Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

tended, that the males and females at first tickled each other, and at length proceeded to lascivious kisses, judging of the degree of faith in each other by the warmth of them. A christian husband in presenting his wife to a newly-initiated member, would exhort her to receive him as above stated, and was always obeyed.

We dare not repeat in our chaste language all that Epiphanius adds in Greek.* We shall simply observe, that this saint was probably a little imposed upon, that he suffered himself to be transported by his zeal, and that all the heretics were not execrable debauchees. The sect of pietists, wishing to imitate the early christians, at present bestow on each other kisses of

peace, on departing from their assemblies, and also call one another brother and sister. The ancient ceremony was a kiss with the lips, and the pietists have carefully preserved it.

There was no other manner of saluting the ladies in France, Italy, Germany, and England. The cardinals enjoyed the privilege of kissing the lips of queens, even in Spain, though—what is singular-not in France, where the ladies have always had more liberty than elsewhere; but every country has its ceremonies, and there is no custom so general but chance may have produced an exception. It was an incivility, a rudeness, in receiving the first visit of a nobleman, if a lady did not kiss his lips--no matter for his mustachios.

*66 It is an unpleasant custom," says Montaigne, “and offensive to the ladies to have to offer their lips to the three valets in his suite, however repulsive." This custom is however the most ancient in the world.

If it is disagreeable to a young and pretty mouth to glue itself to one which is old and ugly, there is also great danger in the junction of fresh and vermilion lips of the age of twenty to twenty-five-a truth which has finally abolished the ceremony of kissing in mysteries and love feasts. Hence also the seclusion of women throughout the east, who kiss only their fathers and brothers—a custom long introduced into Spain by the abs.

* Voltaire, or the French editor, gives it in Latin ; and as a proof of the rank imagination of the holy father Epiphanius it is a curiosity, but in every other respect execrably odious and disgusting, being one of the most revolting of the imputations built upon the silly doctrine of the real presence. Carnal ideas will be carnally prostituted.-T.

+ Book iii. 5.

Attend to the danger: there is a nerve which runs from the mouth to the heart, and thence lower still, which produces in the kiss an exquisitely dangerous sensation. Virtue may suffer from a prolonged and ardent kiss between two young pietists of the age of eighteen.

It is remarkable that mankind, and turtles, and pigeons, alone practice kissing; hence the Latin word "columbatim,' which our language cannot render:

We cannot decorously dwell longer on this interesting subject, although Montaigne says, “ It should be spoken of without reserve; we boldly speak of killing, wounding, and betraying, while on this point we dare only whisper."

LANGUAGES.

SECTION I.

It is said that the Indians commence almost all their books with these words : “ Blessed be the inventor of writing.” In the same way we might begin conversation with blessing the inventor of language.

In the article ALPHABET we have premised, that there was never any primitive language from which all others are derivable.

We see that the word “Al' or. El, which among some orientals signified God, has no relation to the word Gott,' which expresses God in Germany. . House, huis,' can scarcely be derived from the Greek : domos.

Our mothers, and the languages called mother tongues, have much resemblance. Both have children, who marry into neighbouring countries and alter their languages and manners. These mothers have

other mothers, of whom genealogists cannot discover the origin. The earth is covered with families who dispute for nobility without knowing whence they came. Of the most common and natural Words in all Languages.

Experience teaches us that children are merely imitators; that if nothing was said to them, they would not speak, but would content themselves with crying.

In almost all known countries, the first things they sayare-baba,” papa,''mamma,'or such other words, easy to pronounce, which they continually repeat. However towards Mount Krapak, where it is known that I live, children always say dada' and not papa. In some provinces they say mon bibi.'

A little Chinese vocabulary is placed at the end of the first volume of the Memoirs on China. I find by this abridged dictionary, that 'fou,' pronounced in a manner different from ours, signifies father; and that children, who cannot pronounce the letter f, say 'ou.' There is a great difference between ou' and papa.'

Let those who would know the word which answers to our papa in Japanese, in Tartar, in the jargon of Kamschatka and Hudson's Bay, travel in these countries to instruct us.

We run the risk of falling into great mistakes on the borders of the Seine or Soane, when we give lessons on the language of a country in which we have never been. In that case we should say,- I have read thus in Vachter, Menage, Bochart, Kircher, and Pezro, who knew no more of it than myself. I doubt much, I believe, but I am much disposed to believe no longer, &c. &c.

A recollet named Sagart Theodat, who preached for thirty years among the Iroquois, Algonquins, and Hurons, has given us a little Huron dictionary, printed at Paris. by Denis Moreau, in 1632. This work will not hereafter be of much use to us, since France is relieved from the burthen of Canada. He says, that in Huron father is aystan,' and in Canadian .notoui.' Notoui and aystan are very far from 'pater' and 'papa.' Take care of your systems, I tell you, my dear Celts.

Of a System on Languages. The author* of the Mechanism of Languages thus explains his system.

The Latin termination urire' is appropriated to design a lively and ardent desire of doing something

micturire,'' ensurire;' by which it seems to have been fundamentally formed on the word "urere,' and the radical sign .ur,' which signifies fire, in so many languages. Thus the termination ‘urire' was well chosen to designate a burning desire.”

We do not however see how this termination in ire can be appropriated to a lively and ardent desire in ire, exire,' abire,' to go, to go out, and to go away; in 'vincire,' to tie; 'scaturire,' to scatter; 'condire,' to season or preserve; "parturire,' to bring forth; and 'grunnire,' to groan, to grunt, an ancient word which very well expresses the cry of the pig:

It must above all be confessed, that this "ire' is not appropriated to any very lively desire in balbutire,' to stammer; 'singultire,' to sob; and 'perire,' to perish. No person wishes either to stammer or to sob, much less to perish. His little system is very faultya new reason why we should distrust systems.

The same author appears to go too far in saying“We protrude and purse our lips, if we may so express ourselves, to pronounce the u, a vowel peculiar to the French, which other nations possess not.”

It is true, that the preceptor of the Bourgeois Gentilhomme teaches him to make a wry face, in pronouncing the u, but it is not true, that the other nations do not make

wry

mouths also. Without doubt, the author speaks neither of the Spanish, English, German, nor Dutch; he alludes only to the ancient authors who knew these languages no more than those of Senegal and Thibet, which however the author quotes. The Spaniards say "su padre, su madre,' with a sound which is not quite the u of the Italians; they pronounce 'mui,' approaching nearer to

* The president De Brosses.

the u than the 'ou;' they pronounce not ousted' strongly; it is not the u of the Romans,

The Germans are accustomed to change the ů a little into i, whence it comes that they always ask you for ekis' instead of ecus,' crowns. Several Germans at present pronounce flute as we did formerly, calling it' flaute. The Dutch have preserved the u; witness the comedies of madame Alikruc and their udiener.' The English, who have corrupted all the vowels, always pronounce'ui,' and not oui,' which they articulate with difficulty. They say 'virtue' and 'true,' not (vertou' and 'troue.'

The Greeks have always given to the upsilon' the sound of our u, as Calepin and Scapula

avow on the letter upsilon, as well as Cicero in “ De Oratore.”

The same author is deceived, in assuring us that the English words humour and spleen cannot be translated. He has believed some ill-informed Frenchmen. The English have taken their 'humour,' which with them signifies natural pleasantry, from our word humeur,' used in the same sense in the early comedies of Corneille, and in all preceding ones. He afterwards said 'belle humeur.' D’Assouci's Ovid possesses ' belle humeur,' but latterly we only make use of this word to express the contrary of that which is understood by it in English. With us, humeur' now signifies chagrin. The English have thus possessed themselves of almost all our expressions. We might make a book of them.

With regard to spleen, it is translated exactly by the word 'rate.' No long time ago we spoke of vapeurs de rate.' Molière, in his Amour Médecin, gives an invitation to all those afflicted with the 'vapeurs de rate' (spleen) to quit Hippocrates and join in merriment:

Veut-on qu'on rebate,
Par des moyens doux,
Les vapeurs de rate
Qui nous, minent tous ?
Qu'on laisse Hippocrate,
Et qu'on vienne à nous. *

* Molière, Amour Médecin, act iii. sc. 8.

« AnteriorContinua »