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A small wooden crucifix was fixed between the hands, the fingers of which were clasped as in prayer. His bow, his dagger, and his quiver were disposed in guise of a trophy upon his knees, and were to be interred with him. 'Four armed men kept the crowd at a respectful distance; two others drove away the flies from the face of the corse with olive branches.
A low murmur, like the distant hum of bees, was heard on the green, before the funeral rites began. It was at once hushed into the profoundest silence at the sudden appearance of the Prefiche, (the denomination of the Accabaduri when employed in these melancholy offices) who were hired to mourn and to celebrate the deceased. They were clothed in black stuff, their heads concealed in large hoods of the same material, under which appeared white bands, not unlike those worn by Augustinian nuns. Their faces were lank, the wrinkled skin of the colour of the box tree; in their hands they held white handkerchiefs to receive the tears it was their business to shed.”
These professional mourners approach as if unsuspicious of the event on account of which they are summoned. They start on perceiving the corse, act the most violent agonies of despair, and, finally, break out into a seemingly extemporaneous dirge. The audience sympathize in all the emotions represented by the prefiche, and every man dips bis finger in the black blood coagulated about the wound.
“ A new personage, destined to play a conspicuous part in the drama, was now to appear. This was the daughter of Nura, (the bereaved Capo-tribu,) a girl of ten years old, upon whom, as the nearest female relation of the deceased, devolved the duty of publicly demanding vengeance. Attired in her most sumptuous apparel, her hair hanging loose, and escorted by three kinsmen, she advanced with faltering steps to dip a handkerchief in her brother's blood. But her courage failed as she extended her arm, and she would have fallen upon the corse, if her kinsmen had not supported her, and guided her hand to perform an act of duty, deemed indispensable to the repose of the deceased.”
Surrounded by the weeping, sobbing, Prefiche, and followed by his favourite dog, and by his sister bearing the blood-stained handkerchief, the body is now borne in procession to its allotted place of rest, beneath an ancient and wide spreading oak. The prayers of the church are chaunted, the grave is dug, the dead man, with his arms, is laid down in it by moonlight, and his dog is knocked on the head, and deposited at his feet. The grave is then filled up, the maidens strew it with herbs and flowers, and Bari, the Bard of Goceano, then residing at Genargento, as the guardian of Preziosa, pours forth an improviso strain of lamentation, far more loftily poetical than the dirge of the Prefiche.
The procession now returns to the sort of esplanade, on which stands the cottage of the Capo-tribu, (who, be it observed, had been compelled by the duties of bis station, to deny bimself the sad gratification of attending his lost son to the grave,) and the last scene of the drama begins. The youthful sister, still holding the ensanguined handkerchief, knocks thrice at the closed door of the cottage.
“Who seeks the Capo-tribu at this hour ? inquired Nura from within.
“ I,' answered the maiden, in tremulous accents; ' I, the daughter of Nora.'
" " And what askest thou, daughter of Nura ?' resumed the father, of the chief of thy tribe!'
“ At this terrible word, a magic adjuration which no montaineer can resist without public dishonour, the door was thrown open, and Nura stood at the threshold.”
The old chief is then conducted to bis seat upon a rock, named the stone of justice ; four armed men array themselves bebind him ; four others illuminate the scene with blazing pine branches.
“ Unbroken silence reigned; the maiden advanced within three paces of her father's knees, flung the blocdy handkerchief into his lap, and said this is the blood of my brother, shed by treachery ; the hand of a girl is unfit to avenge him, and it is thine to procure the slain that vengeance which he merits and I cannot yield him.' Here the maiden's lip became yet more pale, and more tremulous. Bred as she was amongst fierce mountaineers, she still could not utter the remainder of the necessary formula, and fell fainting into the arms of those who surrounded her. Then the eldest of her cousins, a young man of some six and twenty, took upon himself to supply her deficiency, and, in tones suited to the tremendous adjuration, pronounced, the malediction of Heaven strike upon thy hoary head, and upon the heads of all who belong to thee, if the assassin of Sulpicio fall not beneath the blade of vengeance !
“ The wretched father responded samen !' and amen was re-echoed in chorus by all present. The torches were extinguished, Nura re-entered his cottage, his swooning daughter was carried after him, and the assembly dispersed.”
Postscript to Article I. on Murat's Sketch of the United States.
AFTER this article had gone to press, the news arrived of the dispute between a portion of the inhabitants of the State of Carolina, and the general government of the Union. This has served to fill the mouths of many idle people with matter for wonderment, which may probably last an extra nine days above the ordinary amount. The best account of the matter is that which appeared in “ The Times," and in which we recognize the hand of an able opponent of the Tariff. Whoever has carefully perused that letter must have been satisfied that no real ground for serious alarm existed. The truth is, that the Tariff was at the very outset a most absurd piece of legislation, no better to be described than by the old adage, “cutting off the nose to be revenged on the face." The argument of the American legislators, based upon a relic of the ancient antipathy, was,—"as England behaves ill to us by refusing to take our corn, we will behave worse to ourselves by refusing to take their manufactures.” There was no partial American interest to gratify at the time. The law was passed in pique and in sheer igno
The consequences were what might have been foreseen. Capital was taken from agriculture and other things in which it was profitably employed, and forced into manufactures, which appeared to offer a larger rate of profit. The profits of a small portion of the nation were thus artificially increased at the cost of the majority, and a vested
interest in a monstrous abuse was established. Time brought the revulsion. Those who were not interested in the gain, could not see the advantage of using inferior commodities and paying a higher price for them; and, as prejudice began to wear away, murmurs arose, which grew louder and hoarser as they proceeded. In the human body, issues are determined towards the weakest and most irritable parts. Even thus is it in the body politic. The Carolina slave-holders are the aristocracy of the Union, lacking judgment and abounding in
“ Valour, like light straw in flame,
“ A fierce but fading fire." Not well weighing the matter in question-not seeing that by enlightening the people on the subject, the abuse would be peaceably put down-several of the leaders, animated by personal pique and something of ambition, with only half of the state on their side, and that half more verbal than real,-for the dog that means mischief never barks-tried the matter by the laws of duelling, and resolved to "call out” the Union. The answer of the President, calm and temperate, yet earnest and decisive, is a document worthy of a great nation, and must produce its effect. The Carolinians have calculated on the fact that their opponent, the government, possesses only 6,000 troops wherewith to put them down, forgetting that the citizens at large are interested in maintaining good order. As surely as the riotous mob at Boston, some few months back, was put down by the armed citizens, so surely will the Carolinians be promptly quelled by the people of the Union, if indeed the fiery leaders can muster any number for the actual work of " stroke and flash.” Blood may be shed, perchance, but scarcely in a regular battle. The whole conduct of the rebellious state may be compared with the vapouring of the white inhabitants of the West India islands, in bidding defiance to Great Britain. Were Congress to confiscate the property of the rebels, and declare their slaves free, what would be their condition? In their own dwellings, on their own estates, there would be found the means of crushing them, if necessary. In Andrew Jackson they have no child to deal with, and the nation is at his back.
The whole matter is an example of the evils which may result to a nation from ignorant lawgivers, even when those lawgivers are honest. The Tariff was enacted, has produced evil, and that evil ought to be borne jointly by all the states. The cheapest mode of settling the matter would be at once to abolish the Tariff, and, after estimating the loss this would occasion to the manufacturers, to divide it amongst the whole nation. This will not be done, on account of the difficulties which would present themselves in details and individual dishonesty. A gradual modification, and eventual extinction of the Tariff, will therefore probably take place, and the capital employed in manufactures will by degrees be otherwise absorbed, when the only real cause of dispute will be removed from the Union, always excepting the slaves—the miserable, the unfortunate slaves—who cause even more injury to the whites, than the whites inflict upon them.
DENMARK NECROLOGY.—Erasmus Rask. This eminent scholar and linguist, whose merits and literary labours have been occasionally commemorated in the former numbers of this Journal, was born at Brendekild, in the island of Fyen, in the year 1784. He studied at the University of Copenhagen, and early distinguished himself by his singular faculty for the acquisition of languages. In 1808 he was appointed sub-librarian to the University, and some years after Professor of Literary History. In 1811 he published (in Danish,) his Introduction to the Grammar of the Icelandic and other uncient Northern Lunguages, the materials for which were entirely derived from the immense mass of manuscript and printed works accumulated by his predecessors in the same field. This grammar appears to have given a fresh impulse to those studies even in Germany. The reputation which he acquired by it recommended him to the Arna-Magnæan Institution, by whom he was employed to edit the Icelandic Lexicon of Biorne Haldorsen, which had long remained in manuscript. To this work, published in 1814, a preface was prefixed by Bishop Müller, in which he passes a just eulogium on the talents and spirit of research of the youthful editor. About the same time, Rask, who had never been in Iceland, paid a visit to that country, where he remained from 1813 to 1815, during which he made himself fully master of the language, which he spoke with the fluency of a native, and familiarized himself with the literature, manners, and customs of the people. To the interest with which they inspired him was probably owing the establishment, early in 1816, of the Icelandic Library Society at Copenhagen, which was mainly effected by his exertions, and of which he was the first President. In October, 1816, he left Denmark on a literary expedition of several years duration, for the double purpose of prosecuting his inquiries into the languages of the East, and of collecting manuscripts for the University Library of Copenhagen. The King of Denmark liberally provided him with the
He proceeded first to Sweden, where he remained two years, making an excursion to Finland, during which he published in Swedish,) his AngloSaron Grammar in 1817; in the same year, at Copenhagen, (in Danish,) an Essay on the Origin of the Ancient Scandinavian or Icelandic tongues, in which he traces the affinity of that most remarkable idiom to the other European languages, especially to the Latin and Greek. In 1818, he published, at Stockholm, a second edition, much improved, of his Icelandic Grammar, translated by himself into Swedish; also in the same year the first complete editions of the prose or Snorro's Edda, and of the poetical or Sæmund's Edda, in the original text, in two volumes, in the latter of which he was assisted by his friend the Reverend Mr. Afzelius, along with Swedish translations of both Eddas in two other volumes. From Stockholm he proceeded, in 1819, to St. Petersburgh, where he wrote an interesting paper in German on the Languages and Literature of Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland, which was published in the sixth number of the Vienna Jahrbucher. From Russia he proceeded through Tartary into Persia, and resided for some time at Tauris, Teheran, Persepolis, and Schiraz. It is an instance of his remarkable facility for acquiring languages, that in six weeks time he was sufficiently master of Persian to be able to converse fluently with the natives. In 1820 he embarked at Abuschekr, in the Persian Gulf, for Bombay, during his residence in which he wrote (in English,) a Dissertation on the Authenticity and Antiquity of the Zend Language, addressed in the epistolary form to the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, the governor, which was published in the Third Volume of the “Transac
tions of the Literary Society of Bombay." And it is probably this Dissertation, with corrections and additions, which we have understood is to appear in the ensuing Volume of the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Soeiety. From India his next stage was to Ceylon in 1822, where also he wrote in English,) a Dissertation on the best Method of expressing the Sounds of the Indian Languages in European characters, which was printed in the “ Transactions of the Literary and Agricultural Society of Colombo." Professor Rask arrived at Copenhagen in the beginning of May, 1823, after an absence of nearly seven years. He brought home with him a considerable collection of rare and curious oriental manuscripts, ancient Persian, Zend, Pali, Cingalese, &c. &c. and which now enrich the University and Royal Libraries of the Danish capital.
Since his return home, Professor Rask has published the following works in his native language:-a Spanish Grammar,(1824,) an Italian Grammar, a Frisic Grammar,* (1825,) a Treatise on the Ancient Egyptian Chronology, (1827,) on the Ancient Jewish Chronology previous to Moses, (1828,) Essay on Danish Orthography, (1828.) He also edited a new edition of Schneider's Danish Grammar for Englishmen, (1829,) and superintended the English translation of his Anglo-Saxon Grammar, (1830.) See p. 227, ante.
He had also been long engaged in the compilation of an Etymological Dictionary of the Danish language, in which he proposed to exhibit the important illustration which that and the collateral tongues of Europe may derive from a comparison with those of Asia. We have not heard in what state of forwardness he has left it.
In a former number of this Journal, with reference to Professor Rask's labours in the field of Icelandic literature, we took occasion to pay a just tribute of respect and admiration to his extraordinary and multifarious acquirements. We think we cannot do better than now repeat a portion of what was so well said by our eloquent contributor.
“ No man ever existed whose study of language has been directed to a wider circle, and assuredly none who has made the structure of language so much the object of attention. He is the consummate comparative anatomist of philology, not building up his theories from the scattered fragments, gathered, as it were, by accident, but drawing his deductions from the most profound and elaborate research; and by comparison, comprehension, and exhaustion, throwing day-light on all those curious inquiries which have, for the most part, been feebly and ignorantly dealt with by the majority of critics. Not that Rask's writings have hitherto enabled the world to form any accurate estimate of his extraordinary learning. To have written the best Icelandic or Anglo-Saxon Grammar, to have tracked through Hebrew or hieroglyphic records the chronology of Egyptian kings, to have edited Eddas or Sagas, and have carried off prizes for Essays on this or the other limited inquiry-this--these--are littleare nothing, compared to what he is capable of effecting. He is one of the very few men who can write on philology, having some sufficient acquaintance with the subject in its various bearings, who has seen with his own eyes, heard with his own ears, the tribes, the tongues, which cover the world's surface; who, if he has not girdled the whole earth, has at least explored those tracts in which so many nations were cradled; and who, travelling through all the East in the pursuit of philological knowledge, took with him him a mind so trained, and exercised, and cultured, that nothing could be wasted upon it.”
See Foreign Quarterly Review, vol.iii. p. 607. In the Second Number of the Foreign Review there is an account of his Grammars, and in the 10th Number an article on Grimm's Teutonic Grammar and a work on the Danish Language, which we have reason to think were drawn up from his communications. In the Third Number of the same journal is a letter from him, signed Danus, containing remarks on some papers in a ÁS. of the Archeologia.