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pany a state of health, unnoticed because habitual ; so the benefits of language, and its benign influence on individual and general culture, are enjoyed by all, though appreciated by few.
Language, therefore, which has its origin in mind; is the visible or audible representative of the hidden conceptions and emotions of mind; that bears, under all circumstances of cultivation, the impress of mind; in which the workings of our mental powers are seen as in a mirror ; – those ta ni xposvia or * winged words” of Homer, which convey, with the rapidity of lightning, from mind to mind, the profoundest thoughts, the boldest conceptions, the wildest imaginings, the minutest distinctions, and the most transient touches of sentiment, with a fidelity to the original archetype that justly claims our admiration,such a theme cannot be devoid of interest to thinking beings, who are so deeply indebted to this high prerogative.
In the present essay, I wish to offer some remarks on “ Language regarded as a Means of intellectual Culture;" and I shall proceed to the discussion, after a few preliminary observations.
1. It is not my design, to discuss the question whether language is of divine or human origin. It suffices, for my purpose, to assume, what all will admit, that whatever was cominunicated to man as he came, already in the full vigor of manhood, from the hands of his Creator, it was simply commensurate with his wants. More than this, - language for which he had no use; expressions for mental conceptions which as yet had no existence; would have been a burden. The vast amount of language that became necessary as the relations of man were multiplied ; as new objects of sense attracted his attention, and demanded a specific designation ; and as his thoughts were gradually turned inward on himself, and his newly formed mental conceptions awakened his curiosity and wonder ; ---- all this may reasonably be referred for its origin to the mind itself of man; for, first, his powers were fully adequate to the task after the first materials and an exemplar had been furnished; and, secondly, language universally, — in its earliest and its latest cultivation, — bears on its face the marks of this mental influence on its progressive formation ; which influence may be distinctly traced in every language, in its progress towards copiousness and refinement.
My object is specific :- to show that the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture, demands our serious attention.
2. I wish not, by any remarks elucidative of this point, to
underrate the importance of the study of any other department of science or literature, - especially of the mathematics - the “science of sciences." This department of study, as a means of intellectual culture, cannot be dispensed with, by those who wish to give completeness to their mental discipline. But the same may be fearlessly asserted of the study of language. It cannot be dispensed with, in favor of any other study by those who would render the cultivation of their intellectual powers complete, harmonious, and efficient. Nay, more; I hope to show, that if, by any sad necessity, either of these means of culture must be resorted to, without the cooperation of the other, the study of language should receive the preference. Let it then be distinctly understood, that, in setting forth the claims of the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture, I freely and fully admit the reasonable claims of every department of science and literature ; and shall never cease to express my gratitude to those, who ably and judiciously place their claims in a strong and appropriate light.
3. I proceed, throughout, on the ground, that education, however variously defined, so far as it bears on the intellectual powers, does not consist in throwing into the vast reservoir of the memory a mass of positive knowledge, of insulated facts, or detached notions, while the mind itself is left unawakened, unexercised, and unconscious of its strength. On the contrary, I regard as the main design of intellectual education, the invigoration of the intellectual powers; the formation of skill in the use of them ; the generation of habits of intellectual courage, that can and will grapple with a problem, a proposition, or an argument, conscious of its own strength, and inured to toil. If this be admitted, I hope to show that the study of language is not merely an introduction to the knowledge of words, while the study of nature presents us with a store of things ; — the former Aeeting as the motion of the bird that greets the dawn, the latter lasting and substantial as nature herself: — but affords a noble arena for intellectual exercise ; an appropriate gymnasium, where the intellect may be trained, expanded, invigorated, and taught to appropriate its own resources.
In elucidation, then, of my subject, I remark, that I argue the importance of the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture,
I. From the acquaintance it furnishes, directly or indirectly, with the powers and faculties of the human mind. Vol. IX. No. 25.
I shall not press this argument beyond its proper limits. Compared with others it is, I freely admit, of minor importance. I shall offer, therefore, a few remarks, illustrative of this point, and leave them to be estimated according to their real value.
The analysis and study of language possesses a peculiarity which lies at the foundation of my argument; viz. that it is the analysis and study of a production or workmanship of the mind itself
, - designed, primarily and solely, to depict its own conceptions and emotions. Every language, in every stage of its cultivation, in its first rude and contracted forin, and in its largest development, — not only indicates the general intelligence and design of the workman, as in the productions of the pencil or the chisel, but presents also the connected and glowing conceptions of the mind itself, as the object of representation. Every word, every part of speech, every expressive particle, with their delicate relations and connections, had their origin in corresponding mental conceptions. In the rudest and most uncultivated language, may be seen, as in a mirror, the mind with its essential faculties in unceasing activity. Every word is the representative of some definite conception in the mind; every connecting particle is there, because the connection of those conceptions in the mind, demanded a corresponding expression. Every sentence is a proposition, every paragraph, section, or chapter delineates the more or less protracted reasonings of the mind itself; and the whole production, perpetuated by language, is, in its entireness, a counterpart of the connected ratiocinations, the discriminating views, the nice judgments, the glowing sentiments, or the kindling emotions of the mind that gave them birth.
I might further insist on the fact, that the mental process by which a language advances from barrenness to copiousness; from a narrow vocabulary of terms, and their restricted application, to the comprehensive range of a high literary and scientific culture; — is the same with that unconsciously brought into play, in the sublime imaginings of the poet. The clown, in his rude efforts at expression by language, as well as the child of inspiration, in his more refined attempts to give “ a local habitation and a name” to the dark musings of his soul, employ, unceasingly, the well known metaphor, - the soul of language.
True; the knowledge thus obtained is not the formal, technical, and systematic knowledge received from scholastic treatises on logic and metaphysics. But a slight examination of the
seen, as in a mirror, the
press this argument beyond its proper limits. others it is, I freely admit
, of minor importance. erefore, a few remarks, illustrative of this point, to be estimated according to their real value. and study of language possesses a peculianty e foundation of my argument; viz. that it is the Hy of a production or workmanship of the mind -d, primarily and solely, to depict its own connotions. Every language, in every stage of its
its first rude and contracted form, and in its bent, not only indicates the general intelli
of the workman, as in the productions of the el, but presents also the connected and glowf the mind itself, as the object of representad, every part of speech, every expressive parelicate relations and connections, had their onTing mental conceptions. · In the rudest and language,
be ntial faculties in unceasing activity. Every -ntative of some definite conception in the ecting particle is there, because the connecptions in the mind, demanded a correspondery sentence is a proposition, every para apter delineates the more or less protracted nd itself; and the whole production, pere, is, in its entireness, a counterpart of the ns, the discriminating views, the nice judgentiments, or the kindling emotions of the birth. et on the fact, that the mental process by vances from barrenness to copiousness ; ury of terms, and their restricted applicave range of a high literary and scientific e with that unconsciously brought into
ginings of the poet. The clown, in his on by language, as well as the child of refined attempts to give “a local habiche dark musings of his soul, employ, wn metaphor, - the soul of language. thus obtained is not the formal, techledge received from scholastic treati
But a slight examination of the
manner in which it is obtained, will satisfy us of its reality and utility
It comes to us both indirectly and directly. Indirectly ; in our ordinary use of language, - without a design to elicit this information. - Directly ; in the minute analysis of language, for the purpose of logical or psychological illustration. Nay, the metaphysician himself, who soars habitually in ethereal regions of pure thought, descends, occasionally, to the murky atmosphere below, and seeks his happiest illustrations from the structure of language.
Further; the analysis of language, for the purpose of detecting the workings of mind, both in its formation and development, and in its application and use, has one advantage over speculative methods. It spreads before us the mind as it is, as it was, and as it will ever be, in its essential faculties and their characteristic operation. No theory is to be built up; no hypothesis to be supported; no preconceived notions to be established; but plain, uncontrovertible, and unchangeable facts, with deductions almost instinctively made from those facts, characterize the analysis of language as a source of information concerning our mental powers.
The influence of the indirect mode is silently but efficiently exerted in our earliest years. So that, when the formal, technical, and systematic instructions of the school are first presented to the young mind, they find a foundation already formed on which to rest. As a man who resorts daily to a mirror, for the adjustment of a portion of his dress, forms an acquaintance with his own features, although not themselves the direct object of attention ; so, in the daily use of language, for literary purposes, we form, unconsciously, an acquaintance with the general features of mind, although not directly an object of our regard.
Again ; I argue the importance of the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture,
II. From the fact that it secures the seasonable, symmetrical, and simultaneous exercise of all our intellectual faculties.
When I speak of this exercise as seasonable, I mean that it adapts itself to every age, sex, and condition. ses of intellectual culture, it lends its aid, not only to quicken the germ, to expand the flower, to form the seed; but also to produce the blushing fruit.
When I speak of this exercise of the intellectual facultjes as
For the purpo
symmetrical, I mean that this department of study secures fo those faculties their consistent and proportionate degree of ac tion, and prevents a morbid accumulation of vigor in any one part. It can do more than any other study, to keep our mental powers revolving each in its appropriate orbit, and exemplify the imaginary “ music of the spheres.”
When I speak of this exercise of our faculties as simultaneous, I mean that, by this study, the powers of the mind are conjointly brought into action, and not in distant succession. They move onward together. They come into the field with their combined force, and not by detachments. It is this circumstance that renders the phrase “ mental discipline,” so pregnant with meaning.
Finally, when I speak of this study as calling into exercise all the powers of the mind, I mean that no one is left unexercised. It is not a partial but an universal influence ; not the education of a few, and the consignment of the rest to inefficiency and decay; but the drawing forth and cherishing, invigorating and enlarying, the capabilities of all.
It is well remarked by an able u riter in a late Edinburgh Review, “ the difference between different studies, in their contracting influence, is great. Some exercise, and consequently develop, perhaps, one faculty on a single phasis, or to a low degree; whilst others, from the variety of objects and relations they present, calling into strong and unexclusive activity the whole circle of the higher powers, may almost pretend to accomplish alone the work of catholic education.”
This is strong language, but the offspring of a thinking and observing mind.
I might, now, in elucidation of this part of my argument, direct attention to the usual elementary and grammatical studies of the Greek and Latin languages, and point out the influence of those studies on the expanding intellect; but I forbear, for the following reasons ; First
, the space allotted to me would not suffice to dwell on this subordinate
subject, conjointly with those of higher moment. Secondly, this part of the subject has been again and again insisted on by able advocates of the study of languages. And thirdly, it is virtually embraced in the exercises of translation and of etymology to which, as some of the most efficient means of intellectual culture, I design particularly to invite attention.
The business of translating may be regarded, in a twofold