can discover, or imagination create, are known by their proper names. Nay, language has been carried so far, as to be made an instrument of the most refined luxury. Not resting in mere perfpicuity, we require ornament also ; not satisi.ed with having the conceptions of others made known to us, we'make a farther demand, to have them so decked and adorned, as to entertain our fancy ; ; and this demand, it is found very poilible to gratify. In this itate we now find language. In this state, it has been found anong many nations for some thousand years. The object is become familiar; and, like the expanse of the firmament, and other great objects, which we are accustomed to behold, we behold it without wonder.

But carry your thoughts back to the first dawn of language among men. Reflect upon the feeble beginnings from which it must have arisen, and upon the many and great obstacles which it must have encountered in its progress; and you will find reason for the highest astonishment, on viewing the height which it has now attained. We admire several of the inventions of art ; we plume ourselves on some discoveries which have been made in latter ages, serving to advance knowledge, and to render life comfortable ; ve peak of them as the boast of human reason. But certainly no invention is entitled to any such degree of admiration as that of language ; which, too, must have been the product of the first and rudelt ages, if indeed it can be considered as a human invention at all.

Think of the circum{tances of mankind when languages began to be formed. They were a wandering, scattered race ; no society among them except families ; and the family fociety, too, very imperfect, as their method of living by hunting or palturage must have separated them frequently Vol. I.


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from one another. In this situation, when so much divided, and their intercourse so rare, how could any one set of sounds, or words, be generally agreed on as the signs of their ideas ? Suppofing that a few, whom chance or necessity threw together, agreed by some means upon certain figns, yet by what authority could these be propagated among I other tribes or families, so as to spread and grow up into a language ? One would think, that, in order to any language fixing and extending itself, men must have been previously gathered together in confiderable numbers ; society must have been already far advanced ; and yet, on the other hand, there seems to have been an absolute necessity for speech, previous to the formation of society. For, by what bond could any multitude of men be kept together, or be made to join in the prosecution of any common interest, until once, by the intervention of speech, they could communicate their wants and intentions to one another ? So that, either how society could form itself, previously to language, or how words could rise into a language previously to fociety formed, seem to be points attended with equal difficulty. And when we consider farther, that curious analogy which prevails in the construction of almost all languages, and that deep and subtile logic on which they are founded, difficulties increase so much upon us, on all hands, that there feems to be no finall reason for referring the first origin of all language to divine teaching or infpiration.

But supposing language to have a divine original, we cannot, however, suppose, that a perfect fystem of it was all at once given to man. It is much more natural to think, that God taught our first parents only fuch language as suited their present occasions ; leaving them, as he did in other things, to enlarge and improve it as their future necellities should require. Consequently, those first

rudiments of speech must have been poor and narrow; and we are at full liberty to enquire in what manner, and by what steps, language advanced to the state in which we now find it. The history which I am to give of this progress, will suggest feveral things, both curious in themselves, and useful in our future disquisitions.

If we should suppose a period before any words were invented or known, it is clear, that men could have no other method of communicating to others what they felt, than by the cries of pallion, accompanied with such motions and gestures as were farther expressive of paffion. For these are the only signs which nature teaches all men, and which are understood by all. One who saw another going into some place where he himself had been frightened, or exposed to danger, and who fought to warn his neighbour of the danger, could contrive no other way of doing so, than by uttering those cries, and making those gestures, which are the signs of fear': just as tw men, at this day, would endeavour to make thưir felves be understood by each other, who should be thrown together on a defolate island, ignorant of each other's language. Those exclamations, therefore, which by grammarians are called interjections, uttered in a strong and passionate manner, were, beyond doubt, the first elements or beginnings of speech.

When more enlarged communication became necessary, and names began to be astigned to obje&ts, in what manner can we suppose men to have proceeded in this assignation of names, or invention of words ? Undoubtedly, by imitating, as much as they could, the nature of the object which they named, by the found of the name which they gave to it. As a painter, who would represent grass, must employ a green colour ; so, in the beginnings of language, one giving a name to any thing harsh or boisterous, would of course employ a harsh or boisterous found. He could not do otherwise, if he meant to excite in the hearer the idea of that thing which he fought to name. To fuppose words invented, or names given, to things, in a manner purely arbitrary, without any ground or reason, is to suppose an eflect without a cause, There must have always been some motive which led to the alignation of one name rather than another; and we can conceive no motive which would more generally operate upon men in their firit efforts towards language, than a delire to paint, by speech, the objects which they named, in a manner more or less complete, according as the vocal organs had it in their power to effect this imitation.

Wherever objects were to be named, in which sound, noise, or motion were concerned, the imitation by words was abundantly obvious. Nothing was more natural, than to imitate, by the found of the voice, the quality of the found or noise which any external object made ; and to form its name accordingly. Thus, in all languages, we find a multitude of words that are evidently constructed upon this principle. A certain bird is termed the cuckoo, from the sound which it emits. When one fort of wind is said to whifile, and another to roar ; when a serpent is said to hiss ; a fly to buz, and falling timber to crash; when a stream is said to filow, and hail to rattie ; the analogy between the word and the thing lignified is plainly discernible.

In the names of objects which address the fight only, where neither noise nor motion are concerned, and still more in the terms appropriated to moral ideas, this analogy appears to fail. Many learned men, however, have been of opinion, that though, in such cases, it becomes more obscure,

yet it is not altogether loft; but that throughout the radical words of all languages, there may be traced some degree of correspondence with the obje& signified. With regard to moral and intellectual ideas, they remark, that, in every language, the terms significant of them, are derived from the names of sensible objects to which they are conceived to be analogous; and with regard to sensible objects, pertaining merely to fight, they remark, that their most distinguishing qualities have certain radical sounds appropriated to the expreffion of them, in a great variety of languages. Stability, for instance, fluidity, hollowness, smooth-t ness, gentleness, violence, &c. they imagine to be painted by the sound of certain letters or fyllables, which have some relation to those different states of visible objects, on account of an obscure resemblance which the organs of voice are capable of assuming to such external qualities. By this natural mechanism, they imagine all languages to have been at first constructed, and the roots of their capital words formed *.

* The author, who has carried his speculations on this subject the fartheft, is the president Des Brofles, in his “ Traité de la formation mechanique des Langues.” Some of the radical letters or syllables which he supposes to carry this expressive power in must known languages, are, St, to signify Itability or reft; Fl, to denote fluency; cl a gentle defcent; R, what relates to rapid motion ; C, to cavity or hollowness, &c. A century before his time, Dr. Wallis, in his Grammar of the English Language, had taken notice of these significant roots, and represented it as a peculiar excellency of our tongue, that, beyond all others, it exprefed the nature of the objects which it names, by employing founds fharper, softer, weaker, stronger, more obscure, or more stridulous, according as the idea which is to be suggelled requires. He gives various examples. Thus ; words formed upon St, always denote firmness and strength, analogous to the Latin fto ; as, stand, stay, staff, Pop, ftour, steady, stake, ftamp, Itallion, stately, &c. Words beginning with Str, intimate violent force, and energy, analogous to the Greek, stgorous ;

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