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of those general laws which govern human thought in the employment of arbitrary signs. While the philologer, however, is engaged in these captivating researches, it is highly necessary to remind him, from time to time, that his discoveries belong to the same branch of literature with that which furnishes a large proportion of the materials in our common lexicons and etymological dictionaries;–that after he has told us (for example) that imagination is borrowed from an optical image, and acuteness from a Latin word, denoting the sharpness of a material instrument, we are no more advanced in studying the theory of the human intellect, than we should be in our speculations concerning the functions of money, or the political effects of the national debt, by learning, from Latin etymologists, that the word pecunia and the phrase as alienum had both a reference, in their first origin, to certain circumstances in the early state of Roman manners. * From these slight hints, considered in their connection with the subject which introduced them, some of my readers must have anticipated the use of them I intend to make, in prosecuting the argument concerning the Origin of Human Knowledge. To those, however, who have not read Mr Tooke's work, or who, in reading it, have not been aware of the very subtile and refined train of thinking which latently connects his seemingly desultory etymologies, it may be useful for me to select one or two examples, where Mr Tooke himself has been at pains to illustrate the practical application, of which he conceived his discoveries to be susceptible, to philosophical discussions. This is the more necessary, that, in general, he seems purposely to have confined himself to the statement of premises, without pointing out (except by implication or innuendo) the purposes to which he means them to be applied; —a mode of writing, I must beg leave to observe, which, by throwing an air of mystery over his real design, and by amusing the imagination with the prospect of some wonderful secret afterwards to be revealed, has given to his truly learned and original disquisitions, a degree of celebrity among the smatterers of science, which they would never have acquired, if stated concisely and systematically in a didactic form. “RIGHT is no other than RECT-um (regitum), “the past participle of the Latin verb regere. In “the same manner, our English verb. JUST is the “past participle of the verb jubere. “Thus, when a man demands his RIGHT he asks “only that which it is ordered he shall have. “A RIGHT conduct is, that which is ordered. “A RIGHT reckoning is, that which is ordered. “A RIGHT line is, that which is ordered or di. “rected—(not a random extension, but) the short“est distance between two points. “The RIGHT road is, that ordered or directed to “be pursued (for the object you have in view.) “To do RIGHT is, to do that which is ordered to “ be dome. *
* See Note (P.)
“To be in the RIGHT is, to be in such situations “ or circumstances as are ordered. “To have RIGHT or LAw on one's side is, to have “in one’s favour that which is ordered or laid down. “A RIGHT and JUST action is, such a one as is “ ordered and commanded. “A JUST man is, such as he is commanded to be “—qui leges juraque servat—who observes and obeys the things laid down and commanded.”— “It appears to me highly improper to say, “that God has a RIGHT, as it is also to say, that God “is JUST. For nothing is ordered, directed, or “commanded, concerning God. The expressions “are inapplicable to the Deity; though they are “common, and those who use them have the best “intentions. They are applicable only to men; to “whom alone language belongs, and of whose sen“sations only words are the representatives to men, “who are, by nature, the subjects of orders and com“mands, and whose chief merit is obedience.” In reply to the objection, that, according to this doctrine, everything that is ordered and command. ed is RIGHT and JUST, Mr Tooke not only admits the consequence, but considers it as an identical proposition. “It is only affirming,” he observes, “that what “ is ordered and commanded is—ordered and com“ manded.” " With regard to whoNG, he observes afterwards, that “it is the past participle of the verb to wring, “wringan, torquere. The word answering to it in “Italian is torto, the past participle of the verb tor. “quere; whence the French also have tort. It “means merely wrung, or wrested from the RIGHT, “ or ordered, line of conduct.” Through the whole of this passage, Mr Tooke evidently assumes, as a principle, that, in order to ascertain, with precision, the philosophical import of any word, it is necessary to trace its progress historically through all the successive meanings which it has been employed to convey, from the moment that it was first introduced into our language; or, if the word be of foreign growth, that we should prosecute the etymological research, till we ascertain the literal and primitive sense of the root from whence it sprung. It is in this literal and primitive sense alone, that, according to him, a philosopher is entitled to employ it, even in the present advanced state of science ; and whenever he annexes to it a meaning at all different, he imposes equally on himself and on others." To me, on the contrary, it appears, that to appeal to etymology in a philosophical argument (excepting, perhaps, in those cases where the word itself is of philosophical origin), is altogether nugatory; and can serve; at the best, to throw an amusing light on the laws which regulate the operations of human fancy. In the present in. stance, Mr Tooke has availed himself of a philological hypothesis (the evidence of which is far from being incontrovertible) to decide, in a few sentences, and, in my opinion, to decide very erroneously, one of the most important questions connected with the theory of morals. I shall only mention another example, in which Mr Tooke has followed out, with still greater intre
and moral rectitude of conduct, has obtained in every language I know; and might, I think, be satisfactorily explained, without founding the theory of morality upon a philological nostrum concerning past participles. The following passage from the Ayeen Akberry (which must recal to every memory the line of Horace, Scilicct ut possem curvo dignoscere rectum) deserves to be quoted as an additional proof of the universality of the association which has suggested this metaphor. “In the beginning of the reign, Mollana Muksood, seal-en
“graver, cut on steel, in the Roka character, the name of his “majesty, with those of his predecessors, up to Timur; and af. “ter that, he cut another in the Nustaleek character, with his “majesty's name alone. For everything relative to petitions, “ another seal was made, of a semicircular form. On one side s: was,
“Rectitude is the means of pleasing God:
“I never saw any one lost in a straight road.”
Ayeen Akberry, Vol. I. p. 67.
* It must not, however, be concluded from this language, that Mr Tooke has any leaning to Hobbism. On the contrary, in the sequel of the discussion, he lays great stress on the distinction between what is ordered by human authority, and what the laws of our nature teach us to consider as ordered by God.
* “As far as we know not our own meaning;" as far “as our “purposes are not endowed with words to make them known;” so far, “we gabble like things most brutish.”—“But the im“portance rises higher, when we reflect upon the application of “words to metaphysics. And when I say metaphysics, you will “be pleased to remember, that all general reasoning, all politics, “law, morality, and dirinity, are merely metaphysic.” For what reason, I must beg leave to ask, has Mr Tooke omit. ted mathematics in this enumeration of the different branches of metaphysical science? Upon his own principle, it is fully as well entitled to a place as any of the others.--Diversions of Purley, Part ii. p. 121.