8 AUGUST 1840, Page 17


Scriplotum Ilisto Byzautinze. FAHlio emend:tiler et copiosior. cousilio

optl Niebuhr, C. F., insiituta Opera e;taaloin hum. Belikeri, L.

Seni G. Morli, runup° philologer= pardd chop .

1101171IP Impensis Ed. Weberi. THAVEld, Qouncy a111011gs: the floca.,:es and tie Vines. By Louisa Stuart Costello, Author A ;I' the Early Poetry of France." In 2 vols. Reatioll.

Rattuors l'EasEcrrioN, int Account of the Recent 1mm-cotton of the Jews at Datndscus; with Reflections

and aa .Airntlix, containing Various Documents connected with the and aa .Airntlix, containing Various Documents connected with the

:abject. By Davul Salomon.; J uniptann and Co.



IT was Poen, if our memory do not mislead us, who, when asked Whether Lord BordNomman understood Ilebrew said, " No, but he knows all that has been writien about that kind of learning." We could SCat point out many of' our contemporaries possessed of nousonnoto,'s dazzling talents, unsubstantial though they were ; but the knowledge of what has been written or said about learned subjects, he would if now alive find many to match him. t. have InallV litlatIMS or mathematicians among our we may no. ... ' ummerable authors; but we have slroals who read enough of the illuirratives mid disputations of scholars and scientific men to enable them to pass off, when not very severely catechized, as themselves learned. It is not our cue to quarrel lVall this state of affirirs at present; for it supersede.s the necessity of describing at length we are about to touch upon those Greek writers who flourished under the Emperors of Byzautium from the sixth to the fifteenth century: of W110IB a valuable but still defective edition was published at Paris, oder the auspices of Lou N the Fond( oath, (1(34.5-1711) ; another at Venice, (in 17'29 and the following years,) containing some works omitted in the former ; and of whom the most complete and ziccurate edition is that now in the course of publication at Bonn, thirtvddne volumes of which have already been sent 'bah by the enterprising publisher WErma. The writings of the authors known under the designation of the Byzantine Historians, are important monuments for the philologist, the historian, and the divine. The study of philology has in these latter days attained to the dignit.: of a science. A series of ingenious attempts from the time of liAtirets down to that of I luNTrar (of St. Andrew's) has done much to mature men's views regarding the logical con Mitution of language ; and the latemrs of modern German philologhts—among v.-honi not the kast distinguished are the brothers GRININI—have directed attention to the no le.s important clement, the vocal or physical constitution of language. The expansion of tlw intellectual world in modern days, to the East and to the West, has brought a multiplieity of languages under the cognizance of philologists sufficient to avert for the future all danger of those cramped and contracted notions whieh were the necessary result of ignorance of all langunges exeept the llomaide and Teutonic dialects or modern Europe, the so-called classical languages of Rome and Greece, and the I lebrew. But not only has our store of coexisting languages been increased, the graves are giving up their dead. Axel:Flit. DI' PER LION, and they who have trodden in his footsteps, have revived the language of Zottomerint ; and the patient ingenuity of our countryman Dr. Youxn, followed up by the enthusiasm of CnAmrom.tos, promises to rL store to us the language of the Pharao!is. The materials and the key to their use have been placed in the hands of this generation, and it will deserve to be esteemed a craven and a rtucant age if it avail itself not of them to place the science of philoto4y on a iboting it never attained before. lf, however, this desirable task is' to be accom

plished, it it be set about not in the dilettanti spirit with which so many dabblers are imbued, but with the plodding cautious research which enabled lie yrna to estaMish the log!cid laws under which

the Latin Lingo dCVelq;:d loelt (7, RIM 01 III eSt ahi MI the physical laws which gave fkata and body to the Teutonic dialects, and WILHELM VON .11'; mummer to demonstrate the kind arid amount of the iufluence exercised by the introduction of written letters over the development of a language. To this end, eech student must take his stand on the spoken laipreege 01. ItS OWD iltir ; and having establisk'd a firm footing there, 17tunch out cautiously and by degrees into the va..t mid varied ocean or the present and the past. In tracing the contlesloliS of languages, or in tracing back any language to its first rude corms, lie ioust never assume a step in the progress; where a link is wanting, whatever lies beyond must be takenhypothetically tint ;1 that link ean be supplied. This rule has been too often lost sigl:t of; and hence, much Chit is ingenious and the fruit of great lebour, nay, that mites t probably will at last prove substantial truth, cen at peesent only be received as hypothetical or contingent truth : for examplo, all that has been done since Dr. YOUNG towards the elucidation of hieroglyphics. It may startle some of our readers, impressed eith the innumerable folios professing to explain Greek metres, Greek accents, Greek particles, Greek what not—but in the case of the Greek language alne,st every thing has yet to be done. The Greek, amid all its multiplicity of dialects—amid all its variations from the time of floral:a to our own day—is one language ; and he who would know Greek as a scientific philologist ought to do, must know it in the comprehensiveness of its unity as well as in its details. Greek is, with the single exception of Hebrew, the only language, in any degree familiar to Orientals, that has an original grammar. The Romans (any one who turns to QurscurdAN may satisfy himself) adapted the Greek terms of art to their language—received their grammar from without. The nations which have survived in modern Europe adopted their grammars either from the Greek or Latin. Hence, the theory of the structure of the Greek language is not only important as bearing upon that language, but as having mores or less modified the development of every language of modern Europe. Now the artificial Greek grammar may be regarded as having been founded by the Athenian philosophers, and completed by those of Alexandria ; but, in our endeavours to master it, we must familiarize ourselves with the race with which it was deposited between the close of the Alexandrian school and the revival of Greek letters iu Europe, about or subsequent to the conquest of Constantinople by the 'lurks. In the Byzantine Historians we have the history of this race. Valuable additions to our knowledge of it may be sought in the writings of the Greek fathers; but here the foundation of its history must be laid. To the philologist, therefore, the study of the Byzantine Historians may be esteemed indispensable—first, as necessary to a just appreciation of the intellects to whom was intrusted front the sixth to the fifteenth century the preservation of the philology of ancient Greece; second, as themselves the monuments which show the progress of the transition by which the Greek of what are called the classic ages has passed into modern Greek ; third, as the key to the artificial grammars of modern European languages—the explanation of European conceptions of words and their relations ; fourth, as the medium through which we are, if at all, to resuscitate the lost language of Egypt. The importance of the Byzantine Historians to the student ef history is no less than their importance to the student of language. The history of the Byzantine empire from the sixth to the fifteenth century is in itself instructive : it is the history of the gradual decay of one empire—not of a dynasty, but of a people—and the growth of another, which has struck root in the ruins of the former. We see an empire crumbling to pieces, and we see an empire assuming form. We are taught at once the secret elements which generate and destroy states. It is not, however, solely as an isolated tale of it portion of the human race that the name ive of the Byzantine llistorions is interesting—a knowledge of it is indispensable to a right knowledge of the world of Islam which is daily entering into inure intimate relations with Christendom. Christendom is one great republic of kindred states. The region of the Western Church under the domination of Rome received the impress of one common civilization : it received throughout at a later period the same modification from a Teutonic admixture. Various efforts were made to reunite the fragments of the Western Roman empire into It European monarchy. They filled; but the independent states which were founded during the struggle, deriving the elements of their civilization—their laws, religion, and science—from one common source, and alternately united and disjoined as the shifting seats of central power during the middle ages determined, have asstuned a pervading similarity of character. We are Briton Spaniards, French, and so forth ; but we are also European Christians. Out of this community of character and frequency of intercourse, has arisen that sysielil of international law, which, however vague and imperfect, bas done so much to promote stability and security throughout Europe. This civilizatien and this law have been carried beyond the bounds of Europe by the hardy settlers of the Americas and the Isles of Ocean ; and the Christian international system now embraces the larger portion of the habitable globe within its grasp. The system of Ishunitic states is in a great measure the counterpart of that of Christian states. The less civilized tribes from the South and East rushed in upon the Eastern empire, as those front the North did upon the Western. The first. hoed of the, new states was the adoption of a common faith ; and this thidi was not the unit ingled precepts of its author M.‘ it oat ET, ha was modified by the philosophy of the empire whose fragments its professors inherited. As mod, or Roman law and custom survived the erection of Tent tile dynasties amolig the towns and comment s of Europe, so much of the law and custom of the Byzantine empire survived under the Turks and Arabs. Various aspirants in the East, as in the West, 11 atuded what they vainly called empires of all the titiihttiil ; and now an ishunitie system of independent states seems on the eve of arising, it' the prepouderance of the Christian system do not strangle it in the birth. We have more than the beginnings of Ottoman, Irani, Syro-Egyptic, Osmanese, Afghan, &c. states. It is to be desired that these nations, among whom renascent life is showing itself, may be left to work out independently their own higher civilization. Christendom, though more advanced, may conquer—may supersede—but cannot civilize them : that every nation must do for itself Yet with Christendom they are brought into close and too often hostile contact. Russia from the North, Austria and France from the West, England from the South-ease press upon them with the preponderance of greater wealth and inure advanced civilization. To give the states of Islam fair play, we need a more enlightened, a more comprehensive s:,•stein of international law. The international law which shall embrace both Islam and Christendom, must rest upon as intimate a knowledge of the laws and customs of lslam and Christendom, as that which we now recognize does upon those of the latter portion of the civilized world. And to a right understanding of the existing state of Islam the Byzantine Historians arc indispensable. It is there alone that we can find an account of the plateau upon which the empire of Islam was erected, and the explanation of mat1y. anomalies of the past, which survive as fossils in its living mass, It is there that we find a necessary supplement to the account of national differences, contained in Arab, Persian, Turkish, or Mongol historians. Need we say more to prove the value of the Byzantine Historians to the student of abstract or practical. politics, of which history, scanned by a jealous critique, is the only sure basis ?

Of the utility of the Byzantine Historians to the theologian, there can scarcely exist a doubt. The study even of the pure elements of the Christian faith requires a critical knowledge of the language in which they have come down to us. And the understanding and appreciation of the adjuncts which have adhered to these, require a knowledge of the early fathers and of the contemporary adherents to the old philosophy, which must be imperfect and fragmentary unless completed by a knowledge of the society in which they lived, its institutions, customs, and conventional modes of thought.

These and similar considerations made us hail with pleasure, on its announcement, the Bonn edition of the Byzantine Historians. The early editions were scarce and dear—incomplete—and, however meritorious at the time of their publication, susceptible of many emendations, owing to the great advances made since that time in philological, geographical, and historical research. The name of NIEBUHR on its titlepage as an active participator in the work, afforded a guarantee that the issue of the volumes would be superintended by men imbued with a philosophical catholicity of spirit, and with a keen and patient acumen of criticism. We have not been disappointed. The text is admirable, even to the typography; and large use has been made of recent discoveries among manuscripts and palimpsests. The place of NIEBUHR (himself a host) has been worthily supplied by the most illustrious members of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Berlin. The Bonn edition of the Byzantine Historians is worthy to rank among the labours of the eminent circle to which we owe the historical works of SAVIGNY and NIEBUHR, the philological works of WiLumm vox Humnotarr, the blended scientific and literary labours of InmtEn. It will entitle the name of its enterprising publisher to be handed down to posterity with those of the ILZEVIRS and others of their class.

We honestly confess, that at times when our eyes wander over the volumes of the Byzantine Historians arranged on our shelves, a feeling of mortification shoots across us. It would seem as if our own country, so far from being able to produce such a work, had not even a public capable of lending it a collateral encouragement. A few days ago we sent to several of the foreign booksellers for one of the volumes, and found that not one of them had ventured to import a single copy beyond what sufficed for the supply of their brief list of subscribers. There is no scholarly public in England. A friend, not long ago writinfi to us from Germany, said in reference to this very publication—" l'he importance of the historical materials contained in this collection can nowhere be more easily appreciated than in the native country of Gibbon." " Alas! how little knew he of Calista " GIBBON did not owe the impetus given to his mind to this country—he was .a Continental scholar. The mantle of his inspiration has dropped upon VON MILLER, HUGO, SAVIGNY, NIEBUHR, EICHHORN, VON HAMMER; but we look round in vain for an English disciple worthy of him. Oxford and Cambridge taught him nothing, and have learned nothing from him. What have these two learned bodies done during the present century, that can for a moment stand in competition with the Bonn edition of the Byzantine Historians—leaving entirely out of' view the original works of the scholars who superintend its publication ? Truly, to us, " much meditating," it is most hard to conjecture what is the use of these two wealthy institutions. The study of law was early separated from them. Medicine has flourished most beyond their walls. English science, mental, moral, physical, and chemical—English natural history—would be nearly where they are had these Universities never existed. And not much more than a week ago, one of our Bishops complained in the House of Lords, that no adequate provision for teaching theology is made in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. What do they teach ? What benefit do the Dissenters expect from getting into them. We believe we have run sbme risk of offending the amour propre of our countrymen. There are only two ways of confuting us—by

producing works like those of the German scholars we have alluded to above, or by at least republishing valuable materials for history. Both require some time : in the meanwhile we will allow a liberal patronage of the Bonn edition of the Byzantine Historians to pass for a subordinate proof of a better spirit than we have attributed to the English literary public.