« ПредишнаНапред »
kingdom. Thanks to the aid of language, the fortunes of humanity, from its emerging from the animal condition up to its complete maturity, lie spread out more clearly before us. These I have to-day endeavoured cursorily to pass in review before you. It could not be my intention to convince by proofs, seeing that in such a narrow compass they would probably have been mere semblances of proofs. Enough for me if I have succeeded in awakening within you a sense of the mighty past of the human race. Of such unfathomable depth nature is here too! Our deeds, our thoughts, all have an incalculably old pedigree, and to be man is a high nobility, though one that is newly acquired by taking a higher flight from generation to generation.
No doubt occasionally, when on the farthest horizon the infancy of our race is seen to rise, when of the noble features which confer on man's stature its proud dignity, one after another threatens to fade from his picture, a melancholy, an uneasiness may seize us on looking down from the height on which we stand to so low a depth, in fact, on our primeval, now so metamorphosed, selves. But between the infancy of man and his manhood lie the well-preserved ideals of his youth, the virgin blossoms of his thoughts, his works of art, religion, and morality, the offspring of his beautiful and glowing inspiration. The veneration for the lofty creations of antiquity, the admiration of all the great things that preceded us, and that we now, combined as they are to such wealth, are permitted to behold, enjoy, and understand—these are our own undiminished posses
sions, inviolable like an imperishable sanctuary. And who would venture to assert that we have already reached the goal? Who knows whether the mighty movement which now, seizing all the nations of the earth, its waves rolling farther and farther, and rising higher and higher, and uncontrollably transforming our feeling, thinking, and acting, is not that very everlastingly young impulse of growth and development? And should there still be on this dark path on which we are led, without man's own individual will being able materially to promote or check his progress, any guiding star, any ray of enlightenment, it will probably be nought else but that very light of consciousness which is dawning upon us in our days— the consciousness of our past.
The Earliest History of the Human Race in
the Light of Language, with Special Reference to the Origin of Tools.
[Read before the International Congress for Archæology and History
at Bonn, September 15, 1868.]
THE questions which have been placed at the head of your transactions comprise subjects of mighty import to the history of man, and, at the same time, of an almost unlimited range. If I now venture to express my views on a part of them, I am aware that the shortness of the time allotted to me will permit me to place only a very slight sketch before you, and I have asked permission to speak less for the purpose of discussing results than with a view to directing your attention to an important source and method for such inquiries, hitherto taken notice of but sparingly. Archæology proper, i.e., the searching out and investigating of palpable relics of antiquity, has to contend with difficulties which, it would seem, menace to set it limits before it can reach its final goal. I will say nothing about the more accidental difficulty of determining with certainty, in each instance, the age of an object found, and of duly appropriating it. But the higher the antiquity and the more primitive the condition of man, the more imperfect and the less durable must be his works, at least beyond a certain boundary: thus fewer relics will obviously have been preserved of a wood age than of a stone or metal age. At the same time, too, man's works are always the less recognisable the less artistic they are. We might, therefore, just happen to discover, from times which are the most important to the origin of things, implements in which we could not with certainty recognise the human hand that fashioned them. Besides, it is with these rude productions of art as with everything that has come into being; we see them lie before us, indeed, but they tell us nothing about their origin or the mental process that preceded it. If there ever was a time when man was as yet without any tools and altogether without any industrial art, his earliest dwellings can at most manifest this to us by silence. Precisely as regards that remote period, I believe I may appeal to language as a living testimony, and I would beg of you to permit me just to touch upon this linguistic archæology, the results of which I hope soon to publish in the second volume of my work on the Origin of Language and Reason.
Man had language before he had tools, and before he practised industrial arts. This is a proposition which, obvious and probable in itself, also admits of complete proof from language. On considering a word denoting an activity carried on with a tool, we shall invariably find it not to have been its original meaning, but that it previously implied a similar activity requiring only the natural organs of man. Let us, e.g., compare the ancient word mahlen (to grind), Mühle (mill), Latin, molo, Greek, múan. The process, well known from antiquity, of grinding the grains of the bread-fruit between stones, is no doubt simple enough to be presupposed as practised already in the primitive period in one form or another. Nevertheless, the word that we now use for an activity with implements has proceeded from a still more simple conception. The root mal or mar, so widely diffused in the Indo-European family of languages, implies “to grind with the fingers” as well as “to crush with the teeth.” I would remind you of mordeo, “ to bite,” and the Sanskrit root mrid, which implies to pulverise and to rub, e.g., one's forehead with one's hand; of the Greek polúvw, to spread over and soil with flour, mud, or the like, which may be compared to the Sanskrit mala,“ soiling,” Gothic mulda, “soft earth.” On the one hand, uéras, " black," on the other, marakós, mollis, “mellow," belong to this class; aye, so do even a number of designations of morass-like fluids and the word Meer (sea). In German, two different words from cognate roots perfectly coincide in sound: the mahlen (grinding) of the corn and the malen (painting) of pictures. The fundamental meaning of both is to rub or spread with the fingers; and an equally close resemblance may be found in the designation of these two notions in the Latin pinso and pingo.