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The early language of men, being entirely composed of words descriptive of sensible objects, became of necessity extremely metaphorical. For, to signify any desire or passion, or any act or feeling of the mind, they had no fixed expression which was appropriated to that purpose; but were obliged to paint the emotion or passion, which they felt, by alluding to those sensible objects which, had most connexion with it, and


which could render it in some degree visible to others,

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But it was not necessity alone, that gave rise to this pictured style. In the infancy of all societies, fear and surprise, wonder and astonishment, are the most frequent passions of men. Their language will necessarily be affected by this character of their minds. They will be disposed to paint every thing in the strongest Even the manner, in which the first tribes of men uttered their words, had considerable influence on their style. Wherever strong exclamations, tones, and gestures are connected with conversation, the imagination is always more exercised; a greater effort of fancy and passion is excited. Thus the fancy, being kept awake and rendered more sprightly by this mode of utterance, operates upon style, antl gives it additional life. and spirit.

As one proof among many, which might be produc ed of the truth of these observations, we shall tran scribe a 'speech from Colden's History of the Five Indian Nations, which was delivered by their Chiefs,

when entering on a treaty of peace with, us, in the following language. We are happy in having buri "ed under ground the red axe, that has so often been "dyed in the blood of our brethren. Now in this "fort we inter the axe, and plant the tree of peace. "We plant a tree, whose top, will reach the sun; an

its branches spread abroad, so that it shall be seen "afar off May its growth never be stifled and chok"ed; but may it shade both your country and ours "with its leaves! Let us make fast its roots, and ex"tend them to the utmost of your colonies. If the "French should come, to shake this tree, we should "know it by the motion of its roots reaching into our "country. May the Great Spirit allow us to rest in ¡¡ tranquility upon our mats, and never again dig up


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the axe, to cut down the tree of peace! Let the "earth be trodden hard over it, where it lies buried. «Let a strong stream run under the pit, to wash the "evil away out of our sight and remembrance. The


fire, that had long burned in Albany, is extinguish"ed. The bloody bed is washed clean, and the tears "are wiped from our eyes. We We now renew the Covenant chain of friendship. Let it be kept bright, ❝ and clean as silver, and not suffered to contract any "rust. Let not any one pull away his arm from it."



As language in its progress grew more copious, it gradually lost that figurative style, which was its early character. The vehement manner of speaking by:


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tones and gestures became less common. Instead of poets, philosophers became the instructors of men; and in their reasoning on all subjects, introduced that plainer and more simple style of composition, which we now call Prose. Thus the ancient metaphorical and poetical dress of Language was at length laid aside in the intercourse of men and reserved for those occasions only, on which ornament was professedly studied. in



WHEN we examine the order in which words are arranged in a sentence, we find a very remarkable difference between ancient and modern tongues. The consideration of this will serve to unfold farther the genius of Language and to shew the causes of those alterations, it has undergone in the progress of society.

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To conceive distinctly the nature of this alteration,


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we must go back, as before, to the earliest period of Language. Let us figure to ourselves a Savage beholding some fruit, which he earnestly desires, and requests another to give him. Suppose him unacquainted with words, he would strive to make himself understood by pointing eagerly at the object desired, and uttering at the same time a passionate cry. Su, posing


him to have acquired words, the first word which he'

would utter would be the name of that object. He would not express himself according to our order of construction, "Give me fruit ;" but according to the Latin order, "Fruit give me," "Fructum da mihi," for this plain reason, that his attention was wholly directed toward fruit, the object desired. Hence we might conclude a priori, that this was the order in which words were most commonly arranged in the infancy of Language; and accordingly we find in reality that in this order words are arranged in most of the ancient tongues, as in the Greek and Latin; and it is said likewise in the Russian, Sclavonic, Gaelic and several American tongues.

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The modern languages of Europe have adopted a different arrangement from the ancient. In their prose compositions very little variety is admitted in the collo. cation of words; they are chiefly fixed to one order, which may be called the Order of the Understanding. They place first in the sentence the person or thing, which speaks or acts; next, its action; and lastly, the object of its action. Thus an English writer, paying a compliment to a great man, would say, "it is im "possible for me to pass over in silence so distinguished "mildness, so singular and unheard of clemency, and "so uncommon moderation, in the exercise of supreme "power." Here is first presented to us the person who speaks, "It is impossible for me;" next, what the same person is to do, to pass over in silence;"


and lastly, the 'object' which excites him to action, "the mildness, clemency, and moderation of his pa "tron." Cicero, from whom these words are translated, reverses this order. He begins with the object; places that first, which was the exciting idea in the speaker's mind, and ends with the speaker and his action. "Tantam mansuetudinem, tam inusitatam in"auditamque clementiam, tantúmque in summa po"testate rerum omnium modum, tacitus nullo modo "præterire possum." Here, it must be observed, the Latin order is more animated; the English more clear and distinct.

Our language naturally allows greater liberty for transposition and inversion in poetry, than in prose. Even there however this liberty is confined within narrow limits, in comparison with the ancient languages. In this respect, modern tongues vary from each other. The Italian approaches the nearest in its character to the ancient transposition; the English has more inversion than the rest; and the French has the least of all.


Writing is an improvement upon Speech, and consequently was posterior to it in order of time. Its characters are of two kinds, signs of things, and signs of words. Thus the pictures, hieroglyphics, and sym bols, employed by the ancients, were of the former sort; the alphabetical characters, now employed by Europeans, of the latter.


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