Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

tained a connexion between the horary variations of the barometer and the conjunctions and oppositions of the Moon, and La Place has calculated the influence, which the Sun and Moon may exercise on our atmosphere.

Mr de Wallenstein holds a high station in the Russian embassy to this country, and we will not conceal, that it is gratifying to our national feelings, that a gentleman of his character and qualifications, not more distinguished by his great and varied attainments, than by the urbanity of his manners, should take so lively an interest in the advancement of science among us, as well as in the history and progress of our institutions.

The last paper we shall notice is that on the Language of the Berbers, which is curious for the novelty of its facts, and its historical hints. It contains two parts; first, a short dissertation by that profound philologist, Mr Duponceau; and, secondly, letters to this gentleman from Mr Shaler, Consul General of the United States at Algiers. "The Berbers,' says Mr Duponceau, ‘are a white race of men, who inhabit the chain of Mount Atlas, and extend to the borders of the desert of Sahara. To the north of them are the Bedouin Arabs, and still farther north are the Moors, whose dominions line the south western coast of the Mediterranean. The country of the Berbers is considered as included within those dominions, but the Moorish governments have not yet succeeded, nor probably ever will succeed, in reducing these tribes to a state of complete subjection. From recent ob

' servations it has been supposed, that these people speak an original language, peculiar to itself in its construction and idiom, and that dialects of the same language prevail quite across the northern regions of Africa, from the Cape de Verd Islands almost to the Red Sea. Mr Marsden, and some other writers, have been of opinion, that the Berber language is a remnant of the old Punic. Vater considers it the Numidian, corrupted by an intermixture of Arabic, and other idioms. Mr Duponceau is decidedly against the Punic origin, and is disposed to wait for further information, before he forms an opinion in regard to the other theory. Mr Shaler's communications throw some light on the subject. This gentleman inclines to the belief, that the language is an original one. We quote below an extract from

[ocr errors]

one of his letters. The Kabyles, of whom he speaks, are a race of Berbers, residing on the southern borders of Algiers and Tunis.

"The Kabyles of north Africa,' says Mr Shaler, ' are a white people; they invariably inhabit the mountains, where they maintain their independence, and probably have never been completely subjected by any of the conquerors, who have at different periods overrun this country. Each mountain usually forms an independent state, and they are often engaged in petty wars with each other, which are fomented by the Turks, who thereby sometimes succee in extorting from them a precarious tribute ; but since the days of Barbarossa, although some may have been exterminated, none have been entirely subjected to Turkish domination. Although the Kabyles are a very ingenious people, with the most tractable and social dispositions, they have not the commercial propensities of the Moors and Arabs. Independence appears to be the greatest object of their existence, as with it they cheerfully endure poverty in the most rigorous climates. Such, at least, is their actual political condition, and with such unequivocal marks of originality of character, I think they may be regarded as a safe depository of a language.

From various causes, they may have thrown off their surplus population amongst their neighbors, and even sent out colonies in a country, that does not appear to have been ever properly settled, yet under such circumstances, having no distinct religion of their own, they might easily enough accept that of their neighbors, where nothing was hazarded by it. At this day the Kabyles are regarded as very barbarians, both in the theory and practice of Islamism. There is a foundation in Algiers expressly for their instruction, which they receive gratis. From what is related of the Tuarycks by Hornemann and Lyon, they are also a white people, very numerous, brave, warlike, and of an independence of manners and deportment, that displays a remarkable contrast with the servility in practice at the court of Fezzan. They inhabit vast regions intersected by deserts, have little knowledge of Islamism beyond its forms, and in several districts they are pagans. It is not therefore a great stretch of credulity to believe, that the Tuarycks are also an original unconquered people, and the depositaries of an ancient language, which being identified with that of the Kabyles, leads to the conclusion that it is one of the ancient languages of the world, which has withstood the conquests of the Phenicians, of the Romans, of the Vandals, and of the Arabs. As I have the authority of the learned Shaw for believing, that this language is radically different from the Hebrew and the Arabic, I think the premises justify this conclusion, though it would certainly be more interest

ing to discover the language of Sanchoniathon, than the Numidian. This question, however, must be left to the decision of the learned, when its vocabulary is made more complete, and a greater insight is obtained into its grammatical forms.' • Mr Shaler has obtained partial vocabularies of the language of the Kabyles, taken by a Jewish interpreter, and a Swedish gentleman, which are printed in this paper, and compared with Dr Shaw's vocabulary. The investigation will be pursued, as opportunities occur of becoming better acquainted with the language of these people. Several particulars illustrating this subject, and confirming the suggestions in the above extract, may be expected in Mr Shaler's work on Algiers, which has already been promised to the public.

On the whole we cannot doubt, that the present volume of Transactions will fully sustain the reputation, which the Society has acquired by those it has formerly published. The first paper, containing a Description of Insects inhabiting North America, by Mr Thomas Say, occupies about one fifth of the volume, and the name of the author, in connexion with this department of physical science, speaks sufficiently for the character of his performance. There are other articles on topics of mineralogy, chemistry, botany, the mathematics, and one on the anatomy and physiology of the Alligator of North America. An obituary notice of the late president, Robert Patterson, is prefixed to the volume.

The best historical account of the American Philosophical Society, which we have seen, is contained in the appendix to Mr Walsh's Appeal.

ART. II.—Hadad, a Dramatic Poem. By James A. Hill

HOUSE, Author of 'Percy's Masque,' and 'The Judgment.' New York. E. Bliss and E. White. 1825. 8vo.


pp. 208.

The scene, in which this poem is laid, is not such a one as poetry has often inclined to select, though none could be found, as we apprehend, more appropriate to the exercise of its powers. Indeed we are surprised, that the ancient Jewish

[ocr errors]

history, full as it is of high associations, lasting sympathies, singular opinions, remarkable events, and great men, has not been a favorite and peculiar walk of the dramatic muse. Where is there a more eventful page in the book of heroes and kingdoms, than that which records the life of David, or a more splendid one, than that on which is emblazoned the reign of Solomon? And with regard to the people, who were governed by these great princes, where, we would ask, is there, or has there been a nation, who have stood forth in so high relief from the rest of the world, as the posterity of Israel? The single circumstance, that they alone worshipped the one great Creator, to the exclusion of all the gods of all other lands, is enough to confer on them an extraordinary preeminence, and a strongly distinctive character. They were proud, it is true, stiffnecked, restless, rebellious and ungrateful-but they were separate. No wonder that they called their city the Holy City; crime and pollution, after moving in pompous procession, and under the names of religion and piety, through every other city of the earth, found the gates of Jerusalem shut fast against their mockeries. No wonder that the temple was a perpetual boast, and that the perfection of beauty and glory was supposed to shine from its outward walls, and reside among its pillars and its porticos; the name of Jehovah, and his name only, was pronounced in worship there, and imparted a sublimity and majesty to the place, before which the architectural piles of Ephesus and Athens dwindled down into senseless masses of stone. Then there was that strange, mysterious brotherhood, the prophets; companions of kings, favorites and embassadors of Heaven; who denounced against the peculiar people curses and wrath, or promised the fulness of blessing; and who poured forth their prophecies, whether of mercy or woe, in strains of poetry which have never been surpassed in loftiness and beauty, if they have ever been equalled, by the genius of man.

In this remarkable light the ancient Israelites must appear, even to those who regard them merely as one of the nations of the earth, possessing no claims on their attention but such as are derived from national peculiarity. Additional claims are made, and far stronger sympathies are excited by this singular race, in the view of those who receive the dispensation by Moses as a part of their own religion, and see in their


spiritual Prince and Saviour, a descendant of the house of David. To them the literature of Judab is sacred, the sayings of the prophets are oracles, and Palestine is a land of pilgrimage. The wilderness in which the tribes roamed for forty years; the mount from whose top their prophet received the law; and every inch of that country, which came to them by promise, are to all Christians holy ground, and not to be trod upon, unless the feet are bare.

There is another association, and a melancholy one, which belongs to the land of Judea. Where are its once favored inhabitants ? Where are the ancient people of God? They have given place to the barbarian and the infidel; their descendants are scattered among the gentiles, though still, as ever, remaining distinct from them; the hills are all the same, Jordan flows on as before, the very wells at which the patriarchs quenched their thirst are recognised and named by religious curiosity, but the children of the soil are far away, and a Jew is an alien in the land of his fathers.

The cedars wave on Lebanon,

But Judah’s statelier maids are gone! These are all circumstances of no ordinary character; such indeed as can be matched in interest by no other human history. They are all under the dominion of poetry, and only wait to be swayed, that their power may be adequately felt.

Among the most successful trials, which have been attempted in this way, we venture to rank the dramatic poem before us. The event, which our countryman bas chosen for the main action of his piece, is the rebellion of Absalom. But neither Absalom, nor his father, nor Abithophel, is his chief character, nor yet Hadad, prince of Damascus, but-start not, uninitiated reader-it is Lucifer himself, under the form, or rather animating the corpse of Hadad, who is the visible instigator of the mischief, and hero of the scene, mixing with the other characters in all their conversations as a man, and appearing as a man, though to be sure a wild and strange one, to the very end.

For so bold a conception as this, we could have pardoned a much weaker execution of it, than has really been effected. But Mr Hillhouse's temerity stops not here. He has not only made the devil his hero, but, according to established usage,

« PředchozíPokračovat »