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There are sweet scents about up: the violet" hides On that green bank; the primrose sparkles there; The earth is grateful to the teeming clouds, And yields a sudden91 freshness to their kisses. But now the shower slopes off to the warm west, Leaving a dewy33 track; like falling pearls The big drops glisten30 in the sunny mist. The air is clear again,27 and the far woods In their early green shine out. Let's onward, then, For the first blossoms peep about our path, The lambs are nibbling the short, dripping grass, And the birds are on the bushes.
XLIII. — "NOT TO MYSELF ALONE."
1. "Not to myself alone," The little opening flower transported cries, "Not to myself alone I bud and bloom; With fragrant breath the breezes I perfume,83 And gladden30 all things with my rainbow dyes. The bee comes sipping, every eventide, His dainty fill; The butterfly within my cup doth hide From threatening ill."
2. "Not to myself alone,"
The circling star98 with honest pride doth boast,
I gem the sky,
3. "Not to myself alone,"
The heavy-laden bee doth murmuring hum,
With busy care,
4 "Not to myself alone,"
I bid the hymnless59 churl my anthem learn.
And God adore;
5. "Not to myself alone," The streamlet whispers on its pebbly way,
My gladsome tune j40
6. "Not to myself alone :" — O man, forget not thou, — earth's honored priest,
And self disown;
XLIV. — ON THE STUDY OF WORDS.
1. There are two theories" in regard to the origin of language. One would put language on the same level with the various arts and inventions with which man has gradually adorned and enriched his life. It might, I think, be sufficient to object to this explanation, that language would then be an accident413 of human nature; and, this being the case, that we should somewhere encounter tribes sunken so low as not to possess it; even as there is no human art or invention, though'it be as simple and obvious as the preparing of food by fire, but there are those who have fallen below its exercise.
2. But with language it is not so. There have never yet been found human beings — not the most degraded horde of South Africa Bushmen," or Papuan" Cannibals"—who did not employ this means of intercourse with one another. Man starts with language as God's perfect gift, which he only impairs and forfeits32 by sloth and sin, according to the same law101 which holds good in respect to every other of the gifts of Heaven.30
3. The true answer to the inquiry, how language arose, is this that God gave man language, just as He154 gave him reason, and just because121 He gave him reason. Yet29 this must not be taken to affirm that man started at the first101 furnished with a fullformed vocabulary of words, and as it were138 with his dictionary and first grammar ready-made to his hands.97 He did not thus begin the world with names, but with the power of naming; for man is not a mere speaking-machine.35 God did not teach him words, as one of us teaches a parrot, from without; but He gave him a capacity, and then evoked the capacity which he gave.
4. Here, as in everything else that concerns the primitive constitution,40 the great original institutes of humanity, our best and truest lights are to be gotten from the study of the first three chapters" of Genesis. You will observe that there it is not God who imposed the first names on the creatures, but Adam; Adam, however, at the direct suggestion of his Creator.
5. Man makes his own language, but he makes it as the bee makes its cells, as the bird its nest. How this latent91 power evolved itself first, how this spontaneous generation of language came to pass, is a mystery, even as every act of creation is a mystery. Yet we may perhaps a little help ourselves to the realizing of what the process was, and what it was not, if we liken it to the growth of a tree springing out of and unfolding itself from a root,20 and according to a necessary law; that root being the divine capacity of language with which man was created; that law being the law of highest reason with which he was endowed.
6. Language is full of instruction, because it is the embodiment of the feelings and thoughts and experiences of a nation, — yea, often68 of many nations, and of all which through centuries" they have attained to and won. "Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests."
7. The mighty moral instincts100 which have been working in the popular40 mind have found therein their unconscious voice; and the single kinglier spirits, that have looked deeper into the heart of things, have oftentimes gathered up all they have seen into some one word which they have launched upon the world, and with which they have enriched it forever, — making in that new33 word a region of thought to be henceforward in some sort the common heritage of all.
8. Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle45 thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. It has arrested ten thousand lightning flashes of genius, which, unless thus fixed and arrested, might have been38 as bright, but would have also been as quickly passing and perishing, as the lightning. "Words convey the mental treasures of one period to the generations that follow; and, laden with this, their precious freight, they sail safely across gulfs of time in which empires have suffered shipwreck, and the languages of common life have sunk into oblivion."
9. And, for all these reasons, far more and mightier in every way is a language than any one of the works which may have been composed in it. For that work, great as it may be, is but the embodying of the mind of a single man; this,118 of a nation. The Iliad" is great; yet not so great in strength or power or beauty as the Greek language. Paradise Lost" is a noble possession for a people to have inherited; but the English tongue is a nobler heritage yet.
10. Great, then, will be our gains, if, having these treasures of wisdom and knowledge lying round about us, we determine that we will make what portion of them we can our own; that we will ask the words we use138 to give an account of themselves,— to say whence they are, and whither103 they tend. Then shall we often rub off the dust and rust from what seemed but a common token, which we had taken and given a thousand times, esteeming it no better, but which now we shall perceive to be a precious coin, bearing the image and superscription" of the great king.
11. Then shall we discover that there is a reality about words; that they are not merely arbitrary" signs, but living powers; not like the sands of the sea, innumerable disconnected atoms, but growing out of roots, clustering in families, connecting and intertwining themselves with all that men have been doing and thinking and feeling, from the beginning of the world till now. We should thus grow in our feeling of connection with the past, and of gratitude40 and reverence towards" it; we should estimate more truly, and therefore98 more highly, what it has done for us, all that it has bequeathed to us, all that it has made leady to our hands.
12. It was something for the children of Israel," when they came into Canaan," to enter upon wells which they digged not, and vineyards which they had not planted, and houses which they bad not built; but how much greater a boon," how much more glorious a prerogative," for any one generation to enter upon the inheritance of a language which other generations by their truth and toil have made already a receptacle of choicest treasures, a storehouse of so much unconscious wisdom, a fit organ for expressing the subtlest distinctions, the tenderest sentiments, the largest thoughts, and the loftiest imaginations, which at any time the heart of men can conceive!
XLV. — ON THE STUDY OF WORDS.
1. We are not to look for the poetry, which a people may possess, only in its poems, or its poetical customs, traditions," and beliefs. Many25 a single word also is itself a concen'trated poem, having stores of poetical thought and imagery laid up in it. Examinei* it, and it will be found to rest on some deep analogy" of things natural and things spiritual; bringing those121 to illustrate and to give an abiding form and body to these.
2. Let me illustrate that which I have been here saying somewhat more at length by the word " tribulation." We all know, in a general way, that this word, which occurs not seldom in Scripture" and in the Liturgy," means affliction, sorrow, anguish; but it is quite worth Our while103 to know how it means this, and to question the word a little closer. It is derived from the Latin93 "trib'ulum," — which was the thrashing instrument91 or roller whereby the Roman husbandman separated9" the corn from the husks; and "tribulatio," in its primary significance, was the act of this separation.
3. But some Latin writer of the Christian church appropriated the word and image for the setting forth of a higher truth; and sorrow, distress, and adversity, being the appointed means for the separating in men of their chaff from their wheat,6 of whatever in them was light and trivial and poor from the solid and the true, therefore he called these sorrows and griefs "tribulations,"— thrashings, that is, of the inner spiritual man, without which there could be no fitting him for the heavenly30 garner.
4. How deep an insight into the failings of the human heart lies at the root of many words; and, if only we would attend to them, what valuable warnings many contain against subtle45 temptations and sins! Thus, all of us have probably, more or less, felt the temptation of seeking to please others by an unmanly assenting to their view of some matter, even when our own independent91 convictions would lead us to a different. The existence of such a temptation, and the fact that too many yield to it, are both declared in a Latin" word for a flatterer, — " assentator,"— that is, "an assenter; " one who has not courage to say No, when a Yes is expected from him.
5. What a mournful witness for the hard and unrighteous judgment we habitually form of one another lies in the word "prejudice "! The word of itself means plainly no more than a "judgment formed beforehand," without affirming anything as to whether that judgment be favorable or unfavorable to the person