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deepest mysteries of the human breast; they impart the dictates of profound wisdom, the practical precepts of enlightened morality. Who then can adequately measure the invaluable effects of this continual infusion of principles so just, of ideas so magnificent, into the stream of public thought ? or question that much of the virtue, the intelligence, the sobriety of judgment and feeling, which belong to the English character, are derived from these elevated sources ? Their decisive influence upon our language is incontrovertible: they fixed it at the soundest, the most healthy period of its progression, and they are pledges of its immovable character, securities against the rage of innovation, and the caprice of fashion ; bonds of our hereditary enjoyment of that power of expression which Dr. Johnson has so well described, in ascertaining the comprehension of his dictionary
“ So far have I been from any care to grace my pages with modern decorations, that I have 'studiously endeavoured to collect examples and authorities from the writers before the restoration, whose works I regard as the wells of English undefiled, as the pure sources of genuine diction. Our language, for almost a century, has, by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonick character, and deviating toward a Gallick structure and phraseology, from which it ought to be our endeavour to recal it, by making our ancient volumes the groundwork of style, admitting among the additions of later times, only such as may supply real deficiencies, such as are readily adopted by the genius of our tongue, and incorporate easily with our native idioms.
But as every language has a time of rudeness antecedent to perfection, as well as of false refinement and declension, I have been cautious lest my zeal for antiquity might drive me into times too remote, and crowd
book with words now no longer understood. I have fixed Sidney's work for the boundary, beyond which I make few excursions. From the authors which rose in the time of Elizabeth, a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of use and elegance. If the language of theology were extracted from Hooker and the translation of the bible ; the terms of natural knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation from Raleigh ; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spenser and Sidney; and the diction of common life from Shakspeare, few ideas would be lost to mankind, for want of English words, in which they might be expressed."
It may not be improper to consider the qualities of the language thus formed. If we attend to the words, the substantial part of it is Saxon. But its incorporation with the Norman-French, infused into it numerous terms of Latin origin, and thus prepared it to receive many others from the Latin, Greek, and French, which were hereafter to be engrafted on its stock. Though, however, it thus conveniently admitted a large accession to its phraseology from foreign sources, it did not lose that power of compounding new words from its own materials, by which many
of its most expressive terms have been formed. It were perhaps to be wished that this power had been even more frequently used, and that, as the necessities of the language increased, it had in this way been successively enriched with fresh and adequate modes of expression. A judicious application of this faculty might even now materially improve the language ; and perhaps nothing is a greater obstacle to its use, than the custom of employing the hyphen, to denote every such combination. The very object of compounding words is thus frustrated; a perpetual bar is interposed to that effectual coalition of the component parts, which would create a new word, and stamp it with lasting currency. Of the different kinds of words which compose the fabric of our language, the Saxon denote our simple, the Latin our compound ideas; the former are best adapted to the elementary modes of thought, and the primary forms of life, the latter to the more complicated relations of mankind, and the artificial institutions of society. The Saxon are understood by the vulgar, the Latin are familiar to the learned. The Saxon are used in poetry, the Latin in acute disquisition, and subtle argumentation. If you wish to touch the heart, you must employ the Saxon, if to inform the understanding, you must often apply the Latin. The multiplicity of words which has thus arisen in the English language, and by which every thought may be so variously clothed, has often been complained of, but, surely, without just reason. However numerous our words, it may be doubted whether many are strictly synonimous: the general idea conveyed may be the same, but it is distinguished by some small peculiarities. The multitude of words is, therefore, serviceable, and almost necessary, to discriminate the shades and niceties of thought ; and as civilization advances, life becomes more artificial, the inquiries of science are more extended, and the investigations of reason more subtle and refined, the increase of words will be less objected to, because their utility will be more instantly perceived. But even if we had many words expressive of exactly the same idea, that superfluity, instead of being esteemed a defect, should be prized as a mark of opulence ; for wealth naturally implies exuberance, and no man can be called rich who has not more than a supply for his necessities, or who has not many things which can be applied to the same use. If we had only one word for every idea, we should have all that perspicuity requires, and, therefore, all that necessity demands ; but it is not the nature of man to be content with the bare removal of his wants : he wishes for abundance; he allows something to decency, something to ornament, something to refinement. It is true, that one kind of food, however plain, would satisfy hunger ; that one kind of garment, however coarse, would exclude the cold; yet there is nothing unreasonable in indulging the palate with a variety of flavours, or the eye with different textures and colours. It should be also remembered, that the use of language is not only to instruct but to please ; that pleasure can hardly be attained without variety ; and that, however philosophers and metaphysicians may be restricted to the employment of single expressions with precise and determinate meaning, yet poets, orators, and historians, who wish to attract the attention of the mass of mankind, may fairly be allowed that more liberal use of phraseology, which, like the terms of common life, is sufficient to convey their sense to the popular apprehension, whilst it permits them to refresh the ear, and gratify the imagination, by a variety of sound.
If we consider our language as to its grammatical structure, its excellence will be no less obvious. It is not embarrassed by multiplied terminations and complicated forms, and yet there is no difficulty in assigning the relation of the respective words. By rigidly restricting to the neuter gender all objects which are incapable of sex, it escapes one of the greatest difficulties of other languages, whilst, as Harris has remarked, it acquires a new poetical faculty, since it can instantly personify any inanimate object or abstract term, by investing it with that attribute. The arrangement of the English verb, the most important element of language, is peculiarly full and perfect : capable of expressing every relation of time, variety of action, and modification of thought, with familiar clearness and philosophical precision. That remarkable conversion of speech, attempted in all languages, by which the verb is endowed with the power and construction of a substantive, is accomplished in the English with singular and unequalled neatness, universality, and effect: since the participle of every voice and tense may be freely used as a substantive. The simplicity of its grammatical forms, and its want of varied terminations, conduce to the clearness of its syntactical method; whilst sufficient inversion is allowed for poetical or rhetorical effect, the writer is generally compelled to place his words in a direct and natural order, and to attain an intelligible expression. We speak to be understood : perspicuity, therefore, the power of being readily and clearly comprehended