Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

mond Lulli alone attempted a spirited plan, nearly resembling in its principles the German arithmetical machine: but it failed, as it necessarily must have failed, through the same deficiency which rendered Aristotle's syllogism so entirely use. less;-through the schemer's ignorance of the nature and force of single terms. BACON states the great importance of the inquiry, but declines any endeavour to supply the desideratum which he acknowleges.

At length the « Essay on Human Understanding” appeared, -that first effectual attempt in philosophical grammar, and dispelled many of the clouds which hung over that most important part of natural knowlege, the phænomena of Mind : but unhappily, although Mr. Locke evidently exerts all his faculties, and employs all his reading, he left every division of grammar, except one, as obscure as he found it.-His great successor, (whose work has perhaps risen higher above the level of his precursor's knowlege, than Locke's book rose above the attainments of the schoolmen,) Dr.HARTLEY, has also given a formal analysis of language; which, like that of Mr. Locke, can scarcely be read without a smile. In fact, he acknowleges himself in plain terms to be “ a novice in these speculations."--Both these great men, however, impress on the minds of their readers a deep sense of the importance of the inquiry, and repeatedly complain of the insuperable difficulties thrown in the way of truth by the prevalent ignorance of the value and signification of words.

Since these attempts, some continental writers have lately made considerable advances in grammatical knowlege ; and the labours of Schultens, Hemsterhuis, Hoogeven, Lennep, and Scheid, have elucidated the meaning of many obscure but important words in the Grček and the Oriental tongues : but they were ignorant of the nature of their own discoveries, and have encumbered themselves with fallacious systems. It was reserved for the author of the celebrated “ Letter to Mr. Dunning,” and of the EIIEA-IITEPOENTA, to propose and to prove an hypothesis which has settled the dispute, and has removed all the rubbish which has been accumulated on the subject by men of learning, during centuries after centuries.

The leading principle of the great discovery published in that letter is now generally admitted ; namely, that all the particles, as they have been called, are words of a definite meaning, and are traceable to a clear corporeal signification, either in the same or in the parent language.

This indeed must appear wonderful to those who are unacquainted with the subject; and such could never have suspected so natural an origin of a science so complicated : any more than the uneducated would conceive that the infinite organical and literal combinations of speech can be analysed into a few elementary sounds, or that the apparent simplicity of the light of the sun can be resolved into a variety of colours.-- To perceive the unspeakable value of Mr. Tooke's hypothesis, it is necessary to be aware of the importance of words in the art of reasoning.- Verba, vestigia mentis,acknowleges Bacon, in his book “ De Augmentis Scientiarum :" but they are more, they are the machines used by the mind ; and the lever, the wheel, or the screw, are but faint representations of their power and their utility.

more

The first edition of the work now again placed before us was published so long since as the year 1780; and in our Number for January 1787 (vol. lxxvi. Art. 1.) will be found a general view of its contents. We at that time ventured to say that it opened a new track to the grammarian and the lexicographer, and that we had little doubt that, the more it was investigated, the clearer would be the evidence of its truth and stability. The opinion of the public, we believe, has corroborated our judgment; and though it is to be lamented that few philologists have yet trodden in the path which Mr. Tooke has so successfully traced out, yet it is not the less certain that the general principles of his theory are allowed to be founded in fact, and that the developement of those principles in the Diversions of Purley displays extensive learning and great sagacity.

In the present impression, not much of new matter is to be found: no fresh proofs are given of Mr. Tooke's theory of language; nor is the investigation carried beyond the point at which it stood in the former edition. Some matter, however, does occur : but it is elicited by a controversy of criti. cism or the irritation of politics, rather than designed by the author to amplify or to complete his original plan. - Notwithstanding the very general assent which was given to the new doctrine of Mr. Tooke, there were a few who, though they could not refute any of the great principles on which that doctrine rested, yielded but a reluctant assent,-combated whatever they deemed weak,- and endeavoured to deprive Mr. T. of the praise of being a discoverer, wherever they could find any resemblance to the works of other authors. Among those who allowed the Diversions of Purley to be a work of considerable merit, as suggesting a new mode of tracing the origin of words of which the etymology was the most obscure, · yet denied many of the positions laid down by the author

in the course of his inquiry, there appeared a writer under the name of Cassander; who in 1790 published Strictures on Mr. Rev. Dec, 1798,

Tooke's

Gg

Tooke's book *; and most of the additions which we now find have been occasioned by these Strictures. As a specimen of Mr. Tooke's manner in controversy, we shall give an extract or two from his reply to Cassander.

My Norwich critics,' [Mr. Tooke supposes Cassander to be “ a teacher and preacher in the city of Norwich,”] *(for I shall couple † them) blame me,

1. For the obscurity of my Title-page. Page 2ț. 62. For the matter of my Introduction. Page 3.

'3. For the place of my Advertisement. Page 21. ... 4. For a very stror.g propension towards inaccuracy. Page 2.

is. For having “introduced one of the champions for intole. rance," by quoting a Roman catholic bishop. Page 4.

• 6. For the imperfection of my Anglo-saxon alphabet. Page 22. 67. And finally, For my politics. Page 32.

. All these I' willingly abandon to their mercy and discretion; although they have not shewn any symptoms of either.

' But I should be sorry if any of my readers were hastily misled by them to believe,

"That “ Grammar was one of the First arts which probably engaged the attention of the curious.” Page 4.

. For the contrary is not a matter of conjecture, but of historical fact : and whoever pleases may know at what precise period Grammar, as an art, had its commencement in every nation in Europe.

• Or that " The desire which arises in the mind, next to that of communicating thought, is certainly to use such signs as will convey the meaning clearly and precisely.” Page 19.

* This pamphlet of Cassander accidentally escaped our notice at the time of its publication.

† For an explanation of this conceit, we refer the curious reader to p. 228, and 229, of Mr. T.'s performance.

.I Vix plane a me impetrare possum, quin exemplum sequar Petri Francisci Giambullarii qui librum suum de linguae Florentina origine scriptum, a Johannis Baptista Gellii, viri sibi amicitia et studiis conjunctissimè, cognomine, quem in scribendo socium et consiliarium habuit, Il Gello nuncupari voluit. Perinde quidem et mihi THWAITESII nomine librum nostrum inscribendo, si per modestiam ejus liceret, nobis faciendum esset.'

G. Hickes. og Mr. Secretary and his secretary will not be surprised that their disapprobation does not move me; when they consider that, as far as corrupt and unbridled power has been able to enforce the decree, I have, on account of these politics, been, for the last thirty years, robbed of the fair use of life, interdi&lus agua et igni : and, by what I can prognosticate, I suppose I am still to lay down my life for them. I might have quitted them, as Mr. Secretary has done, and have received the reward of my treachery. But my politics will never be changed, nor be kept back on any occasion : and whilst I have my life, it will neither be einbittered by any regret for the past, nor fear for the future,'

. For

- For a desire of communicating thought, and a desire of conveying bur meaning clearly and precisely (though expressed by different words) are not two desires, but one desire: for as far as our meaning is not conveyed clearly and precisely, it is not conveyed at all; so far there is no communication of thought.

• Or, that “ This desire of conveying our meaning clearly and precisely naturally leads to the use of abbreviations : and that abbreviations seem to bear a mach stronger affinity to the desire of perspicuity than to that of dispatch." Page 20.

Tor, to satisfy himself that the desire of clearness and perspicuity does not lead to the use of abbreviations, (which are substitutes;) any person needs only to consult the legal instruments of any civilized nation in the world : for, in these instruments, perspicuity or clearness is the only object. Now these legal instruments have always been, and always must be, remarkably more tedious and prolix than any other writings, in which the same clearness and precision are not equally important. For abbreviations open a door for doubt; and, by the use of them, what we gain in time we lose in precision and certainty. In common discourse we save time by using the short substitutes he and she and THEY and it; and (with a little care on one side and attention on the other they answer our purpose very well; or, if a mistake happens, it is easily set right. But this substitution will not be risqued in a legal in. strument ; and the drawer thinks hiinself compelled, for the sake of certainty to say—he (the said John A.) to Him (the said Thomas B.) for THEM (the said William C. and Anne D.) as often as those persons are mentioned *. And for the same reason he is compelled to employ many other prolixities of the same kind.

• Or, that “ A desire of variety gave birth to Pronouns in language, which otherwise would not have appeared in it.” Page 20.

6 For Pronouns prevent variety.

• Or, that “ Articles and Pronouns are neither Nouns nor Verbs.”' Page 26.

i For I hope hereafter to satisfy the reader that they are nothing else, and can be nothing else.' — i "Or, that those who have spelled Less with a single s, were not

i civilized people t." i. e. (I suppose) not capable of the accustomed relations of peace and amity.

6* Abbreviations and substitutes undoubtedly cannot safely be trusted in legal instruments. But it is an unnecessary prolixity and great absurdity which at present prevails, to retain the substitute in these writings at the same time with the principal, for which alone the substitute is ever inserted and for which it is merely a proxy. HE, SHE, THEY, IT, WHO, WHICH, &c. should have no place in these instruments, but be altogether banished from them. And I know a Solicitor of eminence who, at my suggestion, near twenty years ago, did banish them.'

at The orthography of this word, I presume to say, is LESS. And it “ should seem as if civilized people had no other way of spelling it.” Page 40.'

G g 2

"Or, that “ The Blemishes of Johnson's Dictionary are not of the kind, quas incuria furlit, but the result of too much nicety and exactness." Page 46.-But of this in another place: for it is of more consequence than any thing which relates to these Norwich critics.

"Or, That it requires much practice in the Anglo-Saxon or old English writers, and much attention to the circumstance, to observe “the various spellings of one and the same word in the lan

guage *.

For not only are almost all the words spelled differently by different authors; but even by the same author, in the same book, in the same page, and frequently in the same line.

Or, that I “ desire to pass my sentiments upon others, as articles of faith.” Page 76ti'.

Cassander charged Mir. Tooke with several inconsistencies in his division of language; with having insinuated that “ Mr. Locke was no better than in a mist when he wrote his famous essay;" with having affirmed that it was the complex terin which gave birth to the complex iden, instead of the idea producing the term; with saying that words, in becoming corrupted, always lost and never gained letters; and with representing Douglas as an Anglo-Saxon writer, though he was in reality an English one. He also insinuated that Professor Schultens had applied Mr. Tooke's doctrine of the prepositions, &c. to the learned languages, while the latter merely applied to the modern languages the discovery of Schultens. To these charges, Mr. Tooke replies in his caustic manner; in most of them, he shews that he had been misrepresented; and with respect to Prof. Schultens, he proves, by a very copious quotation from his works, that the Professor took the old division of language exactly as he found it, and, with his predecessors, ranked the particles as a distinct part of speech. In the conclusion of his argument on this part of the subject, Mr. Tooke addresses himself directly to the reader, in a very warm and, indeed, pathetic

"*“ My taste for the Anglo-saxon has never induced me to at. tend to the various spellings of one and the same word in the language.” Page 51 of the Criticisms.'

+ This groundless apprchension is not unnatural in one of my critics. He startles at his own expression--an article of faith. But fear not me, Cassander. I pay the same regard to a sickly conscience that I do to a sickly appetite : and I have known those who, like some honest sectarics, have fainted at the smell of roast beef. No, I shall never wish to impose articles of faith on others, though I ain not scared at their imposition upon me. I am a willing conformist to all that is not fatal. I would surely reject poison, i. e. power in the priesthood, and despotism any where; but otherwise I am not dainty : and can feed heartily upon any wholesome food, both in the church and out of it; ali hough it miglit happen to be coarse and not overpleasing to my palate.'

passage;

« AnteriorContinuar »