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Their heavenly bodies : with his leaves did dewy lotus store The Elysian mountain; saffron flowers and hyacinths
help'd make The sacred bed; and there they slept; when suddenly
there brake A golden vapor out of air, whence shining dews did fall.
Gazing he spoke, and kindling at the view,
So spake the son of Saturn, and his spouse
This is not so bad, but wait a moment. He spake, and clasp'd his bride, the joyous earth Burst into bloom of odoriferous birth; There the blue hyacinth, gold crocus rose, And the moist lotus oped its cup of snows; There underneath them their soft broidery spread, Swell’d gently up and formed their fragrant bed; And as the gods lay there dissolved in love, Resplendent dew-drops gemm’d their gold alcove (!!) This is rather too much. Zeus and Here in an alcore! He should have put them into an entresol in the Rue Richelieu at once.
MUNFORD. She said; and from her breast a zone unclasp'd, Embroider'd rich with variegated dyes. That girdle all her sweet enticing arts Contain'd. There fondness dwelt, there tender looks, Attractive, soothing speech, and flattery's charms, Which steals the wits of wisest men away.
The son of Saturn spake, and in his arms
His consort clasp'd. For them the sacred earth,
There are three men living who could translate Homer well, Elton, Tennyson and Aytoun; but the first is too old, the second too lazy, and the third too busy.
PHONICS AND PHONETICS.
Literary World, January 1848.
Comstock's Phonetic Reuder. Philadelphia: E. H. Butler
& Co. 1847. Comstock's Phonelic Speaker.
Do. Comstock's Phonetic Magazine. Philadelphia: A. Comstock.
1847. DR. COMSTOCK, or, as he spells himself phonetically, and doubtless prefers to be spelled, Dr. Komstok, proposes simply to alter and remodel the entire orthography of our language; and as a necessary means of carrying out this somewhat comprehensive and radical reform, he announces a perfect alphabet.
A perfect alphabet! When it is considered that perfection is predicable of few sublunary works, and that all existing alphabets are allowed to have some imperfections in the way of deficiency, redundancy, or incongruity of some sort, the announcement is not a little startling, and savors of something very like arrogance. But “to us much meditating” (as Brougham saith after
Cicero), another interpretation has occurred which renders the assertion less wonderful and more admissible. There is a popular use of the adjective perfect as an intensive epithet without involving the exact idea of freedom from imperfection. Thus, when particularly injured or annoyed by the stupidity of some not over-sagacious individual, we irately speak of him as "a perfect fool." Thus, Mr. Headley denominates a number of unfortunate deceased, “a perfect carpet of corpses.” And thus, when we have occasion to show up some would-be scholar, poet, or philosopher, his friends are sure to cry out by way of irresistible vindication of him and confutation of ourselves, that he is “a perfect gentleman." We may then call Dr. Komstok's a perfect alphabet, meaning thereby, as we should say in common parlance, that it is "quite an alphabet,” or “considerable of an alphabet,” or as Punch's "fast man” would express it, “no end of an alphabet.” And indeed this last phrase is not inappropriate to the “Phonetic Alphabet,” considering its length. It comprises forly-four letters, thirty-eight “simple” and six "compounds.” Of the simple letters, fifteen are vowels, including all the vowel and nearly all the diphthongal sounds of the language, viz. the four sounds of a, the ordinary long and short sounds of e, i, and u, the oo or continental u long (which Dr. K. classes with the sounds of o), the short sound of the same as in full (which he classes with the sounds of u) and the diphthong ow or ou. The consonants, divided into fourteen “subvowels” and nine "aspirates,” are the established English consonants, minus c and x, with additional characters or new appropriations of old characters to represent sh, ch, wh, ng, the French j, and the sounds of th. Each letter has its distinct character, and five of the compound letters, oi, j, ch, gs, x, have characters compounded of the simple ones, expressing their component sounds. The sixth, ai in fair, has a character of its own. "All the consonants in the Anglo-American ("alias the Phonetic') alphabet are sanctioned by English, French, Greek, or Gothic usage.” For instance, c represents the sound of sh, because (we are not answerable for the logic here) ch in French has the same sound.
There are some obvious objections to the theoretical construction of this alphabet. Thus we may ask, why
is oi to be considered a compound letter and ou a simple one? The former, is as Dr. K. properly enough states, composed of the sounds aw, ee; is not the latter as clearly composed of the sounds ah, oo? Does not the power of the diphthong au in Spanish, Italian, and German, confirm this? Nay more, are not the sounds of i and u long diphthongal sounds quite as much as oi, and do they not exist as diphthongs in the continental languages? And how is ai in fair to be made out a diphthong? Dr. K. says, it is compounded of a long and u short and he makes lair and layer equivalent sounds. Now, with all submission, it strikes us that layer is decidedly a dissyllable with the sound of the consonant y distinctly appreciable in it. As to the supposed distinction between ai in fair and a in fate, whe have said enough on that point lately. Our more immediate concern, however, is with the practical applicability of the alphabet. . Of course, the first obstacle which meets us in limine is, that it is no joke to ask a whole people to unlearn their letters and learn them over again. To this Dr. K. replies, that the perfection of his alphabet enables any one to learn it in an hour; and there is a case adduced of a wonderful “phonic girl in Michigan,” who did so. Now, we do not profess to be “phonic” ourselves (not clearly understanding what it means, but like the little boy in the story who was called a philosopher, we “hope it's nothing bad”), and that may make some difference, but we have studied the type of the Phonetic Magazine much more than an hour (more we confess to decipher some specimens of Cherokee and other curious tongues which we found in it, than with any intention of adopting the Komstokography) and are yet far from being able to read it with fluency. One constant source of confusion is, that familiar characters have new sounds affixed to them. Thus e represents long a; c, sh; z, the French j, and so on. With the written alphabet it is still worse; different forms of the same letter according to the present system) are made to stand for different sounds, and sounds as different in some cases as e and r; some of the characters very nearly resemble each other; and, indeed, the Phonetic written alphabet seems to us nearly as inconvenient as the German and what that is, any one who has learned, or tried to learn to write