« AnteriorContinuar »
been attended with small success. The inscriptions in Etruscan are hardly any better known, than when the monuments that bear them were first discovered. Years were spent in the study of the alphabet, and treasures of erudition consumed in searching for analogies in all the tongues, whose written words bore the slightest resemblance to it. After various ingenious and contradictory theories, each of which enjoyed its hour of reputation, the great enigma was solved, and all the letters of the Etruscan alphabet were reduced to a uniform and intelligible system. This step, however, notwithstanding its importance, has left us nearly as much in the dark as before. We can follow those letters through their different combinations, supply many of their conventional omissions, and give them sounds like those of other tongues ; but these sounds are still unintelligible, and the words, which they form, fall strange and indistinct upon the ear. It is only to the East that we can reasonably look for the solution of this problem.
We know nothing of the grammatical foundation of the Etruscan language ; but long and patient observation has noted several interesting circumstances in the orthography, and in the inflexion of words. Among these are the custom, which prevails in sepulchral monuments, of writing from right to left; the superabundance of consonants; the uniform omission of the quiescent and short vowels. Several radical syllables, moreover, have been observed, of which the signification would seem to be fixed; several derivatives have been followed up to these, with a sufficient degree of evidence ; and certain fixed laws have been discovered in the inflexion and termination of various words. These inscriptions have also been of considerable use to the genealogist, and enabled him to trace back a long series of family names.
The languages of ancient Italy may be divided into two classes; if it be not yet more proper to consider the Etruscan and the Oscan, which are the heads of this division, as the two principal languages, and all the others as dialects of these. The use of the Etruscan was not confined to the territory from which it derived its name ; but was extended by conquest and by colonization, through various other districts of the peninsula. From the Sabine territory southward, the predominant language was the Oscan. To these should be added a variety of dialects, formed from one or the other of the parent tongues, and preserving, in spite of their changes, more or less evident traces of their origin. The primitive Illyrian, a language totally different from the Sclavonic, and of which many themes have been preserved in the dialect of the Skypetars of Albania, might throw much light upon this curious subject.
In proportion as the dominion of the Romans became enlarged and confirmed, their own language obtained the ascendant. It was long, however, before the original languages of the country fell into disuse ; and they seem to have held their place among the people, long after they had been abandoned by the higher classes. The Oscan was spoken at Herculaneum and at Pompeii, up to the day of their destruction; the Etruscan was in use under the earlier emperors ; and, at the same period, the popular Oscan comedies were performed upon the Roman stage.
The fragments, which have been handed down to us of the primitive Latin, are strongly marked with Etruscan and with Oscan. In the fragments of Ennius, we find not only Oscan words, but even whole forms of speech. The practice of shortening words by a rough abbreviation or contraction, was common to both. Sabine words also are cited by the ancient grammarians.
Will not these facts, when taken together with the history of the origin of Rome, lead to at least a plausible conjecture concerning that of the Roman language? It is well known, that the first inhabitants of Rome were an aggregation of native Italians, drawn together by various motives, and from different parts of the country. Each brought with him bis native tongue, and the customs and usages of his original dwelling-place. The Etruscan and the Oscan, with their long train of dialects, were mingled together and spoken within the same walls, and by a people who, however different in their origin, were now united by the ties of a common interest. Hence there must have gradually arisen one common dialect, partaking largely of each, but in some respects differing from all. The same phenomenon was repeated during the Middle Ages, when the modern languages of Europe were formed from a similar conjunction of different elements. The earliest specimen of Latin differs so much from its subsequent form, as to be utterly unintelligible. Such as it was, it was adequate to the wants of the age. As these increased, the necessary enlargements and improvements were made ; and when, at last, it came to be employed in poetry, in history, and as the vehicle of a more polished eloquence, the fathers of Roman literature drew freely from the same abundant source, which supplied their literary models.
ART. II. - The Life of Father Marquette. By JARED
SPARKS. (Library of American Biography. Vol. X.)
We need say nothing here of the services which Mr. Sparks has rendered to American history. His Lives of Ledyard and Morris and Washington ; his editions of the writings of Washington and Franklin, and of the Diplomatic Correspondence; and his collection of American Biographies, which has now reached the tenth volume, are all known through this country and in Europe. He has done more than any other one man to preserve for posterity the undoubted records of our early history; and we trust a long lise may be granted bim, wherein to pursue his labors ; for, with the advance already gained in a knowledge of the details of past times, his labors are becoming every year more and more valuable.
Among his various publications, the series of American Biographies ranks high in interest and utility ; through it, many have been made known to the world, who might otherwise have found no historian ; and we hope he may be able to continue it through many more volumes. Among those persons, who but for this work might have remained without their deserved celebrity, is Father Marquette, whose brief story is now before us. His Journal, giving an account of the discovery of the great Mississippi Valley, was published in France in 1681, and a poor translation of it was given in the Appendix to Hennepin's volumes, printed in London in 1698 ; but all knowledge of his doings slept in these dusty works, and in a few pages of Charlevoix's “ New France, until Mr. Sparks drew up an abstract of the original Journal, for the second edition of Butler's “ History of Kentucky.” This abstract he has now somewhat altered and enlarged, and put into a wider circulation, through his “ Biography.” It is curious and interesting ; and as Marquette's discovery is but little known, and the labors of those that followed him but
slightly appreciated, we have thought it worth while to give our readers a sketch of the progress of the French in the knowledge and settlement of the Mississippi valley.
The advantages of water communication were never more perfectly shown, than in the rapid progress of the French in Canada, when first settled. During the years in which John Eliot was preaching to the savages of Natick and Concord, the Jesuits were lifting their voices upon the furthest shores of Lake Superior ; while a journey from Boston to the Connecticut was still a journey through the heart of the wilderness, Allouez and Dablon had borne the cross through that very “ Mellioki ” (Milwaukie) region, to which our speculators have just reached. * With strong hearts those old monks went through their labors ; sleeping, in mid winter, under the bark of trees for blankets, and seasoning their only food, “ Indian corn, grinded small," with “ little frogs, gathered in the meadows.” | They were very different men from the apostle" of the Puritans ; but, to all appearance, were as pure, and as true, and as loving ; the Miamis were " so greedy to hear Father Allouez, when he taught them," says Marquette, “that they gave him little rest, even in the
Among those who were foremost in courage and kindness, was Marquette himself; a modest, quiet man, who went forward into unknown countries, not as a discoverer, but as God's messenger ; who thought all his sufferings and labor fruitful, because among the Illinois of Perouacca,” he was able to baptize one dying child ; and who took such a hold of the hearts of those wild men, through the inspiration of love, that for years after his death, when the storms of Lake Michigan swept over the Indian's frail canoe, he called upon the name of Marquette, and the wind ceased and the waves were still.
In the year 1671, this Jesuit missionary led a party of Hurons to the point of land which projects from the north, at the strait between Lakes Michigan and Huron, and there founded the old settlement of Michillimackinac.* Here, and along the neighbouring shores, he labored with noiseless diligence until 1673, when the Intendant-general of the colony, M. Talon, a man of great activity and enterprise, and who was upon the point of closing his career in Canada, determined that the close should be worthy of his character, and called upon Marquette to be the leader of a small party, which was to seek for that great river in the West, of which the Indians had so often spoken. The representative of the government in this undertaking was M. Joliet, a substantial citizen of Quebec, and with them went five other Frenchmen. I
* In the library of Harvard College is a map, published in Paris by N. Sanson d'Abbeville, in the year 1656, in which are given portions of Lakes Superior and Michigan; the southern part of the map is the north of Florida, as discovered by Fernando de Soto, and as it is drawn in the map accompanying the History of his adventures by Garcilaso de la Vega.
| Hennepin, Nouvelle Decouverte. # Charlevoix's Letters, 2d, p. 97. London Ed. 1761. – Nouvelle France, Vol. VI. p. 21. Paris Ed. 1744.
Upon the 13th of May, 1673, this little band of seven left Michillimackinac in two bark canoes, with a small store of Indian corn and jerked meat, wherewith to keep soul and body in company, bound they knew not whither.
The first nation they visited, one with which our reverend Father had been long acquainted, being told of their venturous plan, begged them to desist. There were Indians, they said, on that great river, who would cut off their heads without the least cause; warriors who would seize them ; monsters who would swallow them, canoes and all ; even a demon, who shut the way, and buried in the waters, that boiled about him, all who dared draw nigh; and, if these dangers were passed, there were heats there that would infallibly kill them. “I thanked them for their good advice," says Marquette, “but I told them that I could not follow it ; since the salvation of souls was at stake, for which I should be overjoyed to give my life.”
Passing through Green Bay, from the mud of which, says our voyager, rise “mischievous vapors, which cause the most grand and perpetual thunders that I have ever heard,” they entered Fox River, and toiling over stones which cut their feet, as they dragged their canoes through its strong rapids, reached a village where lived in union the Miamis, Mascoutens, and “Kikabeux” (Kickapoos). Here Al
Charlevoix's History of Canada, (Nouvelle France,) Vol. II. p. 239. # Ibid. Vol. II. p. 248.
Marquette's Journal, Vol. I. p. 8. In this place he says, I told them that he (Joliet) " estoit envoyé de la part de Monsieur, notre Gouverneur, pour découvrir des nouveaux pays, et moy de la part de Dieu, pour les éclairer des lumières du Saint Evangile.” VOL. XLVIII.-NO. 102.