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« commanded to teach ; I have taught myself.” The Greek, which is the most perfect of all the known tongues, is very regular and complete in all the tenses and moods. The Latin is formed on the fame model, but more imperfect ; especially in the passive voice, which forms most of the teníes by the help of the auxiliary verb, “ Jum."
In all the modern European tongues, conjugation is very defective. They admit few varieties in the termination of the verb itself; but have almost constant recourse to their auxiliary verbs, throughout all the moods and tenses, both active and pas five. Language has undergone a change in conjugation, perfectly similar to that, which, I showed in the last lecture, it underwent with respect to declension. As prepositions, prefixed to the noun, fuperfeded the use of cases ; so the two great auxiliary verbs, to have, and to be, with those other auxiliaries which we use in English, do, Mall, will, may, and can, prefixed to the participle, fuperfede, in a great measure, the different terminations of moods and tenses, which formed the ancient conjugations.
The alteration, in both cases, was owing to the fame cause, and will be easily understood, from refle&ting on what was formerly observed. The auxiliary verbs are, like prepositions, words of a very general and abstract nature. They imply the different modifications of simple existence, confidered alone, and without reference to any particular thing. In the early state of speech, the import of them would be incorporated with every particular verb in its tenses and moods, long before words were invented for denoting such abstract conceptions of existence, alone, and by themselves. But after those auxiliary verbs came, in the progress of language, to be invented and known, and to kave tenses and moods given to them like other verbs; it was found, that as they carried in their nature the force of that affirmation which diftinguishes the verb, they might, by being joined with the participle which gives the meaning of the verb, supply the place of most of the moods and tenses. Hence, as the modern tongues began to rise out of the ruins of the ancient, this method established itself in the new formation of speech. Such words, for instance ; as, am, was, have, mall, being once familiar, it appeared more easy to apply these to any verb whatever ; as, I am loved; I was loved ; I have loved ; than to remember that variety of terminations which were requisite in conjugating the ancient verbs, amor, amabar, amavi, &c. Two or three varieties only, in the termination of the verb, were retained, as, love, loved, loving; and all the rest were dropt. The consequence, however, of this practice, was the same as that of abolishing declensions. It rendered language more simple and easy in its structure ; but withal, more prolix, and less graceful. This finishes all that seemed most necessary to be observed with respect to verbs.
The remaining parts of speech, which are called the indeclinable parts, or that admit of no variations, will not detain us long.
Adverbs are the first that occur. These form a very numerous class of words in every language, reducible, in general, to the head of attributives ; as they serve to modify, or to denote some circumstance of an action, or of a quality, relative to its time, place, order, degree, and the other properties of it, which we have occasion to specify. They are, for the most part, no more than an abridged mode of speech, expressing, by one word, what might, by a circumlocution, be resolved into two or more words belonging to the other parts of speech.“ Exceedingly,” for instance, is the same as, " in a high degree ;” “ bravely,” the same as,
6 with bravery or valour ;" “ here,” the same as, “ in this place ;" “ often, and feldom,” the fame as, “ for many, and for few times :” and so of the reft. Hence, adverbs may be conceived as of less necessity, and of later introduction into the system of speech, than many other classes of words; and, accordingly, the great body of them are derived from other words formerly established in the language.
Prepositions and conjunctions are words more essential to discourse than the greatest part of ad. verbs. They form that class of words, called connectives, without which there could be no ļanguage ; serving to express the relations which things bear to one another, their mutual influence, dependencies, and coherence; thereby joining words together into intelligible and significant propositions. Conjunctions are generally employed for connecting sentences, or members of sentences ; as, and, because, although, and the like. Prepositions are employed for connecting words, by showing the relation which one substantive noun bears to another; as, of, from, to, above, below, &c. Of the force of these I had occasion to speak before, when treating of the cases and declensions of substantive nouns.
It is abundantly evident, that all these connective particles must be of the greatest use in speech ; seeing they point out the relations and transitions by which the mind passes from one idea to another. They are the foundation of all reasoning, which is no other thing than the connexion of thoughts. And, therefore, though among barbarous nations, and in the rude uncivilized ages of the world, the ftock of these words might be small, it must always have increased, as mankind advanced in the arts of reasoning and reflexion. The more that any nation is improved by science, and the more perfect
their language becomes, we may naturally expect, that it will abound more with connective particles ; expressing relations of things, and transitions of thought, which had escaped a grofer view. Accordingly, no tongue is so full of them as the Greek, in consequence of the acute and subtile genius of that refined people. In every language, much of the beauty and strength of it depends on the proper use of conjunctions, prepositions, and those relative pronouns, which also serve the same purpose of connecting the different parts of discourse. It is the right or wrong management of these, which chiefly makes discourse appear firm and compacted, or disjointed and loose ; which carries it on in its progress with a finooth and even pace, or renders its march irregular and desultory.
I shall dwell no longer on the general construction of language. Allow me, only, before I dismiss the subject, to observe, that dry and intricate as it may seem to fome, it is, however, of great importance, and very nearly connected with the philosophy of the human mind. For, if speech be the vehicle, or interpreter of the conceptions of our minds, an examination of its structure and progress cannot but unfold many things concerning the nature and progress of our conceptions themselves, and the operations of our faculties ; a subject that is always instructive to, man.
says Quintilian, an author of excellent judgment, nequis tanquam
parva fastidiat grammatices elementa. Non quia “ magnze fit operæ consonantes a vocalibus difcer
nere, easque in semivocalium numerum, muta
rumque partiri, sed quia interiora velut facri hujus " adeuntibus, apparebit inulta rer!ım subtilitas, quæ us non modo acuere ingenia pucrilia, fed exercere " altissimam quoquc eruditionem ac
* pofsit*." 1. 4.
* “ Let no man despise, as inconsiderable, the elements of Let us now come nearer to our own language. In this, and the preceding lecture, fome obiervations have already been made on its structure. But it is proper that we should be a little more particular in the examination of it.
The language which is, at present, spoken throughout Great Britain, is neither the ancient primitive speech of the island, nor derived from it ; but is altogether of foreign origin. The language of the first inhabitants of our island, beyond doubt, was the Celtic, or Gaelic, common to them with Gaul ; from which country, it appears, by many circumstances, that Great Britain was peopled. This Celtic tongue, which is said to be very expressive and copious, and is, probably, one of the most ancient languages in the world, obtained once in most of the western regions of Europe. It was the language of Gaul, of Great Britain, of Ireland, and, very probably, of Spain, also ; till, in the course of those revolutions, which, by means of the conquests, first, of the Romans, and afterwards, of the northern nations, changed the government, speech, and, in a manner, the whole face of Europe, this tongue was gradually obliterated ; and now subsists only in the mountains of Wales, in the Highlands of Scotland, and among the wild Irish. For the Irish, the Welch, and the Erse, are no other than different dialects of the same tongue, the ancient Celtic..
This, then, was the language of the primitive Britons, the first inhabitants, that we know of, in
grammar, because it may seem to him a matter of small coure, quence, to thow the distinction between vowels and consonants, and to divide the latter into liquids and motes. But they who penetrate into the innermost parts of this temple of science, will there discover such refinement and subtility of matter, as is not only proper to sharpen the underitandings of you men, but sufficient to give exercise for the most profound knowledge and erudition.''