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Brief (034-02394)

Dear Dr. Schuchardt, precisely because I recognise your eminence as a linguist and a word-Sounder, I must answer your criticisms when they seem unjust. Your letter received on the 17th suggests a great deal of thought, and it is wearisome to have to scribble instead of speak in reply to it. My philological training has been wanting in regularity, owing to my whole career having been thrown out of joint by an irrational persecution into which jealousy larger enters but at the root of which lies my admiration of Newman as a religious, and fladstone as a political, and Ruskin, and partly Pater, as an aesthetic leader. I have never been able to be independent financially of the “mens angusta domi” - But in such travels as my means have enabled me to profit by I have tried to take notes of different languages as spoken and written, and since 1886 have made a speciality of Basque. I am glad you urge me to do so even more, but so far from leading to any advantage to me pecuniarily, it is always leading me into debt. I am not so foolish as to suppose that mere identity in sound between words in different languages proves |2| them to have a common origin, still less the same meaning, though as I have told you before I think it would be most useful to compile a universal homophonic lexicon for all the languages still spoken, to show for instance how many different meanings such a sound as da, or ba, or ari has in different languages - we should have a register of all sounds formed by the human voice with the signification that each race attaches there to. But common sense would show a Japanese or a Yahgan that if haus in German and house in English have the same sound and the same meaning, they must be the same word, that is to say that in respect at least of that word the English and the German are the same language. I only notice such resemblances. And what but such showed people 100 years ago that Iranian and Sanskrit were akin to Greek and Irish? So much for my supposed jolly about “Gleichklang”. If Basque is a very old language, and if the Euskarian race has travelled, before history tells us of it, very widely, it stands |3| to reason that the Euskarian language has borrowed words from many languages and has lent words to many languages. For that reason alone the careful bascophile should note all the words he can, in as many languages as he has the time to study, which bear any resemblance to Basque in their form, or their meaning, or their sound, and put them to the test, not by a preconceived rule of phonetics arbitrarily arrived at, and applied as if it were a dogma infallible as the apostles Creed or the multiplication tables, but by common sense which shows us how irregularly, clumsily, and arbitrarily all languages have been formed, and used, and misused, and changed, both in writing, and speaking, and in signification. Let law be drawn from experience and not make us blind to experience - Let us Be natural in our methods, always trying to find law, but not starting on the hypothesis that it is found. I had myself also noticed narr as a possible remnant of Gothic in Basque - as for narria in Spanish, I am not sure if I ever thought of connecting it therewith, but as you suggest this |4| let me say that just as anima = breath, soul, passed from its immaterial sense in latin to the material sense of the physiological, and not merely poetical and metaphorical, heart, in Roumanian, so also the sense of mental heaviness, dulness, and difficulty of moving, may have been transferred to the dead weight of a wheelless sledge or car, and of an inordinately fat “frauenzimmer”, a too materialistic and timberous woman! I knew that ba was Slavonic for yes, but why may there not be a Basque element in Slavonic? we know how persistent are ancient forms of saying “yes” even in a conquered people. why too may there may not be a slight Basque element in Gothic? - Is it absurd to compare Basque gudu and guda with the same words having the same meaning in the Anglo Saxon of Beowulf? Dr. Drtina of Prag told me that the Sclavonic tongues have the same way as Basque of affirming the negative as in “ezpaitzuen” = “he really (yesly) had not” - Thanks for your compliments, |5| which are at least soothing, though dangerous. As for Lithuanian, I am not aware that any grammar of it has ever been published in English or French, and I should not learn it so well in German - I learnt some time ago to read it with my eyes, but not to read it with my voice (English has not two words for these two kinds of reading). that is the New Testament - I long to continue it, and to hear it spoken in its own contry. I have only met, knowingly, one Lithuanian; it was in a theatre, in Otakou, at Dunedin. He gave me a few words. I have often been admonished, (by, among others, Dr Delitz[s]ch of Leipzig) on the need of “beschränkung” in my studies. But I dread narrowmindedness, and the fate of the homo unius linguae vel unius libri. I would rather know something about everything than everything about something. When you say “sie geben … aus” your German is ambiguous. Do you mean to see [sic] “you publish” or “they publish”? My object being to propagate the study of Basque as a fine mental discipline to the utmost |6| of my power, I put my translation into Galignani. (I will send it to you next week) because that paper had of its own accord begun to publish articles on Basqueland. The Editor has kindly invited contributions from me. Would you advise me not to use so good an opportunity? I hope to write to him from the Basque contry in the summer - I published a letter in the Academy (of London) in 1889, and another in 1890, on Basque, because that paper had on former occasions admitted discussions on Basque, and because it has a real influence among studious people everywhere who read English. You found my article which the Eskualduna accepted in 1889 interesting; and that was addressed to the Basques, to stimulate those whom nature has endowed with Euskarian as the vehicle of thought and feeling. The Euskalerria reproduced it, and I found in Biscay last Autumn that it had made an impression there not yet effaced! I published the life of St Catherine of Siena at Siena, because her natal house is there, and there is the chief |7| centre of her cult, so I thought that it was a good occasion to advertise the Basque language and Joannateguys book in an impressive way to the readers of Carapellis monthly review. My list of Vinsons omissions was published in the Union VascoNavarra by the selection of Don Juan de Cortabarria, as he thought it would appeal thus most directly to a large number of readers who cherish the Basque language - the misprints are merely cosas de España like the thefts in the post office, the oil and garlic in the cookery, the absence of mustard, butter, and eggcups, in the hotels, and of baths in the towns etc: etc: all life is a failure - The Euskara “rédaction” have refused to send me proofs to correct, and prove their ignorance by introducing errors into what I contribute - I shall send you next week my translation of Donum as printed in “the Wykehamist”. I cannot undertake an “uebersicht” of Axulars verb, as you whish, till I have finished my concordance to that of Leiçarraga, which, I |8| believe, will, when I succeed in getting it finished and published, be found to be a most useful synopsis to shorten the labour of the student even more than Mr Stempfs work does in the case of Dechepare. As for El III Concilio de Toledo, I received it as a present from Don Julio de Urquijo e Ibarra of the Jesuits University College at Deusto, and I find it as interesting to a Theologian and an ecclesiastical historian as to a student of the different languages of the Iberian peninsula, of which it contains specimens. I introduced Dr Priebsch, who has helped me by a loan of money and pleased me by his genial company, yesterday to a Basque writer and priest, l’abbé Piarres Harispe of 37 Cours de Vincennes, Paris, who would gladly correspond with you on Basque and in Basque, either Guipozcoan or his native Labourtin, and to the abbé Martin, a polyglot Breton priest from Lannion, who is founding a peripatetic linguistic school here - we all went with Dr Kail, a Vienna student, to see “La Vieille Amérique reconstituée” where I suggested that the crew of Columbus should learn and sing some Basque songs.

[1]12, Rue de la Sorbonne, Paris, May 19, 1892.

|5|[2] and now farewell. I remain yours gratefully E. S. Dodgson, unlearned but learning.

|1|[3] I have even thought that Slavonic da = “yes”, was basque = “it is”.

|3|[4] Vinson whom I introduced to Harispe the day before yesterday heard the day before from Prince Roland Bonapartes own lips that not even the Empress had been able to learn the fate of Prince Luciens books.

|4|[5] I hope to get La Vie de Saint Alexis done into Basque. Harispe promises La Chanson de Roland.

Paris, May 19, 1892.



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