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original Latin. It is probable indeed, that as the claffical language of Romë flourished for fo short a period, it had never ex.ended to the provinces of Italy, where the inhabitants of Apulia, Tufcany, Umbria, Magna Græcia, Lombardy, and Liguria, were all diftinguished by their peculiar dialects. The prevalence of Greek likewise had no inconsiderable influence in shortening the continuance of pure Latin, as the Greek had long been fashionable among the polithed Romans; and when the seat of empire was removed, it entirely superfeded the use of Latin in the court of Conftantinople.
The accurate observer of the Latin tongue may trace its progress through the successive stages which may be called its infancy, childhood, manhood, and old age. The infancy marks the time, when Saturn and Janus reigned over the most ancient inhabitants of Italy, and the Salii pronounced in honour of the gods their wild and unpolished verses. The childhood refers to the reign of the kings, and the establish: ment of the laws of the twelve tables. Its manhood denotes the decline of the republic, and the rise of the empire, when poetry was cultivated by Terence, Lucretius, Virgil, and Horace; eloquence by Hortenfius and Cicero; biography by Cornelius Nepos, and history by Livy. Its old age characterises the time of the lower empire, when false refinement prevailed, and the language became debased and corrupted.
III. State of the Language in modern Times.)
The extensive conquests of the Romans, their conftant intercourse with other nations, and powerful influence over them, promoted the wide diffu sion of their language. The general establishment of their laws, and the custom of pleading in the courts of justice in the Latin language, laid the natives of many countries under the necessity of making it a part of their education. After the fall of the empire, the Germans, as soon as they directed their attention to literature, revived it by the study of the imperial law. Nor did the authority of the Popes contribute less to preserve and disseminate it; for it was their refined policy to oppose the learning of Rome as a barrier against the encroachments of the Greek church; so that the popularity of the Latin tongue bore no inconfiderable proportion to the extent of the pontifical power. To these causes may be attributed the prevalence of Latin, as a living language, upon the continent of Europe. It is at present spoken with Auency not only in France and Italy; by those who have received a liberal education, but even by the peasants in many parts of Germany, Hungary, and Poland.
Whilit the Romans were masters of the ancient world, and even fince the revival of learning, no language has had better pretensions to the title of an universal language than the Latin. So great VOL. I.
has been its prevalence, that it has been cultivated by every enlightened nation; and there is no branch of learning, discovery of art, or system of science, and indeed scarcely any topic of liberal discussion or inquiry, which has not been indebted to it for expression, ornament, and illustration. This has always been the vehicle of communication between men of letters, and has enabled them to carry on a correspondence with each other from the most distant places. Many celebrated authors have considered their native tongues, as either un polished in their phraseology, or confined in their circulation ; and therefore have had recourse to the language of ancient Rome. The rays of science and learning, that beam from many valuable produce tions have been transmitted to the world through this clear and beautiful medium. This is the language in which were composed the invaluable works of Erasmus, Grotius, Pufendorff, Newton, Boerhaave, Bacon, and Gravina.
· Even in the present age, every writer who wishes his works to descend to remote posterity, must not venture to erect the monuments of his fame with the perishable materials which modern languages supply, highly refined and firmly eftablished as they may appear. They are in a state of gradual al-, teration, and are subject to the caprices of fashion and novelty : but the Latin is fixed and permanent. The phraseology of Chaucer and Hollinthed, of Malherbe and Rabelais, has long been obsolete, whilst that of Cicero, Virgil, and Horace, tried
by the test of centuries, and consecrated by the respect of mankind, flourithes in perpetual youth. The language once spoken by the conquerors of the world, is ftill used to express the dictates of gratitude, honour, and veneration. It is inscribed upon the public edifices, the monuments and the medals of every country in Europe; and transmits the remembrance of patriots, philofophers, heroes, and scholars, through the succesfive generations of mankind, in terms, which, with respect both to dignity and precision, no modern tongue can equal.
At the revival of learning, the opinion of scholars was by no means uniform, as to the proper standard of Latin compofition. Longolius, Bembo, Paulus Manutius, and some other respectable writers, were advocates for the exclusive imitation of Cicero, and endeavoured to gain the claffic palm, by presenting in their works a servile copy of his style. This predilection was severely censured, and the right of the other classics to equal attention was ably maintained by Henry Stephens, Politian, and Erafmus. The controversy, carried on with much warmth of temper, and ingenuity of argument on both fides, has long ceased: and a general acquaintance with all the writers of the Augustan age, has been cultivated by those who withed to acquire an elegant Latin style. Modern writers of Latin have risen to fame in proportion as they have succeeded in copying these models; but subject, however, to the defects which neceffa.: M 2
rily attend the study of a foreign language, their expressions generally take a tincture from their native tongues ; and under the Roman disguise may frequently be discovered the features of the French, the German, or the English. Justice however restrains us from applying this remark with equal force to the Italians, as the derivation of their language, and their descent from a Roman origin, enable them to tread more exactly in the steps of their illustrious ancestors.
To write Latin with ease and elegance, can only be the attainment of him, who is equally a sound Scholar and a man of taste. To store his memory with choice phrases, culled from the best classics, is not sufficient: for this would only make his style a kind of patch-work; he must study them, not so much for their particular words as their general manner, and he must labour with unremitting affiduity to develope the art and unravel the texture of their compositions. His next care must be to adapt classical Latin to his own ideas, in a manner suitable to the nature of his particular subject; and, when he adorns himself with the dress of the ancients, he must endeavour to move with grace, and express himself with ease and dignity. Thus may be acquired, by attentive observation and repeated trials, that diction which is pure, but not affected; learned but not pedantic; and classi
• Confult Walchius de Imitatione, c. xiv. and c. xv.