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faire voir à quelle époque précise, à la suite de quelles événemens telle locution, telle tournure nouvelle s'y est introduite; si l'on pouvoit montrer par quelles marches les expressions modernes ont peu-àpeu remplacé celles de l'antiquité; ces considérations offriroient peut-être la méthode la plus sûre de connoître en detail la grande révolution, qui s'est opérée dans les esprits pendant le moyen âge, et a changé moins encore la face de la Grèce, que celle du monde entier. Les bornes qui me sont prescrites ne me permettent pas de présenter à vos yeux un tableau si vaste. J'essayerai seulement d'indiquer ici, ce que j'aurai occasion de développer dans la suite; et je me bornerai à vous soumettre quelques reflexions sur la naissance, les révolutions et le caractère du Grec moderne, ainsi que sur les avantages que l'on peu retirer de son étude."
“ If,” he continues, " it were in the nature of things that any language should be preserved from change during a succession of ages, by excluding all admixture with the exotic materials by which it is surrounded, the Greek would deserve a preference for such an exemption : it would be entitled to the privilege assigned to certain streams, by the fancy of the poets, which pass through the ocean without being impregnated with its bitter ingredients and impurities.”
“ Au sein furieux d'Amphitrite étonnée,
Que ne corrompt jamais l'amertume des mers." There were circumstances that led to the hope of the long duration of this language in its pristine purity. At the time of the irruption of the barbarians, when the Latin was combined with the Celtic, the Greek was still preserved, and after Constantine had removed the seat of empire to Thrace, it was spoken at the Byzantine Court, throughout the capital, and by the more polished among the people of the provinces; and if it were not employed in its original simplicity, it had at that period undergone no remarkable variation either in the syntax or general construction. It must be admitted, however, even in those early days, that such was not its comparative purity among the inferior classes of society; and perhaps the more å nation is civilized, the more conspicuous is the difference between the language of the upper and lower orders of the same community. The dialect employed by the latter was what the Greek writers, subsequent to the sixth century, have denominated “ xorn', dnpscdns, dann idintien de MexTOG."*
• The expression in the work is Bansxtoç instead of 81&25XTOS, and we have ventured to make the alteration, because, after consulting Ducange and
During the crusades, foreign and barbarous nations, breaking down the barriers of the empire, penetrated even to the capital, and so far corrupted the language that voluminous glossaries have become necessary to interpret a great number of words, Arabic, Turkish, Sclavonic, Latin, Italian, &c. which have been blended with the Greek. Notwithstanding these occurrences, the original purity was in some degree for a long period preserved at the court, and was taught in the collegiate institutions; so that the last spark was not finally extinguished until the Ottoman's descending on Asia and Europe like an impetuous torrent, the blaze of genius finally expired.
The author in the sequel examines into the present state of the modern Greek.
“L'altération que le Grec vulgaire a subie, porte principalement sur la terminaison de quelques noms, et de quelques verbes, qu'il ne sera pas très-aisé de ramener si tôt à leur état primitif. On aura moins de difficulté à remettre en usage les expressions qui se trouvoient dans le Grec ancien, et qui ont été abandonées depuis; il sera également facile de bannir de la langue beaucoup de mots étrangers que le contact avec les Musulmans, et les Francs y a introduits."
In Brerewood's Inquiries touching the Diversity of Lan. guage, &c. (London, 1622), we have pointed out four principal sources of corruption : the mutilation or the abridgment of particular words—the contraction (or compaction as he calls it) of several terms into a single wordThe confusion in the orthoepy as to vowels and diphthongs and the errors of accentuation : he adds that “the difference is become so great between the present and the ancient Greeke, that their liturgie which is yet read in the ancient Greeke tongue, namely that of Basil on the Sabbaths, and solemne daies, and that of Chrysostome on common daies, is not understood (or but little of it,) by the vulgar people.” It should be observed, that the publication from which we have made this extract, is dated about 130 years before the time when the restoration of the modern Greek was attempted.
There is a great deal of interesting information on the modern Greek in the Journey through Albania, by Mr. Hobhouse,* and with numerous specimens in the appendix from Cantemir, Miletius, Miniati, and others; and his account has this advantage, that the information is brought down to the present time, his excursion being in the years 1809 and 1810.. Of the Romaic pronunciation he observes, that " no other rule is required than a strict observance of the accents, the presence or absence of which determines what we call the quantity of the syllable in modern Greek.” To prevent confusion, it should be noticed, that the three accents employed have the same power, and are not, of course, therefore to be distinguished from each other in the recital either of verse or prose. The use of the aspirate, and of the long vowels, is obsolete. i
other Glossaries of the modern Greek, we can find no such term as the former. The mistake we are rather inclined to attribute to the printer, and especially as the familiar abridgment of dia, if carelessly made in the man suscript, very much resembles the beta bere used.
Mr. Hase concludes with shewing the utility of the acqui. sition of the modern Greek. It is necessary, he says, to all those who visit the early seats of art and science, and to whom the most perfect knowledge of the ancient language would be of little comparative assistance: it is convenient, as the acquaintance with the modern would greatly facilitate the knowledge of the original : through this channel abun dant information on the state of the middle ages, the Crusades, the affairs of the people in the South of Europe, the origin of the Turks and Russians, and of the nations on the banks of the Danube and the shores of the Euxine, is to be obtained.
The author further explains the benefit that may be derived from the perusal of the Greek Fathers, who, in his opinion, have rivalled in eloquence the most distinguished philosopher and orator of ancient times. He mentions the importance of the works in this language on botany, medicine, chemistry,t music, natural history, and mathematics, and distinguishes some of the most eminent writers in these departments, whose works are little known from the ignorance of the language. The Hellenist, he observes, will by this study be enabled to pursue his inquiries into the etymology and syntax of the ancient language; and one principal purpose with modern scholars will be readily accomplished by it,--the detection of the errors which the
€ • Vide Crit. Rev. Vol. IV. of the Fourth Series, p. 649-653.
+ The body of the Greek Chemists, composed by the monks and other learned persons of Alexandria, and continued at Constantinople after the taking of the city, is in the great libraries of the Vatican, the Escorial, Milan, Venice, and Paris. The copy of the latter, Mr. Hobhouse says, was compiled by Theodore Pelican, a monk of Corfu, in 1478; and he considers it to be as early a specimen of the Romaic as the translation from Boccacio or the Belisarius.
derivative has occasioned in the records from the original, and the more correct restoration of the text. He concludes with pointing out the utility that will be acquired from the same source in the collation of manuscripts; a laborious! department, which so largely contributed in the last century to the advancement of literature. . , '
There are some views of the utility of this branch of study which have escaped the observation of the author'; and it has been doubted if it would be beneficial at all to transmute the modern into the ancient Greek, and if it be not advisable to cultivate in preference the improvement of the modern in its present form. The Italian differs more from its original than the Romaić, and yet it is thought that the variation is “ amply compensated by the new beauties which it acquired in its subsequent refinement.", Dr.' Johnson considered the existing language to be competent to the purposes of life; and that few ideas need be lost to the modern Greek for the want of proper expressions to convey them. It is admitted, that those will despise the tongue as now spoken, who measure it with the ancient; but perhaps the fair way of considering the value of the Romaic is not by comparing it with the Greek, but by ascertaining its use, in the form in which it now appears, for the common purpose for which all language is given. The purity of the Romaic is of less consequence than its utiliry and efficacy. It is justly remarked, that the great fault of the present language is not in the structure or idiom, but in the orthoepy, which involving in one common sound (and that the weak sound of the English e) not only three of its vowels, but three of its diphthongs, to an unpractised ear the comprehension of the spoken language is extremely difficult.
In whatever way the improvement of the Romaic may be best conducted, we cannot avoid observing, that to Mr. Hase and the Court of Louis the project seems less to be. long than to this country, since to us has been assigned the protection of the modern Corcyra and its Ionian sisterhood. It has been proposed, that from Corfu should be issued a newspaper in the Ronjaic language, which may be circu. lated throughout Greece, and the other Turkish dependencies, where three millions of these people reside; and cera tainly such an expedient would contribute much more to the diffusion and umelioration of the tongue, and of the community, than the learned treatises which, with a splen
che principalis own ignorant, would expe is a pabave been
dour of embellishment unsuited to the readers, have been prepared at the foreign presses. There is a papa, or instructor, in every village, who would expound this periodi. cal document to the ignorant, and be glad by such means to increase his own influence. It is properly insisted, that the principal deficiency is not of magnificent editions of the classical writers, but those minor works which would be intelligible to every one, and which are the springs of knowledge, however much they may be despised, to ninety-nine out of a hundred of those who largely partake of its benefits.
The late Empress of Russia particularly interested herself in the improvement of the modern Greek, and under her auspices appearcd from the press at St. Petersburg a version into that language of Instructions to a Committee for a New Code of Laws. It was at one time the particu. lar object of her policy to reduce the Greeks under the dominion of the Russian power. and the circumstances which obstructed the fulfilment of her purpose are briefly noticed in a preceding Review.* Prince Potemkin was the person whom she is said to have employed in the work of improving the Greek, and on a plan which he himself had found time to digest, notwithstanding the bustle of his miJitary life, and the projects of his inordinate ambition.
It is impossible to take our leave of this subject without a painful comparison between the ancient and modern state of Greece, even under the fond endeavour to keep alive the hope of the restoration of her former magnificence and glory. The degradation we see is certain, the improvement we wish is doubtful; and if, after the lapse of two thousand years, she should gradually return to her former rank, she will not reach this elevation until we, and many successive generations, are removed from the possibility of witnessing this glorious issue.
“ Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
Where are thy mén of might? thy grand in soul?
• « Catharine II. formed the plan of sending a squadron into the Medi. terranean, to occasion a general insurrection of the Greek dependencies ; but she was deceived by her own corrupt agents, and the scheme was abor. tive, as they plundered those they were sent w protect." (Crit. Review, Vol. IV. Series Fifth, p. 218.)