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“For though Sanctius, who struggled so hard to withdraw quod from amongst the conjunctions, still left ut amongst them without molestation ; yet is ut no other than the Greek article őri, adopted for this conjunctive purpose by the Latins, and by them originally written UTI: the o being changed into u from that propensity which both the ancient Romans had, and the modern Italians still have, upon many occasions, to pronounce even their own o like a u; of which I need not produce any instances. The resolution, therefore, of the original will be like that of the translation."
“Latrones jugulent homines (11) ötı surgunt de nocte." It must be owned that this doctrine has, on a superficial view, very much the appearance of a quibble; and as it was first broached by the ingenious author to help out an argument against a decision of a court of law, it was very generally classed with his other political eccentricities; nor was it till the publication of the Diversions of Purley, that it began to attract the attention of the learned. A few philosophers, however, were early struck with the very remarkable fact asserted by Mr. Tooke, that in all languages an article or pronoun should be used for this very conjunction.—The conditional conjunction if or gif he also affirmed to be the imperative of the Saxon verb gifan, to grant: an, another conditional conjunction now gone into desuetude in England, but still used in some parts of Scotland in the same sense with if, to be the imperative of anan, to grant; and in general, all conditional conjunctions to be the imperative of some verb equivalent to give, grant, be it, suppose, allow, permit, suffer.
Nor did he confine his theory to conditionals, but asserted, in unqualified terms, that it applies to all those words which we call conjunctions of sentences.* The illustrations which Tooke produced of these positions, form one of the most curious grammatical speculations that have yet been given to the world : Nor do I know of any one which is entitled, in a greater degree, to the
* Letter to Mr. Dunning, p. 16.
praise of originality. Bishop Wilkins, indeed, (as Tooke candidly acknowledged,) had, more than a century before, foretold great discoveries in this branch of grammar; but what he has said is so very general, that it does not detract in the least from the merit of the writer by whom the prediction was verified.*
Of all the authors I have looked into, prior to Mr. Tooke, Court de Gebelin approaches nearest to the truth. In some passages he appears to have been on the point of anticipating Tooke's brilliant discovery; particularly in his observations on the conjunction que.
“ Les grammairiens ont supposé que nous avions dans notre langue un grand nombre de que différens; qu'il y en avoit de conjonctifs, de comparatifs, d'exclamatifs : ils ont encore reconnu un que et un qui relatifs, absolument différens de tous ceux-là, puisque ces premiers sont indéclinables, et que ceux-ci se déclinent, sur-tout dans la langue Latine.
"Mais comme la déclinabilité n'est qu'un accessoire, elle ne peut être un motif suffisant pour regarder tous ces que, même les relatifs comme des mots différens. Disons donc qu'il n'en existe qu'un seul, qui offre toujours le même sens, cette valeur déterminative qui constitue la conjonction que: en ramenant ainsi tous ces que à cet unique principe, leur explication qui parut toujours si embarrassée et si peu satisfaisante, devient de la plus grande simplicité et de la plus grande clarté." +
On perusing, however, with attention the explanations which follow, we perceive that this learned writer has completely missed Mr. Tooke's idea; and that, when he seems prepared to pursue the right road, he suddenly strikes off into a most unpromising by-path of his
So completely do the two routes diverge, that while Tooke resolves the conjunction que into the relative of the same name, Court de Gebelin attempts to resolve the relative into the conjunction. For exam
“Le livre que vous m'avez envoyé est très intéressant.
* Letter to Mr. Dupning, p. 21.
“L'auteur que vous citez est un excellent juge sur cet object.”
These sentences he resolves thus :
“ Vous m'avez envoyé un livre, et je trouve que ce livre est très interessant: Vous citez un auteur, et je trouve que cet auteur est un excellent juge sur l'objet en question.”*
After expressing myself in so high terms with respect to the merits of Tooke's grammatical speculations, I think it necessary to add, that the author himself does not appear to me to have formed a very accurate or just idea of the nature and import of his own discoveries. The leading inference which he always deduces from them is, that the common arrangements of the parts of speech in the writings of grammarians are inaccurate and unphilosophical ; and that they must contribute greatly to retard the progress of students in the acquisition of particular languages; whereas, in point of fact, Tooke's speculations do not relate in the least to the analysis of a language after it attains to a state of maturity, but to the progressive steps by which it advances to that state. They are speculations not of a metaphysical, but of a purely philological nature ; belonging to that particular species of disquisition which I have elsewhere called theoretical or conjectural history. In a word, they are speculations precisely similar to those contained in Mr. Smith's dissertation, and may be justly regarded as a supplement to that essay.t To prove that conjunctions are a derivative part of speech, and that, at first, their place was supplied by words which were confessedly pronouns and articles, does not prove that they ought not
* Monde Primitif, Vol. II. p. 338.
The second volume of Court de Gebelin's work, containing the Grammaire Universelle, was published in 1774. Horne Tooke's Letter to Mr. Dunning was published in 1778.
The mention of this last date recalls to my recollection a fact, which, in justice to myself, I cannot forbear to notice; that the extraordinary grammatical merits of the letter to Mr. Dunning were pointed out a few month's after its publication in a course of lectures on Moral Philosophy, which (at a very early period of my life, and while still Professor of Mathematics) I delivered in the University of Edinburgh during the absence of Dr. Furguson in North America. I record this trifling circumstance, as I have been most unjustly accused of having spoken lightly ot Mr. Tooke's literary merits in one of my former publications.
| Biographical Memoirs of Smith, Robertson, and Reid, p. 46, et seq.
to be considered as a separate part of speech at present; any more than Mr. Smith's theory with respect to the gradual transformation of proper names into appellatives, implies that proper names and appellatives are now radically and essentially the same; or, than the employment of substantives to supply the place of adjectives, (which Mr. Tooke himself tells us is one of the signs of an imperfect language,) proves that there is no difference between these two parts of speech in such tongues as the Greek, the Latin, or the English.
• As the book referred to in the foregoing note may not have fallen in the way of some of the readers of this volume, I beg leave to copy from it one or two paragraphs, which I flatter myself will throw considerable light on the scope of the preceding observations.
“In examining the history of mankind, as well as in examining the phenomena of the material world, when we cannot trace the process by which an event has been produced, it is often of importance to be able to show how it may have been produced by natural causes. Thus, although it is impossible to determine with certainty what the steps were by which any particular language was formed, yet if we can show, from the known principles of human nature, how all its various parts might gradually have arisen, the mind is not only to a certain degree satisfied, but a check is given to that indolent philosophy which refers to a miracle whatever appearances, both in the natural and moral worlds, it is unable to explain.
“To this species of philosophical investigation, which has no appropriate name in our language, I shall take the liberty of giving the title of Theoretical or Conjectural History; an expression which coincides pretty nearly in its meaning with that of natural history, as employed by Mr. Hume, (see his Natural History of Religion,) and with what some French writers have called Histoire Raisonnée.
“ I shall only observe farther on this head, that when different theoretical histories are proposed by different writers of the progress of the human mind in any one line of exertion, these theories ate not always to be understood as standing in opposition to each other. If the progress delineated in all of them be plausible, it is possible, at least, that they may all have been realized ; for human affairs never exhibit, in any two instances, a perfect uniformity. But whether they have been realized or no, is often a question of little consequence. In most cases it is of more importance to ascertain the progress that is most simple, than the progress that is most agreeable to fact; for, paradoxical as the proposition may appear, it is certainly true that the real progress is not always the most natural. It may have been determined by particular accidents which are not likely again to occur, and which cannot be considered as forming any part of that general provision which nature has made for the improve. ment of the race.”—Biographical Memoirs of Smith, Robertson, and Reid, Edin. 1811, pp. 48, 49, 53, 54.
OF THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF LANGUAGE.
In the sequel of Mr. Smith's dissertation he treats of compounded languages, and of the circumstances in which their genius differs from that of languages which are simple and original. In prosecuting this subject, his remarks are so much less open to criticism than in the former part of his theory, that I shall do little more, in what follows, than offer a short summary of his leading positions, accompanied with some additional illustrations of my own.
From the observations made by Mr. Smith in the first part of his Essay, it follows that original languages can scarcely fail to be very complicated in their declensions and conjugations ; a circumstance which adds much to the difficulty of studying them as a branch of education, but which would not be felt by those who were accustomed to speak them from their infancy. When, however, different nations came to mingle together, in consequence of conquest or migration, the necessity of acquiring each others languages would naturally lead them to exert their ingenuity in simplifying the study as much as possible, by whatever shifts the language would afford. Hence, the gradual substitution, in the languages of modern Europe, of prepositions instead of declensions, and of the substantive and possessive verbs instead of conjugations. This observation Mr. Smith has illustr ted most ingeniously and happily.
“A Lombard who was attempting to speak Latin, would naturally supply his ignorance of declensions by the use of prepositions, and if he wanted to express that such a person was a citizen of Rome, or a benefactor to Rome, if he happened not to be acquainted with the genitive and dative cases of the word Roma, would naturally express himself by prefixing the prepositions ad and de to the nominative; and, instead of Roma, would say, ad Roma, and de Roma. A Roma, and di Roma, accordingly, is the manner in which the present