[ocr errors]

tion, the construction varies according to respondence with a peculiar usage of the the exigency. Most frequently, the na- Hebrew tongue. The commencement of ture or circumstances of the case show Genesis, literally translated, reads thus : which is the subject, and which the ob- “In beginning created God as to the ject. It is, of course, the cat that devours beavens and the earth. And the earth the mouse; it is the wounded and disabled was formless and waste, and darkness man who is carried. When the natural upon face of abyss, and spirit of God relation is reversed, or no clue is found moving upon face of the waters. And in the nature of the case, it is not difficult will say God, be light, and will be to indicate the meaning correctly, by me. light. And will see God as to the thods which vary according as the scene light, that good,” &c.* This usage precan be most successfully pictured. One vails in all the narrative parts of the Heis, to have a strict regard to the relative brew Scriptures. It still forms a quæstio position and location of subject and ob- vexata for grammarians; one theory that ject. Or, both the agent and the recipient has been advanced for its explanation, is of an action may be personated in turn. confirmed by the comparison now made. Having represented the stripling in the This is only one instance among many, in act of hurling the stone from ihe sling, we which this language of nature may throw may immediately act the part of the giant light upon the studies of the philologist. receiving the blow on his forehead, and It is well known to those acquainted with falling to the ground. So, a horse may the Hebrew, that it has but two forms be shown in the act of kicking, and a man of tense, and that the past (so called) is as receiving and feeling the effect of the extensively used for future time, as well blow. Another method, like this, but as the future for past. This also may be more artificial, yet altogether common, is explained, by considering the tense called to use the sign for give in the figurative the past as really an aorist, representing sense of agency or causation, or that for the action simply, and without relation to first, or both at once; and on the other time at all—just as it is pictured by an imihand, the sign for receive, or some other tative sign-the relation of time intended denoting passivity. These auxiliary signs being determined by the connection, or by answer ihe end of an active and a passive circumstances. Thus the first of Genesis voice. The signs for some actions, how. would read : In the beginning create, inever, mark this distinction by a change in stead of created. their form, the motion being, for the active Modifications corresponding to the sense, from the person, and reversed for potential, subjunctive, and imperative : the passive.

moods, are indicated, sometimes or part. There is nothing in the language of ly by an accompanying expression of signs corresponding to the tenses of verbs. feeling, and further by auxiliaries conThe time of an action or event is generally sisting of distinctive signs for the modi. indicated at the outset, definitely or inde. fying ideas. By both these means also, finitely; it being once fixed, the narration are expressed the relations between the may proceed, events in succession being members of conditional, disjunctive and simply represented, and time reckoned causal propositions. A causal proposi. from the starting point. We are not, tion is sometimes put in the form of the however, confined to the direct order, but question why ? and the answer because. may at any point refer to other events, at There are also signs for the ideas ex. any distance of time previous. As the pressed by the other conjunctions. Indirelation of events gives them an actual cation upon the fingers serves instead of presence to the imagination, each one of and. a series narrated becomes in turn present; Little use is made of anything correand the interval between this and the one sponding to personal pronouns of the third next succeeding, is bence represented by person, or relatives. Yet their end can the sign of futurity. Thus this sign be. be answered, by fixing and referring to comes a connective between successive the location of objects, or by indicating events, when separated by any appreciable them respectively on the fingers, which interval; the relation between two suc may be employed to represent them. cessive events past, being in fact the same The several pronominal adjectives have as that between the present and the fu- in general corresponding signs. ture. There is here a remarkable cor A very marked and important differ

It is not uncommon for deaf mutes in their first attempts at composition, to be misled by the idiom of the sign-language into a use of words precisely like the Hebrew, as it reads thus translated, and to write a story throughout in this same style.

ence between signs and a refined lan- figure of thought, which, if not always guage of words, is the want of anything personification, is yet closely allied to it. in the former corresponding to the ab- Though this form has, through its constract noun. Yet such propositions as ciseness, advantages for scientific purthese: God gives health and happiness; poses, yet it often betrays into error. Idleness leads to poverty; Wisdom is A proposition in the abstract form, can be better than strength; Murder is worse apprehended at all, only by going back than thest; Revenge is wicked; and in thought to the concrete reality. A others may be, and often are of choice, man who neglects this process, may be a expressed in the abstract form in the col- poet, or may be a logician, at least a loquial usage of deaf mutes. But strength sophist; but can be no philosopher, or is not distinguished in the form of the sound thinker, or safe reasoner. In the sign, from strong, or theft from steal, and sign-language, general propositions can so universally. Hence, and from the be expressed in the concrete form as want of an artificial syntax, but limited perfectly as particular ones, and someuse is made of the abstract mode of ex times also in the abstract. Also the compression, and with a less variety of met- parison involved in a metaphor, may in aphorical dress. The tropical use of the signs be drawn out in detail, as a simprepositions, in connection with this form ile, when it cannot be conveyed in the of speech--without which we rarely move concise metaphorical form. a step in words-has nothing similar in We see that this language is by no signs.

means confined to the sensible or the speThe advantages of the abstract noun cial. The difficulty which words present in discourse, are by no means indispen- to the deaf mute, results not so frequentsable. They are simply, variety of ex- ly from their wide generality of meaning, pression; elevation and grace of style, as from that complexity and speciality from the figurative drapery it naturally by which the general sense is limited. wears; and especially brevity and neat That ideas may be expressed in lanness, and this partly in consequence of guages employed and cultivated for

ages, the convenience with which it fits into by mature and gifted minds, for scienthe framework of artificial language. tific, imaginative, and great variety of There are no ideas for the expression of practical purposes, which cannot be renwhich abstract terms are indispensable. dered into the sign-language of the deaf There is nothing existent in nature, or and dumb, in its present state, without conceivable in ihought, but individual much circumlocution, and a tedious proobjects, and their qualities, phenomena cess of exemplification and analysis, is and relations. Every possible proposi. most true. But it is also true, that if we tion in abstract terms; by however many take any two languages, particularly of steps their meaning may seem removed nations differing essentially-one, for in. from the world of individual things, stance, a commercial

, and the other a really expresses something of which in- philosophic people—we shall find a dif. dividuals are the subject, and so far as ference and a difficulty of the same gene. the nature of things or the nature of ral nature. No two languages correspond language is concerned, can be expressed in all respects. The language of signs has in terms descriptive of the individuals. its peculiar advantages. Not only is it A concrete form of statement may be no picturesque and expressive, but it can in. less general than the abstract, and will dicate shades and niceties of meaning, berequire no less of the mental faculty of yond the power of words. The classical generalization or abstraction to compre- scholar may boast his two particles of hend it. The term man requires this as negation in Greek; but not only bave we much as manhood; good, as much as signs, distinct in form, corresponding goodness. The abstract noun is not a to ou and un, but many more varieties, product of the reasoning faculty, but to an extent to which no language of rather of the poetical-aside from its words can make an approach. mere convenience. It is the result of a

Written language, supposing the deaf tendency to individualize, rather than to mute to have learned to use and under. analyze; though some analysis necessa stand it, is of course an available ly precedes the individualizing of an attri means of communication with all who bute. Every language,” says Cousin, know how to wrile legibly and spell “is at once an analyst and a poet; it correctly. The deaf mute is sorely puz. makes abstractions and it realizes them.” zled by the incorrect orthography he ofThe abstract noun has its ground in a ten meets with, as he wants the clue fur

fortune;" and, in another, direction was splendor, must have far exceeded St. given for the annual expenditure of a Michael's. It was razed to the ground certain sum to be distributed in loaves of by Henry VIII., at the time of the supbread at Christmas time.

pression of the monasteries, notwith. From St. Michael's we crossed over standing the earnest entreaties of the to Trinity. This church bad been much inhabitants for its preservation—an act better cared for than the one we had just of Vandalism the reason of which it is not left, and they were about refacing it easy to perceive, since no other churches with stone in some parts.

· The inte were destroyed. South of, and opposite rior,” says the author before quoted, " is St. Michael's, a noble window, occupymarked by that studious cultivation of ing almost the whole front of a stone twilight gloom, so often found in the building, indicated St. Mary's Hall. It works of Gothic designers; and modern is entered by a sort of porch with an beautifiers have not imparted any portion arched roofing. On the keystone of the either of lightness or elegance by a free arch is a quaint representation of the bestowal of paint and gold leaf where Deity on his throne receiving St. Mary, opportunity would permit.* We might who is sitting with her hands clasped in bave remained here a long time in con- the attitude of prayer. On a projecting templating its many beauties, particu- stone, whence the inward arch springs, larly the exquisite finish of the stained are two or three mouldering figures of windows; but our anxiety to visit an- the Virgin and angels, representing the other principal object of attraction in annunciation, and the corresponding Coventry, while it was yet light, pre- abutment is wrought with unmeaning vented inore than a hasty glance. One grotesque animals. would suppose that these two large St Mary's Hall has been the scene of churches, in immediate contiguity, might many a festival and public ceremony, in have supplied the spiritual wants of the which kings and nobles have particigood monks who lived in that quarter; pated, and every part is rich in memenbut it appears that, between the iwo, on toes of the past. "On entering we seemed an eminence a little back, formerly stood to have been transported into another a cathedral which, in point of size and world, the world of knight-errantry, of

* A specimen of this is to be seen in the Presbyterian Church on University Place, New York, to the tower of which we have before referred. Trinity, Grace Church, and the Church of the Ascension, exhibit the lighter and less sombre style. All four of these have one feature, in common, with most European Cathedrals. We allude to the half story wings, and the rows of clustered columns which support the roof of the main building, on pointed arches. There is this difference, however, that, in the three last, the light comes in directly at the large upper windows, whereas, in the first, it passes previously through trap-doors in the roof, that being extended from the main building, so as to entirely cover the wings, which are much higher in proportion than in the others. Consequently, there is a dim“ religious,” or artistical light, such as we see in the studios of painters, agreeable to the eye, and amply sufficient in very clear weather, but at other times entirely too dim for convenience-in consequence of the church being hedged in on two sides by private buildings. An improvement might be made in this respect, as well as in the general appearance of the interior, by placing the organ in the gallery over the pulpit, thus filling up what now looks like waste room, and admitting the light from the great front window. There is no particular reason, we imagine, why the choir as well as the clergyman should not be placed in front of the congregation. In this church the oaken rafters are left exposed to view, while in the others the ceilings are stuccoed in imitation of stone work, in groined divisions. Either style is very beautiful; the first, however, is the most simple and the most enduring. It may be questioned whether the pure Gothic, however beautiful to the eye, is best suited to pewed churches, it being almost impossible to arrange the heavy columns so as not to intercept the view from the side aisles. A medium, or chapel style, avoiding the halfstories, is preferable; such as is to be seen in the Dutch Church on Washington Square, · where all the beauty of the Gothic is, to some extent, preserved, without its inconveniences, by means of dormant windows on the roof. In the Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue, the half-stories are avoided, but the interior is completed in a style so plain as to be out of keeping with the elaborate Gothic finish of the exterior, and better suited to churches in the more simple, or pointed bow architecture, like the church of the Messiah, on Broadway. In this last church, by the way, the painting in perspective behind the pulpit, being Gothic, is singularly inconsistent with the general style of the building

wielding of the instrument, and skill in the mere external form of language ; but its management. There is nothing like still without experience of the consequent being forced by stern necessity to the disadvantage for acquiring its meaning in constant use of a particular mode of com- the mode now in question. Yet, while munication, to give it a firm adhesion to signs should be subsidized to make the mind. But with instruments slow amends for this disadvantage, this method and cumbrous like these, if command of should have the fullest scope consistent them is to be acquired by use alone, there with realizing their benefits. must be constant use, and a necessity ad The method which relies, for the mitting no alternative. That it is pos- acquisition of language, upon its use by sible to acquire language in this manner, articulation and labial reading, agrees has been demonstrated in the remarkable in a most important respect, as has been instance of Laura Bridgman-the deaf, observed, with the one just considered. dumb and blind girl at the Perkins Insti- As compared with this, it presents, how. tution for the Blind, at Boston ; who has ever, essential disadvantages for which it literally felt her way to the new world of has nothing to offer in compensation. ideas, into which she has been introduced The form of words, as represented by through the medium of finger language writing or the manual alphabet, is more alone—the manual alphabet of the deaf easily learned, than as articulated and read and dumb, and the raised letters used by on the lips. The latter requires a great exthe blind. With the increased disabili. penditure of time in a mere mechanical ties consequent on the loss of sight-the exercise, to the hindrance of intellectual necessity which has shut her up to al cultivation and of progress in learning phabetic language as the only available the meaning of language. This mode of means of communication, must, on the communication has, on the whole, no adother hand, be reckoned an important ad. vantage in point of rapidity. Mr. Day vantage for its acquisition in the mode says, he could generally spell with the now in question. Although her attain. manual alphabet, as rapidly as the most ments reflect deserved credit upon Dr. advanced deaf mutes in the German Howe, under whose direction they have schools could read. It is less certainly been made, yet it is manifest that, by the and readily intelligible, especially in the favor of a rare mental and physical con intercourse of deaf mutes with ench stitution, she is enabled to fly where other. Instead of being fitted to aid in others would creer, and she has had for acquiring language by observation of its a long course of years, the almost exclu- use, a previous knowledge of language sive attention of a competent individual is itself necessary to the successful guessdevoted to her instruction. Her case is ing, by which chiefly speech is underfar from proving that the deaf and dumb, stood by the deaf mute. "The advantage supposing signs of action abandoned, that can be urged with the most semwould acquire alphabetic language as blance of plausibilty, is that of being a rapidly or perfectly as by the methods better means of communication with the now in use; while to force them, in a speaking world; which, of course, cannot community by themselves, to do without be realized to any great extent by the signs, may be safely reckoned an absolute pupil within the walls of an institution; impossibility.

while the imperfection of the attainment The work of learning a language is, in the majority of cases, such as to involves two processes, distinct, though render the advantage altogether imagiconjoined the acquisition of the external nary. Instruction in writing is, of course, forms and of their meaning. For a child combined with this method, and is an acquainted with language as spoken, to auxiliary indispensable, in order to give learn the same in another form, as spelled anything approaching a correct and and written, is usually a work of consid. thorough knowledge of language. Inerable labor; but it would be a hundred- deed, the fact, that both signs and writ. fold greater, were not the sound of the ing are everywhere, and of necessity, words a guide to the spelling, and the employed, where deaf mutes are instructed spelling to the sound. A person who in oral language, demonstrates the exshould attempt to learn a foreign language ceeding imperfection of the latter, as a in a strange character—as Hebrew or Ar. medium of communication for them. It abic-by the eye and the pen alone, is to be remarked that the irregular or. giving no sound to the letters or words, thography of the English presents would be in a condition to estimate the peculiar difficulties in the

way of acquir. difficulty presented to the deaf mute in ing language by this means; such as do

not exist in the German, Italian and of things, by representing them to the some other tongues.

imagination; and with two advantages : What is the fitness of signs of action, one, that by the multiplication of examfor the purpose of instruction in a lan- ples and illustrations, the experience guage of words? From the simplicity which, in the use of language in real life, of their form, and their lightness and would be scattered over a long period, rapidity of execution, they are easily can be concentrated upon a point; the employed and readily perceived, and other, that this method admits of a reguremembered without labor; while they lar and systematic procedure, in which are, for the most part, so naturally one acquisition shall prepare

the way

for representative, that their meaning is another. By proceeding thus, and enperceived without explanation at all, gaging the pupil constantly in the alteror, once understood, is never forgotten. nate processes of translating words into So far as precision in their use is signs and signs into words, language may given by instruction, it is done with be rapidly and thoroughly inwrought into no loss of time, but in the very act of his mind, in its twofold use, for comteaching words. By this medium, the munication actively, and reception pasmeaning and force of words and the laws sively. Again, signs are a means of of their

combination, can be explained at rapidly enlarging the circle of the pupil's once; and in many cases, if skillfully ideas, and the bounds of his knowledge; done, the knowlege thus imparted will and as there is a sense in which ideas be nearly complete and accurate from must go before their expression or apthe outset; whereas, by the mere process prehension in language, the advantage of observing the occasions of words and here is immense. They also awaken expressions, their meaning would gene- and give a spring to all the mental facrally not unfold itself, till after many re- ulties; they give that kind of interest to petitions; would be established correctly the exercises of the school-room, which only through the repeated relinquish- the mind of childhood especially needs, ment of mistaken assumptions ; some making what would otherwise be an intimes after long groping in the dark, tolerable drudgery, a pleasant occupation; would still elude the grasp; and often by this means, the powers are more enwould be only partially seized, and be ergetically and actively employed upon but a dim and uncertain thing in the both the mechanical, and the more propmind. Signs often shed immediate light erly intellectual, labor of the acquisition upon what would otherwise either re of language. Cut off, as the deaf mute main absolute darkness and chaos, or be necessarily is, from the living voice, with long waiting the gradual dawning of day. the music and the eloquence of its tones,

Signs are, however, merely a staff to it would seem cruel to deprive him of assist along those steps, which the deaf that agreeable and expressive substitute and the hearing must alike take in the which nature puts in his power, and to acquisition of language; to leap or to fly chain him down to a language literally being as impossible in the case, as to pass dead to him. from one point of space to another with It is true there is a tendency on the out traversing the interval, or to support part of the pupil to be misled by the pethe upper part of a structure without the culiar idiom of the sign-language-a lower. To have a correct translation of point demanding skill and care in the a passage in a foreign tongue even, is by teacher. Signs mislead by intervening no means to have a knowledge of so between words and their meaning, and much of the language as the passage often imperfectly representing the latter. embodies; while the genius of the sign. There is, again, a iendency for signs to language differs so essentially from that be indulged, when words might be emof a language of words, that the acqui- ployed more to the advantage of the pusition of the latter, by the help of the pil. They are such a convenient staff, former, is altogether a different task from that the support must be judiciously and that of learning a foreign language by timely withdrawn, or the learner will means of a mother tongue, constructed never be able to go alone. The use of upon the same general laws. The pro- signs, on the other hand, in their imcess must indeed be essentially the same, proved condition, accustoms the pupil to as in the acquisition by the hearing the free and familiar use of a real lanchild of his mother tongue itself. Signs, guage, embracing terms general and used as they should be by the instructor, figurative; and thus, as far as it goes, supply the place of the actual presence forms an excellent preparation for the

« ElőzőTovább »