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NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.
Historical Commentaries on the State of Christianity during the
first Three Hundred and Twenty-five Years from the Chris. tian Era: being a Translation of “ The Commentaries on the Affairs of the Christians before the Time of Constantine the Great,” by John LAURENCE von Mosheim, D. D., late Chan. cellor of the University of Göttingen. In two volumes. Vol. I. translated from the original Latin by Robert STUDLEY Vidal, Esq., F. S. A. Vol. II. translated, and both volumes edited, by James MURDOCK, D. D. New York. 1851. 2 vols. 8vo.
The original work here translated De Rebus Christianorum ante Constantinum Commentarii — was published at Helmstadt in 1753, and, so far as we know, it has never been reprinted. Its merit has been generally acknowledged. It is one of the most valuable productions of the learned and candid Dr. Mosheim.
In 1813, Mr. Vidal published a translation of a portion of the book (London, 2 vols. 8vo), and in 1837 that of another part (London, 1 vol. 8vo). Mr. Vidal's version is in general accu. rate, but hasty. Dr. Murdock reprints the first two volumes of his predecessor's work, only correcting his typographical errors and altering the form of the notes; and then himself translates the remainder of the original work of Mosheim.
What is the value of the original work here offered to the public a hundred years after its first publication? In 1753 it represented the most advanced point of historical investigation on this subject; but since that time much has been written, in general, on this important period of history, and some obscure matters have been cleared up; some new documents have been brought to light, and a good many special treatises have been written on the different subjects which Dr. Mosheim has discussed. Still these Commentaries retain their value, for there is no one book adequate to take their place. Yet, of course, the book by no means bears the same relation to historical science now that it did a hun. dred years ago. Some of Mosheim's opinions may now be con. sidered obsolete ; many of the authors he refers to are forgotten, and new celebrities of a day have taken their place, soon also to pass away. The fact that the work has not been reprinted at home for a century, shows that it is not there thought to be quite up to the wants of the times. Yet the American scholar, to whom the works of Mosheim's successors are all unknown, may well rejoice that this book is now made accessible to him.
How has the translation been executed ? Dr. Murdock is so well known for his varied, accurate, and profound learning in ecclesiastical history, for his modesty, diligence, and fairness, and for the literary conscientiousness, so rare amongst American schol. ars, with which he prepares every thing that he sends to the press, that it is hardly necessary to say the work is done faithfully and well. The style of the original is a little stiff, - for Mosheim wrote it in academic Latin, not in his mother-tongue ; and though Dr. Murdock has rendered the text as freely as he could, we still feel that we are reading a translation, and that of an orig. inal which is not quite natural and easy. Here and there we have compared the version with the text, finding it faithful and clear, literal enough for accuracy, and free enough for comfort to the reader. Now and then a trifling mistake occurs : the eyes wandered, or the writer nodded, perhaps. Thus, for example (Vol. II. p. 91), Dr. Murdock speaks of " Laurence, the Roman deacon, famous among the martyrs, who is said to have been roasted to death by a slow fire.” Dr. Mosheim says, “ Laurentius, celebris ille inter martyres diaconus Romanus lento igne urtus.” Ferunt occurs in the previous line, and is limited to Sixtus, of whom it is correctly translated that “ he is said to have been crucified.” But this is the only considerable error that we have noticed in the passages we have compared with the original.
We only regret that the laborious and learned translator has not enriched his work with such notes as he added to his edition of the Ecclesiastical History; then it would be as complete a manual for the middle of the nineteenth century, as it once was for the eighteenth.
Glossarium Media et Infima Latinitatis conditum a CAROLO
Dufresne Domino Du Cange, auctum a Monachis Ordinis S. Benedicti, cum Supplementis integris D. P. CARPENTERII et Additamentis Adelungii et Aliorum digessit G. A. L. Hen.
Parisiis : Excudebant Fermin Didot Fratres, etc. 1840–1850. 7 vols. 4to.
The Messrs. Didot seem to be the most enterprising printers in the world. They publish the Greek classics in a convenient and cheap form ; they publish the new and splendid Greek Thesaurus, with the valuable additions of modern scholarship, not to mention their great services in reprinting other works, and bringing new ones before the public.
Du Cange's Glossary has long been difficult to obtain, and a desideratum with all students of the Middle Ages. The lawyer, the theologian, and the historian equally require it. No one of the previous editions is complete. The publishers wished to present a new edition, complete and perfect as possible, and with such additions as the science of the times seemed to demand. They engaged the services of Mr. Henschel as the editor of the work. He is a German by birth, but long a resident at Paris, and has a profound acquaintance with the archæology of the modern languages of Europe, especially the Italian,
Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, and English. He is modest, learned, and accurate, a competent man to edit this work, which has done honor to the learning of the French nation. It is a little remarkable, that we are indebted to France for our most valuable lexicons of the Greek and Latin languages. Rob. ert Stephens published his Thesaurus Linguæ Latine in 1531 - 2; Henry Stephens his Thesaurus Græcæ Linguæ in 1572, now in process of republication; Du Cange his Glossarium Latinitatis in 1678, and his Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Græcitatis in 1688. St. Palaye's Glossaire de l'Ancienne Langue Française still sleeps in manuscript, one-and-sixty volumes thick. The French Acad. emy is yet in labor with its new monstrous Dictionnaire Historique.
We have not space to examine this edition of Du Cange so minutely as we would gladly do, but will content ourselves with naming its contents, and making one or two remarks upon the work.
I. Vols. I. - VI. contain the Glossary, with the additions of the former editors, and the additions and corrections of Mr. Henschel, which are numerous and valuable. The contributions of these various authors are carefully marked, so that the reader sees at once what is from Du Cange, what from Carpenter, and what from Henschel.
II. Vol. VII. contains the following matters :
The Publishers' Preface; a critical notice of the various ear. lier editions of the Glossary, by M. Pardessus; the Eloge on M. Du Cange; a list of his works; and an account of the inaugura. tion of his statue at Amiens, his native place, in 1849, two hundred and forty years after his birth.
Then follows the Glossaire Français. This is abundantly enriched by the labors of Mr. Henschel. Every column shows marks of his successful diligence.
Next come the Extraits des Observations sur l'Histoire de Saint Louis, escrite par Jean Sire de Joinville, - explanations of technical terms, and other difficult words in this work, by Du Cange himself.
Then follow Indices to the great Glossary itself, of the authors, of the anonymous works, of the manuscripts referred to, and of all the various classes of legal and ecclesiastical documents;
an Index of the authors or works corrected by Du Cange. Then come forty Indices of the various matters treated of in the Glossary. Art, Science, Literature, Magic, Metals, Medicine, and Money, all have their places. There is then a Supplement, with a separate paging, which contains Du Cange's Dissertations sur l'Histoire de Saint Louis, thirty in number; the Disser. tatio de Imperatorum Constantinopolitanorum Numismatibus, illustrated with numerous engravings; Scaliger's Expositio Con stantini
Numismatis Argentei ; and Freher's Sapphirus Constantii Exposita.
Mr. Henschel has made many and important additions to the Glossaire Français. We are not competent to say how complete it is in its present condition. The Latin Glossary is as complete as we can reasonably expect such a work to be. Yet a little reading in mediæval law-books of England, for example, brings one acquainted with words which you vainly seek for in Du Cange.
In the Acta Sanctorum we occasionally find a word which the Dictionary still lacks.
The present edition is a great improvement over all its prede. cessors, and, we trust, will be thankfully received by the learned of the New World as well as the Old.
Glossaire Nautique, Repertoire Polyglotte de Termes de Masine
Anciens et Modernes, par A. JAL, Auteur de l'Archéologie Navale, et du Virgilius Nauticus. Paris : Firmin Didot Frères, 1848. 1 vol. 410. pp. 1592.
The title-page of the above work bears date 1848; the printing, indeed, commenced that year, but was not finished until the 25th of May, 1850. The book has been before the public but a short time; only a few copies have as yet reached America. It is a work of great labor, and great value. The author aims to give an account and definition of all the nautical terms in the following languages : - The French, Greek (ancient and modern), Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalonian, Basque ; the Icelandic, Greenlandic, Anglo-Saxon, English, German, Danish, Swedish, and Dutch; the Turkish, Russian, Dalmatian, Illyrian, and Wallachian ; the Maltese, Arabian, and Hindo; the languages of Polynesia, the Lascar, and the Chinese. Not content with this, he aims to give all the nautical terms in the local dialects, such as the Genoese, the Venetian, Neapolitan, and the Corsican, the dialect of Bas-Bretagne, of Languedoc, Provence, and Gascony.
It was in 1831 that he conceived the scheme of this Glossary, but he first produced a work on Naval Archæology (Archéologie Navale, publiée par Ordre du Roi. Paris, 1840, 2 vols., 8vo), and then began the present work. It was thought at first that six years would be sufficient for the undertaking, but it has consumed ten. No reader will be surprised, except at the shortness of the time. The author read immensely in printed books relating to maritime affairs in all languages, voyages, maritime laws, Coutumes, &c.; then he explored the manuscript treasures of Paris, Normandy, Brittany, Marseilles, Geneva, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Ancona, and Naples. He went to Italy twice to gain information, twice to Malta, once to Greece, Constantinople, and the Danube. He visited Dalmatian and Russian ships, as well as Turkish and Greek, to learn the names of nautical affairs. He was industrious as a Jesuit and enthusiastic as a fanatical missionary of the Mormons; then he studied documents from the Middle Ages, for he will not be satisfied unless he has all the words that ever were in the languages above named. He complains touchingly that he had not four or five years more to study the languages of the North of Europe to make his book still more complete ; but for that he must travel to Holland, England, Denmark, Sweden, and even Russia. He was too poor for that! He lays all previous glossators under contribution, and models his work on Du Cange and Noah Webster, - both of whom he duly praises.
A History of the Town of Union, in the County of Lincoln,
Maine, to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century; with a Family Register of the Setilers before the Year 1800, and of their Descendants. By John LANGDON Sibley, Member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. “E minimis maxima." Boston : Benjamin B. Mussey & Co. 1851. 12mo. Pp. xii. and 540.
The motto which the author has appropriately placed on the title-page of his work is strikingly illustrated in the mere publication of such a volume on such a subject, though it was evi. dently intended to point in quite a different direction. A coun. try town, whose population has not yet reached 2,000, and which dates back but three quarters of a century for its first settlement, would seem to furnish but few materials for the histo. rian; and a pamphlet of fifty or sixty pages would, ordinarily, be sufficient to contain all that could be said about it, by almost any writer. But Mr. Sibley has not been content to write a common or superficial history of his native town. Every thing relating to the place and its inhabitants seemed to him worthy of