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But what do so many German grammars, published within a few years-Follen's, Fosdick's, Hemphel's, Noehden's, and we know not how many others-portend? To some alarmists they portend every thing that is evil; all that is erroneous in religion, unintelligible in philosophy, and fantastical in works of polite literature. Such persons would have us avoid all contact with a nation of minds so perverted, and it raises their pulse to see the ugly letters to which, with national fondness, the Germans still adhere, as if these letters expressed the sounds of a dangerous cabalistic philosophy.
parently by himself in our tongue. His mind does not seem to be the clearest in the world, nor is his arrangement in all respects good. We are disposed to object, for the purposes of teaching, to his placing the verb before the noun and pronoun, a method, which, when applied to Greek, as it is by Kühner, brings the most formidable and appalling forms of grammar before the student at the outset, and tends fairly to frighten him from the study of the language. This arrangement is not followed by Prof. Sears, in the grammar before us. But there are many observations in the first or etymological part, which would be more in their place if in the syntax, while the chapter on the composition of words, which is inserted in the syntax, seems to be out of its place, and ought to be put at the beginning of the etymology, (as Becker has done in his English-German grammar,) or with still more propriety, at the end.
The principal fault we have to find with this grammar, is, that Dr. Sears was not called soon enough into the councils of the booksellers who projected it. If by earlier advice he could have made it all of a piece, and carried his improvements through with a more sweeping hand, the work would have gained as much more perhaps by his means, as it has now gained over the original work of Noehden. We would suggest, that when this edition is exhausted, the learned editor, (than whom no one in our country is better, if as well, qualified for the task,) should throw away what remains of Noehden, and put new matter in its place; that he should rearrange the work, and make more clear to the beginner some of Becker's new terms, and should call the work, as it ought to be called, by his own name. We doubt not that it would long continue in use as the guide for students of German.
To such persons we would say, that the study is among us for good or evil, and is rather forwarded than hindered, by the notes of alarm that are rung against it. Do they suppose that young men of inquisitive minds will be deterred by such denunciations, against a language and its whole literature; and not rather have their curiosity excited to taste the forbidden poison, and drink it the more eagerly after the first trial? Our impression is, that as long as there is a number of persons in a certain part of our country, who are enamored of a certain sort of German philosophy, and who, without understanding it, are giving out crude bits of it to the world as specimens of wisdom, that the cure for these crudities must come in part from the same study. "Drinking largely must sober us again." It must be seen in the history of the successive systems of philosophy which have tilted with each other in that land of speculation, how little of positive and permanent result has been gained, and how little likely the murky followers of Hegel are to be remem bered beyond their generation, and to give the watchword to the next age. So in theology, the age of scepticism in that country is in a measure passed; rationalism has
become old, and most of its earlier views would now be pronounced exceedingly shallow. The study even of this revolution is most instructive, and most cheering for the friends of the Scriptures. It shows, that whatever difficulties have been found and discussed in the deep researches made by the Germans into the Scriptures, still there remains a groundwork of truth which cannot be washed away, and to which, one after another of these floating disbelievers returns upon his little plank, and seeks there that resting place which he could find no where else.
But lest it should be thought that we view the study of German as a necessary evil, into which we are brought in order to counteract the bad uses that are made of it, we will add before closing, one or two positive grounds, why this language and literature should receive attention. And in the first place, there is much that is healthy in German literature. It expresses the honest, simple, earnest character, the deep feeling, and the imaginative turn of the national mind. There is no literature of Europe so akin to our own, and none upon which ours has had so much influence. Every educated boy and girl now must study French. But what is there in French, with the exception of a few works that one may count upon his finger's ends, calculated to rouse the mind to vigorous thought, or to kindle a healthy enthusiasm. In poetry, their drama is but finely wrought declamation; and their songs the breathings of gross voluptuousness. And neither in prose nor in poetry, if we may judge, have they produced any truly great work, any thing-with the exception of Pascal's works-which the world would be much the worse off for losing. The affinity of their language with the Latin, has tended to fetter their literature and make it imitative; their despotic institu
tions long cramped the free energies of their minds; their material philosophy united with their faith, or want of it, to degrade the tone of their moral feeling; and perhaps to all this must be added, an original insusceptibility to the higher emotions. But the Germans are the reverse of all this. They incline to the spiritual rather than the material. Their imagination oftener has an undue ascendency, than a feeble sway. In thinking and feeling they are as uncontrolled, as they are peaceful in acting. Having an original language, they are capable also of an original literature. They are seldom found to lose sight of the great distinctions of morality, or to write without earnestness of purpose and without an important end. When therefore it is told us, that their greatest writer, Goethe, wrote with no lofty moral purpose in view, and Proteus-like, rather strove to represent things under every beautiful form of art, than to express lofty sentiments and to do good; we may put by his side Schiller, who had an equal love of beauty, and whose heart beat in unison with freedom and morality, as well as a host of poets of inferior name, the tendency of whose works is at least as good as that of their English contemporaries.
Another reason for the study of German is, that it affords helps in every branch of study, which one cannot do without. This is particularly the case with all historical and critical investigations. There is hardly a period of history, which has not been explored with fidelity and impartiality, by some able German writer; hardly a branch of art or literature, for whose history we are not indebted to the same indefatigable nation. In the history of literature, from the meagre outline to the critical examination according to the rules of taste, they have done more than all nations put to
gether. It would be safe to say,
that more and better criticism on Shakspeare has been given to the world by Germans, within forty years, than the English have produced during all the time since Shakspeare lived. In these studies, they show on the whole, more patience and less partiality in weigh ing facts than any others; and when the principles of art are concerned, show a depth of feeling and a power of judgment, which throw French and even English criticism, com. pletely into the shade.
We will only add, that the study of German enables us to understand our own language better, and to employ a better taste in the selection of words. Here we find those short and strong words which are the crown of our own tongue, but
MURDOCK'S MODERN PHILOSOPHY.*
THE character of this work is expressed in the title. It is an historical sketch of the various modes of philosophizing, or of the fundamen tal principles of the different systems of intellectual philosophy, from the days of Des Cartes to the present time, especially among the Germans. In traversing so wide a field, the author was obliged to confine his observations to a brief statement of the general principles of the sev, eral systems, or swell his work far beyond the limits which he had prescribed to himself. The phraseology of the work is so precise, the distinctions so clear and well defined,
which the taste of the age of Johnson had nearly thrown out of the written style. Here we find a dia. lect of the same parentage with our own, which has flowed along through past ages nearly free from Latin admixture, and we learn thus to value more highly than our fathers could, the earliest ingredients of our own language. We think no one can study German long without gaining a simpler taste, and becoming able to make a better choice of words; to keep to those which have sounded in the ear of England since the time of Alfred, and to throw aside those, where they are not necessary, which wandered across the channel into Saxon England, and took up their abode by the title of the sword, on a soil which was not their own.
* Sketches of Modern Philosophy, especially among the Germans. BY JAMES MURDOCK, D. D. Hartford, published by John C. Wells, 1842, pp. 201, 18mo. Price, 50 cents.
the style so lucid, that the reader finds nothing to desire, but a work of equal ability exhibiting a more full development of the systems of phi losophy that were erected on these various foundations. We were for. cibly impressed in reading, with the adaptation of the work to be a textbook in college, introductory to the study of this department of philos ophy. A second edition, enlarged by sketches of the English and Scotch systems of philosophy, would be admirably adapted to this pur pose; as it would furnish the student with exactly the kind and amount of knowledge which he must have if he would read intelligently the works of any particular philoso pher, or listen with advantage to the lectures of his professor.
REVIEW OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS.
A CONVENTION called by ministers and laymen of the principal evangelical denominations was held in New York, in May, 1842, to take into consideration the practicability and duty of evangelizing the present generation of heathen. A committee was appointed, consisting of one from each of the denominations represented in the convention, whose duty it is to collect and publish information which they may consider adapted to warm the zeal of Protestant Christendom, and stimulate their efforts in this great enterprise. The committee is also charged with the duty of calling a similar convention in New York, in May, 1843. Resolutions were passed, condemning a sectarian spirit, and expressing a strong sense of the duty of a cordial union and co-operation among all evangelical Protestants in the cause of Christian missions to the heathen; but the design of interfering with the present denominational arrangements for the prosecution of the work, was expressly disclaimed. We think it suitable to make a distinct record of this meeting, regarding it as a sign of the wide diffusion of a zealous missionary spirit, and perhaps as the origin of a series of successful measures for enkindling, purifying, and spreading that spirit through every branch of the true church.
MEETING OF THE AMERICAN BOARD.
The anniversary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was held in Norwich, Connecticut, on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of September. There were many circumstances which invested the occasion with uncommon interest. The place of meeting awakened, Vol. I.
in the minds of all present, the memory of names embalmed in the hearts of American Christians; the names of Harriet L. Winslow, of Sarah Lanman Smith, and of no less than eighteen others, natives of Norwich, who have given their lives for the salvation of the heathen. These devoted missionaries have associated the very name of their native town with the evangelization of the world; and no mind, of Christian principles, could be in the midst of the scenes of their childhood, in the church where they were inspired with the missionary spirit, in the presence of their kindred who gave them to the work, without feeling awed and melted by a profound and tender sympathy.
The presence of an unusually large number of foreign missionaries, added intensely to the interest of the meeting. There were Bingham, Scudder, and Perkins, whose self-denying labors, from the commencement of their respective missions in the Sandwich Islands, in Ceylon, and among the Nestorians of Persia, have been indefatigable; and to whom, as much as to any others, the Board is indebted, through the Divine favor, for the brightest chapters in the history of its operations. Nor these alone. Not less than fifteen others, connected with the various stations of the Board, or once connected, were present, surrounded each by his respective circle of friends, and regarded by all with peculiar affection. There, too, was Mar Yohannan, the excellent Nestorian bishop, the first and the fast friend of our missionaries to his country, who had accompanied Mr. Perkins to America, for the purpose of qualifying himself for greater usefulness, and in person to thank us for sending the pure Gospel to his people.
The interest of the meeting was farther heightened by the attendance of an unprecedented number of ministers and other friends of missions. At the lowest estimate there were not less than six hundred strangers present, a majority of them clergymen.
But the grand source of interest lay in the financial condition and prospects of the Board. The previous anniversary, in 1841, found a deficiency in the treasury of more than fifty thousand doliars. The friends of the cause were alarmed. An unparalleled state of embarrass ment in the business of the country, was the manifest cause of this deficiency; but the cause was still in full operation, with no immediate prospect of relief. What could be done? This question was answered by a nearly unanimous pledge on the part of those who attended the meeting in 1841, to increase their subscriptions at least twenty five per cent. on those of the year previous, and to use their influence to induce the churches, with which they were connected, to adopt the same course. The reports of the monthly receipts of the Board were thenceforward anticipated with trembling solicitude, until the certainty of liquidating the debt of the Board became apparent. The churches came up nobly to the work; so that at the close of the financial year in August, 1842, it appeared that the expenditures of the year, including the debt of the previous year, were three hundred and eighteen thousand nine hundred and fifty five dollars and ninety three cents; and the receipts three hundred and eighteen thousand three hundred and ninety six dollars and fifty three cents, leaving the Board indebted only to the amount of five hundred and fifty nine dollars and forty cents. It was in these circumstances, so full of joy, and calling for the profoundest gratitude to Divine providence, that the Board met at Norwich. But it was felt
the crisis had not passed. The churches had contributed more than one hundred thousand dollars above the contributions of the year preceding. But it might prove to be a spasmodic effort. It was known, that in some instances at least, donations had been made, which would not be repeated; and that an interest in domestic missions was rising in the churches, which would direct an unprecedented amount of their charities to that channel. In this, all rejoiced; but it was feared that the cause of foreign missions might be left to suffer.
It was, therefore, with contending feelings of hope and fear, that the Board convened at Norwich. The problem to be solved was, can the Board expect to be sustained the ensuing year, by an amount of contributions equal to that of the year just ended. The main objects of the meeting were to ascertain, by a free expression of opinion, the views of the friends of the cause on this point, and if possible, to awaken in the hearts of that great assembly of ministers and Christians, a more ardent and intelligent missionary spirit, which, through them, might extend to all the churches. These objects, it was hoped, were accomplished. The reports from the various parts of the country were, in general, highly encouraging. It appeared that the pastors had labored to prevent the impression from prevailing among their people, that the liberality of the last year was called for by an emergency, and not by the constant wants of the cause. And many of the speakers expressed a determination, for themselves and their friends, to equal, if not to surpass, their last annual contributions. Thus far, however, the monthly receipts of the Board have not equalled the receipts of the corresponding months of the previous year. The next annual meeting of the Board is appointed to be held in Rochester, N. Y.