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æqualitatis qua nititur ille status, intolerabilis liberæ civitati et nimius homo videbitur."-Sed veterum testimoniis utimur et rectius et lubentius, quare in jis desinimus, in Aristotele præsertim, qui laudato sæpius loco: διο κατά τάς ομολογουμένας υπεροχάς, έχει τι δίκαιον πολιτικόν ο λόγος και περί των οστρακισμόν. Ιdem δίκαιον πολιτικός in Ostracismo probat Aristides Rhetor, non si Lex per se spectetur sola, sed in ea, quæ Athenis erat, Reip. forma. Uno verbo, quod de universa Reip. Atticæ ratione scripsit Xenophon, vel quisquis fuerit Libelli de Rep. Atheniensium Auctor, id nos de Ostracismo sentimus; atque hæc illius verba omnis hujus disputationis conclusionem quandam faciant et finem : “De Atheniensium vero forma Reip. quod talem elegerint modum, non equidem laudo, quia, eam formam eligentes, elegerunt simul volueruntque, ut pravis melius esset quam bonis. Propterea igitur eos non laudo. Quando autem illis sic visum est, quod bene recteque servent formam illam suam, et cætera quoque recte administrent, in quibus peccare reliquis Græcis videntur, id ego demonstrabo."-Et nos quoque de Ostracismo demonstrasse videmur.
· P. 355. D.
2 d. I. Tom. iii. p. 398. C.
3 Opp. p. 402. Ed. Steph.
LETTERS ON THE ANCIENT BRITISH
LANGUAGE OF CORNWALL.
No. IV.-[Continued from No. XXXVIII. p. 226.]
ORTHOGRAPHY, &c. The uncertain orthography of the Cornish may be esteemed as one of its principal defects. This is, however, a consequence of the circumstances in which it existed, as the uncultivated language of a small and imperfectly civilised people. It is well known bow difficult it has proved to establish a canon of orthography in the several modern languages. The spelling of Petrarch and Boccace, though they are still the standards of Tuscan elegance and purity, is different from that of the modern Italians. In fact, a language may be highly refined, and yet have no settled orthography; this can only become fixed through the medium of learned societies, as of the Academies Della Crusca, and those of Paris and Madrid; or as with us, when a great number of eminent authors preponderate by their example, and firmly establish their practice. But those languages, which have had neither of these advantages, must be uncertain in their orthography. Of this a remarkable instance occurs, among the moderns, in the Portuguese, which has fixed its canon neither by means of any learned body, nor by the uniform practice of a sufficient number of celebrated writers. Vieyra's Dictionary is full of references to words, which are differently written. If this is then the case in a living, polished, and even classical tongue, what a confusion may we not expect in the extinct, unwritten, or rarely written, and almost unknown dialect of Cornwall? Instead of the authority of great authors, or even of printed books, there remain in it only a few manuscripts, which were composed at distant periods, in which the words were written according to the discretion of each of the authors; a few other trifling fragments, taken from the oral conversation of the common people, were afterwards committed to writing, according to their different pronunciation, or as the sounds might have been caught by different hearers. This diversity of spelling the Cornish was therefore unavoidable; and a material, if not the principal inconvenience arising from it, is that it adds to the disguise and corruption of the foreign words, so that some of them can no longer be recognised. In
such a perplexity, it must have been difficult to be accurate in a Vocabulary, though, with a few blemishes, such a point might have been attainable by a reference to the synonyms. But I am sorry to say, that when Dr. Borlase began to treat about the language of his ancestors, his former diligence seems to have forsaken bim, and that he was then merely endeavouring to finish bis book as quickly as possible. As an antiquarian and a naturalist, he was undoubtedly possessed of great acquirements ; but he appears to have been no linguist, in the sense that the word would be now understood. Some of his words have the usual reference to their synonyms, which are differently spelt; but in general they are unnoticed ; of others he only gives particular cases and tenses, and without pointing out the root, as in Bym, I have been ; Cardonion, friends; and Cuthens, covered. On the whole, it is evident, that the Vocabulary was made in haste, and with very little attention either to the selection or the arrangement of the materials. I am even inclined to suppose that the compiler was not aware of the identity of many words, which appear to be merely inflections of the same word. However, as an inquiry into facts, and not censure, is the object of these remarks, I will proceed to give a few instances of those words which are variously written.
Agrys. Cresy. Criedzy. Grys. To believe.
Gueden. Guiden. Vedhn. A widow.
I am far from having selected in this list all the Cornish words which are differently spelt. They are however sufficient to leave no doubt concerning the great discrepancy which exists in the orthography; though it must still be owned, that a few, though derived from the same source, seem to have always been distinct words; as Brawd, Breur, from frater; and Churisigen, and Gurigan, from vesica.
Thus far I have examined the Cornish Vocabulary, and compared it with the above languages ; though with what success, it is not for me to determine. Let it be however remembered, that to compare and to trace words under the several disguises in which they may present themselves, is at best tedious to the reader ; but how much more so wust it be to the patience of one who undertakes to write on such a subject! It is, however, better to proceed thus, than to hazard assertions, which cannot be proved, or to labor at the establishment of any particular theory, which does not rest upon a solid basis. I bave therefore adhered to no particular opinions of any former authors, but endeavoured to ascertain facts by a careful collation of the scanty remnants of the Cornish Dialect. Hence my conclusions are at variance with those of some former writers, who have but too often re-echoed the sentiments of each other. In the first place, I have found, (or, to be more
172 On the Ancient British Language of Cornwall. guarded, I have made it probable, that no ancient Phenician intercourse could have ever been so considerable, as to have had a decided influence on the language of Cornwall; and that the Hebrew wbich it contains, is too little to be worth mentioning. I have also shown that Dr. Pryce is unfounded in his opinion, that it is mostly derived from the Greek, I suspect that most of those who argue for its connexion with the above languages, are not aware, that much of this is the offspring of national vanity, and of the pleasure of being able to write on topics, which are little understood. On the contrary, I conclude that its basis is to be found in the Celtic, combined with a large mixture of classical, though disguised Latin. To complete the whole, it is also alloyed in some measure with English and French, and a very few terms from other modern languages.
It results moreover from this exanination, that this western tongue is so far from being a primitive, that it is a compound of many, and therefore cannot be very ancient. I would assign the eleventh century, the age of the Cotton manuscript, as that when all its component parts had been amalgamated, and it existed in its greatest purity, as distinct from the other British Dialects. As these have undoubtedly admitted in themselves less of a foreign cast, they are purer, and more ancient. The Cornish may be considered as the youngest sister : having borrowed so much from foreign countries, its sounds are not inbarmonious, and it is certainly free from the gutturalisms of the Welsh. The Cornish holds the same place among the Dialects of Britain, that the English does among the languages of modern Europe. Both are alike compounded of many others, and therefore have been brought the latest to perfection; and both possess peculiar advantages of their own, which are in a great measure derived from their formation from such a heterogeneous mass.
The disguise of words, to which I have so frequently alluded, is intimately connected with the discrepancies of orthography, and is the part of our subject which naturally follows next. This shall therefore form the subject of my next letter, as it will make many of my subsequent remarks more intelligible. The causes of this disguise are various, as they are owing to the addition, the change, the suppression, or the transposition of letters.