Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

. (page 64 of 153)
Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 64 of 153)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

antediluvians, also Du Pin (as cited P. V. § 240), B. i Sect 1.

§ 7. Subsequently to the deluge, the free communication aad propagation of
knowledge was hindered by the confusion of tongues, and the consequent dis-
persion of the inhabitants of the earth into many countries. Thereby the pro-
gress of human acquirements was retarded in a very sensible manner during
the first ten centuries. For a long time men were destitute of some particulars
of knowledge almost essential to life; as, for instance, the use of fire.

However incredible it may at first seem, that any part of mankind should have been
ignorant of the use of fire, it is attested by the most ancient and unanimous traditions
Modern discoveries have confirmed the same. "The inhabitants of the Marian Islands,
[Marianas or Ladrones,] which were discovered in 1521, had no idea of fire. Never
was astonishment greater than theirs, when they saw it, on the descent of Magellan
on one of their islands. At first they believed it to be a kind of animal that fixed
itself to, and fed upon wood. Some of them, who approached too near, being burnt,
the rest were terrified, and durst only look upon it at a distance." (Goguet.)

See references in De Goguet's Origin of Laws, Arts, &c. P. I. B. ii. as cited § 32. 1.— Respecting the effect of the dispersion on
civilization, cf. 5 12. 2.

§ 8. The food of man in the first ages was extremely simple, and consisted
[n a great measure of the spontaneous productions of the earth. The use of
animals for nourishment was very limited, from want of means to domesti
cate or capture them. The art of preparing food of either kind was likewise
very iiTiperfect. But the necessity of taking nourishment w^as, doubtless, the
most imperious of wants ; and hence it is not only probable, but certain from
the testimony of sacred and profane authors, that tilling the ground and lending
herds and flocks were the first and most general occupations of men, and that
the knowledge relating to these objects was the first acquired and the most ex-
tensive. A proof of the antiquity of agriculture is found in the fact, that almost
all the ancient nations ascribe its invention and introduction in their country to
some divinity, or some deified founder of their slate, or early sovereign of their

§ 9. According to the difference of country, clim.ate, manner of living, and
habits, there was a difference likewise in these simple attainments, and in the
steps of their progress. With some nations agriculture was the most common
occupation, with others the raising of cattle, and with others hunting and fish-
ing; and by natural consequence, among each people, the experience relating
to their own occupations, and the observations and acquirements resulting from
it, were the most generally diffused and the most perfect. Compared with
the other modes of subsistence, agriculture has an important advantage in pro-
moting various arts, because it compels men to renounce a wandering life, and
settle in fixed, permanent abodes; thus it increases the demand for conve-
niences, and furnishes an occasion for inventions, which may help to facilitate
and carry to perfection the culture of the soil.

§ 10. Among the inventions which resulted from this, we may notice especi-
ally architecture and the working of metals. The first arose from the necessity
of procuring a shelter from the inclemency of the seasons and the attacks of
wild beasts. Rude in its origin, it hardly deserved the name of an art ; but
under the influences of social life, it made a progress considerably rapid. The
metals were probably discovered to man by some accident. For the art of
working them we may be indebted to operations perceived in nature, volcanic
eruptions, e. g., or casual fires.

I. The art of working metals is alluded to by Moses (Gen. iv. 2-2) as exislmgr


oefore the deluge, but was lost probably in the dispersion of Noah's descendants
except among those who remained near the spot where man was first located. (Comp.
§ 12.) — The same authority shows the use of meials criiabhshed a few ages after the
flood. Gen. xxii. 6, xxxi. 19, xxxiii. 12, Lev. xxvi. 19, Deut. xxix. 16, 17. Comp.
Job xxviii. 1, 2, 17.

2. Goguel remarks that the use of iron probably was not so early as that of other
metals, and that tools of stone preceded those made of iron. "Anciently they em-
ployed copper for all the purposes for which we now make use of iron. Arms, tools
for husbandry and the mechanic arts were all of copper for many ages. The writings
of Homer leave no room to doubt of this. We see that at the time of the Trojan war,
i.'-on was very little used. Copper supplied us place. It was the same for ages
amongst the Romans." — " A kind of stones, commonly called thunder-stones {Cerau-
nia) , are still preserved in a great many cabinets. They have the shape of axes,
plough-shares, hammers, mallets, or wedges ; for the most part, they are of a sub-
stance like that of our gun-flinis, so hard that no file can make the least impression
upon them. It is evident from inspection, that these stones have been wrought by the
hands of men. The holes for inserting the handles prove their destination and the
several uses that were made of them. It is well known, that tools of stone have been
in use in America from time immemorial. They are found in the tombs of the ancient
inhabitants of Peru, and several nations use them at this day. They shape and sharp-
en them upon a kind of grindstone, and by length of time, labor, and patience, form
them into any figure they please. They then fit them very dexterously with a handle,
and use them nearly in the same manner we do our tools of iron. Asia and Europe
are strowed with stones of this sort. They are frequently found. There must then
have been a time, when the people of these countries were ignorant of the use of iron,
as the people of America were before the arrival of the Europeans."

GonLct, Or. of Laws, &c P. I. B. ii. c. 4.-Cf. Diciionn. Class d'Hist. NaturtUe (cited § 194), article Ceraunias.—Mahudd,
Ties piefendes pierres defondre, Mem. ^cad. hiscr. xii. \^.— WcodwaT(Pa History of Fossils. Lond. 1728. 8. coDtaining an account
of stone weapons, with engravings.

§ 11. The arts of imitation had a later origin, because they were not pro-
duced by an equally urgent want, and require more deep meditation and some
abstraction of mind. In their commencement they were, however, merely the
developments of superior mechanical dexterity, rather than what may properly
be called fine arts, and the first attempts were but rude and defective. Among
these we number whatever belongs to sculpture, or the art of imitating figures
in relief; for which purpose it is probable, that soft materials, as earth and
clay, were at first employed. The proper art of drawing presupposes more
abstraction ; probably it was first practiced in tracing the outlines of shadows
cast from different objects and bodies. Music, which, independent of any
natural pleasure in rhythm and melodious sounds, might originate from the
songs of birds, must be regarded as among these early arts of imitation. With
it, if not before it, was invented poetry, which, in its origin and its first ad-
vances, was joined inseparably with something of musical accompaniment.

§ 12. We have already (§ 3) mentioned Language as the principal means
of communication among men. Respecting its origin, we only observe, that
the first man possessed by creation the faculty of speech, although language
itself, most probably, was not an immediate gift of the Deity, but a gradual
invention of man; the natural expressions of feeling, which he had in common
with other animals, being by degrees formed into articulate sounds and signs
of thought. Not necessary to him in the isolated state of nature, it was yet so
essential to the social state as to call into exercise the implanted faculty of
speech, and constantly and rapidly increase the stock of words. But, as the
ideas were few and confined chiefly to objects of sense, the original language
needed neither great compass nor high improvement.

1 . The remarks of the author in this section indicate too much agreement with the
common error of considering a state of barbarism as the natural and original state
of man. Philosophers in tracing the progress of human knowledge have often founded
their speculations on this supposition, that men at first were but a number of ignorant
savages, not joined by any social ties, a mere muium ac lurpe pecus, scarcely elevated
above the beasts of the forests through which they roamed. Dr. Ferguson has the
following judicious observations on this topic. " The progress of mankind from a
supposed state of animal sensibility, to the attainment of reason, to the use of language,
and to the habit of society, has been painted with a force of imagination, and its steps
poin sd cut with a boldness of invention, that would tempt us to admit among the


materials of history the suggestions of fancy, and to receive perhaps as the model of
our nature m its original state some of the animals whose shape has the greatest resem-
blance to ours. It would be ridiculous to affirm, as a discovery, that the species of
the horse was probably never the same with that of the lion ; yet in opposition to what
has dropped from the pens of eminent writers, we are obliged to observe that men
have always appeared among animals a distinct and superior race; that neither the
possession of similar organs, nor the approximation of shape, nor the use of the hand,
nor the continued intercourse with this sovereign artist, has enabled any other species
to blend their nature or their inventions with his ; that in his rudest state, he is found
to be above them, and in his greatest degeneracy, he never descends to their level.
He is, in short, a man in every conduion ; with him society appears to be as old as the
individual, and the use of the tongue as universal as that of the hand or the foot. If
there was a time in which he had his acquaintance with his own species to make, and
his faculties to acquire, it is a time of which we have no record, and in relation to
which our opinions can serve no purpose and are supported by no evidence."

See A. Fersxisotx^s Ess. on History of Civ. Society, Bost. 1809. 8. Tlie allusion of the author, in the passage quoted, is to such
theorists as Rousseau and Monboddo.— See Rousseau, sur I'origine de I'inegalite parmi les hommes, in his CEumei, Par. 1S23, 25
»ols. 18. vol. \st.—Mcniboddo (J. Burnet), Origin and Progress of Language, Edinb. 1774. 6 vols. 8.— Also, Bozy de St. Vincent,
L'Homme, Essai Zoologique sur le genre humain, Par. 1827. 2 vols. 16. This author attempts to prove that there are several
species of human kind, and that Adam was the father of but one species.— For more correct views, see S. S Smith, Essay on the
cause of variety in the complexion and figure of the Human Species, N. Brunsw. 1810. 8.—/. C. Prichard, Researches into the
Physical History of Mankind. Lond. 1826. 2 vols. 8.— S. G. Morton, Crania Americana, with an Es.say on the varieties of the
Human Species ; illustrated by 78 plates.

2. The whole history of the world is opposed to the hypothesis of a gradual advance-
ment of the human race from a condition of barbarism. In the first place, all the
nations which are known to have risen from barbarism to cultivation have been thus
raised by coming into contact and intercourse with other nations more civihzed and
cultivated than themselves, and not by the natural progress of their own independent
steps towards perfection. In the ne.\t place, a nation or society once merged in barba-
rism is found in fact to sink into deeper and deeper degradation when separated from
the influence of more enlightened nations, instead of rising gradually from its depression
and gaining the rank and happiness of a civilized people. So great is this tendency to
deterioration, that it is a matter of exceeding difficulty, even with all the aids which the
most cultivated nation can furnish, to introduce and perpetuate among savage tribes
tlie manners, intelligence, and blessings of civilized life. But the truth on this subject
is, that the natural and original state of man, that in which he was first placed by his
benevolent Creator, was a state combining all the blessings of civihzation needed in a
single holy family. Man was at his creation put at once into the social and family con-
dition, and if before the deluge there was any such state of things as existed after it in
the savage and barbarous tribes, it was a state into which man plunged himself, by not
choosing to retain God in his knowledge. It was in this way that man was thrown
into the savage state after the deluge. The family of Noah was a civilized family, in
which were preserved, no doubt, all the useful knowledge and arts of the antediluvian
world, as well as the true religion. There is no evidence, that there was any state of
barbarism among their descendants until after the dispersion. So far as history and
tradition cast any light on this sul)ject, they point to that portion of the earth, where
the subsiding flood left the family of Noah, as the region of earliest civilization and
refinement. Every search after the primary sources of intellectual culture conducts
the inquirer towards this quarter, as the original centre of Hght. The families and
tribes, which remained nearest this centre, retained most of the arts, sciences, and
religion of their ancestors. Those which removed the farthest retained the least, and
gradually lost nearly all resemblance to their primitive character, and finally, in tht
course of their various and distant migrations, sunk to the manners and spirit of savages,

"It is customary to besin history with hypothesis; to seek the history of religion, or of
Bociety, for instance, in the savage state; in that state which historical criticism cannot reach ;
amon? the shadows which lie l)evonil all history. I shill do otherwise." * * *

" Whence comes modern history? It is clear that there was something before it, and I need
not insist upon demonstratinj that its real and well known roots lie in the Grecian and Roman
world ; to this parentage all kinds of evidence lead us. And this world of classical antiquity,
does it not suppose a previous world"? It is perfectly well known that if the roots of the
modern world lie in classical antiquity, those of classical antiquity mav be found on the coasts
of Esypt, the plains of Persia, and the high lands of Central Asia. It is evident, in a word,
that the East preceded Greece. JIU evidence brings us tn this; but does it carrv us farther?"
r Cousin's Introduct. to Hist, of Philosophy, Led. 2d. Translated by H. O. Linberir. Boston.
1832. 6. .7 «. .

See Zimmerman, Geograph. Geschichte des Menschen — .M£i?icrj, Gesch. der Men^chheit, and 5at7?!/, sur I'origine des Sciences
cited § 32 —Tyller's His'ory, P H. S. M.-Prxchard, as above cited, Vol. I p. 86. Bill. Ilepoa. ind Qjiart. Ohs. No. xvii. p. 261.—
Fabtr's Difficulties of luS^lelity, Sect. 111.— PT C. Tay'or. Ni'ural History of Society. Rppub. N. Y. IS41. 2 vols. 12.— i". Litids
kij, on the primitive stale of Mankind ; in EM. Repos. Vol. IV. S^c. Series, p. 277.

3. As to the origin of language, the question has been fully discussed by theolo


gians, grammarians, and philosophers. Many have maintained that it was of human
mvention. But the advocates of this opinion have advanced the most diverse and con-
tradictory conjectures as to the mode and process.

Lord Monboddo, for instance, supposes the original form of language to have been
the inarticulate cries, " by which animals call upon one another, and exhort or com-
mand one another to do certain things," and adduces, apparently to illustrate what he
means, such exclamations as Hi ha. Ho ho, Halmiel, used, he says, among the Hurona
of North America, and quite analogous to our own halloo, huzza, hurra, " which are
no other but cries, calling, or exhorting, a little articulated !" — Dr. Murray, who died
in the year 1813, then Trofessor of Oriental Languages in the University of Edinburgh,
imagined all languages to be derived from nine barbarously rough monosyllables.
"Taste and philosophy," says he, "will receive with aversion the rude syllables,
which are the base of that medium through which Homer, and Milton, and Newton,
have dehghted or illumined mankind. I'he words themselves, though inelegant, are
not numerous: each of them is a verb and name for a species of action. Power,
motion, force, ideas united in every untutored mind, are implied in them all. The
variation of force in degree was not designated by a different word, but by a slight
change in the pronunciation. Harsh and violent action, which affected the senses, was
expressed by harsher articulations.

1. To strike or move with swii>, equable, penetrating or sharp effect was Ag ! Ag !
If the motion was less sudden, but of the same species. Wag. If made with force
and a great effort, Hwag. These are varieties of one word, originally used to mark
the motion of fire, water, wind, darts. — 2. To strike with a quick, vigorous, impelhng
force, Bag or Bwag, of which Fag and Pag are softer varieties. — 3. To strike with
a harsh, violent, strong blow, Dwag, of which Thwag and Twag are varieties. — 4.
To move or strike with a quick, tottering, unequal impulse, Gwag or Cwag. — 5. To
strike with a pliant slap. Lag and Hlag. — 6. To press by strong force or impulse so
as to condense, bruise or compel, Mag. — 7. to strike with a crushing, destroying
power, Nag, Hx\ag. — 8. To strike with a strong, rude, sharp, penetrating power,
Rag or Hrag. — 9. To move with a weighty, strong impulse, Swag.

These wine words are the foundations of language, on which an edifice has been
erected of a more useful and wonderful kind, than any which have exercised human
mgenuity. They were uttered at first, and probably for several generations, in an insu-
lafed manner. The circumstances of the actions were communicated by gestures, and
the variable tunes of the voice ; but the actions themselves were expressed by their
suitable monosyllable."

Such theories seem scarcely less absurd than that of the Itahan, who considered the
Greek as the original language, and traced its rise to a few vowel sounds gradually
generated in the family of Adam. " When Adam opened his eyes on the beauties of
creation, he very naturally exclaimed, O !, which gave birth to Omega. When Eve
was taken out of his ribs, he uttered oo ! or u !, Upsilon. The first child as soon as
born cried out e ! e!, and this formed Ep.-ilon or Eta. The next, probably, -had a
little shriller note i! il, and furnished the parents with a fourth vowel, Iota." — Rous-
seau represents man as originally without language and without society, and having
started the inquiry how language was invented, soon " stuck in the difficulty, whether
language was more necessary for the institution of society, or society for the invention
of language." But Maupertuis leaps the obstacle bravely, and "conjectures that
language was formed by a session of learned societies assembled for the purpose !"

Other writers speak more rationally, although agreeing with our author, that the
faculty of speech, and not any language itself, was the immediate gift of God to man.
"The theory which derives the most^ support from history," says Dr. Knapp, "is
that the roofs, the primitive words, were originally made in imitation of the sounds we
hear from the different olyects in the natural world, and that these original sounds
become less and less discernible in language in proportion as they are improved and
enlarged." But it is surprising that any person, pretending to receive the Mosaic account
of the creation of man, should attempt to explain the origin of language in any such
way. In that account Adam is represented as using language immediately on his
creation, not only giving names to objects, but assigning reasons for the naines, and
reasons too, which have not the least connection with the sounds of the words, or any
sounds in nature. (Gen. ii. 19 — 23, iii. 20.)

Men have been led into their speculations on this subject, because, on a superficial
view, it seems difficult to suppose God to create a man, or any thing else, in a mature
state. A little reflection might convince us, that it is just as difficult to suppose him to
create a man in an immature state. The real difficulty lies in the very nature of crea-
tion. All the evidence we have as to the actual state, in which God did in fact create
man, is the testimony of Moses, and that is no evidence at all, beyond that of obscure
ancient tradition, unless ii is sanctioned by divine inspiration. Those who believe it to
l>e thus sanctioned, it would seem, ought to abide by its facts. And is it not the sim-
ple, undisguised representation of Moses, that Adam had from the first a real and ade-
quate language, consisting of articulate sounds ? As to the extent of his vocabulary.


nothing is directly,tcld us ; but is it not as obvious that he had hterally a language, as
that he had literally a hand, a tongue, or an eye ?

Whatever mode of expression, therefore, any may choose to adopt in reference to
this matter, whether to say that language was of divine origin, or that Adam was cre-
ated with a language, or that language was an immediate gift of God to him, or that
God created him with a faculty un(nediaiely to form articulate sounds signiticant of
thought, it is certain that a spokei? language existed immediately after the creauun of
Adam. — If any languages besides this original were in use before the flood, they were
doubtless derived from it. From the flood until the confusion ot longues, Mo=es expli-
citly testifies, there was but one language in the world. As, then, Adam was the
father of the many millions that have peopled the earth, so his language was the parent
of the thousands of dialects, by which they have carried on the mutual interchange of
thought and feeling.

See Knapp, Lectures (cited § 1), B. I. P. ii. Art. 6, § 55.— Herder, Qber deD Urspran; der Sprache. Berl. Ili9.—Monboddo,
Or. and Pro;, of t«ing. above cited.— Maupertuis, Reflections on the Origin of Lan^ajes, in his llwkt, 1756. 4 vols. 8 —.id. Smith,
CoDsidera'ions on the first formation of Lang (in Tueo. of Mar. Sent. Bost. 1S17. S.)—Shuckford, Sac. and Prof. Hist. Connected

II B.— !Varturlon, Divine Legation of Moses, B. IV, Sect. 4. Lond. 1741.— Good, Book of N.iture. Lect. IX Blair, Lect. o|

Rhetoric, Lect. VI.— .^S. Murray, Hist, of the European Languages. Edinb. 1S23. 2 vols. S.-Condiiiac, Ess. sur I'orig. des Connois.
Hum. (in 1st vol. of his tVorks. Par. 1821. 23 vols. 8.—An,dt. aber den Ursprung der Europ. Sprachen. Frankf. IS27. 8.—
7". C. Upham, Mental Philosophy. Port. 1837. 2 vols. 8. (vol. 2d, p. 431. J

§ 13. The invention of Writing belongs to a period subsequent to the origin
of language. By this invention the sounds, which had hitherto been only andi-
Dle, were rendered, as it were, visible, and acquired a much more extensive and
more permanent utility as signs of thought. It was an invention in the highest
degree important to the communication of human knowledge, and still remains
essentially necessary for its advancement. As it stands in so close and uni-
versal connection with literature and science, we ought not merely to mention
it, but to consider its origin, and the successive steps of its progress.

§ 14. Previously to the art of writing, there were other methods of repre-
senting thoughts to the eye, and thus imparting them to a greater number of in-
dividuals, and even to posterity. They were, however, very inadequate methods,
and were chiefly employed to preserve the memory of some remarkable event
or person. Of this kind are monumental structures, pillars, or even rude masses
of stone. Established festivals, and historical ballads, transmitted orally, might
g;ive to such monuments a significancy, otherwise not belonging to them. On
the return of a festival, the occasion in which it originated ancl its history would
be sung or rehearsed. Traces of such methods may still be found among
savage or but partially civilized tribes.

§ 15. Superior to any such mode was the imitation or picturing; of objects.,
which is considered as the first step towards a written language. This presup-

Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 64 of 153)