Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

between the mythologies of India and of Greece. This subject was treated in Professor Müller's article on Comparative Mythology, in the Oxford Essays for 1856; and a branch of it has lately been discussed by Dr Kuhn in his "Herabkunft des feuers und des Götter-tranks" (Descent of Fire and of the Celestial Beverage).

The science of comparative philology is, as is well known, very closely connected with the study of Sanskrit. It is this ancient and venerable tongue which has supplied the wanting link for binding together the different languages of the IndoGermanic family, and the key which most effectually unlocks all the mysteries of their structure, and of their mutual relations. I must presuppose in the reader a general acquaintance with the principles of this new science of comparative philology, founded by Bopp and other German scholars; as, for instance, the division of languages into groups or families, such as the Semitic (consisting of Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, &c.), the IndoGermanic (consisting of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic, &c.), according to their respective affinities in regard (1.) to roots, and (2.) to structure-i.e., the laws for the formation and inflection of words; and I shall also presuppose an acquaintance with the desults reducible from the science in regard to the mutual affinities of the nations by whom the languages composing these several groups have been respectively spoken. I shall only allude to some of the more recent labours in this department of linguistic science. A new edition of Professor Bopp's Vergleichende Grammatik" (Comparative Grammar of the Sanskrit, Zend, Armenian, Greek, Latin, &c.), is at present in progress, and has reached the close of the second volume. A third volume will complete the work. In addition to the German " Journal of Comparative Philology,” in reference especially to German, Greek, and Latin, established by Drs Aufrecht and Kuhn, a new journal, entitled "Contributions" (Beiträge) to the same science, in reference to the Arian, Celtic, and Slavonian tongues, has been lately commenced by Kuhn and Schleicher. The "Journal of the German and Oriental Society" also from time to time contains articles on the same subject. An interesting attempt has lately been made by M. Adolphe Pictet of Geneva, in his work entitled "Les Origines Indo-Européennes, ou les Aryas

66

Primitifs, Essai de Paléontologie Linguistique," to carry out in detail an idea which had been previously conceived, and to some extent realised, by Dr Kuhn of Berlin-i.e., to examine the words expressive of the principal physical objects, animate and inanimate, in the different kingdoms of nature, as well as those denoting intellectual and moral conceptions, which are common to the different languages of the Indo-Germanic race, and (on the necessary assumption that the common ancestors of these different nations originally spoke one common mother-language, and inhabited one common country) to discover from these data what that original country of these primitive Arians was, and what were their physical condition and their mental characteristics at the period when they dwelt there. This idea has been carried out in part by M. Pictet, in his first volume, with great labour and ingenuity; and the result to which he is led (and which coincides with that attained by most previous investigators) is, that the primitive country of the people who were the common ancestors of the Indians, Persians, Greeks, Latins, Germans, Slavonians, and Celts, was the region lying between the Caspian Sea and mountain range of the Hindu Kush. Having completed in this volume the physical portion of his task, M. Pictet is to proceed, in a second volume, to estimate the intellectual condition of the ancient Arians, from the words expressive of that class of ideas which are common to the different languages of their descendants. The published volume of this work has formed the subject of an acute critique by Professor Albrecht Weber of Berlin, in Kuhn and Schleicher's Journal, ii. pp. 250 ff. Professor Weber asserts-and his strictures appear to be justified by the instances which he adduces,-that M. Pictet does not exhibit an acquaintance with Sanskrit sufficiently critical for the requirements of his task, and has displayed a want of scholar-like tact in failing to recognise the historical developments of that language, defects which are exemplified in his placing words of modern formation, or ill authenticated, or figuratively employed, on the same footing with words indisputably ancient or well certified, or used in their proper and original sense, and turning them all to account indiscriminately, for the purposes of his argument. If this be a correct account of M. Pictet's procedure, it is clear that we must not regard this work as more

than a contribution to our knowledge of this interesting subject. But in fact the investigations on this and other kindred topics, though diligently pursued, have but little more than begun.

While, however, such vigorous efforts have been put forth in other parts of Europe, to penetrate into the dense uncleared forest of Indian learning, and to elucidate the various problems of comparative philology, we regret that we are unable to point to any assistance which has as yet been rendered by any person resident in Scotland towards the prosecution of these interesting researches. In fact, it cannot be denied that not only oriental and comparative philology, but philology generally, has been but little cultivated in this country. And this state of things can occasion no surprise. Little encouragement has been offered by the State to the higher branches of learning, and mediocrity in scholastic acquirements has satisfied all the requisitions of the Church. Happily, however, the public mind has been awakened to a just sense of our unsatisfactory position in this respect; and this conviction, as it has led to a new law for the reorganisation of our University institutions, will also, it is to be hoped, lead to the exaction of a higher standard of learning and of culture (a standard more in consonance with the intellectual progress of the laity and the moral wants of our era) from those who seek to enter on the office of the sacred ministry, and by so doing claim to constitute themselves the spiritual, and, in some respects, intellectual leaders of their age. We trust that the new arrangements which are to be made by the University Commissioners will result in a great elevation of our intellectual standard in general, and that among other improvements they will include a provision for the efficient cultivation of those branches of learning which have formed the especial subjects of this paper-the Sanskrit language and literature, in conjunction with comparative philology.

P.S.-I find that I have omitted to advert, in the preceding sketch, to several important contributions to comparative philology of recent date, which might have been properly noticed; such as Professor M. Müller's "Last Results of the Turanian Researches," (in Bunsen's "Christianity and Mankind," vol. iii.); Pott's review of the same Dissertation in the

"Journal of the German Oriental Society," ix. 405–464; Dr Caldwell's "Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian (South Indian) Languages;" and M. Ernest Renan's "Histoire Générale et Système Comparé des langues Sémitiques, 2d edit.

Some Miscellaneous Observations on the Tadpole; on the Albumen of the Newly-laid Egg; on the Growth of Birds; their specific gravity; and on the Stomach of Fishes in relation to Digestion. By JOHN DAVY, M.D., F.R.S.

Lond. and Edin.*

I shall offer a few preliminary observations on the jelly in which the ova of the frog are enveloped a matter somewhat peculiar in its nature and remarkable in its properties, and performing, no doubt, an important part in the early stage of batrachian life.

The quantity of solid matter that this jelly contains is extremely small-less than 1 per cent; one specimen evaporated to dryness yielded 49 per cent. It had been kept, previous to evaporation, in a moist filter, covered, to draw off what might be considered superfluous water. Another yielded only 37 per cent; and a third even less. The dry films, on the addition of water, rapidly expand from imbibition, but they absorb less than they have lost, and consequently do not recover their original bulk. A portion that before drying weighed 40 grains, after absorption of water weighed only 10 grains.

The refractive power of the jelly differs so little from that of water, that, when immersed, the ova detached, it is hardly observable. Under the microscope, it appears perfectly transparent; but when evaporated on a glass support, so as to be moderately concentrated, granules and spindleshaped forms become visible. By boiling in water for several hours, it is in great part dissolved-a just perceptible fibrous matter remaining. The solution is very slightly affected by infusion of nut-galls and corrosive sublimate; by both a perceptible turbidness is produced. A like effect is occasioned by nitrate of silver. A solution of this salt-12 grains to the ounce of water-occasions a slight contraction of the jelly, and its discoloration on exposure to light; now, seen under

* Read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

the microscope, it seems to be composed of globular masses of unequal dimensions, having somewhat the character of cells. It is acted on by the mineral acids. At first, on immersion in them, it contracts a little; it is slowly dissolved without change of colour. In the same acids heated, it dissolves rapidly; in the nitric imparting a yellow colour, in the muriatic without change of colour, in the sulphuric occasioning a brown, almost black, discoloration, with the disengagement of sulphurous acid gas. These acid solutions, when largely diluted, become slightly turbid.

Mr Brande, who was the first to examine this substance-and I am not aware that it has been examined since-was led by his experiments to the conclusion that it is a peculiar matter, and, as regards its chemical properties, intermediate "between albumen and gelatine."* From the results I have mentioned, in some particulars not entirely agreeing with his, I am disposed to view it as a variety of albumen; and, physiologically considered, the part it performs seems to be tolerably in accordance. Its uses appear to be, first, to protect the ovum, and after its hatching, to afford food to the tadpole. As regards the first, by its glairy adhesive quality, it helps to retain the ova in the water in which they have been shed, and to defend them from the attack of insects and fishes. It may also retard their freezing, and so preserve their vitality; for I have found that after having been frozen their death has ensued, denoted by their development on thawing being altogether arrested. That the jelly serves as the food of the tadpoles, is proved by its rapid disappearance after their birth from the egg. It may be useful also in preserving the ova from desiccation (the water in which they are all but failing), by its imbibing power-and this although I do not find that it retards evaporation-equal quantities of water and jelly exposed to the air having been reduced to dryness in about the same time. May not this property aid in explaining some of the statements made with the intention to prove that the frog and toad may be produced without passing through their larva stage?†

* Philosophical Transactions for 1810, p. 219.

† See Proceedings of Royal Society, vol. vi., p. 292. NEW SERIES.-VOL. XI. NO. II.-APRIL 1860.

2 H

« ПредишнаНапред »