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the Sanscrit, Greek, and Latin languages, which in the redundancy and richness of their grammatical forms, and the apparent ease and facility with which they can be worked up into gorgeous sentences, far surpass all modern languages.
Each of their sentences is a little world ; and it is not without some weighty reasons that such an important place has been allotted to the study of the Latin and Greek languages in our colleges and universities; for it quickens the understanding of the student, and besides introducing him into antiquity, and making him feel perfectly at home there, by which the sphere of his mind is immensely extended, it gives him the habit of being constantly on the look out for the first thing in order, and of separating it from secondary matters, just as while studying his classics, he must be constantly on the look out for the nominative and verb, by which he obtains a clue to the understanding of his sentence.
As to the Indian or Sanscrit language, it first became known to the Europeans after the conquest of India by the English. Its discovery dates about the year 1780, when its treasures were brought to light by Warren Hastings, and after him by Sir William Jones, “the father and oracle of Indian erudition.” He introduced it to the notice of the learned in the following words : “ The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the forms of grammar than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philosopher could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source which no longer exists." The Sanscrit, as the oldest language of the Indo-European race of which any traces are left to us, is the key-stone by which the Indo-European chain of languages is held together, and on account of the prominent place which it occupies for this reason in comparative philology, there is now almost in every large university of Europe a chair for the Sanscrit language and literature.
In its third state of development, or in that of full manhood, language abandons the elaborate forms of grammar by which it was decorated in the bloom of its youth, and is distinguished by a noble simplicity. Its nouns and verbs lose their power of being inflected, the cases of nouns are expressed by prepositions or modulations of the articles, and the tenses by auxiliary verbs. However, what it loses in the richness of its form, it gains by drawing nearer, as it were, to the thoughts, and becoming more spiritual. In the second state of language it required almost as much skill and attention on the part of the writer or orator to express a thought elegantly by words, as it took him to procure the thought itself; but now it is different, the grammar being simplified, and only so many of its forms retained as are absolutely necessary for a fit expression of all thoughts, the mind is at liberty to indulge with its full powers in the realm of thoughts, without troubling itself at all with the grammatical arrangement of the words in language.
The languages of the second age are all doomed to pass away. The Arian language, which is a term given in common to all languages belonging to the Indo-European stock, in its onward struggle towards manhood, has left behind the Latin, Greek, and Sanscrit as memorials of its beautiful youth, and by sublimating these old languages, or introducing new original forms, it has produced the modern European languages as the expression of its manhood.
Among these the English language is the most highly sublimated and purified of all unnecessary forms. In it, as in a rarified atmosphere, the thoughts can soar up to a higher altitude than in any other language, and upon descending flow into a clear and closely fitting garb. The English, on account of its brevity and precision, is eminently the language of common sense; and as in its organism the German and French are blended together, and it thus contains both the depth of the one and the facility and ease of the other, it cannot but follow that in its construction it must be superior to all other European languages, of which the German and French serve as types.
The German language is the primitive Anglo-Saxon, developed without any foreign admixture. It is eminently a philosophical language. Its words are not closed up and narrowly defined, but they are free and open, and can be expanded in a thousand directions. It is the only language, including the Dutch and Scandinavian tongues, in which the intercourse between the roots, the stem, and the branches is kept open, and for this reason it can create for every idea a most fitting word from its own bosom, without drawing upon any other language. On this account, too, it is chiefly adapted to accompany the philosopher in his researches, where for every new discovery he makes, he can immediately coin a suitable word which everybody may understand, and which will take up and contain his ideas and prevent their evaporation, while in other languages he is frequently at a loss how to name his child after it is born, and is obliged to ransack the Greek and Latin languages for technical terms.
The French is the modern representative of the Latin, animated by a lively Germanic tribe, the Franks. They acted as the resuscitators of the Latin, and moulded it into that pleasing, flowing ripple, which we admire so much in the French language. This language is peculiarly adapted to the lively expression of the affections, which it derives from its German ingredient, and to the discussion of all matters of science, and particularly of the higher mathematics. This feature it draws from the Latin, which is renowned for the conciseness and precision of its terms, and the clear, exact style which we notice in all its writers.
The Spanish is an eminently formal and ceremonious language, in which the calmness of the Moor is combined with the excitability which we observe in all the scions of the old Roman people.
The Italian language is the pleasing, melodious warbling of a little rivulet, in which, however, no such immense waves can be raised as in the German.
With this short sketch of the most remarkable languages spoken on the globe, we close this dissertation. We have
said enough however, to show that there is a philosophy of language, not included in our idea of grammar, and that the subject opens out into rich and inexhaustible fields of vast extent, inviting to all truly philosophical minds, whether linguists, historians, or natural philosophers.
BY SAMUEL WARREN, M.D., BOSTON.
A vow is a promise made to God, to do or to give something in the future, most commonly for success in an undertaking, or for deliverance from danger. The occasions of vows are given us in many places of scripture. They are always voluntary; no one being ever called upon to make a vow if he does not so incline. But having made one, the Bible is very strict to hold him to the performance of his vow, because God is always a party to a vow, and no inconsiderate conduct is to be allowed in dealing with God.
As it is of the first importance that our intercourse with God be regulated according to a prescribed manner, and as God foresaw that men might often find themselves inclined to make vows to do or to give something if God would encourage them that he would do something for them which they could not do for themselves, therefore he condescended to give directions concerning the making of vows, and regulations for the due and proper execution of them. We find several kinds of vows spoken of in the Bible, which are called by different names. The most ancient, as well as the most common, kind of vow was made when persons were in quest of success in an undertaking, as by Jacob when he went into Mesopotamia; or when earnestly seeking deliverance from danger, as by the ship's crew on board the vessel with the
prophet Jonah. Of this kind of vow we have many instances in the Bible. Another kind of vow is called cherem, by which persons and things are devoted to utter destruction. One of the earliest instances of this kind of vow is found in Ex. xvii., where Jehovah declared to Moses that he would put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven for making an attack on the rear of the camp of Israel, among the defenceless women and children. In Numbers Israel makes a vow of this sort to destroy Atad, one of the kings of Canaan, and all his people ; but they were authorized to do so by Jehovah, who had promised to deliver the Canaanites into the hand of Israel. So Jehovah pointed out Achan to Joshua, and commanded him to destroy Achan and all that belonged to him, for his deliberate transgression. No person had a right to make a vow of this sort unless authorized to do so by Jehovah himself, who is proprietor of all things and persons. A third kind of vow we find in Lev. xxvii., which in this place alone is called a singular vow, by which a person devoted himself or his child or some part of his property to the service of Jehovah. This vow, called singular, differs from the vow of a Nazarite, in that a person gave up another, it might be, to the service of the Lord, instead of, or as well as, himself. It is here to be observed that Moses did not encourage the making of vows, but when made, he urged a scrupulous fulfilment of them. We may conclude, from the many and greater other follies into which the Israelites often fell, that persons not unfrequently made vows inconsiderately, improvidently, and under an impulse of zeal, and subsequently, on more sober reflection, wished themselves rid of them. Therefore Moses gave directions whereby such persons might redeem their vows, adding a fifth to the valuation of whatever might have been devoted in the vow, by way of fine for their rashness.
We may now ask, which of these vows did Jephthah make, and what did he purpose in his heart to do in fulfilment of his vow? We think he made a great mistake, and did not know himself very definitely what he engaged to do. If he