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446                The Loom of Language
to be of a mere arbitrary, but a rational institution, enlarging the bounds
of derivation and composition, for the cause both of copia and emphasis
In a word3 designing not only to remedie the confusion of language, by
giving a much more easie medium of communication than any yet known,
but also to cure even Philosophy itself of the disease of Sophisms and
Logomachies, as also to provide her with more wieldy and manageable
instruments of operation, for defining, dividing, demonstrating, etc "
The Council of the Royal Society shared this faith In 1664 the
Royal Society appointed a committee for improving the English
language. A minute of December yth runs
"It being suggested that there were several persons of the Society
whose genius was very proper and inclined to improve the English
tongue, and particularly for philosophical purposes, it was voted that
there be a committee for improving the English language 3 and that they
meet at Sir Peter Wyche's lodgings in Gray's Inn **
What the suggestions of the committee were we do not know Ap-
patently^ no report was handed in, but we know from a letter addressed
by the Royal Chancellery to Dalgarno that his language was recom-
mended to the King for support by several Cambridge and Oxford
dons, who stressed its value
"for facilitating the matter of Communication and Intercourse between
people of different Languages, and consequently a proper and effectual
Means of advancing all the parts of Real and Useful knowledge, Civili-
zing barbarous Nations, Propagating the Gospel, and increasing Traffique
and Commerce "
In conclusion the letter observes that if the project of the Aberdoman
was properly supported mankind would later on look back upon his
age with admiration and, fired by its example, endeavour
"to proceed in a further repairing the Decayes of Nature, until Art
have done its last, or, which is most probable, Nature cease to be, or be
The letter is an impressive example of* the Baconian faith in the un-
limited power of man over nature Nearly three hundred years ago it
began to dawn upon a few human minds that language, instead of
being left to the hazards of a slow evolution, could be intelligently
interfered with and directed towards a desirable goal
Dalgarno's Ars Signorum stimulated Bishop Wilkins to undertake
something similar, but on a vastly more ambitious scale The Royal