« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
magazines, of wide circulation, are published in England, and two in this country, altogether in the mystic characters of phonography; while for purposes of correspondence, note-taking, and all other objects to which writing is applicable, the art is spreading in a manner truly surprising to those who have made no examination of its claims upon the public attention.
This extensive use of phonetic writing could not fail to make more apparent the necessity of phonetic printing. In effecting this result, the phonographers, now grown to a large and an organized body, all cordially co-operated; but prominently active was Mr. A. J. Ellis, a philologist of distinguished ability. His course of procedure was eminently practical, and had for its object not so much to construct a new as to re-construct the old alphabet. All the old letters (except q, x, and k,) were retained, to represent in the phonetic alphabet those elementary sounds which they most frequently have in the present spelling; thus e, u, c, are phonotypes for the sounds italicised in end, up, can. The completion of the alphabet, of forty letters, required seventeen new signs, and these were invented to harmonize as completely as possible with the familiar Roman letters.* At last, after many experiments and much expense, the scheme was finally perfected in 1816, when the publication of phonetic literature with the new types was commenced, and has since been untiringly prosecuted; the demand of the public exceeding the supply. Of the works published, we may enumerate the New Testament (two sizes,) Book of Common Prayer, Gay's Fables, Rasselas, Vicar of Wakefield, the Essentials of Phonetics (a scientific work of two hundred and fifty pages,) Shakspeare's Tempest, Bible Histories, Phonetic Reader, and a very large number of books for elementary instruction, to which should be added three monthly magazines in England and one in this country.
Though we think no argument can weigh against the fact, apparent to reason, and confirmed by numerous experiments, that phonetic printing would practically annihilate the labour of learning to read, we must in candour state the objections usually made to any attempt towards its substitution for the received method, presenting such answers to these objections as our space will permit.
I. "Phonetic spelling would obscure etymologies.” Our reply is given in the words of Dr. Franklin. “Etymologies are at present very uncertain, but such as they are the old books would still preserve them, and etymologists would there find them. Words, in the course of time, change their meanings as well as their spellings and pronunciations, and we do not look to etymology for their present meaning. If I should call a man a knave and a villain, he would hardly be satisfied with my telling him, that one of the words originally signified only a
• The addition of fifteen characters to the English phonetic alphabet of forty, completes what is called the Ethnical Alphabet, by means of which we are enabled to write all known languages.
lad or a servant, and the other an under ploughman or the inhabitant of a village.” We may add, that those who most strenuously urge this objection call their examples from the Latin, of which they have a smattering, utterly heedless of the fact that four-fifths of our language is derived from the Anglo-Saxon, of which they are quite ignorant. The true answer is, however, that the sole office of spelling is to record speech, and not to trace the histories of words. To adopt the illustration of Klopstock, we should as properly require the artist of a flower-piece to paint the odours as well as the colours.
II. “The distinction between words of different meaning and similar sound (as see, sea,) would be destroyed.” Dr. Franklin replies, that “this distinction is already destroyed in pronouncing them, and we rely on the sense alone of the sentence to ascertain which of the several words, similar in sound, we intend." We may add that the phonetic spelling really compensates the loss by providing different forms for words now spelt alike but differently sounded,-as bow, eat, &c.
III. “All the books written would be useless.' This objection has no weight when applied to the phonotypy of Pitman and Ellis, since its resemblance to the spelling under the old system is so striking that we pass from one to the other without the slightest real difficulty. So much is this the case, that it is found, by experience, the greatest saving of time and labour to teach those learning to read by the phonetic method, in the first instance: when this is accomplished, the scholar, turning to a book in the present printing, though confused at first, soon learns, by the aid of a little guessing, to thread his way among its mazes.
IV.“The printing proposed will be so strange in its appearance as effectually to bar its general acceptance.” We reply, that this strangeness of appearance is altogether a supposition; and could we have an opportunity of showing the reader a specimen he would rather be surprised at the familiarity of its aspect.
V. “It would impair the English language.” To this objection the answer is, that it mistakes entirely the purpose in view, which is simply to provide an improved means of recording the language, not of altering it.
VI. “It is a desecration to change the characters used by our forefathers.” To this, in an age of rail-roads and magnetic telegraphs, we need make no reply. The desecration has already taken place several times. We have discarded the Runic characters of the bards, and the letters of the Anglo-Saxons; while the spelling of Shakspeare's day would be a riddle to these conservative objectors far harder to solve than any which phonetic printing proposes to them.
We cannot more fitly conclude this article than by the following quotation from the Westminster Review of April last:
“The disciples of the Phonetic Reform movement now amount to some thousands; and the cause has all the executive elements of success :—the energy and enthusiasm of a self-raised son of the people, working to promote a system invented by himself and for the people's use; the aged wisdom and practical knowledge of the venerable father* of a great and successful practical reformer; the learning, countenance, and purse of a man of education, position and wealth. "If, then, it has also, as we believe it has, internal elements of success; if, like Christianity, (we say it reverently,) it be born among, necessary to, and demanded by the people, like Christianity we think it must succeed. It destroys it not that it should have as enemies those who would admire it as an elegant pastime while confined to the scholar and dille. tanti, but who, with the geometer of old, think it degrading to pander to the vile and material necessities of the herd. It wants not the assistance of the faineant, who thinks it 'perhaps not a bad thing in itself, but too difficult to carry out. It leaves the contemptuous mockeries of its snubbishness' to the flunkey-quelling Thackerayian pen. To the derisive fun of Punch we would not an we could' reply in phrase jocose. Punch, it is no joke. Your mirthful company of wearers of motley have done more than aught else to strip the motley from society and from the man—they have shown us ourselves undressed; they must help us tear the bizarre and motley garb from our language, and make it decent. ..
But should they oppose it, the million-tongued voice of uneducated labour will still be strong enough to doom our present cacography and shout, ‘Away with it! why cumbereth it us.'
(For the Register.)
NOTES ON MEXICO.
BY AN OFFICER OF THE AMERICAN ARMY. I WRITE of Mexico as I saw it-of its institutions and people-of their manner of living and custoins—of the soil and climate, the mountains and valleys. The subject is extensive, and embraces much that is deeply interesting; but within the limits of an article I can do no more than glance at the various objects that present themselves to notice.
Mexico, until very recently, was almost a fabled land. The tales that were told of its marvellous wealth, of the mild serenity of its clear blue sky,—the grandeur of its mountain scenery, and the beauties of its fertile valleys,-the grace of the dark-eyed Señoritas, and the proud bearing of the gay caballeros, partook more of the romance of Eastern story, than the sober lessons of historic truth. The web of fiction had been so artfully woven around every thing that was said and written about that country, that it was deemed almost an earthly paradise. In fact, accurate notions of Mexico were not entertained by the citizens of the United States, until their victorious legions had traversed the land "from Palo Alto to Chapultepec.” The practical observations of our own people filled up the unwritten void in Mexican history, and they brought home with them, what could not be acquired from books, a current knowledge of the country and people.
* Rowland Hill, Sen.
The first conquest of Cortez seems hardly real, and yet it comes down to us so well authenticated there is no room for doubt. If we take up the history of that romantic story as written by Prescott, and carefully trace the march of Cortez from his first landing upon the coast, till he was master of the kingly city, the events pass before us in such quick succession that we are almost bewildered by the changing scenes. We behold a small band of strangers, numbering only a few hundred, who have set out to conquer a powerful people; the leader of this band burns his ships to infuse the bravery of despair in his troops. With an energy that never falters, and a patience that never wearies, he keeps his eyes fixed on the goal of all his hopes, the “halls of Montezuma's king,” and, relying upon his own resources, prepares to break down every barrier that may oppose him. He pierces the mountain passes, and treads upon the broad savannahs of Mexico. The Cholulans, a people mighty in numbers and in strength, are conquered, and their city razed to the ground; the Tlascalans he defeats, and compels to become his allies; then, with giant strides, he passes the Cordilleras mountains into the valley of Mexico, and invests the imperial city. The history of its capture the “noche triste,” that terrible night when Cortez and his men were driven from the city-his retreat—the fierce conflict upon the plains of Otumba—his return and final capture and destruction of the city-form altogether a series of marvellous events, almost too incredible for belief, but yet too well authenticated to be disputed.
It is a source of deep regret that so much of the political history of that interesting country has been lost to the world. The traditionary stories that we have, fail to remove the gloom and uncertainty that hang over the history of Montezuma and his people, and a correct history of the colonial times of Mexico has never been given, but lies buried in the unrevealed recesses of Spanish archives.
There seems no bright and happy future for Mexico and her people, -no cheerful morn comes down upon “the dark and troubled night
of the past.
The political history of Mexico, since the gaining of her independence, is made up of revolutions and counter-revolutions. The principles of right and justice were lost sight of in the great struggle for power, and every change forged another link in the
chain which was to bind the people down in slavery. Under the most favourable cir· cumstances in which Mexico can be viewed, there is nothing to raise up hope for the future. There are so many conflicting interests—s0 many enmities to punish, and friendships to reward—so much bitterness of feeling on the one side, and want of love for the country on the other, that it will be found impossible to harmonize these discordant materials, and bring order out of this chaos.
Spain wrote the history of her vice-royal government in Mexico with the point of the sword dipped in blood. She recorded it in all the valleys, and upon every hill top, and all the people read it. Revolution came. The people of Mexico, who for years, and even centuries, had submitted to the rod that smote them, now rose up in the pride and strength of manhood, and hurled down those who had been their task-masters. Spain, with all her grinding tyranny, was driven from the land, and they built up new altars and new institutions. They had a long and severe struggle. The accumulated miseries of war, pestilence and famine, visited them, and they only reached national independence through much suffering and waste of life.
As men always will, who are fixed and determined in their purposes, they conquered; but to them success seemed worse than defeat. They conquered the Spaniards, but had not gained a victory over themselves. Though they were free from the unjust government of the viceroys, they were still under the sway of the worst passions of our nature. The Mexicans had their eyes directed singly to a change of rulers, and never imagined they could make their condition worse. With no future course marked out, upon which the contending elements might harmonize, they very naturally fell into the other extreme of anarchy and confusion. "The establishment of their independence seemed to be a stepping-stone to disorder and misrule, and ere they had wiped the dust and blood of battle from their brows, were made but too sensible that they had not bettered their condition. They had only exchanged foreign for domestic despotism.
The mutations in the government of Mexico, for the first few years after her independence was declared, are curious in their way, and may not be uninteresting to the reader. These changes I will briefly note.
Upon the close of the revolution, Iturbide, who had been of much service during the struggle for independence, was called to the throne as Emperor, and assumed the reins of government in the winter of 1821. His reign was short and troubled; the people disapproved of his administration, and, without force or violence, stripped him of his power, and sent him into exile to a foreign land. Now that Iturbide was dethroned, and the country in fact without a government, they contemplated forming a regular system which should ensure public security. A question arose as to the kind of government they should form, and, following our example, agreed upon a federal union and a republic. But the people of Mexico were not ready to receive democratic institutions. The leaders were not aware that a republican form