1867 anti-Semite

Tue Jan 17 21:15:31 UTC 2012

The discussion in the quoted passage is really more about the original author, Daniel Ramee, than about the reviewer, E.L.G., who considers Ramee's theory outrageous.  Note that Ramee is a strong proponent of the Egyptians, who were then considered a Hamitic people, so this presumably explains why he believes Ham to be a superior community.

What is not clear to me is whether "anti-Semitic," as E.L.G. uses it, is simply a transparent collocation (where "Semitic" refers, at a minimum, to Jews and Arabs, and probably to other Semitic peoples too), or instead is a calque of some French phrase in Ramee's original.  Ramee's book is available via Google Books, but my French is not good enough to evaluate his work.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Joel S. Berson
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2:01 PM
Subject: Re: 1867 anti-Semite

At 1/17/2012 10:16 AM, Baker, John wrote:
>There is an example of "anti-Semitic" in The Reader, vol. 1, pp. 140
>- 41 (Feb. 7, 1863) (Google Books), in a review by "E.L.G." of
>Daniel Ramee, Histoire Generale de l'Architecture (1862), although
>the author does seem to use "Semitic" to refer broadly to the
>Semitic peoples, rather than just to Jews:
><<Under the guise of a History of Architecture, M. Daniel Ramee,
>author of a "Theologie Cosmogonique, ou Reconstitution de l'ancienne
>et primitive Loi," administers a new version of universal history,
>that might be defined as a sermon, in two thick volumes, on the
>irreconcileable difference and eternal enmities of the chief human
>races, the essential nobleness of the ancient Egyptian (especially
>seen in its religion), and of most Arian races, and the
>impossibility of their tolerating on the same globe the Semitic -
>the source, either personally or by the religions it has engendered,
>of all decline and every evil, past or present, in the superior
>communities of Ham and Japhet.

The "community of Ham" was associated, by some in ancient times but
increasingly in the first few decades of the 1800s (I think) with
"Negroes" (black Africans).  (There are, of course, widely varying
interpretations of the "curse of Ham.")  Japhet is (by some)
"believed to be the father of the Europeans".  Why both are referred
to as "superior communities" above I have no idea; it seems
inconsistent.  Nor do I have any idea whether this could conceivably
clarify "anti-Semitic".

>Considering rightly that "Architecture is one of the expressions of
>the harmony or the disorder that rules a people or a civilization"
>(p. 608), M. Ramee has taken its history as a fit one wherewith to
>wrap up this outrageous theory of human affairs.  Not that any
>attempt is made to connect them, or draw the slightest illustration
>of one from the other . . . Here, on the contrary, the architectural
>descriptions and the anti-Semitic diatribes are merely
>interstratified, with as little connection as the alternate lines of
>common and of sympathetic ink in which some secret despatches are
>said to have been sometimes written. . . .
>The decline of Greece is attributed to the teaching of Socrates,
>whose "idea of God was conformable to the Semitic view."  (Page
>528.) . . . He occupied himself only with abstractions, and
>separated thought from the terrestrial and material world, like the
>Arabs and Jews.>>

The previous two paragraphs do sound like the writer means
"anti-Semitic ditrabes" to be at least anti-Jewish, given the
reference to the Hebrew Testament, but also including the Semitic
Arabs.  It would certainly help to know who E.L.G. was and what his views were.


>I have not attempted to include the diacritical markings in the
>original.  There is no reference to a translation of Ramee's work,
>so I assume that the quotations from Ramee are the reviewer's translations.
>John Baker

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