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several alphabets, Phoenician, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman, agree so much, as amounts to a demonstration, that they were all derived originally from the same source. An invention so useful and simple was greedily received by mankind, and propagated with speed and facility through many different nations.
The letters were, originally, written from the right hand towards the left; that is, in a contrary, order to what we now practise. : This manner of Writing obtained among the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Ara. bians, and Hebrews; and from some very old inscriptions, appears to have obtained also among the Greeks. Afterwards, the Greeks adopted a new method, writing their lines alternately from the right to the left, and from the left to the right, which was called Boustrophedon; or, writing after the manner in which oxen plow the ground. Of this, several specimens still remain ; particularly, the inscription on the famous Sigæan monument; and down to the days of Solon, the legislator of Athens, this continued to be the common method of Writing. At length, the motion from the left hand to the right being found more natural and commodious, the practice of Writing in this direction prevailed throughout all the countries of Europe.
Writing was long a kind of engraving. Pillars, and tables of stone, were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards, plates of the softer metals, such
In proportion as Writing became more common, lighter and more portable substances were employed. The leaves, and the bark of certain trees, were used in some countries; and in others, tablets of wood, covered with a thin coat of soft wax,
on which the impression was made with a stylus of iron. In later times, the hides of animals, properly prepared, and polished into parchment, were the most common materials. Our present method of writing on paper, is an invention of no greater antiquity than the fourteenth century.
Thus I have given some account of the Progress of these two great arts, Speech and Writing; by which men's thoughts are communicated, and the foundation laid for all knowledge and improvement. Let us conclude the subject, with comparing, in a few words, spoken Language, and written Language; or words uttered in our hearing, with words represented to the eye; where we shall find several advantages and disadvantages to be balanced on both sides.
The advantages of writing above Speech are, that Writing is both a more extensive, and a more permanent method of communication. More extensive; as it is not confined within the narrow circle of those who hear our words ; but, by means of written characters, we can send our thoughts abroad, and propagate them through the world; we can lift our voice, so as to speak to the most distant regions of the earth. More permanent also, as it prolongs this voice to the most distant ages; it gives us the means of recording our sentiments to futurity, and of perpetuating the instructive memory of past transactions. It likewise affords this advantage to such as read, above such as hear, that having the written characters before their eyes, they can arrest the sense of the writer. They can pause, and revolve, and compare at their leisure, one passage with another ; whereas, the voice is fugitive and passing ; you must
catch the words the moment they are uttered, or you lose them for ever.
But, although these be so great advantages of written Language, that Speech, without Writing, would have been very inadequate for the instruction of mankind: yet we must not forget to observe, that spoken Language has a great superiority over written Language, in point of energy or force.
energy or force. The voice of the living Speaker makes an impression on the mind, much stronger than can be made by the perusal of any Writing
The tones of voice, the looks and gestures which accompany discourse, and which no Writing can convey, render discourse, when it is well managed, infinitely more clear, and more expressive, than the most accurate Writing. For tones, looks, and gestures, are natural interpreters of the sentiments of the mind. They remove ambiguities; they enforce impressions; they operate on us by means of sympathy, which is one of the most powerful instruments of persuasion. Our sympathy is always awakened more by hearing the Speaker, than by reading his works in our closet. Hence, though Writing may answer the purposes of mere instruction, yet all the great and high efforts of eloquence must be made, by means of spoken, not of written, Language.
STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE.
AFTER having given an account of the Rise and Progress of Language, I proceed to treat of its Structure, or of General Grammar. The Structure of Language is extremely artificial; and there are few sciences in which a deeper or more refined logic is employed, than in grammar. It is apt to be slighted by superficial thinkers, as belonging to those rudiments of knowledge, which were inculcated upon us in our earliest youth. But what was then inculcated before we could comprehend its principles, would abundantly repay our study in maturer years ; and to the ignorance of it, must be attributed many of those fundamental defects which appear in writing.
Few authors have written with philosophical accuracy on the principles of General Grammar; and, what is more to be regretted, fewer still have thought of applying those principles to the English Language. While the French tongue has long been an object of attention to many able and ingenious writers of that nation, who have consideredits construction, and determined its propriety with great accuracy, the Genius and Grammar of the English, to the reproach of the country, have not been studied with equal care, or ascertained with the same precision. Attempts have been made, indeed, of late, towards supplying this defect; and some able writers have entered on the subject : but much remains yet to be done.
I do not propose to give any system, either of Grammar in general, or of English Grammar in particular. A minute discussion of the niceties of Language would carry us too much off from other objects, which demand our attention in the course of Lectures. But I propose to give a general view of the chief principles relating to this subject, in observations on the several parts of which Speech or Language is composed ; remarking as I go along, the peculiarities of our own Tongue. After which, I shall make some more particular remarks on the Genius of the English Language.
The first thing to be considered, is the division of the several parts of Speech. The essential parts of Speech are the same in all Languages. There must always be some words which denote the names of objects, or mark the subject of discourse; other words, which denote the qualities of those objects, and express what we affirm concerning them; and other words, which point out their connections and relations. Hence, substantives, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions, and conjunctions, must necessarily be found in all Languages. The most simple and comprehensive division of the parts of Speech is, into substantives, attributives, and connectives.* Sub
* Quinctilian informs us, that this was the most ancient division. “Tum videbit quod & quæ sunt partes orationis. Quanquam de
numero parum convenit. Veteres enim, quorum fuerant Aristo" teles atque Theodictes, verba modo, & nomina, & convinctiones “ tradiderunt. Videlicet, quod in verbis vim sermonis, in nomi