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an art; or we inay distinguish it into universal to our present days of technical and learned or philosophic, and particular or idiomatic. Per- affectation. haps the simplest and best distinction would be st must be admitted that Mr. Horne Tooke into rational and customary Graminar. Of the is sufficiently severe, or to use his own expression former, reason is to be considered as the authority that he speaks too sharply for philosophy.' or standard ; of the latter there is no authority His apology or justification is : Neminem or standard but custom, agreeably to the quotation libenter nominem, nisi ut laudem; sed nec so often adduced from Horace.
peccata reprehenderem, nisi ut aliis prodessem.
At the same time, I confess, I should disdain to Usus
handle any useful truth daintily, as if I feared Quem penes arbitrium est, et jus et norma loquendi. lest it should sting me; and to employ a philo
sophical enquiry as a vehicle for interested or The first of these,' says Wilkins in his Essay cowardly adulation. My notions of language towards a Real Character, ‘i e. philosophical, were formed before I could account etymolorational, universal Grammar, hath been treated gically for any one of the words in question, and of but by few; which makes our learned Veru- before I was in the least acquainted with the lam put it among his Desiderata. I do not opinions of others. I addressed myself to an know any more chat have purposely written of enquiry into their opinions with all the diffidence it, but Scotus in his Grammatica Speculativa, of conscious ignorance; and, so far from spurnand Caramuel in his Granu matica, and Campa- ing authority, was disposed to admit half an nuella in his Grammatica Philosophica. (As argument from a great name. So that it is not for Scioppius his Grammar of this title, that my fault, if I am forced to carry instead of foldoth wholly concern the Latin tongue). Besides lowing the lantern: but at all events it is better which, something hath heen occasionally spoken than walking in total darkness. And yet, though of it by Scaliger, De Causis Linguæ Latinæ; I believe I differ from all the accounts which and by Vossius in his Aristarchus. Subse- have been hitherto given of language, I am not quently to the time of Wilkins, Harris wrote so much without authority as you may imagine. his . Hermes or a Philosophical Enquiry con- Mr. Harris himself, and all the Grammarians cerning Universal Grammar.' This work ac- whom he has, and whom (though using their quired considerable celebrity. Dr. Lowth in words) he has not quoted, are my authorities. the Preface to his Grammar says: “Those who Their own doubts, their difficulties, their dissawould enter more deeply into this subject, will tisfaction, their contradictions, their obscurity find it fully and accurately handled with the on all these points, are my authorities against greatest acuteness of investigation, perspicuity them: for their system and their difficulties of explication, and elegance of method, in a vanish together.' treatise entitled Hermes, by James Harris, Esq., The following is the manner in which Mr. the most beautiful and perfect example of Ana- Horne Tooke disposes of the once celebrated lysis that has been exhibited since the days of Hermes. “You mean then by what you have Aristotle.'
said flatly to contradict Mr. Harris's definition Lord Monboddo (in Orig. and Prog. of Lan- of a conjunction; which he says is a part of guage, vol. i. p. 8) pronounces Hermes a work speech devoid of signification itself, but so that will be read and admired as long as there formed as to help signification, by making two is any taste for philosophy and fine writing in or more significant sentences to be one signiBritain.' Mr. Horne Tooke admits that “Her- ficant sentence.' I have the less scruple to do mes has been received with universal appro- that, because Mr. Harris makes no scruple to bation both at home and abroad, and has been contradict himself. For he afterwards acknowquoted as undeniable anthority on the subject ledges that some of them have a kind of obscure by the learned of all countries. For which, signification when taken alone ; and appear in however,' he adds, ' I can easily account, not by grammar, like zoophytes in nature, a kind of supposing that its doctrines gave any more satis- middle beings of amphibious character; which, faction to their minds who quoted it than to by sharing the attributes of the higher and the mine; but because, as judges shelter their kna- lower, conduce to link the whole together. very by precedents, so do scholars their ignorance Now I suppose it is impossible to convey a by authority: and where they cannot reason, it nothing in a more ingenions manner. First, he is safer and less disgraceful to repeat that non- defines a word to be a sound significant: then sense at second hand which they would be he defines conjunctions to be words (i. e. sounds ashamed to give originally as their own. If significant) devoid of signification. Afterothers of a more elegant taste for fine writing wards he allows that they have a kind of sigare able to receive either pleasure or instruction Dification. But this kind of signification is from such philosophical language, as that of obscure (i.e. a signification unknown); someHermes, I shall neither dispute with them nor thing I suppose (as Chillingworth couples them) envy them: but can only deplore the dulness like a secret tradition or a silent thunder : for it of my own apprehension, who, notwithstanding amounts to the same thing as a signification the great authors quoted in Mr. Harris's treatise which does not signify; an obscure or unknown and the great authors who recommend it, cannot signification being no signification at all. But help considering this perfect example of ana- not contented with these inconsistencies, which lysis,' as an improved compilation of almost to a less learned man would seem sufficient of all all the errors which Grammarians have been conscience, Mr. Harris goes farther, and adds, accumulating from the time of Aristotle down they are a kind of middle beings (he must
mean between significa 'n and no signification) to ascertain the origin of language have hitherto sharing the attributes of both’ (i. e. of significa- failed : nor is there the shadow of a probability tion and no signification) and conduce to link that future attempts will be more successful. them both together.'
We have the following confession from one who It would have helped us a little, if Mr. Harris bas long made language his study, and who was bad here told us what that middle state is, be at one time very sanguine that he could ascertain tween signification and no signification! what its origin. On this obscure subject the reader are the attributes of no signification! and how is promised nothing but brevity; for, after much signification and no signification can be linked toilsome enquiry and anxious reflection, the autogether! Now all this may, for aught I know, thor has no satisfactory opinion to offer. Some De read and admired as long as there is any persons have believed that Hebrew was the first taste for fine writing in Britain. But with such language of man, and that the Hebrew alphabet anlearned and vulgar philosophers, who seek not came down from heaven. This is a short cut taste and elegance but truth and common sense in (as Horne Tooke terms it) which saves much philosophical subjects, I believe it will never pass trouble; for on this hypothesis we have only to as a perfect example of analysis ;' nor bear away believe. Admitting, however, that letters are the palm for acuteness of investigation and per- of human invention,—what is the nature of that spicuity of explication. For separated from the invention ? Here we possess no certain data on fine writing (which however I can no where find which to reason; for we have no authentic hisin the book) this is the conjunction explained tory of this important invention. Being wholly by Mr. Harris. ' A sound significant devoid of destitute of facts, we have nothing better than signfication, having at the same time a kind of conjectures on which to form an opinion. The obscure signification; and yet having neither author of the Etymologic Interpreter might have signification nor no signification ; but a middle added, what was no doubt understood, though something between signification and no signifi- not expressed, that it is impossible to find out, cation, sharing the attributes of signification and from examining language itself, the nature of its no signification; and linking signification and origin. no signification together.'
Another of Mr. Horne Tooke's specious but It is impossible for logical inconsistency to unsatisfactory positions is, that it is as 'improper stand such a cross examination. The only thing to speak of a complex idea as it would be to call felt by the reader is the redundancy and satiety a constellation a complex star; and that they are of the confutation. Never was the exting not ideas, but merely terms which are general so effectually put upon the reputation of a work and abstract:' and that what are called the opeas by Horne Tooke on the Hermes of Harris. rations of the mind, are merely the operations of Twenty-two years ago it was a work of great language.' This, which in the view of Mr. philological celebrity; but since that time there Horne Tooke is of great magnitude, he attempts is hardly a grammarian or philologer of any note to establish by a very doubtful kind of etymowho has ventured to eulogise it. Mr. Harris was logy. He does indeed intimate,' that it is an unquestionably an elegant scholar; but on this easy matter, upon Mr. Locke's own principles, alone, as the author of Hermes, must his claim and a physical consideration of the senses and to admiration now rest.
the mind, to prove the impossibility of the comAs the philological reputation of Mr. Horne position of ideas.' And accordingly also (as he Tooke has superseded that of Mr. Harris, it will likewise intimates) of abstraction, complexity, be proper to devote some attention to his cele generalisation, relation, &c. of ideas. But, easy brated work, entitled, not very happily, The Di- as such proof was alleged to be, he did not versions of Purley; which possesses singular attempt it: nor has he given any evidence of interest, displays much learning, acuteness, and being capable of a successful attempt of this reflection; but which is disfigured by consider- nature. Indeed his expression betrays inconsiable blemishes. It is too desultory and miscel- deration : for how can any one who knows what laneous—too political, vituperative, sarcastic, he says, or whereof he affirms, speak of a phyassumptive, and dogmatical. “The charm of the sical consideration of the senses and the mind? work would be destroyed by abridgment; but It is hardly possible to find any thing more fuall that is truly ad rem, or available for any tile than much of what Mr. Horne Tooke says philological purpose, might be comprised within respecting metaphysics. All his etymologies a very small compass.
might be as certain as the greater number of Not a few of Mr. Horne Tooke's positions them are doubtful, yet every one of his metaare specious or imposing rather than sound and physical deductions or opinions be false. True satisfactory. As for example the following :- for example, may be the past participle of trono ; • This method of referring words immediately to and truth the third person singular of the indiGod as their framer, is a short cut to escape en- cative, yet what is called in our language truth, quiry and explanation. It saves the philosopher be some more certain and less fickle entity than much trouble ; but leaves mankind in much that which any one troweth or thinketh. But ignorance, and leads to great error.' But what the fact is, that the very etymology in quesignorance can the supposed Divine origin of tion is as false as the opinion founded upon ii language perpetuate among mankind? or how or attempted to be supported by it. There a can it lead to great error? Unless we can ascer not room, however, here to refute the metaphytain the origin of language, we are just where we sical theory of Horne Tooke in a full and formal were as to ignorance or error, whether we as- manner; but it can hardly require refutation, fa sume a Divine or a human origin. All attempts it has little to recommend it but confidence ano
assumption. Mr. Horne Tooke's theory of a of Greek and Latin words has been through the northern origin to the languages of Europe, and channel of the French. The causes of this are, his Gothic etymologies are also very doubtful: evidently, the geographical proximity of France, but of these more hereafter.
and her predominant influence in politics, poThe foregoing may suffice to direct the reader lite literature, and fashion; which influence has to the great authorities in oui language on the operated powerfully in Europe, and especially subject of Philosophical Grammar. In our pre- in Britain, ever since the reign of Charlesent article we divide the consideration of gram- magne. mar into four parts. I. Treating of the General About the commencement of our vernacular Principles of Grammar or Philology. II. Of the literature there was, indeed, an extraordinary Parts of Speech, or Grainmatic Distinctions of importation of French terms; and the reason is words. III. Of Prefixes and Affixes. IV. Of obvious; for, as the French borrowed all from Rational Grammar of the English Language the Italian (which is admitted even by Voltaire),
we at that period borrowed nearly all from the PART I.
French. But the grand cause of the fact in THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF GRAMMAR
question was the conquest. It is well known that OR PHILOLOGY.
William of Normandy attempted to make French Sect. I.-OF THE DERIVATION OF THE ENGLISH the only language of England ; that it was the LANGUAGE.
only language spoken at court, taught in schools, On this subject, to a certain extent at least, employed in statutes, legal forms and pleadings, there can be but one opinion among competent &c. &c. judges. A great part of the English language is It has been intimated above that some of the derived from Latin and Greek. Many words learned words, of which so much of our language have been received directly from these languages; cousists, were received through the medium of many have been received through the Italian, the the Spanish. The reason of this was the politiSpanish, the Portuguese, German, Swedish, cal pre-eminence, and consequent predominant Danish, and Dutch ; but the far greater propor- influence, which Spain at one time possessed. tion have come through the medium of the Thus we have duplicates and triplicates of many French.
words, which we borrowed by turns from the # The causes of the direct entrance of learned Italians, French, and Spaniards, as they respecterms are—the general study of the learned lan- tively happened to be in the political ascendant. guages; the facility with which such terms are But there was another cause of the influence of applied to the various purposes of art, science, the Spanish : it formed a point of contact, or and philosophy, &c. (not to mention a very gen- link of connexion, with the arts and sciences of eral disposition in learned men to show their the Saracens : hence the portion of Arabic which learning); the application of Latin to law, phy is found in the different languages of Europe; sic, surgery, anatomy, botany, &c.; add to all for knowledge has the power not only of forcing which, the consideration that it was long almost a passage from more enlightened into less enthe only written language of Europe :-to com- lightened nations, but also of taking with it the prehend all in one sentence, Latin has for many very teries in which it happens to be contained. hundreds of years been the learned language of The fact is, words and thoughts are so mutually Europe, and the terms of the learned are con- adapted that translation is always difficult, and stantly descending into and becoming part of the often impossible; so that it is less from choice common or vernacular language of every peo- thac necessity that a people, poor in arts and ple on the face of the earth. It is on this ob- sciences, borrow not only the improvements, but, vious principle that we hope to prove that, if not to a certain extent, the language of their richer, all, nearly all that very part of our language i. e. more intellectual, more literary, and more which is most confidently received as Saxon and philosophical neighbours: thus the nations of Gothic is, in fact, neither more nor ler than a Europe, during the middle or dark ages, burcorruption of Greek and Latin.
rowed largely from the Saracens and the Greeks; The reason why many Greek and Latin words thus the Celts, the Goths, the Sarmatians, and have been adopted by us, through the medium even the Persians, the Arabians, &c. &c., borof the Italian, is sufficiently obvious. Rome, rowed largely, for many ages, from the Greeks even when her consuls and emperors were no and Romans. These were the Backwoods-men more, was still the seat of empire: an empire of of Grecian influence and the Roman empire : mightier sway over the minds and habits of lan- and, if those stationary and unimprovable aniguage of the nations than ever was the power of mals, the naked savages of Indiana, already speak the Cæsars. From other causes, too, Italy was a corrupt English (or Yankee), it cannot surely the fountain of influence to all parts of Christen- be thought incredible that the venerable Gothic dom; for besides the Catholic religion, with its (whose origin, Mr. Horne Tooke says, is buried Roman priesthood and Latin tongue, science, in the deepest antiquity) should prove, after all, the productions of arts, and the arts themselves, with very little if any exception, à corruption of were thence derived. It was Italy, too, that Greek and Latin. took the lead in vernacular literature: and her poets, novelists, historians, and philosophers, SEC
SECT. II.- THE ANGLO-SAXON AND GOTHIC were as much in advance of those of other mo
ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CONdern nations as she was in advance of the rest of
SIDERED. Europe in arts and manufactures.
It is not without some reluctance that the auIt has been intimated that the greatest influx thor approaches this question; because he has to coutrovert the opinions of Mr. Horne Tooke, for the Anglo-Saxon or Gothic monopolise all this whose meniory he entertains the sincerest respect merit ? The Celtic has surely some claims; and, and for whose labors he feels truly grateful. He as to words without number, every one capable will not say that he would rather be in the wrong of using a dictionary may soon satisfy himself with Horne Tooke than in the right with Harris; not only of striking resemblance, but of absolute but he considers the errors of the one far more identity, with both the Greek and the Latin. interesting, and even instructive, than the truths Have not the Welsh, for example, Pont and Dant? of the other. Many had pretended to write which are plainly Pons and Dens, or, as in Italphilosophically; but it was reserved for the au- ian, Ponte and Dente. And is it not undeniably thor of The Diversions of Purley to be the first, certain that the Romans borrowed all such words at least in this country, to write sensibly on the from the Welsh, the more ancient people! subject of language. If his celebrated work be which word people, as well as populus, is, withbig with promises, which never have been, and out controversy, a corruption of the Welsh Pobl; which, probably, never can be realised; they for the more cultivated and literary language is have internal evidence of proceeding from sin- uniformly derived from one ruder and less litecerity.. But, with every disposition to admit the rary. It is amusing enough to find other writers merits of the above work, it certainly does con- advocating the Celtic origin of the Greek and tain a considerable portion of unsound opinion, Latin Languages, with as much zeal, if not with especially in connexion with the author's favor- the same talent, as Horne Tooke advocated the ite theory of a Northern Origin; in support of Gothic origin. which, ingenious paradox and bold assertion are The fact is as well established as any historimore conspicuous than careful enquiry and dis- cal fact whatever, that the Goths had not the use passionate reflection : and the Gothic derivations of letters before the fourth century; that they are, for the most part, not only mere assumptions, borrowed their letters from the Greeks and Róbut many of them are such as would have dis- mans; that their first attempts at literature were graced Junius or Skinner.
rude translations and imitations of works written We had once intended to collect in this place in Greek and Latin. all the unsound and absurd etymologies of Horne The fair inference seems to be, that as the GoTooke, and confront them with what we deem thic, or, say at once, Saxon literature (and the true derivations; but such a task might seem in- writings of men in the present age who know not vidious. It was the unfortunate theory of the how to spell their own name are as worthy of Northern Origin that misled the acute judgment such a dignified appellation), originated in Greek of the author of the Diversions of Purley; for and Latin, so did a great proportion of the words his Greek and Latin derivations are as remark- composing it. Such has always been the case ; ably sound and incontrovertible as many of his for a rude and illiterate people as naturally borGothic derivations are absurd and false. His row words from their civilised and literate neighGothic partialities and prejudices, connected as bours as they borrow their improvements and they were with a particular theory and a politi- arts and sciences, or as the poor beg from the cal bias, are easily accounted for; but they are, rich: and the inverse process supposed is as abnevertheless, unworthy of his understanding and surd as the idea of the rich borrowing food and inconsistent with the philosophic spirit of free raiment from the poorest paupers that exist in enquiry. He perceived a remarkable similarity, their neighbourhood or live on their bounty. or rather identity, in many Gothic and Anglo The only question, indeed, with unprejudiced Saxon words with Greek and Latin terms. What enquirers, is likely to be concerning not the is the inference deducible from this fact? That reality but the amount of Saxon derivation from the half civilised and illiterate tribes of the north the learned languages. This may not be easily borrowed such words from the highly civilised, ascertained with perfect accuracy; but, from the and therefore powerfully influential, Greeks and very nature of the operating causes or influencing Romans; or that they both derived them from a circumstances, it must have been very consideracommon origin? No, indeed, but that the Greeks ble : and in reply to all Horne Tooke's wittiand Romans, those inasters and teachers of the cisms, about the Goths not waiting for others to world after the extinction of Babylon and Mem- come and put words in their mouth, it is suffiphis, borowed many words (perhaps terms of art cient to remark, that they would naturally adopt and science) from the rude and unlettered tribes in process of time new foreign terms for many of of ancient Germany! Or, as is ingeniously (not their old vernacular ideas, (for such is the process to say fancifully) supposed, in bold defiance of with all people similarly circumstanced), and that all history and all probability, that these rude with the multitude of ideas wbich literature intribes made successful irruptions into Greece troduced among them, they would adopt, to a and Italy, and grafted their language on that wide extent, the terms in which they were conwhich already existed in these countries ! veyed to them, partly from choice, and partly
But the Herculean argument for the Northern from necessity. This is the history of all the Origin is the darkness of its deep antiquity. We living languages of the earth; not merely of such can trace (Mr. Horne Tooke avers) the origin of as are most rude, unformed, and imperfect (and the Latin and the Greek; but that of the Gothic what can well partake more of these attributes is involved in darkness and buried in the deep- than the scrap of Gothic contained in Codex est antiquity. But is not the origin of all the Argenteus, or even the Saxon of the eighth and languages of all the uncivilised and half-civilised ninth centuries ?) but of those which are most tribes of the earth sufficiently buried in darkness improved, and most firmly fixed by authoritative
entitle them to the same honor? Why should rules, established principles, and admitted stand
ards. New terms and modes of speech are con- similar. This may displease the lovers of Saxon stantly displacing the old. Custom, the sovereign literature, and all lovers are apt to be offended arbiter of language, is as capricious as tyrannical; when freedoms are taken with the objects of and time is the greatest of all innovators. their affections ; but our apology must be, that
The only argument of Mr. Horue Tooke in- we have no wish to offend, and the ruling printrinsically deserving refutation, is that which he ciple of our sentimentality is, Rien n'est beau attempts to erect on the evidence of etymology ; que le vrai. and on this he evidently relies with much confi- The present language of Englishmen,' says dence. He puts the question-When two dif- the Saxou scholar above alluded to, is not that ferent languages have the same words, how are heterogeneous compound which some imagine, we to ascertain which of them burrowed from compiled from the jarring and corrupted ele the other? This is not a very satisfactory mode ments of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spaof putting the question, for two languages might nish, and Italian; but (but what? completely have the same words without either borrowing Anglo-Saxon in its whole derivation, having from the other, as both might have derived them none but pure Gothic words in its whole vocafrom a common origin. But his manner of bulary!) completely Anglo-Saxon in its whole replying to the question is still less satisfactory. idiom and construction. We may well exclaim Etymology is to decide. So far good; but fie upon but ; for it brings forth a most irrelewhat kind of etymology? Here the advocate of vant conclusion. A zealous Frenchman might the northern origin (to use his own words) takes exclaim,-The present language of Frenchmen a short cut which saves much trouble, but leaves is not that corruption of Latin which some us in much ignorance; for, instead of proofs, imagine, but completely French in its whole he contents himself with assumptions, as if the idiom and construction : and thus might Spanish business were settled by merely asserting that a and Italian professors reason for the idiomatic certain word is a Gothic verb or noun, without antiquity of their language. even attempting to give us any further informa- Specimens of the present English have been tion. As to the instances which he gives of selected for the purpose of showing what a great Gothic and Saxon words, whence corresponding number of pure Saxon words they contain; but Latin and Greek words must have been derived, we think it can be proved that most, if not all, it is difficult to conceive any reason whatever, of these very Saxon words are as really Greek save that the former are found in Gothic and and Latin, as those which are admitted to be Saxon letters and spelling.
adopted from these languages. The sole differThere are but few Gothic admirers that can ence is, that the words given as Saxon were deserve the honor of being noticed in connexion adopted at a much earlier and ruder period, and, with the author of the Diversions of Purley; but therefore, are more changed, contracted, and this seems the proper place for saying a few disguised. This is an opinion not hastily adoptwords about the utility of Saxon literature, es- ed (for it was reluctantly admitted, being forced pecially as there appears some disposition to upon the understanding of the author in opposiexalı it into undue importance. A Saxon pro- tion to his faith in the Northern Origin), but fessor in one of our most renowned seats of slowly and cautiously formed, after much enlearning has employed very laudatory strains on quiry and long deliberation. the subject; to one or two of which it will suf- If this opinion can be established, if it can be fice to apply the test of criticism, if, indeed, it satisfactorily shown that all, or nearly all, the be fair thus to try the soundness of panegyrical words of the English language are merely Greek orations.
and Latin terms, in learning which so much The Anglo-Saxon,' the learned professor time is spent in youth; the result will surely be affirms, is one of those ancient languages to far more important than tracing them up to the which we may successfully refer in our enquiries darkness of Gothic antiquity, which is as void of how language has been constructed.' This is a pleasing association as of useful instruction. most comfortable assurance, pregnant with hope and anticipation as the doctrine of Horne Tooke;
Sect III.-VERBAL CONTRACTION, CR ABBREbut, if equally barren of results, it will only
VIATION CONSIDERED. tantalize our fond desires.
Here three general rules may be laid down. The sober truth is, that Anglo-Saxon is availa- 1. The more illiterate any people are, the able for etymologic purposes in studying the more do they contract their words; and the English language, but not half so available as illiterate part of a community always shorten German, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, old English, their words more than the educated portion of Scottish, Greek, and Latin. The reason is society. Thus the language of the Franks obvious; such was the illiterateness of even the abounds with more violent contractions of Latin Saxon literati, that they knew not how to depict than does that of the Italians, the modern to the eye their own barbarous sounds. Hence masters and teachers of Europe. The language the caprices of Saxon orthography, as they are of the Saxons is characterised by more verbal leniently termed by the candid and enlightened contraction than the old English in the time of author of the Anglo-Saxon history. To have a Chaucer, and the English of his period has more true idea of these caprices, (more properly rude of the same character than when our language essays at spelling), we have only to compare first began to be fixed by established rules and them with the literary attempts of our most unlet- uniform polite usage : and thus, also, the tered mechanics or laborers who can barely read language of the vulgar is remarkable for violent and write. Their orthography and composition contractions, as, gemman, for gentleman; a'nt, and that of the Saxons will be found remarkably for are not; fudge, for fiction; fib, for fable : 'to