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version was made. This is its greatest value to us ; although it is of importance as one of the best means of becoming acquainted with the Samaritan dialect, which has so few remains, and has been so long extinct as a spoken language.
Besides this version of so ancient a date, there is also a version made by Abusaid, in the eleventh or twelfth century, into the Samaritan Arabic dialect, that is, the Arabic as spoken by the Samaritans. The translator appears to have been a man of talents; and he has often hit, in a very happy manner, upon the best way of expressing the real sentiment of the original text, in difficult passages.
There are also a few scattered remains of an ancient Greek version, made from the Samaritan Pentateuch, some of which have been collected together by Morin, Hottinger, and Montfaucon; but they are too scanty to be of much critical value.
It is easy to perceive, from what has already been said respecting the important Scriptural documents extant among the Samaritans, that their language and history ought to be a matter of deep interest among biblical and oriental critics. It has in fact been occasionally so, at different periods, since the Samaritan Pentateuch was first brought to Europe. Among the older critics, Hottinger, Morin, Cellarius, Reland, Basnage, Castell, and Mill, distinguished themselves by cultivating an acquaintance with these subjects; and they have left behind them various monuments of their progress in the knowledge of them. Among the more recent critics, Schnurrer, Bruns, De Sacy, Winer, and Gesenius, stand most distinguished for this sort of knowledge. The last, in a particular manner, has carried his researches far beyond any of his predecessors. In the year 1820, this celebrated critic made a visit to England, and examined the Samaritan manuscripts deposited in the library at Oxford. Castell, long ago, in his Heptaglott Lexicon, had mentioned some Samaritan documents, which have often been referred to by the name of Liturgia Damascena, from which he gave some extracts, in his Ånnotationes Samariticæ. These documents lay in the obscurity in which Castell left them, until Gesenius, on examining them, found them to be hymns of a religious nature. A minute examination enabled him to discover, that they were composed in an alphabetical way; and this led to an arrangement of their several parts, which were before in a confused, chaotic state. From this discovery proceeded the second and third publications, which are named at the head of this article.
The first of these two is a discourse delivered, as the title indicates, during the solemnities of Christmas, before the university at Halle. It consists of a brief account of the state and sources of Samaritan literature, and an exposition of the theological opinions of the Samaritans, as deduced from the hymns in question. It appears that they are strenuous monotheists; that they have high ideas of the pure and spiritual nature of God; that they believe the world was created from nothing ; that angels are emanations from the divinity ; that the Mosaic law is of immediate divine origin; that the institution of the sabbath and of circumcision is of high and holy obligation; and finally, that the pious, after the rest of the grave, will be raised to a happy and glorious immortality. Nothing certain appears in the hymns, respecting the Messiah. Their views in former times with regard to him, are sufficiently plain, from what is said in John iv. respecting this subject. Their recent views are disclosed, by their correspondence with some of the literati of Europe. They expect a Messiah, who will restore the Mosaic worship, and with it their temple on mount Gerizim. He is also to make their nation very happy; and then to die and be buried with Joseph, that is, among the tribe of Ephraim. But when this will take place, they do not undertake to determine.
The Anecdota Orientalia (No. 3.) exhibits a number of the hymns above described, in the original Samaritan, accompanied by an Arabic version. This was doubtless made after the Samaritan had begun to be disused, and the Arabic to prevail. To these Gesenius has added a Latin version of his own, with copious notes that are filled with illustrations drawn from oriental sources, and from comparison with biblical and other writers. To the whole is appended a short glossary, comprising those Samaritan words not to be found in any of the usual Lexicons. A plate, at the close, exhibits the forms of the Samaritan letters, in different documents.
This is truly a most welcome present to the lovers and cultivators of oriental literature. A new source is now opened, which enables us further to pursue the study of the dialects kindred with the Hebrew; and easy means are furnished for doing it. Such are the triumphs which unremitted industry and persevering ardor achieve ; while the timid and the indolent are yawning over what their fathers wrote, in their easy chairs by a comfortable fireside, unconcerned whether the Samaritans and their language are brought out and exposed to light, or remain covered with darkness.
There is nothing in the Samaritan hymns, which absolutely determines their age. The probability is, that they were composed as early as the eighth or ninth century.
We give an extract from Gesenius' Latin translation of the first hymn, that our readers may see the kind of composition and sentiment which these Samaritan relics exhibit.
Non est Deus nisi unus.
Felices qui sabbatum celebrant,
Ab omni labore et defatigatione, &c. The Anecdota Orientalia is very handsomely printed, on good paper, and with that almost unparalleled accuracy, which Gesenius generally exhibits, in all the works corrected by his own hand.
We are encouraged to hope that other oriental specimens of a similar nature will follow. The next number is to exhibit the Book of Enoch, in the Ethiopian language; which Gesenius believes to be the same book as that from which Jude, in his epistle, and all the early Christian Fathers, quoted. Whether this be the fact or not, we shall welcome the publication of the book; or of any other book, from which the language, the sentiment, or the literature of the Scriptures, can receive illustration.
ART. III.-Poem delivered before the Connecticut Alpha of the
Phi Beta Kappa Society, September 13, 1825. By JAMES G. PERCIVAL. 8vo. pp. 40. Boston. Richardson and Lord. It is a rare thing for a poet of Mr Percival's genius and reputation to appear at the anniversary of one of our literary associations. It is equally rare to adopt blank verse in a poem designed for recitation, and to extend it to the length of eleven hundred lines. Genius and fame stand an unequal match against these unfavorable circumstances. Few hearers could listen without fatigue to any composition of so great length. Still less when there must be the constant struggle, ever disappointed and ever renewed, to trace the structure of the verse.
But however ill adapted it may be for recitation, no such disadvantages attend it as offered from the press. We receive it as a poem to be read, and we read it without regarding its fitness to be spoken. It comes to the public with that recommendation from the author's name, which ensures it a candid perusal. The character of the subject and the occasion render it an object of more than ordinary notice; while the reputation of its fertile author, and the peculiarities of his beautiful but wayward VOL. XXII.-N0. 51.
pen, demand that it should receive an impartial examination from those, who are solicitous about the popular poetry of our country.
The first thing which strikes us on reading this poem is, that the author has entered on too wide a field. He sets out upon the vast and boundless theme of Mind and its mysterious energies;' and in attempting at the commencement to state his purpose and point out his track, he plainly discovers that he has not surveyed it definitely with his own eyes, and really has no very distinct object in view. He seems to lay before us a plan; but as we look at it, we find that shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.' This
want of a defi:ite purpose embarrasses the performance. The reader would suppose the object of the writer to be a description of that imaginative power of the mind, which is exercised in the creations of the fine arts, painting, sculpture, and especially poetry, and which conjures up scenes and forms of sublimity and beauty in reverie and sleep. This indicates, however, very inaccurately the course of the argument, and by no means serves as a guide through it. The poet himself is the first to lose his way.
The first part is philosophy, the second is example. The philosophy we are not sure that we understand, and what we do understand we do not always agree to. It is however very poetical, if not very true; and we will endeavor, to the best of our abilities, to give a prose interpretation for the benefit of our readers.
There are, says our author (beginning with one of the dogmas of the old philosophers), diffused through nature, certain Forms, unchangeable and everlasting, by which the mind is forever controlled and swayed ; that is, if we rightly conceive the meaning, there are certain eternal principles of taste, to which the mind necessarily assents, to which it has in all ages owned allegiance, and to which the passions and desires have bent, as unto their lodestar. Nothing can please, which is not conformable to these eternal principles.
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