Page images

correct at one time to say waps or wasp, ask or ax. You must now go to the London thieves, who are the conservators of slang, to find much of our genuine Anglo-Saxon intact. There you find this old law of transposition retained in such words or such promnciations as word for world, mountain syphl for mountain sylph, garrely for gallery, and so on. Many words which we use, and which are quite polite, originated in this way. We speak both of & granary and of a garner. The garnet is literally a little grain, and grainet is the proper word, but accident transposed the letters, and thus we have an apparently different word. It would seem to be Biother of those curious accidents inevitable to the organs of speech, that if the eye or the ear fail to catch the proper position of the letters, or the sounds in a word, it turns them over and reads them backwards

. In endeavouring to retrace its steps it topples ofer and inverts the position of the letters. There is a great proneness also to slide ofi into certain sounds that have no business there. the vulgar speak of a man being drownded, putting it ad. This propensity has originated the d at the end of the word sound. Our word sound is the Latin word son-us, in French simply son. Spencer

The love of saying drownded has given us this pronounciation; the lips seem to prefer to run off into the d. What would you think if I were to tell you that messenger is a very vulgar word indeed. It has been made polite by long mesmo. Messenger is a word of the same class as sosinger

, which you know is the way the vulgar proBounce sausage. The word messenger is by right messager, or a message bearer.

Again, the very march of time causes changes. There is a great tendency as language moves onWail, especially with its literature, to abbreviate, condense, and consolidate. Superfluous letters and sounds are left out. Hence the long Greek word

We hear

spells it soune.

[ocr errors]

eleēmosunē has gradually shortened itself into alms. On the other hand there have been additions in some few cases, but it is omission that we find most frequent. Examples of omission are very strikingly shown in the French language. The genius of the French people has led them to emasculate the Roman element to an enormous extent, leaving out, as they do in speech, and often in writing, a great number of the consonants, and often substituting a vowel for a consonant. The French have a great dislike for the letters at the beginning of a word. All those THE fine substantial words that came from the Latin, beginning with st, they seem so to have disliked, that in almost every case they have dropped the s and substituted an e. Hence the word scholl, Latin for school, they have made école. The word star, which in our English language stands out with such solidity, they have changed into the word étoil. The word spine, a thorn, they have altered into épine. This has been carried on to such an immense extent, that French, as pronounced, bears 3 not very distant resemblance to some of the Pacific languages. These examples will suffice to give a general idea of how languages, although coming from one seat originally, have yet assumed such very different app pearances as they have moved more and more remotely one from another. Languages are like the old Roman roads, spreading from the forum and branching in all directions. If language were to begin to-day over again, if the comet were to streep from the earth all but a single pair of human beings, in the course of another five thousand years these features would in all probability re-express them. selves, because language is one of the natural products of the human mind, and one of those things that is most subject to that great love and capacity for change which is also one of the most beautiful and pleasing powers of the human mind.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


ܐ ܐ ܢ

ܐ 9ܪ ܝܬܐ .

- it

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Deltered before the Members of the Bolton Mechanics' Institution.]


Tue first of a course of lectures was given in the commodious Reading Room of the Mechanios Institution, Oxford-street,

Wednesday evening, March 31, 1858, by Henry Ashworth, Esq., on his recent tour in America. The committee of the institution some time since requested Mr. Ashworth to favour them with his observations and remarks on the new scenes he had visited, and he kindly responded to their desire ; and the President, in commencing the proceedings, said—It would be a gross presumption on his part to detain them from the more immediate business of the evening, by pretending to introduce to them the well-known and long-tried friend of industrial education, who had 80 kindly consented to address them. But he might

permission, for one moment, to urge upon the Foung terbers of the Mechanics' Institution, the importance of giving careful attention to the infortuation they were about to receive. It was a great privilege to be able to borrow the eyes and ears of a well-qualified observer-next indeed to using their com; nay, more-for it so happened that comparatively few were able to make profitable use of what they did see and hear, when they had opportunity to


travel; and, therefore, the observations of an acute mind and cultivated intellect, were of the highest importance. They had that evening a rare opportunity of hearing from the lips of a gentleman eminently qualified to observe with precision, and to report with fidelity, something about our friends and blood-relations on the other side of the Atlanticsomething, too, at least he hoped so, touching the production of the material from which is spun those threads upon which, under Providence, the prosperity and comfort of so inany thousands around ns depend. Let them bear in inind that the information about to be given was of the most direct kind; only one pair of eyes, ears, and lips intervened between them and the absolute objects and occarences; and those eyes, ears, and lips were to be relied upon with the most implicit trust. then, he begged them, their earnest attention to Mr. Ashworth's observations, cherish them in their memories, and think of them at leisure, carefully remembering even such as might not at the moment appear to be important: it often happened that those were afterwards of the greatest value.

Mr. Ashworth was received with applause. He proceeded to say I am appearing before you this evening under a feeling which is not unmixed with a degree of dread, lest in my hands the subject with which I am about to deal, should fail of success in securing that amount of interest which it is entitled to command.

When I survey in this room so large an audience, I feel cheered, in the assurance that the parties who have thus been brought together, testify by their presence that the thirst for knowledge, which has ever characterised the people of Boltou, is com stantly deriving an increase of vigour. Let us not forget how fertile of advantages have been the Free Library, and other kindred institutions, not only in supplying the wants of knowledge, but by increas




ing the zeal to obtain it. You have given way to the supposition, that by reason of travelling it might be in my power to convey to yourselves some portion of the knowledge so acquired. Your desire to receive it from me is a pardonable one, and I feel willing, not only to comply with your wishes, in relation to myself, but to aid you hereafter, in bringing

any others, perhaps more reluctant ones, who may possess the means of affording instruction in a sinilar way; for I assure you it is my very earnest desire that every one who may have acquired the ability to serve his neighbours, by imparting instruction, may not withhold the distribution of it th his own discomfort. In accordance with your arrangements, I now venture to submit the gleanings of that information which has come of an absence of Bir months, accompanied by one of my daughters as luy coropanion, in travelling through a large portion of the United States, Canada, and the island of Cuba

. It is not my intention to reduce my obserFations into heads or chapters, but throughout these lectures to carry on a sort of renewed intercourse with every locality I have visited, and thus to incilitate my descriptions by the localising of my

By this arrangement I Lupe I shall be able to diffuse over every evening a greater variety of local interest, and a wider range of expression of opinion, more especially upon slavery and politics. In respect of these, and upon all other matters also, I shall endeavour to repre

aut very faithfully whatever I may have heard, learing to yourselves to draw from

my observations whatever conclusions you may think proper. desire to travel abroad is commendable. It comes of that enlarged desire for knowledge which is sure to make discovery of something acceptable, whether 11 arts, science, literature, agriculture, commerce, or in the study of those institutions which have relation to political or civil life. It affords to the eyes

ideas and recollections.


« EelmineJätka »