Page images

first edition of his lexicon was only a manual. When he was preparing his second and third editions, and examining (as he tells us in one of the prefaces) a number of different Greek authors with that view, it is to be lamented that he did not regularly revise and remodel his whole work, instead of patching it here and there with additions and improvements, as chance or opportunity led him. But it would seem that his other avocations took up too much of his time to allow of his following any plan of this kind; that, as he went on reading his authors, and any passage or meaning struck him as worthy of remark, he added it at once to the article under which it should be placed, without examining whether it fitted well to that particular part of it, or whether it ought not rather to be incorporated into some other part. On no other grounds can we understand or explain the total want of arrangement in almost every article of any length, while we find quotation on quotation, and reference on reference, the whole so jumbled and confused together as frequently to require two or three readings to digest or unravel. Merely casting our eyes over a few of the first pages of the lexicon, we may cite, as instances of this defect, ἁβρὸς, ἄγημα, ἀγκὼν, ἀγορὰ, ἄγω, ἀγωνιάω, ἀδέω, ἀδινὸς, ἁδρὸς, ἄζα, ἀθρόος, αἰανὴς, αἰδέομαι, αἰόλος, &c.

In like manner, a confused series of quotations, and references, and meanings constantly follow each other, and are so intermingled, that it is frequently impossible to know, without consulting the passages referred to, whether any particular meaning or quotation is intended to belong to the preceding or to the succeeding reference. This arises entirely from the careless and slovenly manner in which the quotations are noted down-the meaning given being placed sometimes before and sometimes after the passage to which it belongs-from a constant want of proper pointing and from a total absence of capital letters, with which each fresh meaning or quotation ought to begin. This fault, like the former, disfigures almost every article of any considerable length.

And again, we might have expected that Schneider would make a point of quoting-as his authority for the meaning of a wordthe most ancient, or one of the purest writers in which it occurs; that where, for instance, a word or a meaning was found in the old epic language of Homer, we should find Homer cited as the example. But, strange to say, Schneider has so much neglected, except in a few articles, those primeval monuments of the Greek language, that he frequently refers us to Apollonius Rhodius, Nicander, Oppian, Quintus Smyrnæus, or Nonnus, where he ought to have quoted the Iliad or the Odyssey; and in general we should think it more likely to meet with the solution of a difficulty


occurring in some one of those later and comparatively unknown writers, than in those of an earlier and more classical period-of Homer, of Herodotus, of Pindar, or of Plato. *

Nor did Schneider sufficiently attend to the grammatical part of his lexicon. His strength did not lie in being an accurate grammarian. The consequences are, that he not only did not weed out numerous ungrammatical words and forms, which had been introduced, from time to time, into former lexicons, until their legitimacy had almost ceased to be doubted; but he and his fellowlabourers have deluged his lexicon with a fresh flood of doubtful words and forms, either drawn from unauthentic and disputed sources, or fabricated in order to trace some supposed analogy, or to form a link in some etymological chain. There can be no doubt of Schneider having been fully justified in introducing, from the old grammarians, or even in supposing the existence of those old and obsolete forms of verbs, of which there still remain some tenses in use; but he has constantly carried this liberty further than was justifiable. In giving the tenses of the verbs, however, Schneider has not been so liberal: there we find constant and considerable

deficiencies, as well as frequent inaccuracies. His principal attention seems to have been directed to the meaning of the word, -very little to its inflexions: nor does he appear to have ever thought of making any distinction between passive, middle, and deponent verbs, which, being so often similar in appearance, and so easily confounded with each other, require, therefore, to be marked with the greater care. As to the deponents, they are not even mentioned, from the beginning of the lexicon to the end. The particles, too-those most important parts of the Greek language, whose all-pervading influence is felt in every limb of every sentence-are invariably dismissed with a brief and unsatisfactory notice. The fact is, that Schneider's forte lay in natural history, in a most comprehensive knowledge of the natural productions alluded to by the ancients, and their various terms of art and science. In this he has had no equal,-no rival; here his lexicon is rich beyond hope or expectation; while points of great grammatical importance are slurred over in a few lines, half a page, or perhaps a whole one, is given to the discussion of some unknown bird, or some disputed plant. And yet, with all these drawbacks, Schneider's lexicon is an invaluable book; not a book for translation or abridgment, nor even to be

* Schneider had previously published a very excellent edition of Nicander and Oppian.

Schneider had associated with him, in preparing his lexicon, two scholars very unequal to such a task, named Wetzel and Riemer, to whose carelessness and want of judgment, Passow, in one of his prefaces, attributes much of this faulty exube



used as the ground-work of future editions-which would serve but to perpetuate its faults-but a mine of wealth for succeeding lexicographers who shall know how to draw from, and use judiciously, the treasures so profusely scattered through its pages; who, forming their own plan, and adopting rules which Schneider has neglected, shall improve on his excellencies, avoid his faults, and supply his deficiencies.

And such, we are happy to say, it has proved in the hands of the learned and judicious Passow, the author of the lexicon which we have placed second at the head of our article. Schneider's lexicon had caused a great sensation in Germany; and sundry pamphlets and critiques appeared, at different times, pointing out its faults, and laying down plans and rules for the direction of future lexicographers; and, in 1818, the year before Schneider published his third edition, Passow, who was also of Breslau, a pupil of Jacobs and Hermann, and a friend and colleague of Schneider, commenced a Manual-Lexicon, formed on an entirely new plan, but embodying, on an abridged scale, most of the valuable matter of Schneider's third edition. The first part, containing A and B, appeared in 1819; the second, from г to K, in 1821; and the two last, which completed the work, in 1823 and 1824. In this excellent little work, Passow began by correcting the want of arrangement in Schneider. His leading principle was to draw out, wherever it was possible, a kind of biographical history of each word, to give its different meanings in an almost chronological order, to cite always the earliest author in which a word is found,-thus ascertaining, as nearly as may be, its original signification—and then to trace it downwards according as it might vary in sense and construction, through subsequent writers. For this purpose, he began where every historical account of the Greek language must begin-with the primeval language of the epic poets, with a careful and critical examination of Homer and Hesiod. His intention then was to proceed to the Ionic prose of Herodotus, thence to what he calls the Eolic-Dorian lyric poetry, and afterwards to an examination of the Attic writers. It is one thing, however, to form a plan, and another to execute it. In his first edition, Passow advanced but one step in this his admirably devised plan: he got no farther than the works of Homer and Hesiod; but these he examined with the greatest minuteness and accuracy. Hence this first edition was very unequal. For the works of those two great poets, it was, indeed, most comprehensive; it left little or nothing to be desired; but for the postHomeric writers, it was much too concise, and passed them over too hastily, being, in that part of it, little more than an improved and corrected abridgment of Schneider. All the post


Homeric meanings were frequently comprehended in one sweeping, undistinguishing clause, generally without a quotation in support of them, or even the name of any author who used them, by which their value and authority might be ascertained. Nor was any distinction made between those significations which a word had in the pure and classical times of Greece, and those which it acquired in the decline of the language. Except, however, being much deteriorated by this continually-recurring defect, Passow's first edition deserved the highest praises which could be bestowed on it; in all other respects he had very judiciously avoided the faults, and filled up most of the deficiencies of Schneider, as far as the size of his book would allow. He had left out all those doubtful vocables with which Schneider and his predecessors had loaded their Lexicons, admitting none unless supported by good authority; and he had shown great discrimination, and a deep insight into the analogies of the language, by rejecting a vast number of those obsolete forms of verbs which Schneider had admitted so lavishly, and retaining only those of which there were evident remains, and in which he was justified by sound analogy. The primary sense of a word was always carefully marked, and the derivative senses so traced from it and from each other, as to make the connexion obvious. Any variety of construction occurring in different authors, was generally noticed; as also, whether the word was used principally by the epic poets, by the dramatic writers, or by the Attic prose authors. These last were points which had been almost entirely neglected by preceding lexicographers, and but slightly and occasionally touched on even by Schneider; while in Passow they are a very striking and valuable feature of his work. The syntax of the particles, also, was very elaborately worked,—perhaps more minutely than is necessary or even useful; but this is one of those points where it is difficult or almost impossible to draw the line between the grammar and the lexicon. Nor must we forget one very useful addition which Passow has made,-that of marking the quantity of all doubtful syllables. In a word, then, we should say of that first edition of Passow's Lexicon, that, for the reader of Homer and Hesiod, it was all but perfect; for the study of other authors, it was only (it pretended to nothing more) a very admirable manual: but we must at the same time say of it, that, by its chronological history of the significations of words, it established a principle which must be the basis of all future lexicography; and that, by its admirable examination of the old epic language, it laid a sure and immoveable foundation for future labours.

It was Passow's intention, in preparing a second edition, to advance one step farther in his original plan, by examining


the Ionic prose of Herodotus in the same way as he had done the writings of Homer; but unfortunately for the progress of genuine lexicography, a second edition was called for almost before the first was finished, and Passow, willing to answer a call so advantageous to his pocket, as well as gratifying to his character, gave up his plan for a time, and brought out, in 1825, the second edition, revised and corrected from the first, but without any very material additions. A third edition appeared in 1827-again revised, corrected, and very considerably enlarged, but without any farther progress being made in the original plan; and again, after a lapse of four years more, came out, towards the end of 1831, the fourth and last edition, now increased to two thick octavo volumes, each containing between 1400 and 1500 pages. In this work, which has left at an immense distance every other lexicon, even that of Schneider, Passow has put in execution the second part of his original plan, that of following up the explanation of Homer and Hesiod by an examination of the Ionic prose of Herodotus; and though he has not done it in so detailed a manner as he did the two poets, he has given, in our opinion, quite enough to satisfy any reader of Herodotus; and what he has given is done skilfully and with judgment. For we cannot but think, that, for a general lexicon, rather too much space is allotted to the meanings of Homer and Hesiod, too many quotations and references are given, every the most trifling shade of difference being marked, and oftentimes where the difference was not exactly in the meaning of the word, but rather implied in the thing signified more minute Passow could not have been, had his Lexicon, after the manner of Damm, been confined exclusively to those two poets. But in his account of the language of Herodotus, he has given all the most striking and most important significations,all the forms and constructions peculiar to Herodotus and the Ionic dialect. More than this we can neither expect nor desire in any general lexicon. In this admirable book, Passow has not proceeded with his original plan farther than Herodotus, though we still find, in the other parts, very considerable improvements and additions, by meanings and extracts from many other authors; but he promises to proceed in his next edition with his original project, which we heartily wish him life, and health, and leisure to complete, although we fear that it is almost more than he can hope or expect. Should not Passow, however, be spared to finish his Herculean task,* we have no doubt that Germany possesses many scholars worthy of treading in his steps, who, we hope,


* Since writing the above, we have heard that Passow has been taken off in the midst of his literary career. His death was mentioned in an English newspaper, but we have never seen any authentic account of it.

« PreviousContinue »