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original Latin*. It is probable indeed, that as the classical language of Rome flourished for so short a period, it had never ex ended to the provinces of Italy, where the inhabitants of Apulia, Tuscany, Umbria, Magna Græcia, Lombardy, and Liguria, were all distinguished 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 sashionable among the polished Romans; and when the feat of empire was removed, it entirely superfeded the use of Latin in the court of Constantinople.
The accurate obferver of the Latin tongue may trace its progress through the successive stages which may be called its insancy, 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 establishment of the laws of the twelve tables. Its manhood denotes the decline of the republic, and the rife of the empire, when poetry was cultivated by Terence, Lucretius, Virgil, and Horace; eloquence by Hortensius and Cicero; biography by Cornelius Nepos, and history by Livy. Its old age characterises the time of the lower empire, when salse resinement prevailed, and the language became debased and corrupted.
III. State of the Language in modern Times.'
The extensive conquests of the Romans, their constant intercourse with other nations, and powerful influence over them, promoted the wide diffusion 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 dominate it; for it was their resined 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 inconsiderable proportion to the extent of the pontisical 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 fluency 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.
Whilst the Romans were masters of the ancient world, and even since the revival of learning, no language has had better pretensions to the title of an universal language than the Latin. So great
vox. i. M has
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 ndt 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 unpolished in their phraseology, or consined 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 productions 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, Pufendorft', 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 resined and sirmly established as they may appear. They are in a state of gradual alteration, and are subject to the caprices of fashion and novelty: but the Latin is sixed and permanent. The phraseology of Chaucer and Hollinfhed, of Malherbe and Rabelais, has long been obsolete, whilst that of Cicero, Virgil, and Horace, tried by Ihe test of centuries, and consecrated by the respect of mankind, flourishes in perpetual youth. The language once spoken by the conquerors of the world, is still used to express the dictates of gratitude, honour, and veneration. It is inscribed upon the public edisices, the monuments and the medals of every country in Europe; and transmits the remembrance of patriots, philosophers, heroes, and scholars, through the successive 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 composition. Longolius, Bembo, Paulus Manutius, and some other respectable writers, were advocates for the exclusive imitation of Cicero, and endeavoured to gain the claffic palm, hy presenting in their works a servile copy of his style. This predilection was severely censured, and the right of the other claffics to equal attention was ably maintained by Henry Stephens, Politian, and Erasmus. The controversy, carried on with much warmth of temper, and ingenuity of argument on both sides, has long ceased: and a general acquaintance with all the writers of the Augustan age, has been cultivated by those who wrshed to acquire an elegant Latin style. Modern writers of Latin have rise's to fame in proportion as they have succeeded in copying these models; but subject, however, to the defects which necefla
M 2 rily 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, Avho is equally a found 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 assiduity to develope the art and unravel the texture of their compositions'1. His next care must be to adapt claffical 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 claffi
* Consult Walcbius de Iaiitatione, e. xtv. and c. Xt.