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received, the immediate channels of communication, are Government, Legislation, Jurisprudence, Theology, Physic, &c. &c.; or, to include all in two words, the sciences and the arts. The great agents in the formation of our language (as of every language) have been authors (such as ever had any influence—for there are many writings that never had readers) and orators, legislators and lawyers, ministers of state and ministers of religion, physicians and apothecaries, inventors and improvers in all the sciences and arts which are in any respect connected with the wants and wishes of men. These are the influential, the assimilating, the transmuting agents of every people. Hence the obvious reason, as before intimated, (not to apply the fact to other questions at present,) why the English Language is partly Greek, but chiefly Latin.
VOCABULAR REDUNDANCY AND DEFICIENCY.
THESE extremes not only meet in the same language; but in proportion as it is remarkable for the one, it is also remarkable for the other. The most defective and least philosophic languages present these attributes so strikingly as to render them obvious to every inquirer. Take, for example, the Hebrew and the Saxon; and making all due allowance for the sacred character of the former (and if the reader chooses, its divine origin); they are, perhaps,
pretty equal: i. e. when considered as philosophic instruments, or intellectual apparatus. No offence is intended to the lovers of Saxon and of Hebrew literature: and having been at some trouble to form an opinion, they ought not surely to feel aggrieved when that opinion is expressed.
Hebrew and Saxon (as all languages in a greater or less degree) are remarkable for vocabular redundancy and vocabular deficiency: they have too many and too few words: they have too many of one sort and too few of another: they have a superfluous multitude of words of general import, but they are poor and destitute of particular, distinctive, and definitive terms: they will furnish you with a thousand names for one and the same entity (like the adorable Arabic, to which its worshipers give the praise and glory of a thousand names for a sword); but there are a thousand entities for which they supply no
Both these opposite qualities are evidently great faults-not perfections in language. As to the one, there never, probably, has been but one opinion, and that sufficiently correct; but concerning the other, much error and confusion haye prevailed. One will eulogize the copiousness of a language by exaggerating the number of names which it possesses for one object; another, like Dr. Blair, will affirm, that there are no two words, in any one language, that are precisely synonymous. The last is one of those random positions which are so freely
hazarded on all subjects, concerning which, men consider themselves fully justified, by established usage, in thinking little and saying much. The usual parade of verbal copiousness is, as if a savage were to demonstrate how extraordinary his wealth is by exhibiting a thousand bows, kept for his own exclusive use; or, as if a mechanic were to prove the amazing abundance of his tools by exhibiting a thousand hammers. But arguments and illustrations are equally misplaced when applied to questions so strikingly obvious, that mere statement is sufficient refutation.
What is wanted is a sufficient number of apt tools or verbal instruments for every intellectual purpose. Tried by this test, the English has, perhaps, as little imperfection as any language, ancient or modern ; though it has much useless and cumbrous copiousness of one description of terms, and considerable deficiency of another. It has (like every other language) too many terms of general and too few of particular import: it has too many generic and too few specific and individualic terms: there are a thousand names for one logical genus; but many of the logical species and individuals have no names assigned to them. These two opposite faults (which are mutually proportionate) are two of the grand imperfections of language; and principal causes of much of the error, deception, misunderstanding, controversy, and other evils which have prevailed, and, probably, will prevail to the end of the world: for
if the moral nature of human beings were as good as that of angels, they could not rise to any very high state of perfectibility without a much less imperfect instrument of verbal intercommunication than they yet possess. We are not very sanguine concerning remedies for any existing evils; but it is something to indicate their causes; the knowledge of which, if not available for any great improvement, is at least likely to remove the mental malady of false theory.
LOGICAL DIVERSITIES OF VERBAL SIGNIFICATION.
It is very probable, if not quite certain, that the author would not have invited attention to the distinctions indicated above, but for a small publication of the acute and discriminating Jeremy Bentham, entitled, A TABLE OF THE SPRINGS OF HUMAN ACTION; which possesses the multum in parvo of logical availableness, in a much greater degree than could be supposed from the silent neglect which it seems to have experienced.
There can be no doubt that the fact so distinctly stated in the Table of the Springs of Human Action, was previously as familiar to minds in any considerable degree logical, as was the fact or prinple of mental association before it was so distinctly stated by Mr. Hobbes. Indeed, some remarks of the latter (as, where he distinguishes among different names applied to the same thing, according as it is liked or misliked) approach so very nearly to the
very distinctions employed by Mr. Bentham, that the author concluded, (so reluctant are we to concede the claim of originality,) that the Philosopher of Westminster had borrowed from the Philosopher of Malmsbury. But to his surprise he found, by conversing with Mr. Bentham, that the writings of Hobbes were almost (if not altogether) wholly unknown to him, owing to an antipathy contracted in early life; which is not wonderful when we consider the political antithesis, or the political bias and temperament of the two men; who, but for this and one other circumstance, belong more to the same logical species of intellect than any two philosophers, ancient or modern, concerning whom the author can venture a critical judgment. What that other circumstance is, the discerning reader (i. e. in such matters) will perceive when reminded of the reiterated declaration of the author of Tripos, that he distrusted nothing so much as his own elocution (what we now term diction); and when it is intimated, that his words were few and well ordered.
The philosophic genius of Bacon naturally fixed his attention on things (long the exclusive objects of/ consideration with Mr. Locke, if his own testimony be admitted) rather than words; but the intimate connexion of the last with the first, in the reasonings and discourses of men, could not escape the notice of a man of such intuitive sagacity-such grasp of comprehension-such inductive dexterity—such extended range of reflection: and what he has so often