in proof of it points to the monosyllabic roots which are found in all the Aryan languages, and to the fact that almost all inflections can be shown to have arisen in just this way; as, for instance, the terminations of the French future, which are nothing but the present of avoir appended to the infinitive. Traces of agglutination also are found in Chinese, and of inflection in various Turanian dialects, showing a tendency to advance to a higher stage. The fact that all languages have not the same roots, he accounts for by a law which he calls Dialectical Regeneration ; in the multitude of original roots different dialects made different selections, and here a stock of roots is preserved, to draw upon whenever there is need. It seems to us, however, that the influence of this upon modern Spanish and French must have been very slight; the Latin spoken in those countries must have been homogeneous, for the most part, like the English in America. Spanish, as we know, drew largely from the Moors, and French from the Teutonic tribes, — not from the dialects of Italy, of which Professor Müller makes mention.
We do not think it possible, as our author desires, to keep the sciences of Linguistics and Ethnology distinct. If we accept the unity of the
race, that of its speech must follow as a matter of course; and on the other hand, assuming the diversity of origin of the race, the probability is that each had its own language. On either Agassiz's or Darwin's theory, the suppositions would be the same; – 1. that language was given directly from God; 2. that the human organs necessarily employ certain combinations of sounds to express certain emotions, according to the theory maintained by the late Dr. Kraitsir. In either of these cases, languages, although of independent origin, would have been identical at the start. But neither of these can be anything more than an hypothesis ; at all events, neither has yet been rendered probable, on the assumption of the original diversity of the human race. But, 3. assuming that sounds were arbitrarily chosen to represent ideas (for the onomatopoetic and interjectional theories are well disposed of
* To the old question, which was the language of Paradise, elaborate answers have been made, defending the several claims of Hebrew, Swedish, Dutch, and Basque.
by our author). there is still the possibility that one language of greater aggressive power rooted out all the others, and was left to rule alone. This we know must have been the case in Europe, for, with trifling exceptions, all the languages in Europe are proved to have had one origin, its starting-point probably in Asia. Of the multitudes who, on the theory we are considering, occupied Europe before the Aryan invasion, there are no vestiges except the Basque language, in a corner of Spain, probably the ancient Etruscan, and perhaps a few mounds and nurhagen. Everything else has been either driven out or absorbed by the conquerors. What we know to have occurred in Europe may have occurred all over the world. But, inasmuch as only very slight resemblances to Aryan forms, and which can very well have been merely casual, have been pointed out in Semitic languages, still less in Turanian, and there remain hundreds of dialects in which none at all has been found, while vast fields remain yet unexplored, there is very
little reason to anticipate any such generalization as the reducing of all the languages of the earth to one set of roots. Both of our author's remarks, then, seem unfounded. The science of language does depend very immediately upon Ethnology; and (granting the variety of the human race) the burden of proof certainly lies as yet against the common origin of languages.
The phrase is a little obscure which classes the study of language as a physical science. Speech is physical, and analysis shows that a given articulation always produces a certain sound, just as a given chemical combination always produces a certain result. That is all there is physical about language, and that is much the smallest part of it. It is the mind which combines these articulate sounds into language, and language is in so far not a physical, but a mental science. But, as having laws of growth, which can be studied apart from the material it is made from, it bears a certain analogy to the organic structures of the natural world, - plants, for example. There is ingenuity, and a certain truth, in calling the study of these laws a physical sci
It was wise, too, in addressing an English audience. Still, to the uninitiated, the analogy will be rather blind.
Again, while we recognize the value of the discovery of uniform monosyllabic roots in the various Aryan languages, we must question (on any theory but that of their divine origin) the meaning assigned to these various roots. “What is the meaning of moon? the measurer. What is the meaning of sun? — the begetter. What is the meaning of earth? — the ploughed. The old name given to animals, such as cows and sheep, was pa'su, the Latin pecus,
which means feeders.” (p. 379.) Now we will not attempt to decide between Adam Smith and Dugald Stewart, whether nouns or verbs were first invented, but we do not hesitate to say that the moon must have had a name before the idea of measurement had one, cattle before the idea of feeding, and a river before the idea of flowing.
Our classical prejudices, furthermore, are very much shocked at Professor Müller's list of the great epics of the world, which he enumerates as follows: The Ionian Songs (Homer); the Mahábhárata