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quired. To show the advantages of the proposed method over the ordinary one in which Roman characters are used, I will introduce a couple of examples which will place their relative value in the clearest light. I will give the first petition of the Lord's Prayer, as it occurs in the county of Cork dialect, in both ways. According to the ordinary method we would have, Ar n'aithir ata air neainh, go naomhthar d'ainm. In the proposed or new method it would be written:* Ar naitir ata air neain, go naointar d'ainm.
I would here remark that the method here recommended would easily place the means of printing Irish in the hands of every printer. In addition to his ordinary types he would only have to procure some supplies of dotted letters like i. The sine fada or sign of a long sound could well be substituted by the Latin sign for a long quantity. The ordinary dots of i and j could well be omitted, and thus give the page a less dotted appearance. By the way, I think that this omission of the dots in the letters i and j may well be adopted in printing and writing other languages as well as Irish, for what is the use of any appendage to a letter that is sufficiently plain without it, and that is not likely to be confounded with other letters? Omitted as they are in the capitals, what is the use of them in the corresponding small letters?
Another method worthy of consideration for writing and printing Irish would be this: Like the Italians, Spaniards, and to a greater or less extent other modern nations, to adapt the orthography to the pronunciation of words, having but little regard to their etymology. Hence, in the language of Cervantes, we have filosofia, philos
We regret that our types will not enable us to print the examples our contributor gives in the manner he has indicated, but we trust that in
the dress in which we give them his meaning
will be fully understood.-ED.
ophy, while in that of Dante we have soprumano, superhuman, words in which their etymology is evidently sacrificed to their pronunciation. I see no reason, not applicable to those two highly cultivated and widespoken languages, why this plan may not be adopted for the Irish and its cognate dialect, the Erse or Gaelic of Scotland.
It will be seen that each of the plans or methods to which I have adverted has its advantages as well as disadvantages. In the first-mentioned the primitive or radical letters would be preserved, while in the second they would, to a great extent, be sacrificed for perhaps a greater advantage. There can be no doubt that the latter, which may be called the phonetic, would be the more suitable one for children to learn the language, while the former, which may be termed the etymological, would be the preferable one for the learned and for those who are more or less acquainted with the common or spoken dialects. I would here observe that dictionaries or glossaries could be easily adapted to the phonetic method by having prefatory notes informing the student that the words, for instance, beginning with v must be looked for among those beginning with b or m, and so of the others. In Spanish grammars there are long rules to enable students to find words in dictionaries of the language that were printed before its modern orthography came into use.
Adopting the phonetic method the passage from the Lord's Prayer, already adduced, would be written somewhat thus: Ar n'aihir ata air neav go naoohar d'ainm. In truth I see no reason why a judicious and philosophical combination of both systems, that is to say of the etymological and the phonetic, may not be adopted.
It would be highly desirable to have in Dublin an Academy estab
lished on the plan of the Spanish Academy of Madrid, or of the French Academy, one which would devise and publish a code of laws for the correct spelling and pronouncing of the language, and which I fondly hope would adopt one or the other of the methods I have here indicated. The decisions of such an Academy would, of course, command more respect than would those of any individual scholar, no matter how great his learning or attainments may be; in short, its decrees would be deemed authoritative, and no loyal scholar
would feel at liberty to disregard them. We should remember that authority in regard to languages is of a republican character, and that the "republic of letters" is not altogether an unmeaning term. It is to be hoped that the time for establishing such an Academy is now come, and that the noble Catholic University of Dublin will, without delay, found and foster it, and cause its decisions to be respected and submitted to as those of the Supreme Court of the language.
THE CHEST OF DRAWERS, OR MY FIRST SCHOOL
I REMEMBER well-as well as if it were to-day-the first time I went to school. They-I mean the folks at home-tried to make it appear that going to school was the greatest privilege that any little boy could enjoy; and I have no doubt they would have won me over to this belief, had I not, child as I was, detected a startling inconsistency between their present statements and certain threats which had been held out to me on previous occasions. As it was, I wept copiously when at length the morning came (I can call to mind how it snowed-snowed as though all nature was a school, and all the scholars were indignantly tearing up their task-books) that I was extra-dressed and super-sweetstuffed, and led to the Grove of Academus. I took my little trouble to heart, and knuckled my streaming eyes most piteously.
Our house was on one side of the street, and the Grove of Academus was on the other. The Grove
of Academus was, and still is, a little one-roomed, whitewashed cottage, with trim lattices, and a grape-vine which sprawls and struggles, like a child's first attempt at writing, up one side of it, and over half the red-tiled roof. There is a bit of a garden at the back, with a waterbutt at one corner-a slate-colored wooden barrel, which I think might hold some twelve or fifteen gallons, but which I then thought big enough to supply all the world with water. How relative are our notions of size! When I went into the schoolroom, a day or two since, it seemed to have shrunk to less than half its former dimensions, while the top of the bedstead had descended a good five-and twenty feet!
I remember well, I was saying, my first visit to the "dame." What a grim old lady she seemed to me then! How prim and precise was her manner! Her stiff cambric cap looked far more warlike than Athene's helmet.
"Royster," she said, when my mother, after a hurried encouraging kiss, had left me, "I taught all your brothers and sisters, and I must teach you. Dry your eyes and look at this board. That's A." Which was A? Half-blinded with my tears, the alphabet danced about the board like the figures you have seen through those revolving wheels at the Polytechnic, while so intense was my childish horror of the cane, that I believe I thought the letters went darting away in agony as she touched them with the tip of it.
Long and dreary seemed that first morning-dreadful the little faces that made light of my sorrow as I sat crying upon the form. There was one little girl, with round blue eyes and a wealth of golden hair, who tried to comfort me, proffering the loan of a needle and thread; but even this failed to assuage, or even to mollify, my grief. From nine to twelve was, as the Byronic phrase runs, "wept away." The Bonaparte'sribs remained unbroken-the bull's eyes were intact.
Reader, I have had a fair share of sorrow since then, My cup has been bitter. Still, never have I been-and never shall I be, I take it-so inconsolably wretched and heart-broken as I was on that first morning of my life and strife at school. The stress of my suffering seemed to come from the feeling that I was disregarded and unloved at home. Else, I asked myself, and got nothing but sobs for an answer, why was I sent away? Why, if my mother cared for me, did she not come and fetch me back? "O, do-o-o let me go home!" I cried; but the inexorable dame was deaf to my entreaties, and went on basting the little girls' pocket-handkerchiefs, and instructing them in the art and mystery of keeping the hems straight.
Twelve o'clock came at last. The
morning had seemed a day, and the vibration of each stroke of the twelve appeared to last for an hour. I wondered if the wheezy old china mandarin on the mantelpiece, with the little clock in his stomach, would ever leave off striking, for I was too young to know how many "twelve" meant. He did, however, finish at last, pulling up with a sort of quinzical gasp, and (blessed moment!) school was dismissed. We left in pairs, for the snow lay deep on the ground, and governess's" instructions were that we were to keep each other from falling. There was no necessity, however, for any one to keep me; for no sooner had I gained the outside of the school than I was caught up in a mother's arms and carried home
I soon found I had not been forgotten in my absence. A little cake was baking for me in the oven, and with this I was at once presented.
That cake was the first step to knowledge, for centring it was the letter A, done in currants, and for six-and-twenty days afterwards I found one of these cakes, stippled with a letter from the alphabet, duly awaiting my return. Was ever knowledge made so sweet before? Was ever alphabet so pleasantly digested?
Cheery enough, after that first dreadful morning, were the days at school. I still had a great dread of the governess, and a greater dread (on Tuesdays) of her husband; but then, what a delightful thing it was to listen to the dame, as she chatted confidentially with us, and told of the many remarkable boys and girls she had had in other days under her wing. One boy, it appeared, had actually grown up so clever that his friends had made a clerk of him and sent him to India, where he was crushed to death under a sugar barrel. His story, as you can imagine, was al
ways interesting-none the less so because the governess made a point of illustrating his death by rolling a wooden sugar-basin over one of the little girls' sawdust dolls, to the danger of the wire optical nerve running up its back. Then there was another lad who was so intensely gifted that he had gone upon the stage-a fact which the old dame affected to deplore, but of which I always believed she was secretly proud. But the joy of her heart among all her scholars was an elder brother of mine, who, a dozen years before, had learned his letters at her knee. Her admiration for him was not, so far as I could gather, founded on any bril liant intellectual achievement, but simply because he was a strong boy, and used, with beeswax and turpentine, to keep an old chest of drawers, which stood in one corner of the room, in a perfect state of polish.
This about the drawers would attest itself in manner following: that is to say, on Tuesday nights the Sewing Society used to hold its regular meeting, at which the old dame was a constant attendant. Now, she always went to these meetings in a long black cloth cloak, and this cloak two of us boys had to brush on the following morning. It was a large cloak, multitudinously caped, as if it had originally belonged to a horse-soldier who had afterwards gone into the cab business. It took a long time to brush it, mistress giving a personal superintendence to the operation, in order that we might not affect the nap by rubbing it the wrong way. Our little arms would often ache over the business, and then it was that the praises of that elder brother were sung, and his triumph over the chest of drawers was fondly and fervently recited.
"Royster," she would say, as I paused, out of breath in my labors, "you'll never be a patch upon your
brother. Why, he'd rub those drawers until you might see your face in them; but bless me, boys are not what they used to be!"
You cannot tell how this contemptuous estimate of my physical powers weighed upon my mind. It interfered with my studies, and kept me awake at night. I hadn't read Terence at that time, or I might have asked what there was that a brother could do that I was not able to accomplish. As it was -the shining of that old chest of drawers being constantly impressed upon me as the main point of a polished education-I grew somewhat moody in my manner, and one Tuesday morning when mistress's back was turned for a moment, I allowed my bad feelings to get so far the master of me as to induce me to rub the cloak the wrong way. Had I been in the dark, and had the garment been a cat's back, I could scarcely have been more terrified at the result. The threadbare nap, which had lasted so long, gave way beneath the first adverse friction, and-I can scarcely think of it now without a shudder— opened into a long and unmistakable fissure! I burst into tears. "Mistress," "Mistress." I explained, "I've torn the cloak." The school rose en masse. It seemed so incredible, that the little blue-eyed girl, with the natural curiosity of her sex, came to see and assess the damage for herself. I shall never forget the old dame. At first she seemed inclined to punish me; but grief overcame her temper, and she fairly lifted up her voice and wept. That day we were all kept in an hour beyond the usual time, while governess preached a moving discourse at me on the vice of carelessness, and its terrific consequences.
It was some short time after this that we had our yearly holidays, and I was pleased beyond measure to escape for a time from the dame's accusing eye. But with us holiday
time was, in a sense, scarcely holiday-time at all. Mistress was an obdurate old "cram," and seemed to imagine that, if the intellectual functions were once allowed to rest, they could never be made to move on smoothly again. Therefore, when we "broke up," a twentyfour versed chapter from Genesis, touching the temptation of Adam and Eve, was given us to learn by the time we resumed school. For our respective mnemonical achievements in this direction, prizes, chiefly consisting of violently colored picture-books, were to be distributed. I having a disgrace to wipe out-stuck manfully to the chapter all that holiday-time. I confess I did not understand a syllable of its meaning (as it contains the history of man's downfall, and as I was, at most, ætat eight and six months, this is hardly matter of marvel); still, so far as the mere words went, I mastered them. Mistress was delighted. She prophesied all sorts of splendid things for me in the future; recited again the history of the youth who was mangled by the molasses; and spreading out her little collection of gift-books, asked me which I would select for my prize. The books were tempting-as tempting to me as the "Democritus Homer" or a set of Elzevirs would be to a bibliopole. There was one with a colored picture of Daniel in the lion's den-Daniel a short, spare little man, and the lions (for contrast) fat and furious, and much swollen in the hind-quarters-which captivated me amazingly. It was a pre-Raffaelite study, for I remember that three hairs, or smellers, on each side of the lion's nose, were done with much fidelity. Still I aspired to something more than the picture-books, and stood silently gazing at them, blushing and confused.
"Come, you can't have more than one, you know," said the old
"Will I what? Come, speak out." "Will you let me polish up the drawers?"
This was more than the poor old soul could bear. It touched her to the quick. My perfect mastery of the chapter had moved her, but this last proof of merit was fairly overpowering. She caught me up in her arms, kissed me on the forehead, and, as the tears of joy rained upon my face, said I was an angel, compelled me to take Daniel and the Lions, and then produced the turpentine and beeswax. In about an hour I saw my proud little face in the mahogany, with a chiaroscuro of envious countenances massed up behind it. I was the hero of the school. Its old glories were revived in me-at length the accident with the cloak was atoned for. I went home that day as proud as a prince.
"Mother," I said, as I displayed the lions and gentleman, "mother, I've won the prize."
"O! Dan'l is it?" said Deborah, our maid-of-all-work, gazing enraptured at the picture. "I once seed something very like it at Ashley's."
"Ah! but this isn't the prize," I resumed with mantling cheeks; "the prize was better than this."
"What was it, then?" asked my mother.
"Mother," I exclaimed, "I polished up the drawers!"
"I thought I smelt yer of turps," said Deborah; "and all I've got to say is, if learning twenty-four verses gets you a chest of drawers to polish, I'm very glad I'm no scholard."
Not long after this I left my dame's school for a higher class of academy, where I could meet wis