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“ The Septuagint translation of the Psalms seems to have been made with the moit fcrupulous attention to the Hebrew. The translators have not contented themselves with transfusing the sense of a paffage, but have sewn an anxiety to represent its very words and phraseology, so as to make the idiom of the Greek language submit to that of the Hebrew, and assume a form that is hardly intelligible to the readers of other Greek books, who happen not to posiess the key, which a knowledge of the Hebrew would furnish. This appears to me, after a careful comparison of it with the Hebrew, to be the true character of the Sepruagint version of the Psalms. The same may be said of much the greater part of the Old Testament."
“ The like sort of sentiment, which suggested the retaining of the old Psalms in the Common Prayer Book, kecps us from acquainting ourselves with the new Version in the Bible. We are prepossessed in favor of the Common Prayer Psalms, which we have heard in the Church Service from our youth. Upon a comparison, their language and style are thought, by fome, to be more sublime, poerical, and elegant. However juft this character may be (and I own it seems to me a little doubtful) they are still not adapted to the purpose of a critical work. They do not represent the Hebrew text, nor the Septuagint, nor any one single text. They seem to have something from all, and something from the compilers; who finished them according to their own fancy, and, no doubt, with a view to their effect in the service. They are, moreover, no part of our Bible. All our commentaiors upon the Psalms have chofen the text of the Bible, and I have followed their example."
We liave given these extracts, that the author's sentiments may be seen, upon some of those points, which we have touched in the former part of this Review; and now the reader is fully enabled to pass his own judgment upon them. In this prefatory epifle, there are fome disquisitions, on the origin of the Hebrew and Greek languages, and upon the introduction of letters and vowel marks, all of which have in them much originality'; but we must pass them over, in order to proceed to the work itself, The Collation of the Hebrew and the Greek Texts.
The reader should be here cautioned, that it is not the author's design to make that sort of Collation, which is often made for ascertaining the true reading of Greek and Roman authors; and in which it is always expected, that any novelty suggested by the collator, should be a preferable reading to the one in the printed text. It is not Mr. R.'s design to discover and suggest new readings at all, as has been done by Kennicot and Roísi, and by those who have made use of their labours; all he proposes, is, to compare the Hebrew and Greek, and to account for the variances there may happen to be between them; but by no means to determine, which of the two texts furnishes the reading, that ought to be preferred. Upon these points, he thus expresses himself:
“ I Should also apprise those, who may, perhaps, not entirely approve the ascendancy here given to the Greek text, that the readings, which are fo often adopted from thence into the Hebrew, are not meant to be obiruded as the true readings of the original; in many cases the present Hebrew may be the right reading, and some accident, not now discoverable, may have produced B b 2
the present reading in the Greek. To decide on the real text of the original, is a prefumption that would ill suit with the humble pretentions of the present work; which is merely a critical inquiry to note the variances, and to account for them upon probable grounds, such as mistakes in the identity, or different opinions as to the sente, of words.
“ I beg those, who intereft themselves for the fidelity of the Maforites, and the credit of the present Hebrew text, to notice, that through the whole of these conjectures, I have forborne to impute the variations in the Hebrew, either to the negligence or wilfulness of those, who seruled it in its present form. I do no more than suppose, that the transcript upon which the See VENTY worked, was such,' as to warrant their rendering. This supposition does not at all affect the present Hebrew text, which might poflibly have been copied with more fidelity from the original. Whether it had any superior claims of this fort, or whether those claims may not have been weakened by the negligence of fubfequent transcribers, and all the deviations, which I have imputed to the transcript used by the SEVENTY, may not be chargeable on the very Maforctical text itself, which we pofiefs at present, are questions, which I leave to others, as no part
of my inquiry. I beg, also, fuch zealous advocates for the Hebrew text, to consider, that, whatever may be urged in favor of the radical letters of the present text, it never can be maintained, that the vowel points have an equal pretension; they are certainly no part of Scripture; they are only evidence of an ancient reading of Scripture; as such they are respectable, and highly lo in my opinion; but not more so, than other testimonies of learned men. As to both, the letters as well as the vowels, there is now, in this advanced age
of learning and inquiry, no longer a fuperftition about the Hebrew, more than about the Greek text of Scripture ; they are both considered as ink and parchment, the best means, but still human and frail, by which the word of God could be conveyed to late pofterity. The study, and contemplation, and comparison of these " testifying witnesses,” is all, that Divine Providence has ihought necessary for us; and it is our duty to make the best of them, in that character and in none other.”
To a person, therefore, who seeks either for conjectural emendations, or for expositions, of the Book of Psalms, there must be great disappointment in this Collation; for the business of it is not to furnish either one or the other. It is only, where there is a variance between the Hebrew and the Septuagint texts, that Mr. R.'s plan comes into operation. This may happen, as we all know, in passages that are of no great importance in themselves, but become such, only by reason of the plan of comparison instituted in this work. Hence it may happen, that many passages in this Collation will be thought, by some, to be brought into more notice than they deserve; while other passages in the Psalms, of known difficulty, and deserving of elucidarion, are undefervedly passed over, because they are not within the design of this Collation. If the reader regards these as disappointments, they are disappointments of his own making; for the author holds out no expectation, beyond that of comparing the two texts, in their variances, without any regard, whether these are in points of some importance, or of none at all. In short, this is a work of criticism, not of Theology; it is, besides, an experiment to try, in a few infiances, the general credit due to these respective texts ; and it
must not be looked to as any thing like a Commentary, or Annotations on the Psalms.
The following are specimens of the manner, in which this Collation is made.
“ Ver. 6. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.) The Septuagini translators read this in the passive, first person; Eyù dè xalettáione bacine's in’aux Perri Eswv, ogos sò ärysov aziš. The Hebrew app nad N1 et ego conftitui regem meum, might be made correspond with this, by a very little alteration. The verb will read as well in niphal, putting a dagesh in the o to compensate the 3 defective, as in Prov. viii. 23, VSD drivna fæculo conftitutis eram," I was set up from everlasting.” Engl. versions. The possessive might be changed to a poffefsive 9, two letters which are often confounded ; so that the
: ?" I am set his king upon Zion his holy hill.” Some may think this reading of the Septuagint has the advantage, because the person of the speaker is not changed, as in the Hebrew, but the whole Pfalm is continued in the mouth of David."
and I " מלכּוֹ עַל־עיוֹן הַר קָדְשׁוֹ. ואני נסכתי :whole paifage will then read thus
The Poems of Allan Ramsay. A New Edition.
(Concluded from P. 259.) N our last Number we bore testimony to the high merit of the I author of the “Remarks on the genius and writings of Allan Ramsay ;” and we shall now endeavour to communicate to our readers some portion of the pleasure we have derived from a perufal of that delightful and ingenious essay.
“ The genius of Ramsay,” he says, “ was original; and the powers of his untutored mind were the gift of nature, freely exercising itself within the sphere of its own observation. Born in a wild country, and accustomed to the society of its rustic inhabitants, the poet's talents found their first exercise in observing the varied aspect of the mountains, rivers, and vallies; and the no less varied, though simple, manners of the rude people, with whom he conversed. He, viewed the former with enthusiasm, which, in early child. hood, is the infeparable attendant of genius; and on the latter he remarked with that fagacity of discriminating observation, which instructed the future moralift, and gave the original intimations to the contemporary satirist. Inheriting that ardour of feeling, which is generally accompanied with strong sentiments of moral excellence, and hereby awake even to those slighter de. viations from propriety, which constitute the foibles of human conduct, he learned, as it were, from intuition, the glowing language, which is best fitted for the scourge of vice, as well as the biting ridicule, which is the most suitable corrective of gross impropriety, without deviating into personal lampoon.” Pp. 60, 61.
An innate consciousness of his own talents prompting the poet to aspire beyond the rank of a mechanical profeffion, he was soon enabled to affociate with the more respectable classes of society. " As he extended bis sphere of observation, his knowledge of men and
acquaintance with manners were enlarged; and, in his latter compositions, we may discover a sufficient intelligence of those general topics, which engaged the public attention. The habits of polite life, and the subjects of fashionable conversation, were become familiar, at this time, to the Citizens of Edin. burgh, from the periodical papers of Addison and Steele; and the wits of Balfour's Coffee-house, Forretter, Falconer, Bennet, Clerk, Hamilton of Bangour, Preston, and Crawford were a miniature of the society, which was to be met with at Will's and Buttore's." Pp. 61, 62.
Having traced the predisposing causes, that seem chiefly to have operated on the poet's mind, in the production of his various works, our author next proceeds to examine these in their order ; but not in that dull and tiresome order of " serious, elegiac, comic, satiric, and epigrammatical,” in which they, for the first time, appear, and certainly with no advantage, in the present edition. But, first of all, be vindicates, in the most successful and able manner, the general language of Ramsay, and of the Gentle Shepherd in particular, from the objections of those absurd and fatidious critics, who, from mere want of taste, have thought fit to charge it with coarseness and vulgarity.
“ A Scotsman (Scotchman) in the age of Ramsay generally wrote in English ; that is, he imitated the ftyle of the English writers; but, when he spoke, he used the language (dialect) of his own country. The sole pecu. liarity of the ttyle of Ramsay is, that he transformed the oral language to his writings; and this he preferred, judging not unreasonably, that it conferred a kind of Doric fimplicity; which, when he wished to paint with fidelity the manners of his countrymen, and the peculiarities of the lower orders, was extremely suitable to such subjects. From these confiderations, one cannot but wonder at the observation which is so netimes made, even by Scotsmen (Scotchmen) of good táite, that the language of the Gentle Shepherd disgusts from (by) its vulgarity. It is true that, in the present day, the Scotish (Scottish) dialect is heard only in the mouths of the lowest of the populace, in whom it is generally associated with vulgarity of sentiment; But those critics should recollect, that it was the language of the Scotish (Scottish) people which was to be imitated, and that too of the people upwards of a century ago, if we carry back our mind to the epoch of the scene. If Ramsay had made the Shepherds of the Lowlands of Scotland, in the middle of the seventeenth century, speak correct English, how truly preposterous would have been such a compofition! But, with perfect propriety, he gave them the language which belonged to them; and if the sentiments of the speakers be not reproachable with unneceffary vulgarity, we cannot, with any justice, affociate vulgarism with a dialect, which in itself is proper, and in its application is characteristic. After all, what is the language of Ramsay, but the common speech of Yorkphire, during the last century ?*
“ But, as associated ideas arise only where the connection is either in itself necessary, or the relation is so intimate, (that) che two ideas are feldom found difunited, fo, of late years, that disunion has taken place in a twofold manner; for the language even of the common people of Scotland is gradually refining, and coming nearer to the English standard ; and it has fortunately happened,
* " See Yorkshire Dialogue, in its pure natural Dialect," printed at York in 16844
fan&tiorem, et magis admirabilem reddant orationi, quibus non
that the Scotish (Scottish) dialect has lately been employed in compositions of transcendent merit, which have not only exhibited the finest strokes of the pathetic, but have attained even to a high pitch of the fublime. For the truth of this observation we may appeal to “ The Cottar's Saturday Night," and “ The Vision” of Buous. In these the language, fo far from conveying the idea of vulgarity, appears most eminently suited to the sentiment, which seems to derive, from its fimplicity, additional tenderness, and fuperior elevation.* The Scots (Scotch) and the English languages are, indeed, nothing more than different dialects of the same radical tongue, namely, the AngloSaxon; and, setting prejudice apart, (which every preference, arising from such associations as we have mentioned, must be! it would not, perhaps, be difficult, on a fair investigation of the actual merits of both the dialects, to assert the superior advantages of the Scotish (Scottish) to (over) the English, for many species of original composition.” Pp. 65–68.
The fact is, that, both in speaking and writing concerning English and Scotch, in the present day, we are apt to fall into considera-ble inaccuracy of expresion, from which, as on most occafions, inaccuracy of thinking is fure to proceed. Previously to the accession of James I. to the throne of England, the Scotch and English were distinct tongues : and he who will inspect the correspondence of Cecil, and other ministers of Queen Elizabeth, and compare it with that of the Bishop of Ross, and Maitland of Lethington, &ci on the part of the Scotch, will acknowledge, that the two languages had obtained, as nearly as may be, an equal degree of polish and cultiva-tion. Since that time it is evident, that, whilst the English has progressively advanced, its rival has stood ftill; and, by ceasing to be a written language, has fairly dwindled into a provincial diale&t. compare it, therefore, with modern English is absurd in itself, and to the former an act of the strangelt injustice that can well be conceived. As we are without the Northern prejudices of our ingenious author, he must forgive us if we say, that fuch an idea would, indeed, be to compare a giant with a dwarf, an open common with a cultivated field: although on that common, it must be acknowledged that a hand like his can gather flowrets of such hue and fragrance, as thall challenge not only the inclosure, but even the garden io emulate. In future we shall hope, from both speakers and writers, for greater accuracy of discrimination; and that they will say the “Scottish dialect," and not the " Scottish language,” unless it be in reference to compositions or habits of an appropriate antiquity. The remarker has glaringly erred in this respect, both in the quotation we have above made from him, and also at p. 150, where he says, that the language of the Gentle Shepherd " is not precisely the Scottish language of the present day.”
* " As the Scouilh language has, to an Englisman, the air of an antiquated tongue, it will be relished as such, in grave compositions, on the principle assigned by Quintilian; propriis verbis dignitatem dat antiquitas; namque et quilibet fuerit furu," Inftit, Orator. Lib. VII. 3.