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general use, to denote a period, the point was removed from the top to the bottom of the word, -to denote a colon, the point bearing the form of our colon-point was adopted,-and a point, bearing somewhat of the form of the comma-point, was used to denote a comma;these last three points are found in some the oldest manuscripts now extant. Grammarians do not all agree upon the uses of a single point, in the manner above set forth :-Gaza says, and Vergara was of the same opinion, that if the ancients put the point to the middle of the last letter, it made their complete sentence; and if they put it to the top, it was their middle sentence; that is their colon :-Vossius, in his small grammar, also gives a different version of the matter; saying, that the point at the middle of the final letter signified the comma ;at the top it was the colon ;-and at the bottom the period; but herein the author of the Port Royal Latin Grammar seems to think Vossius was mistaken. In manuscripts of the ninth century, a note of interrogation, bearing somewhat of the form of our semi-colonpoint, was added.
The Greek, in which the New Testament was first written, was not pure Greek, such as was written by Plato, Aristotle, and other eminent Greek authors; but it was interspersed with many peculiarities, belonging to the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac Tongues: the Hebrew or Chaldee and Syriac being, at the earliest age of Christianity, spoken in common by the Jews of Palestine. Many biblical critics have contended, that points were in use before the time of the Apostles : on the other hand, as many others contend, that their use did not come in until after that time :-whether points were used or not in the manuscripts of the Scriptures, the doubts of the Fathers of the Church, how particular passages should be read and understood, gives reason to believe that there was not, in the fourth century, an accustomed system of pointing; it is known, that in that century the Septuagint was not pointed, and thence, it may be inferred, that the New Testament was in a like
Saint Jerome, who was born A. D. 340, and died at the age of 80, translated the Books of the Old and New Testaments into Latin; which version is known by the name of the Vulgate :-he, it is said, attended to the pointing of the Scriptures, and to him is attributed the merit of adding, perhaps adopting from some of the Greek Grammarians, the comma-point or subdistinctio and the colon-point or media distinctio. About the time of Jerome, points began to be used in manuscripts; but it does not appear, that any thing approaching to the present system, was adopted earlier than the ninth century.
Notwithstanding the claim for Jerome, that he attended to the pointing of the Scriptures, a more consistent tale of the first step taken towards this end, is as follows; that in the fifth century, to assist the clergy in reading the New Testament in public worship, and to obviate the inconveniences and mistakes, to which the earlier fathers had been subject, Euthalius, first a Deacon of the church at Alexandria, and afterwards Bishop of Sulca in Egypt, divided the text of the New Testainent into lines ; and in such a way that each line terminated, where a pause was to be made: the following, taken from the epistle of St. Paul to Titus, is an example of this mode of pointing;
An examination of the above passage, so divided into lines, and the consideration that, from various causes, after-copyists might write several divisions in the same line, suggest the idea, that in such a case they adopted some mark, to distinguish the several divisions; hence might arise the introduction of at least one point.
Aristotle treated of the period, not as a sign but as a reality.? Cicero also treated of the period, not as a sign but as a reality :8 he also spoke of the colon as a member of a sentence, and of a comma as a fragment, under the name of incisum. Quinctilian treated the period, colon, and incisum or comma as realities, and not as points.10
Cicero spoke of pointing (interpungendi]; and it has been said that he intended thereby to speak of certain marks, used to distinguish one word from another; but an examination of what he says in his work entitled, “De Claris Oratoribus,” leads to the inference, that by pointing, he meant certain signs or points, which were used to distinguish the numbers, feet, or measures, in which studied oratorical compositions were framed for the sake of harmony, and that he did not intend any
points, used to mark or to point out periods, colons,
commas as such; if this opinion is correct, the points of Cicero would answer to the marks or bars, which denote the rests and measures in modern written music. 11 12
Seneca said, that when he wrote he was accustomed to interpoint:13 but quoting him on the authority of Ainsworth, I do not now venture an opinion as to what he intended by that phrase.
There certainly is a great difference between the use of marks for distinguishing word from word, or distinguishing rests and measures, and the use of points for pointing out the several members and fragments of a period : in inscriptions (fac simile copies of which are given in the Gentleman's Magazine, for February, 1841) on Roman Altars, found in Britain, are certain marks, evidently points, and used for other purposes, than merely to distinguish word from word.
Beyond what Cicero, Quinctilian, and Seneca have said,--the inscriptions on the altars,—that St. Jerome was a Roman and attended to the pointing of the Vulgate edition of the Scriptures, -and what is stated by comparatively modern Grammarians, I have, in relation to the Art of Pointing, learned nothing of the practice of ancient Latin Authors : it may however be reasonably inferred, that if they did not in any way lead, they perhaps followed the Grecian Grammarians.
This brief account of the Art of Pointing in ancient times, is far from being satisfactory; some of the dates and statements are not, apparently, reconcileable with each other; and an examination of ancient manuscripts by some scholar would, perhaps, lead to a version different in many particulars.
SECTION THE SECOND.
The History of the Art of Pointing in the earlier
stages of the Art of Printing, and its progress to its present state.
In the earliest printed works, which have come under my notice, only the period-point and the colon-point were made use of; but the interrogative-point was soon added.
Whoever introduced the several points, it seems that a full-point, a point called come, answering to our colonpoint, a point called virgil answering to our commapoint, the parenthesis-points and interrogative-point, were used at the close of the fourteenth, or beginning of the fifteenth century. In a work entitled Typographia or the Printer's Instructor, by J. Johnson, printer, published in 1824, reference is made to a printed book, which is, probably on insufficient grounds, attributed to Wynkyn de Worde : from this latter work, so attributed to De Worde, the following extract upon the craft of poynting thus speaks ; “ there be five manner of points and divisions most used among cunning men ; the which if they be well used, make the sentence very light and easy to be understood, both to the reader and hearer: and they be these, virgil,—come,-parenthesis, -plain point,-interrogative.” The extract then goes on;—“seeing we (as we would to God every preacher would do) have kept our rules, both in English and Latin, what need we, seeing our own be sufficient, to put any other examples.” The quotation proceeds to describe the form and explain the several offices of the five points :—the virgil is thus described ; “it is a slend