Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/696

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

is followed by a proposal to gag the German Parliament, the "Reichstag." Previous enactments having muzzled the press and silenced the voice of public meetings, a law was still required to fetter legislative debate whenever it threatened to take a range displeasing to the authority by which the country is really ruled. It is difficult for us to put the case in any other way than that Bismarck is ruling Germany by a policy which he knows will not bear free discussion.

That a Government founded upon arbitrary power, which plunders the country to sustain its armies, drags young men into its armies, drives children to school, and crushes the liberty of speech, should apply its restrictive methods also to trade, is not surprising. The enslavement of commerce belongs with the other tyrannical practices and enactments of the past; and the liberty of commerce can come only with the other liberties when the militant compulsory forms of society are outgrown or subordinated. That Bismarck should favor the hampering of German trade by increasing restrictive duties, as shown by a recent letter upon the subject, is no more surprising than his violations of the other natural rights of German citizens. Tariffs are the best means by which rapacious governments can get possession of the money of the people, and Bismarck must have money.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Origin, Progress, and Destiny of the English Language and Literature. By John A. Weisse, M.D. New York: J. W. Bouton. 1879. Pp. 800. Price, $5.

Two purposes are intended by the author of this work: first, to set forth a history of the English language and literature; and, second, to show the fitness of the English to become the universal language of civilized man. The Anglo-Saxon, the source from which English has sprung, was a composite language, consisting of three principal Gotho-Germanic elements, viz., the slightly variant dialects of the three northern nations which in the fifth century established themselves in Britain—the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles. The author's plan did not contemplate any set inquiry into the origin of these dialects; he has but little to say about their descent from one more ancient mother-language—the Aryan—he simply accepts them as a fact, and then proceeds to show how by the natural process of development, profoundly modified by the environment, they, or rather the one composite language, Anglo-Saxon, was compounded with other elements to form first the Franco-English (a. d. 1200 to 1600), and finally the English language as it now is. Dr. Weisse's method consists in setting before the reader specimens of the literature of the successive centuries from the invasion of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, down to the present time, and classifying the words according to the linguistic sources from which they come. The result shows the proportion of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek, French, and other elements constituting the sum of the language at any given period. It shows, further, the changes undergone by the form of the language, if we may so designate its grammar, as distinguished from its matter, i. e., its vocabulary. Anglo-Saxon was a language possessing a variety of inflections to designate by the termination or by prefixes the diverse relations between words or their significates. Of these inflections English retains but few: a possessive (or genitive) case for nouns; an accusative (or dative) for some pronouns; the plural sign s final for nouns, and the final s in the third person singular of the verb; an imperfect (or aorist) tense of verbs; and perhaps some other traces. For the most part we now express by "prepositions," or by "auxiliary verbs," the relations expressed in Anglo-Saxon by inflections, or root modifications. Our author's specimens from the literature of the successive ages make all this very plain. Then the changes in the matter of the language, its invasion by foreign words, are exhibited. The first literary specimen in the volume is taken from Ethelbert's code of laws, which dates from the year 597. Here, as in the case of all the specimens