Page images

order to attest, as far as lay in my power, my homage to the illustrious Indian scholar who honours the Italian name, and my gratitude to one among the few eminent men whose word and example have been to me and to several others a powerful stimulus to the work, and have given us, in days both of joy and of sadness, undoubted and uncommon proofs of affection. And as I have consulted without stint of time or trouble as many works as I have found is useful for my object, so I confidently believe that neither many nor great lacuna will be noticed in this book. And it is therefore much less in view of these than of the compendious nature of the exposition, by which I have been compelled to confine much matter in a small compass, that it has appeared to me expedient to prefer to any other title the very modest one of Remarks. And I have called them Historical and Critical, because it has been my intention to make known not only the methods followed and the results obtained by the most recent investigators, and the relations existing between these and the preceding researches on the stock of the Aryan languages, but also the opinions which have been advanced on the worth of the new researches by learned critics and not unfrequently also my own view. And to this end I have been desirous that my constant rule, together with full independence of thought and perfect impartiality, should be a profound respect for the persons whom I have had to notice and for their opinions, and a lively dislike




of those hasty judgements, by which, from puerile impatience or ridiculous vanity, the attempt has been and is often made to put an end to the discussion of problems whose hour of solution has not yet come. Among the various forms which might have been given to the exposition I have naturally, as far as possible, always adhered to that which seemed to correspond best to the degree of philological knowledge peculiar to the students for whom I was writing: who, while they do not rank among the masters of the science of language, yet are not among the number of those who are ignorant of its elements.

If the work does not fall far short of the intentions with which it was compiled, I may be allowed to hope that it will not be without use to the progress of linguistic studies, especially in Italy. And in the first place I trust that it may be of advantage by diffusing the knowledge of new truths and new hypotheses, not only differing from, but essentially contrary to, those which have been masters of the field up to our days, and by inviting and so to speak forcing the followers of this study to fresh discussions. Nor will this seem a slight advantage to any one who considers attentively the state of

1 The convenience of readers some writing is mentioned in this has been consulted also by nu- book, or even some opinion only. merous bibliographical notes and The first of the two indexes, and by two indexes, one of which the slight bulk of the present points out the subject of each of volume seem to us to render super. the paragraphs, the second the fuous an alphabetical index of names of the authors of whom subjects.

philological studies in Italy. They have certainly nothing to fear from that discreditable band of pedants which here as elsewhere does its best to oppose every innovation in the intellectual order: many times before now has that vanity, which would induce a belief of its own importance, been passed over by the triumphal car of science. It may be added that the directors of public instruction have not unfrequently exhibited open favour in various ways to the teaching of philology. But there is a danger which seems to me to menace not a few among those who take delight in these studies : the blind inactive unproductive faith in certain results of philological investigations, which, although by no means decisive, have nevertheless been generally elevated to the dignity of dogmas all doubt as to which appears to many now to be rash. For the avoidance of this danger every one sees how valuable is the accurate and impartial examination of the objections which have been raised against these theories and of the doctrines which others have attempted to substitute for them. In the second place there is no one who would venture to deny that a necessary preparation for fresh researches is an accurate study of the modern condition of the science. Lastly, it will appear from our Remarks Historical and Critical how rare has been, even in the last few years, the co-operation of Italians in the scientific researches of which the present book gives the history. Neo- xi Latin philology boasts it is true among us not a few students and we could easily mention several names

of young men already known for useful labours after those of G. I. Ascoli, the worthy founder and director of the Archivio glottologico italiano, the illustrious author of the Saggi ladini, and of G. Flechia, who for many years has been investigating with such enthusiasm, persistency, learning, strictness of method and delicacy of analysis, the history of the Italian word in the wonderful variety of the dialects, and whom I pride myself on having had as master. Towards the promotion of the really scientific study of the classical languages and the necessary and urgent rational reform in the teaching of them in the secondary schools we have already seen the activity of several Italians directed, while others have devoted themselves to Indian philology, which is so closely connected with the new science of the Indo-European languages, and which we could : wish was not lacking in a professorial chair in some of the most deservedly esteemed of our universities. But in that kind of linguistic studies to which this book is devoted, and which I would call studies of general Aryan philology, the Italians have only a single work which deserves to be placed beside the best among the many works in which learned and indefatigable Germany has recently been so prolific, the Corsi di glottologia of Ascoli, of which we possess as yet only the first number. And of this poverty of ours the causes are various : because sometimes goodwill fails from defect of learning, of scientific education, of subsidies necessary to the investigation; sometimes, on the other hand, genius and knowledge abound to no purpose, because the intellectual labour is not attended by a well-defined object and perseverance in investigation. Over such facts patriotism requires us not to spread a veil with xii a foolishly tender hand, but to shed light, to the end that they may be clearly apparent to all those who, can in any way contribute to remedy them and whose co-operation is still wanting. To them may this book be a fresh invitation.

II may be allowed here to mention my Grammatica storico. comparativa della lingua latina,


towards the end of

If further to the preceding considerations may be added that of the long and difficult labour which this book costs, there will then be a new and powerful ground of hope that it will be received by scholars with indulgent kindness.

Having been courteously requested to give my consent to an English translation of this book, I have accorded it with delight and with gratefulness to the Cambridge student who has sought to confer this honour upon my work. For I regard as a distinguished honour its translation into a language so widely spread in the two worlds and its introduction into the scientific literature of a people to whom philology owes so much, especially from the study of the ancient language of India. And I shall welcome with the respect which they deserve the opinions which serious English criticism will, I trust, be pleased to pass on this work.

D. PEZZI. Turin, January 30, 1877.

« EelmineJätka »