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Entered according to Act of Conprss in the year 1853, by 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New-York 

4} Ann-Street. 


THE author of the following " Outlines," does not 
pretend to lay before the Eeader novel or original 
views. His aim has been to state briefly, in a popular 
manner and with a view to give rather suggestive 
than complete information, what Comparative Phi- 
lology is, and what it has done. The growing impor- 
tance of this Science, and the absence of any work to 
which the Student might resort with the hope of 
thus finding every thing that pertains to the Study of 
Language, collected and arranged, seemed to justify 
the attempt. In this, the author has not been without 
encouragement from the very highest authorities on 
the subject, abroad and at home, and he trusts that 
this first effort to bring the youthful but promising 
Science before an American Public, will meet with 
indulgence for all that may be found imperfect and 
defective, even in a compilation that claims only to 
give "Outlines." 

OF VIRGINIA, February, 1853. 




What it Languagt .'First Connection between Thought and Word The- 
ories of the Ancients Krruneous Theories The Materialists The 
Spiritualists Language a Gift of the Creator . . .17 


Unity of Language. Various Theories Biblical Theory Supported by 
Science Languages point to a common Fountain-head . . 24 


Opinions of Prichard, Picket, and Bopp Of Keyser and Retzius Of Bun- 
sen, Humboldt, &c. Words common to all Idioms No positive result 
as yet obtained .... . 


History of Comparative Philology. The Egyptians and Greeks The Ro- 
mans The Jews and Eastern Nations Change produced by Christi- 
anity ....... . 31 


Want of Material No Writing Curious Substitutes Veyages of Disco- 
very Colonies and their Policy Commerce Missionaries and their 
Collections First Scientific Study of Languages New System of Writ- 
ing in Foreign Idioms ........ 35 


First Attempts in Comparative Philology. Greek in England Erasmus 
Hebrew, &.C., for Bible Researches Modern Languages for Reforma- 
tion Forgery of Psalmauazar Present Position of Comparative 
Philology .42 



Litirature of Comparative Philology. Greek Authors Caesar and Cicero 

The Alexandrians and Byzantines J. C. Scaliger Collections of 
Lord's Prayers Popa, Du Cange, and Hervas Bacon and Locke . 48 


Leibnitz. German Philosophers Universal Language J. Harris and 
Home Tooke Adelung Mithridates S. de Sacy, Gamba, Pott, &c. 
Klaproth, Balbi, Pallas and Schischkow . . . . .54 


Present state of Comparative Philology. Eichhorn Frederick von Schle- 
gel Bopp Duponceau William vonHumboldt Jacob Grimm Rask 

Arndt Prichard Latham, &c. . . . . . .60 

Practical Results of Comparative Philology. Study of Foreign Languages 

Grammar, &c. Use of the Vernacular Orators and Authors Cliat- 
terton Anglo-Saxon in English Translation of Foreign Works Re- 
vival of Ancient Authors Modern style . . . . .3 


Comparative Philology and History. Lost races Ethnology Relation of 
races Provincial Dialects Literature and Early History . . 73 


Anglo-Saxon and English History. For the Reformation For Constitu- 
tional History .... . 80 , 


Comparativv Philology and Recent Discoveries. The Etruscans, 4c. An- 
cienl Inscriptions Buiuen and Egypt Niebuhr and Rome . . 84 


Languages and National Character. Latin and Rome Suetonius and 
Pliny Language and the National Intellect . . .87 


The Indo-European Languages.* Ex. Oriente Lux All Great Creeds from 
the East All Great Impulses from the East All Great Languages 
from the East ......... 91 


The Sanscrit as Oldest of Indo-European Languages. Early Studies of 
Sanscrit Its Advantages for Comparative Philology Its extensive Lit- 
erature Its present Representative in Europe Its clear Organism, &c. 96 



The Ruling Languages of the World. The Sanscrit The Iranian The 
Greek The Latin The Celtic The Gothic and Germanic The Slavic 
Other European idioms ....... 101 

Purposet <ff Comparative Philology. General Rules Laws of Language 109 


Phytical Influence* Operating on Language. Climate and geographical 
position Decline of idioms when removed to unfavorable regions 
Remarkable instances . . . . . . . .113 


Conquest Operating on Language. Languages are not destroyed The 
idiom of the conquered race prevails ...... 116 


The Norman Conquest of England. French and Saxon part of English- 
French in England before the Conquest Favored by King and Court 
Mane de France French prevailing in England .... 118 


The Anglo-Saxon and the People The Saxons in the majority Igno- 
rance of Normans Germanic elements of Norman French The Nor- 
mans cut off from Normandy Danish aid . . . . . 127 


The Anglo-Saxon and the Church. The Bible The Ministry and the Sax- 
ons . . . . .133 


Restoration of the Anglo-Saxon. In Poetry Gower Mixture of the two 
Idioms Charter of Confirmation Statute of Edward III . . . 138 


The English resulting from the Amalgamation. Use of French now 

English taught first in school* in 13^5 Caxlun and Printing . . 140 


The Occupation of a Nation Operating on Language. denial peculiarities 
of nations The Ethic element in language In words, in sounds, in 
structure ..... 145 


Fashion Operating on Language. The Latin Lexicographers Danish 
in English -Italian in French Les Precieuses . 15S 




Literature Operating on Language. Poets Dante Luther Predominant 
Dialects .......... 156 


English Literature and the English Language. Anglo-Saxon version of 
the Bible Gospel of St. Cuthbert and Rushworth's Gloss King Al- 
fred Layamon, the Ormulum Robert of Gloucester Robert Man- 
nyng Richard Rolle . . . . . . . .160 


The Rhymour Minot and Davie Robert Langland Barbour Andrew 
of Wyntown Trevisa Gower Chaucer English Orthography . 167 


Occleve and Lydgate James I. Charles of Orleans Caxton and Con- 
temporaries Sir Thomas More ...... 173 


Henry VIII. Elizabeth Surrey and Wyatt English Satirists John 
Skelton Spenser Ancient Languages in England Sir Thomas 
Browne .......... 176 


The English Reformers Sir John Cheke Roger Ascham Thomas Wil- 
son and early English Grammars The Laliuists of the tige of James 
Hooker Milton ......... 182 


The Restoration French in England Addison and the Essayists John- 
son's Dictionary Home Tooke Recent changes in English . . 189 


American English. Not influenced by Literature Older and Purer Forms 
preserved Dutch, French, and Indian Elements .... 194 


Philosophic Results of Comparative Philology. Researches in Language 
Mode of Study Etymology Laws of Euphony Linguist ique Highest 
purposes of Language ........ 196 


Methods of Comparative Pkilology. N > Language original and unmixed 
Historical School Lexical School Fatal Errors Critical School . 200 



The JforaJ Principle in Language. Their Vocal and Musical Element 
Grimm's Law of Commutation The Accent The " Click" of Hotten- 
tots, &c 213 


The Three Great Classes of Language*. The Monosyllabic The Aggluti- 
nizing The Inflected ........ 223 


The History of Languages. Their first origin unknown Their early de- 
Telopment ante-historical No new languages formed . . . 235 


The Decay of Languages. The older a language the richer The decay 
only apparent The material reduced The sounds simplified The in- 
flections lost Remarkable instances in English .... 238 


The Increase of Languages. The " making " of new words Old words 
revived Conversion of words ...... 247 


Borrowed Words. They lose form and accent Their original beauty and 
meaning Remarkable instances in English Injury to the vernacular . 250 



1. Monosyllabic Languages. The Chinese ..... 266 


II. Agglutinizing Languages of Europe. 1. Tatarie Family. Mongolian 
Turkish Karatschai Nogai K umuckian Kirghis Tatarie of Ka- 
san Bashkeer, 4c. Finnit/i Branch Saraojedic Ugrian, Permian, 
Bulgarian Lappic, Finnish proper, Estic -Magyar . . . 274 


2. Caucasian Family. Iberian Circassian. &.C. Lesghian, &c. 3. Basque 286 


III. The Inflecting Languages of Europe. \. Shemitic Family. Maltese 290 



2. Indo-European Family Arian Group. Indian Branch Gypsy Iranic 
Branch Ossetic Armenian ....... 295 

Pelasgic Group. Greek Romaik Albancse ..... 301 


Latin Italian Spanish Portuguese Provengal French Wallachian 
Rhato-Romanic ........ 308 

Lettic-Slavic Group. Lettic Lithuanian Prussian Lettic proper . 330 


Slavic. Prussian Bulgarian Illyriaii Sorabian Croatian Slovensi . 334 


Western Branch. Polish Czekh Bohemian Slovak Sorabian-Vindish 
Lusalian Polatian ........ 348 


Germanic Group Low German. Scandinavian Icelandic Swedish 
Danish and Norwegian Anglo-Saxon English Frisian Low Ger- 
man proper Dutch Platt-Deutsch ...... 354 

High German . ....... 360 


Celtic Group. Cynnic Welsh Cornish Breton (Armorican) Gaelic 
Irish Manx Gaelic proper ....... 368 

IV. Artificial Languages. List of Works of Reference . 373 



Pictorial Writing. Emblematic Records Hieroglyphics Allegorical 
Writing Symbolical Writing- Phonetic signs .... 386 



Invention of Letters The Ancients Original Meaning of Letters Uni- 
versal Alphabet Arrangement of Letters Number of Letters Names 
of Letters . . . . . . . . .. 389 


Consonants and Vowels. Variety of Sound and Value Division into Sen- 
tences Into Words and Syllables Accents Diflerence between writ- 
ten and spoken value Arrangement of Lines in Writing . . 393 


Ckinete Writing. Pictures Ideographic letters Phonetic Printing 
The Japanese The Mantchoo . . . . . .393 


Pertian Writing. Wedge inscriptions Himyaritic inscriptions Their 
interpretation ......... 402 


Egyptian Writing. Pictorial Symbolic Roselta Stone Their interpre- 
tation .......... 405 


Phtznieian Writing. The Ancients The Canaanites and the Hebrew 
The Arabic 406 


Greek Writing. Older and Later Letters Variety of Lines, *c. Roman 
Writing Etruscan Greek Older and Later forms Romance Writ- 
ing 403 

German Writing. Gothic Letters Ultilas Albrecht Dorer . . . 413 

Sclaric Writing. Cyrillus Various Alphabets .... 415 


Runic Writing. Scandinavian Runes Anglo-Saxon Runes Remaining 
Traces Still in use . . . . . . . .416 


Materials of Writing. Leading Principle Ropes Rocks Metals Rock- 
Inscriptions now existing ....... 420 


Ust of Metal. Bronze Copper Lead. Wood Wooden Tablets Runes 
on Slaves Wax-covered Tablets - 422 



Bark. " Liber " and " Book "Palm-leaves Now in use. Bone Ivory- 
Hornbook .425 


Papyrus. Preparation Terms derived from its use . 


Use of Skins. Herodotus "Iliad in a Nutshell" Petrarch's vest of tanned 
Skins Preparation of Skins Parchment Palimpsestoi, or " Rescripti " 429 

Paper of Cotton Of Linen or Hemp ...... 431 


Instruments of Writing. Cords and Knots Chisels " Stilus " Reeds 
Pens Ink . . . . .433 


WE have but recently learned that each language has a life of 
its own. and that a history of that life might be written, as com- 
plete and as interesting as the biography of a hero or a martyr. 
Now, however, we know that no language remains long un- 
changed neither the humble dialect, in the feeble sounds of 
which a once powerful tongue expires or a new idiom stam- 
mers forth its first words, nor the rich and refined national 
tongue of a whole race. Wherever we can follow the history 
of a language, there we see change in every epoch. Nor is this 
merely such a change as Dante's Italian exhibits, when com- 
pared with Cicero's Latin, or Goethe's polished style as con- 
trasted with the rude speech of Charlemagne ; for here, as in 
the English of Shakspeare, which is English still, and yet no 
longer that of the great Alfred, new elements have been intro- 
duced, and, with them, new laws and a new character. Even 
shorter periods, marked by no revolution or crisis in the history 
of a language, show not less striking changes. The language 
of Chaucer furnished, about three hundred years later, the 
learned Speght already with two thousand old, obscure words 
tor his glossary, and Bishop Tyrwhitt found not less than three 


thousand five hundred that had become obsolete since the days 
of the last commentator. Even the Chinese, spoken by a people 
proverbial for their strange but consistent opposition to all pro- 
gress and change even this most stationary of all known 
tongues, shows a marked difference between the modern forms 
and those used in monuments of earlier ages. 

Language follows, in this respect, the universal law of all 
that the will of God has created and made subject to the mind 
of man. The same mind that first fashioned language, changes 
it also by its own unceasing activity, making it ever afterwards 
the outward witness, the faithful herald of all the events of its 
inner life. 

These changes, it is true, are not perceived at once ; they 
become visible only at the expiration of long periods, when they 
strike us in the works of some great master, which challenge 
admiration, and call for accurate and minute study. But they 
are not, on that account, arbitrary or accidental ; they are pro- 
gressive, and thus far, historical. 

It is with the language of man not as with the language 
of nature around him, where changes are as regular as they are 
frequent ; indefinitely numerous, but always returning in the 
same circle to first, immutable forms. One generation of plants 
is like the other, though each may progress from the least of all 
seeds to the tree in whose branches the fowls of the air come 
and lodge. The bird builds its nest to-day with as marvellous 
skill as of yore, but nowise more skilfully ; the bee gathers 
golden honey now in the far-west of America, in the same ex- 
quisite chambers that she built in the sunny plains of the Kast 
in the days of the lion-slayer but the skill of animals is not 


progressive. It has no history ; nor has their language. The 
nightingale sings yet the same sweet liquid notes that close the 
eye of day : but man does not speak now as he did before the 
Deluge ; his words of to-day are not the words of yesterday. 
In nature we admire skill, instinctive skill ; in man it is art, the 
work of a divine mind. 

Language has, then, a history, and this history may possibly 
be traced back to primitive sources. The opinion is gaining 
ground, that all the various languages of the earth, emanating 
from one common source, extend, like the harmonious works of 
nature, in all directions, exhibiting not only great idioms, which 
may form a general language, unknown to human ear, but in- 
telligible to Him who understands all, but also particular lan- 
guages, diversified by provincial dialects, and still more mi- 
nutely subdivided by peculiarities expressive, in each individual, 
of his character, and varying with the periods of his life and 
the changes of his mind. 

This diversity is, however, restricted by the fact that man, 
notwithstanding the great variety of his fate, has, after all, much 
that is identic, or, at least, corresponding, and necessarily, in the 
most important points, common to all races. The history of all 
nations follows, in its great outlines, the same course of develop- 
ment and decay, and a similar rule is observed in the history 
of languages. This resemblance becomes the more striking, 
the more languages are contemplated simultaneously, and the 
points they have in common become more numerous, as we 
learn more of them. Their history, we thus find, has its prin- 
ciples, its periods, its common causes and common results. 

But what kind of history is this ? Is it the *ame as history 


generally, or do we find that language, like all life-endowed, 
organic creation, has its own laws of life and its peculiar mode 
of development? 

This question we cannot answer without some knowledge 
of the elements of language and of its nature. 


First Connection between Thought and Word Theories of the Ancients 
Erroneous Theories The Materialists The Spiritualists Language a Gift 
of the Creator. 

LANGUAGE is commonly called the articulated expression of the 
inner life of the human mind. By the will of the Almighty 
the divine, immortal spirit of man dwells in a frail, earthy body. 
It seeks utterance for its thoughts, for whatever it conceives 
or produces, and this instinctive desire to find an outward form 
for each mental effort; is as inseparable from thought, as the body 
itself from the heaven-born soul. There are, of course, feel- 
ings and forebodings in the human mind, unutterable and too 
ethereal for human speech ; but thought itself, as a clear con- 
ception, springs forth from the mind, already embodied in some 
tangible shape. Thus only can it emerge from the innermost 
recesses of the mind, thus only become intelligible to ourselves, 
though it has moreover to be uttered, in order to be compre- 
hended by others. Nor is it in speech alone that the life of the 
mind manifests itself. The frail canvas and the unwieldy rock 
teem alike with the impress of the genius of man. A tear, a 
smile, a shrug, a glance what indescribable witnesses, what 


eloquent heralds are they not of a thousand thoughts, and 
wishes, and feelings ! Soul can thus speak to soul, and with tho 
rapidity of lightning; but of all these modes of expression, lan- 
guage is at once the frailest and the most independent. The 
frailest, for what is lighter than breath ? It is mere air, but 
air moulded by the power of the divine spirit into an expression 
of its thought, to vibrate, it may be, through infinite space, to 
the very end of time. And yet, through it, mind speaks to 
mind, thought passes from man to man, and thus it becomes 
not merely the means of communion, but the very embodiment, 
the most glorious manifestation of the human soul. Freely it 
passes through imperceptible air, not fettered and chained by 
earthy matter, but at once loosened from the immediate control 
of the body, with which all other expressions of thought re- 
main indissolubly connected. 

The spiritual life of man needs, however, the word not only 
for communicating thoughts, but depends upon it, in spite of its 
unlimited dominion, for its own clearness and distinctness. As 
the soul within us can act only through the outward body, so 
we cannot even think without language ; we must clothe our 
thoughts in words and speak them, at least in our mind, or they 
remain mere fleeting impressions. Who has not experienced 
the relief felt after long mental efforts, when at last the proper 
words are found, and our conception stands before the mind's 
eye, in all its clear beauty and precise meaning ? Why else 
remains the use of a foreign tongue a sore mechanical labor, 
until we learn to think in that idiom, as we call it, that is, to 
clothe, at once, and without mental translation, our thoughts in 
the unaccustomed foreign garb ? 


It i?, then, the province of language to find for the activity 
of our mind, utterance through our organs of speech, to reflect 
the inner picture (idea) on the outward world by means of 
sound. It will, therefore, be perfect in proportion as it expresses 
all spiritual life, not only in abbreviations and fragments, as a 
groan or a laugh would do, but fully and completely, and as it 
follows thought instantly, never lagging behind its heaven-bora 
companion. This is, of course, beyond its power : as the body 
is unable, the flesh too weak, to follow all the impulses and 
desires of our immortal soul, so the bodily word renders but 
imperfectly the imponderable thought, and rests content with 
making it tangible and intelligible to others. 

The immediate and first connection between thought and 
word is still a hidden secret Efforts have, it is true, frequently 
been made to fathom the mysteries of the birth of language, 
shrouded, as they are, in the same sacred veil which seems to 
envelop the first stage of all organic life. The germ of plants 
is not more securely hid in the dark bosom of the earth, before 
its tender green blade rises jovously to the light of heaven, than 
the word of man until its first accents fall from his lips. To 
trace language to its birth has, therefore, so far been a fruitless 
attempt. We smile at Psammetichus of Egypt,* and his cu- 
rious discovery that Phrygian was the primitive language of 
mankind, because two children which he had ordered to be iso- 
lated from man, and to be fed by goats, uttered as their first 
sound the word, bekos, which happened to be the Phrygian for 
bread and a tolerable imitation of the bleating of goats, be- 

* Herod, ii. 2. Comp. Fragm. HUt. Grace. I. 22, 23. 


sides. Whilst the Greeks were wisely content, under Plato's 
guidance, to ascribe the origin of language to divine inspiration, 
the less elevated views of Roman philosophers saw in it little 
more than the eftect of chance, convenience or necessity. More 
refined, perhaps, though equally unsatisfactory, are the beautiful 
but fantastic visions of J. J. Rousseau, who ascribes the origin 
of language to the influence of the passions, and, of course, first 
and foremost to love. If this were true, the grammarians of 
Port Royal slily insinuated, the world might have had a mys- 
terious, secret language, like ancient Egypt, only that here the 
young, boys and girls, would have been the teachers, and the 
old the pupils. 

Lord Monboddo, whose pride it was to have discovered that 
men were monkeys, has, of course, his theory on language also ; 
but as he was more skilful in detecting " ends" than beginnings, 
his doctrine is simply absurd. Nor can we believe that the 
well-earned fame of Murray has ever been attributed to his 
great discovery, that nine sounds, expressive of various kinds of 
strokes ag, bag, dwag, gwag, lag, mag, nag, rag and scrag 
formed the foundation of all languages ! 

The materialist philosophers of our day who have attempted 
to solve this problem, are disposed to see in words originally 
mere interjections. They consider language, therefore, as the 
result of a successful imitation of outward sounds, and believe, 
with the ancients, that Palamedes, at the siege of Troy, learnt 
his four new letters from the cranes that passed him on their 
way to warmer climes ! They attach, of course, the greatest 
importance to so-called onomatopoemata, words repeating the 
impression made upon the ear, as : bang, boom, hiss, pop, buzz, 


whirr, gush and gasp ; and with profound reverence quote old 
Roman words of the kind, as racfannare, At/mire, pipulum, 
r/ninmre, coazare, crocire, rr]us, nlulare, &c. Their views 
have led to extravagant notions and the wildest sport with 
apparent connections between the meaning of words and the 
letters with which they are written. But interjections are 
sounds, and remain sounds only, the involuntary expression of 
inwardly felt sensations, like hunger and thirst, pleasure or pain 
such, in fact, as violent excitement causes even animals to 
utter. They are, therefore, unarticulated, purely animal sounds, 
the echo of a blind instinct within, and, in all cases, the result 
of mere passiveness under the influence of such instinctive im- 
pulses from within, or of unexpected phenomena in the outer 
world. These sounds, which have actually furnished us with a 
certain class of words, would, no doubt, amply repay more 
careful study by explaining the peculiar system of vocalization 
in many languages, and might throw much light upon such 
peculiarities as the five musical notes of the Chinese which give 
as many meanings to the same word, or the strange intonation 
prevailing in some islands of the Pacific. But they cannot 
explain the creation of words ; for unarticulated sounds are not 
words, which, to be words, must originate in a conscious effort 
of mind, and thus bear the unmistakable mark of deliberate 
intent and special purpose. 

The spiritualists, on the other hand, following Kant on most 
slippery, speculative ground, assume little less than a constant 
miracle, by which the mind-born idea becomes in a still 
mysterious manner articulated sound. If, as Bunsen admi- 
rably sums up, one school cannot take the step from matter to 


thought : the other fails to explain the instantaneous change of 
thought into matter. This only Kant says clearly and truly, 
that ideas are embodied in words, and that the divine mind 
granted to in an creates and fashions these words by a mysteri- 
ous power. Mysterious it ever has been, and still is, even to the 
most learned of our scholars. Bopp, when speaking of the his- 
tory of language, says simply : " The mystery of roots we leave 
untouched ;" and Frederick Schlegel had just written, in the MS. 
of his Philosophy of Language, the word " but," when he died, 
leaving us a doubt as the only legacy from the vast stores of his 

And yet it is this very power, mysterious though it be, 
which we must know before we can form even a speculative 
view of the general principles by which language is formed. 
Human power it evidently is not, or we would know at least 
one instance of the creation of a language in historical times. 
But we search in vain through the annals of the human race for 
the least record of a newly-formed tongue, and never yet has a 
language been found that is not already at or even beyond the 
stage of perfect grammatical organization. In vain do we ex- 
amine the lano-uages of the most barbarous nations of the earth 

O O 

even in the lowest and most imperfect idioms we find, ac- 
cording to Humboldt, already all that is necessary for complete 
use at present and a future development. Hence the opinion 
shared by the highest authorities, that the circle of original lan- 
guages was closed before the dawn of history, and that there 
was assigned a certain epoch to the appearance of idioms, as 
there were others given in geology and zoology to other forms 
and created objects. 


If human power, alone, cannot produce or create a language, 
reason alone is as little able to do it For, however direct an 
emanation of the Divine Creator we may consider our intellec- 
tual faculties, sti 1 thought exists only in words, and reason and 
language must, therefore, be coexistent Animals do not speak, 
because they cannot think, and are, therefore, in the poet's lan- 
guage, both "mutum" and "turpe pecus;" with the Greeks, 
Aoyos was word as well as reason ; so "ratio" to the Romans. 
Eastern nations express the same idea by a kind of proverbial 
saying : " Speak and thou art" The child " infans," one who 
cannot speak begins to speak as it begins to think, and words 
increase as thinking improves, in both cases, not by adding, but 
by multiplying thoughts and words; and thus men who think 
profoundly, sages, poets and orators, have also the greatest con- 
trol over language. 

It remains, therefore, only to assume that speech is a faculty, 
planted in the inmost nature of man, and connected with him 
as intimately as the reasoning faculties of his mind or the per- 
ceptive faculties of his senses. Faculties, however, man cannot 
give himself; they are gifts granted only by the Almighty. The 
power of expressing thoughts by sounds, which we call speech, 
would thus appear to be, more or less, the work of inspiration 
at least an immediate gift to man, not to be analyzed nor 
explained. The word is, surely, not less truly a work of God's 
hand, than the leaf, the pebble or the insect If the latter 
are His handiwork through the formative process of natural 
law or of animal life, the word is created by Him through those 
higher laws which regulate our intellectual and moral life. It 
is thus that language appears as the never-ceasing labor of the 


mind to enable articulate sound to express the thoughts of 
man. Nature, outward objects, produce an impression upon the 
mind through our senses ; Spirit, the divine intellect of man, 
perceives it and becomes conscious of it, and Sound, the word, 
reflects the thus created thought back again to the outward 
world. This is all we know, perhaps all we are allowed to know, 
of the first origin of Language. God, who Himself was once 
the Word, did riot name the works of His hand upon earth 
Himself, but caused man to behold them and to name them. 
To exercise this high prerogative, granted to man only, He en- 
dowed him with organs of speech, superior to all others in the 
circle of earthly creation, and thus completed man, made in His 
image, after His likeness. 



Various Theories Biblical Theory Supported by Science Languages pom, 
to a common Fountain-head. 

THE same mystery which thus veils the first results of this 
heaven-born gift, shrouds the first epoch in the history of lan- 
guage. We know that man is never found without speech. 
The discoveries of our day, whether directed to distant oceans 
and ice-bound continents, or to monuments of hoary antiquity 
nd annals of times beyond the memory of man, reveal to us no 


new variety of the race without its speech, no unknown period 
of the history of man without its language. We know, that 
since the first child was born upon earth, the sweet names of 
father and mother have been heard, and that, since nations be- 
gan to wander from land to land, their great hymn of a thou- 
sand tongues has not ceased to ascend to heaven, praising Him 
who first taught the babe to stammer the name of its mother, 
and who thus gave life and spirit to the very breath of the air. 
We know that, as there is but one God and one mankind, so 
that perpetual hymn of countless nations forms but one great 
harmonious whole, though many a choir and many a single 
voice mingle in it with accents of their own and tones as varied 
as the very voices of heaven. 

But we do not know if it pleased the Creator to grant speech 
but once, to one pair, or if the gift was repeated to various first- 
born of different races. The unity of the human race, once 
decided, would determine the unity of language also. This 
seems to be the tendency of modern science. Some French 
naturalists and philosophers, it is true, believed the race of 
Adam to be but one of many distinct creations of man ; Agas 
siz and other eminent scholars of America believe the same, or 
go even so far as Malte-Brun, who ascribed to each part of the 
globe its own race, of unknown origin. Niebuhr was inclined 
to think that the earliest inhabitants of Rome were a distinct 
race ; and even the great Humboldt believes, that the Indians 
of America may have been a stock of their own ; whilst Goethe 
thought that the first pairs were created twelve at a time. 
These and similar views excepted, the researches of eminent 
geologists, the investigation of able philosophers, and the close 


and patient study of the phenomena of nature as well as of the 
physical history of man, seem all to furnish more and more con- 
vincing proofs of the unity of the human race. The very fact, 
moreover, that language is found to exist at all, and to exist 
among every people and every community of the earth, even 
those most degraded and isolated tribes which are lowest in the 
scale of civilization, is, in itself, a most cogent argument for the 
common origin of man as a species. 

The devout believer will, of course, attach the very greatest 
importance to the fact that the word of God distinctly states, 
that man and language were both created by the Maker of all 
things and found together in paradise, and that, consequently, 
the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. He 
refers naturally, with all the force derived from his faith in the 
inspired character of these writings, to the curse which, at a later 
period, drove man from the garden of Eden, and compelled him 
to work "in the sweat of his face" to make the earth, which, 
in paradise, had been self-productive, now support him in return 
for his " tilling the ground from which he was taken." Thus 
the descendants of the first pair found themselves, as they mul- 
tiplied and spread over the face of the earth, in new homes, and 
in constant struggle with a nature every where different. This 
led them to form, each race in its own portion of the globe, a 
new world of thoughts, and for these, new expressions and 
words. These differences became more marked and permanent, 
when the Lord was grieved at man in His heart, because the 
people, which were still " one and had one language," were cor- 
rupt and presumed to be like unto Him. God determined then 
to defeat their self-conceived material unity, which they preferred 


the higher spiritual unity, to which He meant to lead them 
through Christianity. He scattered them abroad from Babel 
upon the face of the earth, and confounded their language, so 
that they might not understand one another's speech. Thus the 
human race was divided into distinct nations, all " after their 
families, after their tongues," and dispersed into localities so 
distant and detached, as to give both cause and scope for the 
formation of new languages. Some of these stand seeiningly 
isolated in origin, and independent of such early connection ; 
but all show, more or less, that even their bulk is but a part of 
the whole, from which circumstances have separated them, but 
with which they are still connected by a thousand delicate fibres 
and tender, irresistible affections. 

These views, incontrovertible to the Christian, are strongly 
supported by the results of modern scientific researches. They 
seem, at least, to tend more and more to the establishment of 
one common origin for all language ; and although Comparative 
Philology, which is necessarily most interested in the question 
of unity, does not, as yet. establish or irrefutably confirm such a 
belief, it furnishes still, at every stage of its rapid development 
as a science, new arguments and new proofs in its favor. The 
limits of our knowledge alone seem to limit our belief, and as 
the one expands by the successful labors of modern philologists, 
the other grows stronger and firmer. It is but quite recently 
that even the Indo-European languages, the best known of all, 
have been proved to belong to one common stock, and to be 
derived from one common fountain. The principle, that the 
original elements of all these languages are to be found in their 
so-called roots, once admitted, these roots soon showed such 


analogies as to point, with absolute certainty, to one great 
mother tongue. Avoiding, then, the two great sins of former 
philologists, a loose comparison of single words, and, on the 
other hand, hasty conclusions drawn from a few isolated, start- 
ling facts, there was such a resemblance found to prevail among 
all the idioms of this family as to warrant the assumption of 
their common origin. Now it is perfectly logical to conclude 
that, as the Romance languages point back to their common 
ancestor, Latin, and the Indo-European languages to the one 
great, though yet unknown, source and locality of the ancient 
Sanscrit, so the same process of investigation, applied to larger 
classes and finally to all languages, may at last produce similar 
results ; nor has this conclusion failed to obtain confirmation by 
the latest researches. 


Opinions of Pritchard, Picket, and Bopp Of Keyser and Retzius Of Bunsen, 
Humboltlt, &c. Words common to all Idioms No positive result as yet 

WHEN Pritchard, Picket, and Bopp substantiated the claims 
of the Celtic to be ranked as one of the great Indo-European 
family of languages, they furnished thus new evidence in favor 
of the assertion of the great author of Kosmos, that " with the 
increase of our knowledge in every direction, there is found 
continually less and less reason for the former belief, that the 


diversified races of man are separated from each other by in- 
surmountable barriers." Comparatively unknown idioms, like 
the Mongolian, African, American, and Polynesian tongues, 
have, in our day, begun to arrange themselves in vast groups, 
closely allied to each other by resemblance in essential features. 
Thus the two great Northern scholars, Keyser of Christiania 
and Retzius of Stockholm, are prepared to prove that the 
Iberian race, whose very existence had, until late, been doubted, 
extended in remote times widely through Western Europe and 
was intimately connected with the Lapponic aborigines of 
Scandinavia. It is in the same way that Bunsen's profound 
researches in Egyptian antiquities, and the labors of the dis- 
tinguished Jewish scholars, Furst of Leipzig and Delitzsch of 
Halle, have led them to believe in a radical affinity between the 
two great and apparently quite distinct families of Shemitic and 
Japhetic languages, thus establishing an internal and close re- 
lationship between the two greatest classes of tongues. 

Thus new relations and new analogies between apparently 
unconnected idioms are constantly discovered in precise propor- 
tion, as more comprehensive studies and more minute researches 
add to our meagre stock of knowledge. In no instance has this, 
probably, been more strikingly illustrated than in the study of 
those mysterious words or fragments of words, which forty-two 
centuries after the confusion of Babel are still found to be the 
common heirloom of certain races, scattered all over the earth, 
and which now, carefully gathered as historical documents and 
deciphered by the aid of science, are probably the most impor- 
tant and certainly the most interesting evidences of the original 
unity of tongues. 


Whilst thus every science and every branch of knowledge 
adds to the means by which we may form suppositions and 
strengthen our surmises as to the first origin of language, posi- 
tive results have not yet been obtained. Comparative Philology, 
while it furnishes no argument against the unity of the human 
race, does not, on the other hand, pretend as yet to prove it 
conclusively. The question itself is not essential for the science 
of Language ; it might be decided without furnishing material 
aid or a new starting point, and the same principles have to be 
studied, whether all idioms have one common fountain-head or 
various and independent sources. It remains, therefore, now as 
before, one of the great purposes of the science of Language, 
patiently to investigate such facts, as they gradually come to 
light, and by generalizing them upon scientifically safe princi- 
ples, to establish, at least, a certain test and standard for the 
various views entertained on the subject. 

Within this limited sphere of action Comparative Philology 
has, of late, made perhaps more rapid and striking progress 
than any of the kindred sciences. It owes this success in part 
to the fact, that, having made its appearance among the latter 
only quite recently, it manifests in all its attributes and tenden- 
cies emphatically the spirit of modern inquiry, and advances 
with the vigor of youth and the eagerness of the discoverer. 




The Egyptians and Greeks The Romans The Jews and Eastern Nations- 
Change produced by Christianity. 

ANTIQUITY never presumed to trace the affiliation of nations to 
any thing but their common descent ; to prove it from a com- 
munity of speech was a task and a triumph reserved for modern 
science. The ancients lacked the very interest in other nations 
which prompts us to inquire into their peculiarities and charac- 
teristic features. They knew not that Christianity which teaches 
us to feel, at the same time, an interest in man individually as 
a brother, and in humanity as a great whole. It is Christianity 
that every where, at least indirectly, presumes and affirms the 
infinite dignity and value of man as a creature, exclusively con- 
cerned in a vast and mysterious economy of restoration to a 
state of moral beauty and power, which he has strangely for- 
feited in some former age. Christianity alone presents us all 
men, of every color, language or race. Gentile or Jew, as equal 
in o1>e sense, and that the most important : equally participating 
in the ruin and the restoration of the species ; equally interested 
in the benefits of the Gospel salvation, and joint heirs of its 

How different from this spirit was the narrow patriotism of 


the selfish, proud ancients, cultivated as a virtue, and yet so far 
below the simple duty of the " love of our neighbor." It is 
well known that the proverbial dislike of Egyptians to foreign- 
ers was carried so far as to consider the eating with a Hebrew 
an abomination, and Herodotus tells us that to kiss the face of 
a Greek, to use his knife, or even to taste of food prepared with 
Greek utensils, was a profanation in their eyes. Surely Hebrew 
and Greek words must have had little to interest their scholars. 
The Greeks, whose loftiest moral aspirations resulted in patriot- 
ism, divided all mankind into two great divisions : Greeks and 
Barbarians. For the first they cherished a considerable but 
well-deserved regard ; of the latter they cared not to know 
more than their assumed inferiority. Their interest in lan- 
guage, such as it was, did not extend beyond the limits of their 
native land. Alcibiades, it is true, once boxed the ears of a 
schoolmaster, because he had not a copy of Homer in his house ; 
but it was his love of the national poet only that prompted him ; 
of foreign poets he knew nothing and expected nothing. The 
Greeks bequeathed the same unfortunate views and feelings to 
their degenerated descendants, the proud and ignorant Byzan- 
tines, and, even in our day, the races of the East know but them- 
selves and the " Franks," as the Chinese acknowledge neither 
brother nor friend among the nations of the earth, and know, 
beyond the Celestial Empire, but " outside Barbarians." The 
Romans had no absolute standard by which to judge man* but 
considered him a gregarious being, designed for social uses and 
purposes. Hence they knew but Rome and Roman citizens, 
the city and the men who best fulfilled these purposes. For 
these they fought and died ; but all other men were contempt- 


uously styled barbarians or ayXoxr<roi, as Pollux has it ; and 
bitter experience, the saddest fate of all European nations, has 
hardly taught them yet that warm and affectionate interest 
which our faith teaches us to feel in all men. 

The Romans had, moreover, neither the spirit nor the talent 
of observation. Even men like Tacitus hardly condescended to 
notice what appeared then irrelevant details. And still he did 
not hesitate, in his Germania, to divide the Germans into Ger- 
mans and Suevi, merely because the former combed their hair 
obliquely and tied it in a knot, whilst the latter strove to push 
their refractory hair back and fixed it on the top of their head ! A 
few remarks on the dress of women is the whole result of his ob- 
servations in another direction! All the more praiseworthy, 
therefore, are the few faint glimmerings of higher views and 
better principles which occur, here and there, even in the day-; 
of Roman glory. Polybius, for instance, showed that Roman 
influence had enlarged his Greek mind, when he says, in the 
introduction to his great work, that nations are but members 
of one body, and that the history of one cannot be understood 
without that of others. Political sagacity, if nothing else, led 
the Roman Senate to inquire into the literature of other nations, 
and to learn even from their despised neighbors ; it was with 
such views that they ordered works like that on agriculture by 
the Carthaginian Mago to be translated into Latin. Isolated 
instances like Cicero's poem of Aratus on the Stars, and the 
translations of a few Greek dramas, made by Ennius, Naevius, 
and Pacuvius, cannot controvert the general principle. 

Like the Roman and the Greek, all nations of antiquity of 
which history speaks, were more or less distinguished by their 


disregard or even contempt of other races; a feeling which in 
the chosen people degenerated into a proud egotism that makes 
the Jew, even in our day, so particularly distasteful to the far 
more liberal Mahometan. 

The advent of Christianity taught man that he belonged no 
longer to an exclusive caste such as Buddhism assigns to its 
followers, or to a people solely and exclusively favored by the 
Almighty, or even to a Republic, distinguished like the Roman, 
by its powerful customs and laws. Now all united as the chil- 
dren of the same God in the common desire to be reconciled to 
their one great Father, and saw in their fellow- man not an 
enemy, an inferior, or a rival, but a brother. And yet the spirit 
of our faith is not more opposed to the supremacy of any one 
nation than to the extinction of all difference of races, marked 
by geographical lines or variety of language. Anxious to 
unite the whole human race in one vast family, it respects in- 
dividuality in precise proportion as it causes man to occupy a 
higher eminence, and teaches, above all, that love which re- 
spects others like ourselves. It is through its agency that mod- 
ern science perceives more and more clearly how necessary one 
race is to the other, designed as they all are to work together 
as an organic whole for nobler purposes than the wisdom of 
antiquity ever suspected. We may well consider it one of the 
noblest privileges of our time, that we are allowed to cany the 
blessings of civilization and a purer faith to the remotest parts 
of the globe, and to connect this high purpose with every other 
enterprise, where there are not, as in our missionary efforts, vast 
means and powers bestowed upon it alone. This principle of 
humanity is the most cheering sign of the progress made in 


modern times, and not less evident in inventions of every kind 
than in the great schemes of discovery, colonization, or con- 



No Writing Curious Substitutes Voyages of Discovery Colonies and their 
Policy Commerce Missionaries and their Collections First Scientific 
Study of Languages New Systems of Writing Foreign Idioms. 

IT was, however, not the spirit only that was wanting in ancient 
times', but the material also was neither collected nor even suf- 
ficiently known. The same contempt with which the Roman, 
for instance, regarded all races but his own, attached itself to 
their language also, and, except a few phrases and terms intro- 
duced for purposes of curiosity or ridicule, no sign of an ac- 
quaintance with other idioms is to be found in the writers of 
antiquity. Their own language suffered under the disadvantage 
of being but rarely written. It is well known from Livy and 
Cicero, that in the early days of Rome, a nail was annually 
driven into the sacred temple, to mark the lapse of another 
year, because, as Festus says, "letters were very rare in those 
days." Nor did the introduction of Christianity at once dispel 
this ignorance. For nearly fourteen centuries of our Christian 
era but few persons in France and Germany could write, and 
how was it possible to judge of words and their etymology 


without seeing them ? The crosses of powerful potentates and 
living witnesses serving as substitutes for a simple signature, are 
eloquent proofs of the almost universal ignorance. History it- 
self has suffered much by such negligence of the most eminent 
men ; hence, for instance, the uncertainty of all history of Spain 
before the days of Ferdinand, and the want of correct informa- 
tion on French events until Charles VII. caused the " continues 
de province" to be reduced to writing. Whole nations, in those 
days, conquered the world and knew not how to write : the 
stupendous conquests of Gengis Khan were accomplished by 
hands better able to grasp the sword than to sign a name, and 
the Chinese alone wrote, though unfortunately to little purpose. 
It is to voyages of discovery and the faithful zeal of pious 
missionaries that we owe the first fruits of researches in foreign 
idioms. The Spanish and Portuguese mariners, laying a new 
world open before the awaking mind of Europe, brought with 
them no treasures more precious than their scanty knowledge of 
barbarous tongues, spoken by distant races in hitherto unknown 
parts of the globe. As colonies were planted in these newly 
fashioned kingdoms and the faith of Christ had to be preached 
to millions of pagan brethren, the importance of knowing their 
languages became more and more evident. The enlightened 
policy of ambitious sovereigns and powerful bodies like the East 
India Company perceived at once that it was their interest, not 
merely to send out the sons of a foreign and conquering race to 
raise taxes, punish disobedience, and suppress every trace of 
national feeling in those distant but all-important dependencies ; 
Dutch and English rulers of Eastern lands learnt early how 
important it was, not only to be masters but to inspire confi- 


dence. to win the affections and to promote the benign influ- 
ences of European civilization among their numerous subjects. 
To do this, to understand the character of those whom they 
governed, and even to carry on the necessary intercourse with 
them, a thorough knowledge of their language was indispens- 
able. Hence almost all governments have taken more or less 
pains to have the idioms spoken in their colonies well studied 
and their literature explored, so that their officials and agents 
may the more readily acquire them, as is the case with the 
Persian and Hindostanee teachers so liberally provided for by 
the East India Company. 

What policy thus prescribed and the sagacity of rulers 
-readily forwarded, commerce, that great but humble benefactor 
of man, had long been silently at work to accomplish. Fos- 
tering in nations the tendency to unite and combine for pur- 
poses of common interest, it served to dispel prejudices and to 
create affections, until nations not only ceased to hate but began 
to esteem and love each other. This led them to become better 
acquainted their neighbors other, and the more they knew of 
each other, the more they learned to cherish mutual respect ; for 
it is only ignorance and narrow pride that despise others. Men 
soon found it necessary, for the purpose of carrying on their 
business and of strengthening the bonds of amity between them, 
to learn more of their respective languages that truest and 
least fallible representative of a nation's character. Interest thus 
became the instrument by which the higher purposes of peace 
among men and brotherly love were achieved, and what was 
undertaken for individual gain and worldly profit, resulted in 
blessings for whole nations. 


This effect was principally due to the noble and disinterested 
efforts of missionaries, to whom the science of language is pro- 
bably more largely indebted than to any other body of men. 
As the Bible itself has, once, given a new and powerful impulse 
to the comparative study of languages, so its messengers now 
become the most efficient contributors to the new science. It 
is, perhaps, not without significancy, that religious subjects 
furnished, naturally, the first common ground on which a com- 
parison of languages, mechanical, to be sure, but not the less 
valuable, was first attempted. Already, in 1427, Schildberger 
published a collection of " Paternosters," an example which was 
followed by thirteen authors of later date, wh.o added consider- 
ably to our knowledge of foreign tongues. A complete dictionary 
of all languages of the world, based upon a similar collection, 
was begun under the Empress Catharine of Russia ; and the 
great Napoleon ordered the French Society of Archaeologists to 
make a collection of over one hundred versions of the parable 
of the prodigal son. The subject commended itself as peculiarly 
adapted for such a purpose, by its familiarity, its idiomatic mode 
of expression and great natural force. Even the most sump- 
tuous work of this kind, the "Sprachenhalle" of Alois Auer, 
printed in that magnificent establishment, the Imperial Printing 
Office of Vienna, is based upon six hundred and eight copies of 
the Lord's Prayer, accompanied by the original sources from 
which they were drawn, and printed each in its native dress. 
They are made still more valuable by Mr. Auer's appendix, 
representing the grammatical construction of all cognate lan- 
guages on a uniform plan, and furnishing ample materials for a 
comparison of the structure of different tongues. In most of the 


collections made by the indefatigable missionaries of our day 
'the same subjects form the groundwork. It is not enough to 
say that considerations of economy, health and usefulness con- 
curred, from the beginning, in recommending to them a know- 
ledge of the idioms of those nations whom they labored to win 
back to their God. They soon found out and appreciated the 
necessity of acquiring not merely an empirical knowledge of 
these languages, but such an acquaintance as would enable 
them to understand the hereditary modes of thought, feeling 
and contemplation of their new children points which could, 
of course, be discovered only through the corresponding words of 
expression in their language. Thus only could they hope fully 
to penetrate into the spirit of the people they wished to improve 
and convert ; thus only could they hope to imitate the unsur- 
passed triumph of Paul in Athens, to fathom the depths of the 
metaphysical abstraction " Om" of the Hindoo, or to find means 
to convey to the apparently inaccessible mind of the Chinese 

the idea of a Christian God. It was with such enlightened 

views that the early missionaries of the church were the first to 

study the idioms of other races. They did this, let it be remem- 
bered, whilst they penetrated into the fearful wilds of South 
America, or, following the illustrious example of Xavier and 
Loyola, preached the One God of the Christian to the most bar- 
barous and secluded regions of the earth, and endured hardships 
and suffered martyrdom without any hope of earthly reward. 
The success which crowned their labors and the greater interest 
now felt in the cause of missions, has but deepened the convic- 
tion of the necessity to study the languages of our distant, be- 
nighted fellow-men. Neither expense nor labor have been spared 


to learn to know and to elucidate such idioms and to develop, 
as it were, languages scarcely known beyond the precincts of 
their own country, and for the greater part previously unwritten. 
The almost gigantic labors of the indefatigable German messen- 
ger of the Church Missionary Society of England, the Rev. John 
L. Krapf, in African languages, the noble work of the great 
missionary institution of Basle, the munificent expenditures of 
the English Baptists, who in one year (1845) spent fifteen thou- 
sand dollars for translations into thirty-two as yet unknown and 
unwritten languages of India and Polynesia, are but detached 
instances of that notable zeal which has furnished science so vast 
an amount of valuable philological knowledge. 

It is to these missionaries, also, that we must look for that 
most desirable aid in philological researches, a system of com- 
mon rules for reducing newly discovered languages to writing. 
As yet, foreign names reach us only through the medium of in- 
dividuals belonging to different nations, each one of whom spells 
them according to the laws of his own mother-tongue. The 
same letters thus convey to each nation a different sound, and 
often to none the pronunciation it has in the vernacular. Thus 
the " Cyrus " of Europe is in Assyria " Khoresh " or " Khosrou,' 
and Darius " Dareoush " or " Dariavesh." This difficulty which 
modern science finds in the attempt to express new sounds and 
words of as yet unwritten tongues, even with the aid of the 
various and apparently excellent alphabets at its command, 
might give us a juster idea of the importance of the first inven- 
tion of the art of writing. We might be less disposed to reject 
as futile and absurd the views of the ancients, who valued this 
discovery so highly as to ascribe it to nothing less than the su- 


perior wisdom of God, and bless the memory of the first of all 
missionaries, peace-loving Ulfilas, to whom the Goths owe their 
Bible and Germans their letters. The enlightened policy of 
some of the great missionary bodies of our day has led them to 
attempt to obviate this difficulty by the adoption of a uniform 
mode of expressing foreign sounds in European languages. 
Two systems, that suggested by Mr. Pickering for the study of 
Indian languages, and a more recent one, probably first adopted 
and recommended by Sir R. H. Schomburgk, have, of late, been 
applied in several translations of sacred works from and for 
languages not before written. They have apparently succeeded 
well, and promise to prove useful, not iu such versions only, but 
also in preventing the serious errors which must necessarily 
have constantly arisen from the inexperience of pious but not 
scientific missionaries in analyzing unknown sounds and in 
comparing and identifying new linguistic material. 




Greek in England Erasmus Hebrew, &c., for Bible Researches Modern 
Languages for Reformation Forgery of Psalmanazaar Present Position 
of Comparative Philology. 

THE precious material thus furnished by the praiseworthy 
labors of mariners and colonists, missionaries and Bible socie- 
ties, becomes valuable only when science deduces from it great 
principles and thus adds to our knowledge of truth. Not only 
the ancients, but even Christian Europe for more than a thou- 
sand years, considered languages as little more than accidental 
varieties of sound, and researches into their nature as a fertile 
field for the employment of ingenuity and wit. It ought, how- 
ever, to be borne in mind, that the nations of Europe bore, in 
their youth, a greater resemblance to each other in their form 
of government, their moral character and their languages, than 
now. It was only when they grew to manly age that their 
character unfolded itself more distinctly, and differences in lan- 
guage began to represent corresponding differences in national 
modes of thought and feeling. This alone can explain the aston- 
ishing ignorance which scholars and philosophers, even of later 
ages, exhibited in their attempt to study other languages than 
their own. It was perhaps but natural that the first introduc- 


tion of Greek should have been received with some distrust, 
v.-heii it is remembered that western Europe knew nothing of it 
until the fall of Constantinople, and that even the learned of 
England, before the sixteenth century, were so ignorant of it as 
to be satisfied with Latin versions of Aristotle, made, not from 
the original, but from Arabic translations ! Greek quotations, 
which, it seems, would occur now and then, were summarily dis- 
missed with a marginal note : " Graecum est, legi non potest.' 
When the erudite William Grocyn first taught Greek at Oxford, 
under Henry VIII., his lectures, delivered with great pomp, 
were thought a highly dangerous and alarming innovation 
The very sound of Greek appeared to the fastidious ear of Eng- 
lishmen, abominable, and such as " no Christian ear can endure 
to hear." Oxford was divided into Greeks and Trojans, who 
waged a fierce warfare against each other, and even exposed 
the great Erasmus, who had been a pupil of Grocyn and then 
taught Greek himself, to personal insults and gross misrepre- 
sentations. Xor was the great philosopher in his own mind 
quite free from the effects of this general ignorance, for he 
mentions in his works his fear " that the study of Hebrew might 
promote Judaism and the study of philology might revive 
Paganism ! " 

In spite of such apprehensions, however, Hebrew was 
studied, and with it other Shemitic idioms, like Aramaic, 
Syriac and Arabic, when the spirit of free inquiry, which so 
largely contributed to the great work of the Reformation, led 
to the comparative study of the languages in which our sacred 
writings were first written. Then were produced works like 
those of the great scholars Scaliger and Bochart. The Refor- 


mation itself, and especially the works of the great Reformer, 
added to this general interest, a newly awakened feeling of the 
sacredness of national tongues. Translations of the Vulgate 
into the vernacular were attempted in most of the protestant 
countries, and for this purpose, great labor and profound erudi- 
tion were spent upon the study of modern languages. The 
insight into the properties and diversities of languages, thus ob- 
tained, was, however, not as yet applied to other than special 
and immediate ends, and no attempt was made to reduce such 
knowledge to general principles. Language was, still, only a 
useful instrument for social conversation and literary amusement 
or instruction, but not considered as having intrinsic value, or as 
a proper object of scientific inquiry. Of the profound ignorance 
which prevailed even at a much later period the beginning of 
last century on this subject, no more striking proof can proba- 
bly be found, than the remarkable forgery of the so-called Psal- 
manazaar. That the Church countenanced him as a converted 
native of Formosa, blind zeal and pious self-deception might 
excuse, and that he plundered the wealthy and deceived the 
credulous, will not astonish those who observe the power of assu- 
rance over credulity, and notice the success of Lamas in the 
East and Mormons in the West, even in these days of boasted 
enlightenment. But it must seem strange to us, that a youth 
of scarcely sixteen years could find credence for a new language, 
with a new alphabet, a new grammar, and new sounds all his 
own invention before a board consisting of the first English 
scholars of the time. The secret lay, partly at least, in the ar- 
gument with which these judges justified their belief, that the 
version of the catechism, which Psalmanazaar had laid before 


them, was truly written in a new, but real and grammatical 
language : because it resembled no other ! Still more recently, 
J. Barrois in his curious and highly interesting work on Dactyl- 
ology, gravely informs his readers that German is only Persian 
written in Latin characters, and that the inhabitants of Lapland 
speak, even now, the popular Hebrew of ancient times ! 

Comparative Philology must, in fact, be considered as an 
almost entirely new branch of knowledge, long since sketched 
out and pursued to a certain extent, but treated as a science 
only in quite recent times. It is now no longer a crude aggre- 
gate of isolated facts, much less of uncritical and arbitrary ety- 
mological conjectures, which any dilettante thinks he may be 
allowed to handle in his own way. These have been replaced 
by a scientific mode of research, implying a definite method 
and a consciousness of clear and productive principles of inves- 
tigation. Comparative Philology may be said to hold to former 
attempts, the same relation that our chemistry and astronomy 
hold to the alchymy and astrology of former ages. Established 
upon a new, solid basis, it has asserted and made good its claims 
to be considered one of the sciences, that form the noblest 
subject for intellectual labor, and are destined largely to add to 
the daily increasing realm in which the mind of man reigns 

Young, and of comparatively modern date, the Science of 
Language has, still, already led to results surpassing the most 
sanguine hopes. A. proper idea of the exalted dignity of lan- 
guage, as the most direct outward manifestation of man's divine 
mind, has taken the place of vague notions and absurd surmises. 
Shrewd devices and random guesses have given way before a 


philosophic knowledge of the admirable structure of language, 
and a better acquaintance with its history. Societies have been 
formed, and chairs established in universities, for the critical 
study of modern as well as of ancient languages ; men like 
Bunsen, Grimm and Humboldt, have lent their time and their 
genius to aid the new science. 

Etymology is, by authority, taught by more than ten pro- 
fessors in German gymnasia ; England has its well-known mas- 
ters of this branch of science ; France boasts of five almost 
perfect grammars of her language, besides the " Grammaire 
Nationale," and the monographies on dialect, orthoepy, homo- 
nymes, and synonymes. Reviews for modern Philology in 
Switzerland and on the Rhine, and publications of academies 
established for that special purpose, are as numerous as impor- 
tant. Virginia had, thanks to the wise foresight of Mr. Jeffer- 
son, already in 1825, a chair of Anglo-Saxon and Comparative 
Philology, and distant Iceland even, claims our admiration for 
the learned works of her great linguist, Dr. Egilsson, whose rec< nt 
death his native country deplores not more than the whole 
learned world. 

Modern investigators have, in the pursuit of such studies, 
deciphered the memorials of ancient nations, engraven on the 
monuments of proud cities, and the rocks in the desert. Their 
brilliant success emboldened intrepid travellers to pass through 
hostile nations and dangerous climes, in order to bring home 
treasures like those obtained by the brave Arnaud, who pene- 
trated in the disguise of a Mussulman, to the very city over 
which the Queen of Sheba once ruled, and there copied the 
famous Himyaritic inscriptions, engraven on the gigantic works 


erected by the great Balkis herself. Men of all ranks and occu- 
pations engaged in the novel and promising pursuit, and works 
like that of Balbi, could be compiled from material collected in 
all parts of the inhabited globe. Thus were African glossaries 
collected at Tunis and New Orleans, by Seetzen at Cairo, 
Oldendorp in the West Indies, and Mrs. Hannah Kilham at 
Sierra Leone ! It was no longer enough to guess with Lichten- 
stein at the meaning of Babylonian inscriptions, from a certain 
similarity in the shape of letters, and a supposed analogy in the 
sound of words with Shemitic idioms, but rules were laid down 
and principles established to guide the student in what Lepsius 
calls Monumental Criticism. Collateral researches in history 
and physiology were made to combine with mere philological 
observations, and the results thus obtained, subjected to a rigid 
analysis. Thence the science led upwards to higher views of 
language, itself a far greater work than all the works it contains, 
Language was, and is now, studied as the noblest and most 
characteristic manifestation of the human mind, as the great 
instrument by which the word of God and the law of man 
speaks, by which alone the sciences flourish, the arts live, and 
nations can foster love, honor, and true glory. 




Greek Authors Ccesar ami Cicero The Alexandrians and Byzantines J. O. 
Scaliger Collections ot Lord's Prayers Popa, Du Cange, and Hervas 
Bacon and Locke. 

A SCIENCE of such recent date can, of course, hardly be said 
to possess a literature as yet, and the few masterly works which 
have called it into life and established its claims are, themselves, 
more an earnest of future usefulness and importance, than evi- 
dences of already obtained success. Before the present century, 
the literature of the world had little more than occasional allu- 
sions, accidental hints, and some few fragments, relating to this 
new branch of knowledge. In the works of the Ancients, we find 
it barely alluded to. The simple statement of the existing dif- 
ference in languages, and a more careful enumeration of certain 
varieties, are all that we find in the oldest of literary annals 
the Chinese. If their chronology can be relied on, they may be 
said to have, here also, made a beginning long before Europe. 
They have, however, as usually, remained content with this in- 
structive and general apprehension of facts, to which they 
ascribed no other importance than that of curiosity, and this 
once satisfied, no further researches seem to have been made. 
Greek philosophers and historians furnish the first material, 


and some speculative contributions to Comparative Philology. 
Herodotus already quotes certain Scythian, Median, and Egyp- 
tian srlosses. which are not without interest and importance to 

O * 

modern students, and give additional proof of the far-sighted 
wisdom of the father of history, whose attention nothing escaped 
that might aid man in reading the history of his race. The 
three great philosophers of Greece faintly felt and expressed 
their ideas of the life that dwells in words. The Hermogenes 
of Socrates contains many suggestions and thoughts, which 
show that the author's great mind saw more in speech than a 
mere accident, and in words than a mechanical contrivance. 
It is well known that he more than once refers to the plausible 
presumption, that words of his own tongue had already in his 
time been altered for the sake of greater beauty of sound, and 
that he even points out many a curious word or form for which 
he claims barbarian descent, thus dimly foreshadowing two of 
the great principles which rule the decay of all languages. 
Plato's speculations rise higher ; in his Cratylus he approaches 
the loftiest problems of the philosophy of language, and recog- 
nizes God as author of the great work, for the execution of 
which He employs agents, as the architect of a house draws its 
design, and arranges its plan, but leaves the rest to inferior 
workmen. His question, on what the op-^oris of words might 
be founded, is one that still engages modern science, and the 
ridicule he casts on the sciolists and pretenders of his age, 
might readily and beneficially be applied to the same class of 
men in our day. The great Stagyrite bestows even greater at- 
tention on inquiries about the nature of language generally, and 
develops the connection between categories and grammatical 


relations in a manner that modern philologists might profitably 
imitate in their own researches. He acknowledges and proves 
the great principle, that language is the immediate production 
and expression of thought, and furnishes the first, yet unshaken 
foundation of our grammatical system. That none of these 
great men possessed an etymological knowledge of his own 
mother tongue, and thought not of comparing it with others, 
was the unavoidable consequence of the general tendency of 
that age, and the narrow patriotism of their race. Epicurus fur- 
thered the cause but little, by his definition of language as the 
" representation of outward objects," and the attempt made by 
the Stoics to form a theory of the Greek verb, remained imper- 
fect and unprofitable. 

Caesar, rightly conceiving that every thing patriotic was 
dignified, and that to polish and illustrate his native tongue was 
a service of real patriotism, speculated on the philosophy of lan- 
guage, and actually wrote a work on the grammar and orthoepy 
of the Latin. In fact, he and Cicero may be said to have been 
the only Romans of distinction of their age, who applied them- 
selves with genuine love of their country to the task of purifying 
and ennobling their mother tongue, though they labored under 
the disadvantage that it was already then declining and neg- 
lected, from the high appreciation in which Greek literature be- 
gan to be held. Lucretius gave perhaps even greater attention 
and deeper thought to the subject; still he is satisfied with the 
explanation " that nature teaches man the different sounds of a 
language, and necessity instructs him how to designate by name 
all that exists." The whole series of Alexandrians, not excepting 
even Apollonius Discolus, present as the result of their labors 


and meditations little more than the corpse of ancient science, 
well preserved and embalmed in formularies and epitomes, 
without the breath of life. To the Byzantine age we owe that 
complicated fabric of grammatical terms and definitions which 
still maintain their injurious supremacy in school-rooms and 
college halls. The profound erudition of Varro is seriously im- 
paired by the strange fancies and absurd etymologies which he 
has in common with most Roman grammarians down to Pom- 
peius Festus ; well-known Priscian and Donatus also have done 
little more than hand down to our generations the unimproved 
system of their forefathers. All these men lacked the spirit of 
lexicographic inquiry and scientific speculation. 

No progress was made until that memorable epoch when 
the human mind seemed to awake from long slumber, and 
when the splendor of Greek learning and philosophy electrified, 
as it were, the most eminent men of western Europe, as the 
rays of the rising sun first gild the loftiest peaks of mountain 
ranges. The great adversary of Erasmus, Julius Caesar Scaliger, 
showed in his investigations of the Latin language the great 
progress that science had made in the mean time. Soon after, 
the first attempt was made to collect a vocabulary of barbarous, 
unwritten tongues, an effort important in itself, and interesting 
as the only instance of linguistic research (Schildberger's collec- 
tion of Paternosters excepted) that was made for more than two 
hundred years. Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian by birth, collected 
the first list of words intended for comparison as well as for mere 
information. Charles V. had given him leave to accompany 
Magalhaens (Magellan) in his adventurous expedition in search of 
a western passage to the Molucca Islands. He followed the in- 


trepid sailor from sea to sea, and was wounded in the Philip- 
pines in defending his noble but unfortunate friend. In 1522 
he returned, with only seventeen companions, but bringing with 
him two valuable manuscripts. The one was a faithful journal, 
originally presented to the Emperor, and then, at the request of 
his patron, Clement VII., extended into a larger work, of which 
one copy was burnt at Rome, whilst the only other copy has 
lately been discovered and repeatedly published. Not less im- 
portant is the second manuscript, his vocabulary. It contains 
apparently a list of words taken from the languages of those 
tribes and nations through which he had travelled, but is com- 
plete only in the idioms spoken in the Philippines and Moluccas ; 
its remarkable correctness has given it, of late, new value and 

A rare and curious book by Andreas de Poca on the ancient 
language of Spain appeared about fifty years later, and has re- 
cently attracted great attention, because it mentions first that 
mysterious Basque dialect which is so intimately connected with 
the fame of the elder Humboldt. Interesting already as the 
first work printed on the renowned press of Bilbao, it contains 
more information on the subject of Spanish dialects and a clearer 
insight into the philosophy of language than the age and the 
land in which it appeared would lead us to expect. 

Valuable within its self-imposed limits is the great work of 
Du Cange, more familiar even to the historian than to the phi- 
lologist. Proving his wisdom by his modesty, the noble author 
evinces almost marvellous industry, combined with an erudition 
rare even in those days of profound learning and indefatigable 
research. Under the unassuming title of glossaries to the later 


Greek and Roman writers, he furnished the learned of his time 
with the most valuable addition to their knowledge of classic 
philology, and gave new life to a science which then was of 
great practical importance. Scarcely less valuable, though 
equally limited, is the work of the Abbe Lorenzo Hervas, whose 
renowned "Catalogue of Tongues" and "Arithmetic of Na- 
tions" form an important part of his "Saggio dell' Universe." 
The almost unlimited correspondence of the Spanish Jesuit with 
his missionary brethren of the Propaganda, furnished ample 
material for this large and remarkable work, though its useful- 
ness is much impaired by the authors disinclination to accom- 
pany the simple quotations with an explanation, or to commu- 
nicate the results of a comparison between them. Both Hervas 
and his successor, William Marsden, must, therefore, be regarded 
as mere collectors. 

In vain do we even look to the great father of English phi- 
losophy for more than a general acknowledgment of the impor- 
tance to be attached to a philosophic study of language. Bacon, 
it is true, in his De Augmentis Scientiarum, seems to be alive 
to the mysterious nature of language and its intimate connection 
with the mind of man ; but that is all he says, and then he 
turns his attention to truths more apparent and principles more 
attractive. Better hopes might have been cherished upon the 
strength of the suggestions which Locke's Human tTnderstand- 
ing contains on the subject. " The consideration of ideas and 
words," he says, " as the great instrument of knowledge, makes 
a not despicable part of their contemplation to him who would 
take a view of human knowledge in the whole extent of it ; and 
perhaps if they were distinctly weighed and duly considered, 


they would afford us another sort of logic and critic than that we 
have hitherto been acquainted with." How clearly the great 
empiric foresaw, and how distinctly he foretold, the future! 
Well may we regret that the framing of constitutions, and years 
of exile, prevented him from pursuing those shrewd guesses at 
a truth which modern science now begins to expound and 
to confirm. 



German Philosophers Universal Language J. Harris and Home Tooke 
Adelung Mithridates S. de Sacy, Garnba, Pott, &c. Klaproth, Balbi, Pal- 
las ami Schisclikow. 

THE honor of being called the father of Comparative Philology 
is due to Leibnitz. The inventor of Fluxions found time to 
write a fragmentary work on the Basque language, which, for 
depth of thought and profound erudition, yields nothing to 
more recent labors in the same field, and gives conclusive 
evidence of the importance which the renowned philosopher 
attached to such researches. The author of a Comparative Phi- 
losophy of languages and the first successful classifier of such 
idioms as he knew, Leibnitz paid the most brilliant tribute to 
the science he had thus established, in his organization of the 
Academy of Sciences in Berlin. The principal object of the 


new institution, which has since become so illustrious, he in- 
tended should be those studies which were " best calculated to 
insure the progress of a philosophy of language and a classifi- 
cation of idioms." With prophetic speculation, he foretold that 
thus alone would it be possible for science to trace the genealogy 
of mankind up to ages where history is silent and even tradition 
assists us no longer. The great rival of Newton, whose epitaph, 
" Genio Leibnitii," is one of the most strikingly appropriate that 
ever graced the monument of a great man, must, however, be 
said to have neglected, in this branch of his pursuits also, to give 
to the results of his genius aud almost instinctive knowledge, 
that mature consideration and systematic completeness which 
was due to their originality, and alone could insure permanent 
success. It may be this circumstance that has prevented the phi- 
losophers of Germany generally from giving the subject such 
attention as it deserved. We find, at least, neither in Fichte 
and his contemporaries, nor in the works of the modern school, 
more than general references to the nature of language, and 
occasional attempts at a methodical analysis of idioms, such as 
Kant himself had already tried and partially developed in the 
preface to his Lithuanian Grammar. Schelling's less sterile 
inquiries remained, unfortunately, fragments, and degenerated in 
the hands of younger philosophers, like Kanne and Krause, into 
an unproductive mysticism. 

It is, on the contrary, characteristic of the general tendency 
of modern researches, that almost all progress made in the 
science of language during the last hundred years, must be 
ascribed to practical studies and the labors of men who saw the 
importance of a better knowledge of the nature of language, 


not so much in itself as in its bearing upon other sciences. The 
politician and the statesman, the physiologist and the ethnolo- 
gist, the geographer and the historian, have, each in his turn, 
given their aid and paid their tribute to the new science. 

Faint foreshadowings of future discoveries appear already in 
some more curious than valuable works of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. Dalgarno's Ars Signorum claimed to supply the long-felt 
want of an "art of universal communication" in writing. His 
"ideography" requires only five consonants, as many vowels, 
which the author is, moreover, quite ready to throw overboard 
as rather superfluous ; and last, though by no means least, five 
senses, to furnish a language for all the perceptions of which 
man is capable. A similar work of Wilkins, who iu 1668 pub- 
lished his " Real Character and Philosophic Language," is justly 
suspected by the acute French writer, Nodier, of belonging ori- 
ginally to the times immediately after the confusion of tongues. 

Nor can the works of John Harris and Home Tooke be 
considered as marking an actual progress in the science, to which 
the) 7 , nevertheless, were valuable contributions. The "Hermes" 
of the former contains the first principles of a philosophy of lan- 
guage, but is purposely limited to grammatical inquiries, and 
merely revives the views of Greek philosophers on the subject. 
His acute opponent's "Diversions of Purley" are unfortunately 
so filled with an animosity, for which his political martyrdom 
is hardly sufficient excuse, and such fanciful vagaries, that his 
pregnant views on formative words have seldom obtained that 
credit for themselves and that honor for their author, which his 
genius and even his caustic humor certainly deserved. 

The gigantic work of J. C. Adelung, that vast storehouse of 


valuable information to which, year after year, every student of 
philology returns as to an inexhaustible mine of precious lore, 
has become more or less superannuated, or is superseded by 
later and better publications. The " Mithridates," as completed 
by Vater and republished in 1845, will ever remain a monument 
of careful compilation and admirable industry. But few will be 
disposed to consider it, with Latham, a classic in philosophy, as 
Blackstone is in law, or even to pronounce its author a profound 
philosopher and accurate etymologist. We may give him ample 
credit for having followed, without knowing it, the plan of Leib- 
nitz in his attempted review of the languages, but we must not 
forget that his collection of idioms was made upon a purely me- 
chanical arrangement, and necessarily limited by the extent of 
then available knowledge. Vast discoveries have since been 
made, and of the most important character, such as have, in 
fact, not only added material knowledge but virtually altered 
the nature of the first principles of the science. An accomplished 
linguist, Adelung was yet as little an etymologist as the cele- 
brated Cardinal Mezzofanti with his empiric knowledge of 
seventy-odd languages, and the mere arranging, side by side, of 
even six hundred idioms and dialects does not throw one rav of 
light on their grammatical construction or the general principles 
of language. 

Far more important were the labors of men who limited 
their inquiries to a narrower sphere, but amply compensated for 
this by the philosophic spirit of their researches. Such were, 
among many, the valuable contributions made by Silvestre De 
Sacy to our knowledge of Oriental languages. His thorough 
and extensive acquaintance with Eastern tongues served, at the 


same time, to exalt his own fame and to aid his fellow-laborers 
in their philological or historical researches. Of these latter, 
some are less known only because they enjoyed not, like Sacy, 
the advantages of a residence in Paris nor the prestige of high 
rank and independent fortune. Thus Bartolomeo Gamba, the 
modest and learned librarian of San Marco, did more for the 
history of his mother tongue than the much-praised Academy 
Delia Crusca had accomplished for generations ; and it suffices 
to mention the names of men like Dobrowsky for the Slavonic, 
Pott in Germany, Adry in France and Johnson in England, to 
recall to our mind works, each in its sphere most valuable and 
important, though all, except Pott's Indo-Germanic Languages, 
written without direct reference to general principles. Neither 
the Elementary Treatise on Universal Grammar by Sacy, nor Bil- 
derdjyk's ingenious and brilliant essay on the origin of the three 
grammatical genders contain those first requisites of modern 
science, general views, based upon a comparison of the essential 
features of distinct languages and their systematic classification. 
Of merely lexical interest, on the other hand, was Klaproth's 
Asia Polyglotta, with its valuable linguistic atlas. It furnishes 
abundant material for comparison, but the author obtained from 
it no better results than some support for fanciful systems of his 
own, which he founded on merely external and apparent resem- 
blances. His efforts to prove an antediluvian unity of language 
were utterly futile and unproductive ; neither he nor Balbi ever 
thought of looking beyond the surface, or of establishing the 
individual character of each idiom. The magnificent work of 
Pallas, which contains two hundred and seventy-three words in 
two hundred languages, must be regarded as an equally credit- 


able evidence of the far-sighted policy of Catharine II., at whose 
command it was published, and of the industry of its author. 
It was in the same Eastern empire that these vast collections 
of material were first considered in their true light as subser- 
vient to the deduction of great principles and the establishment 
of great truths. Admiral Schischkow, who, as president of the 
Academy at Petersburg, took a lively interest in these researches, 
said in a letter to his friend, Baron Merian, on the subject of 
Balbi's ethnographical maps : " They lack the essential requisite, 
the consideration of the affinity of languages, not according to 
a superficial resemblance of words, but according to their radical 
affinity, based partly upon the changes in the elements of the 
word, and partly on that affinity of thought, which might be 
called the spirit of languages." This is the great fundamental 
principle upon which ah" comparison of idioms must be pursued, 
to produce more than " mere fragments, patchwork, and ob- 
scurity," as the Admiral's learned correspondent states in his 




Eichhorn Frederick von Schlegel Bopp Duponceau William von Hum- 
boldt Jacob Grimm Rask Arndt Prichard Latham, &c. 

IT is to Germany, however, that we must look for works of the 
highest merit, written by those men to whom, in fact, the exist- 
ence of Comparative Philology is due. Eichhorn has the merit 
of having first suggested the idea, that languages ought to be 
arranged genealogically, whilst Frederick von Schlegel was 
probably the first, in 1808, to point out the importance of gram- 
matical forms and their primeval, indestructible nature. In his 
work on the language and philosophy of the Hindoos, he as- 
sumed the high ground, that " language is an organism," classi- 
fied idioms as inorganic or organic, established the historical 
connection between the Sanscrit, Persian, Roman, and Greek, 
and may, therefore, justly be called the father of the modern 
linguistic school in Germany. Bopp, who stands professedly 
highest in historical grammar, and considers not the lexical but 
the historical connection of languages as the most important 
point in comparative philology, is thus brought into opposition 
to Schlegel, whom he charges with frequent contradiction and 
an imperfect knowledge of that branch of the science. His 


great merit is considered to lie in his division of languages into 
three classes according to their technical means and upon a 
principle corresponding to that which prevails in natural history 
an arrangement which differs totally from that proposed by 
the American philologist, Duponceau, in the Transactions of the 
American Philosophical Society. Wilhelm von Humboldt found 
time in his high position as minister and statesman, to furnish 
in his work on the Basque the most accurate specimen of lin- 
guistic analysis which had yet heen attempted. Whilst his 
general works have written his name with indelible letters in 
the annals of history and science, he treated in the preface to 
his work on the " Kawi Language," published by his young 
friend and assistant, Buschmann, the diversity in the construc- 
tion of human language and its influence on the intellect ; the 
Kawi served him as a canvas on which to weave those truths 
and that wisdom which have placed him, in universal Compara- 
tive Philology, by the side of Leibnitz. 

It was left, however, to Jacob Grimm, to rise to the very 
summit of renown, and to become the highest authority in the 
science which owed already so much to German genius and 
German learning. In his Grammar and his History of the 
German Language, he traces his mother tongue in all of its nu- 
merous branches from Ulfilas to Goethe, from its most ancient 
form through an almost uninterrupted series of literary monu- 
ments for fifteen hundred years, down to the present age. Im- 
pressed with the dignity of this vast enterprise, he treats the 
subject with that reverence and anxious care which its almost 
sacred character seemed to require, and which alofce could pro- 
duce results so stupendous and bring to light truths as undo- 


niable now as they were then unexpected. He has thus given 
to the world a standard of the method and a model of the sys- 
tem by which every other effort must hereafter be judged. It 
is fortunate that whilst we are lost in admiration at the labor, 
the knowledge and the genius required to produce such a mas- 
ter work, the results are so encouraging and the path is hence- 
forth so distinctly marked out, that his work now stands like 
the mariners' beacon, guiding the frail bark and the stately 
man-of-war with the same gentle, steady light past cliff and 
sunken rock to the safe harbor. His great laws of " Ablaut," 
" Umlaut," and " Lautverschiebung," earned for him not less 
fame than they added precision and dignity to the science oi 
Language. He was the first to deduce them logically, to apply 
them with success, and thus to secure for them that authority 
which proved that language has its laws and eternal principles 
as well as its history and philosophic nature. 

Numerous are the works which have since appeared on the 
subject in various parts of Europe ; they all tend to prove the 
truth of these laws, and to add new interest and new importance 
to the youthful science. The Scandinavian Rask may be said 
to have stood at the head of a northern school of Comparative 
Philology, a post of lofty distinction, for which he was eminent- 
ly qualified by hjs intimate acquaintance with the idioms of 
Eastern Asia as well as those of his native land. In his great 
work on the Zendavesta he estabhsnes the first elements and 
principles of his system with a lucidity and logical directness 
which secured to them, at once, general sympathy and acknow- 
ledgment. We owe to Rask, moreover, the first decisive ex- 
pression and the establishment of the principle, that the gram- 


matical development of a language and its style are its only 
genuine and all-important characteristics ; in these two features 
the mind of the people is expressed, and, through them, depos- 
ited in literature. This reflection or image of the very soul of a 
nation changes as the character of the people changes. Still, 
there is below the surface a permanent and never-changing 
basis, which remains through centuries the same. This last 
idea a French writer, Genin, had already foreshadowed when 
he compared the language of a people to the ocean, whose sur- 
face is turbulent and never at rest, wave following wave^ Un- 
derneath, however, there is profound, never-disturbed peace. 
So it is with idioms ; in form and outline they vary for ever, but 
their fundamental character remains unchanged from age to age 
and amidst all the vicissitudes that may befall those who speak 
it. For languages live not in words only ; they do not depend 
upon the laws of men or the will of sovereigns. Thus the 
Greek, opposed by the immense continent of Asia Minor and 
the gigantic monarchy of Persia, never perished under the pres- 
sure of the enormous linguistic power of the Orient. Even the 
Roman colossus could not destroy it, and the little Ionian dia- 
lect lives yet in the immortal history of Herodotus. Arndt, less 
known, was on the other hand the originator of what Latham, 
himself a master, calls a grand, suggestive guess : the fertile 
supposition that Indo-European races and languages were only 
a second race of immigration into Europe, overwhelming in their 
fierce onset the original Finnish population. This ingenious 
and well-supported theory, which alone offers a satisfactory ex- 
planation of the mystery which had, heretofore, hung around 
the Laps, Finns. Basques, and Magyars, is, as yet, mainly sup- 


ported by the archaeologists and anatomists of Scandinavia. 
The very fact, however, that such men as Keyser and Retzius 
support it is sufficient proof of the attention it deserves and of 
the happy union which begins to connect philology with kin- 
dred sciences. As a most brilliant example of the results that 
may be obtained by thus bringing the light of other branches 
of knowledge to bear upon a less developed science, Dr. Prich- 
ard's works stand pre-eminent. Combining the study of phi- 
lology with that of physiology in the study of man, his ripe 
judgment and happy genius have enabled him not only to fill 
his works with numerous details, suggestive of new truths, but 
actually to make definite and most desirable additions to Ethno- 
graphical Philology. 

By the side of these men of genius, who have given the 
science of language its weight and importance, numerous authors 
of considerable merit have appeared in the same ranks. From 
the days of Ley den and the unfortunate Edmund Castell to the 
year which saw the works of Latham, Ampere, and Schleicher, 
compete with each other, the new science has had numerous 
contributors, and now boasts of a literature which might occupy 
the proverbial industry of German compilers, and certainly de- 
serves more curiosity than can here be satisfied. These works 
have shown the practical advantages of a comparative study of 
languages, have established the laws and fixed the rules to which 
philology is subject like other sciences, and have established its 
claims as one of the most important and useful aids in the great 
aim of all science, the discovery of truth. 




Study of Foreign Languages Grammar, &c. Use of the Vernacular Orators 
and Authors Chatterton Anglo-Saxon in English Translation of Foreign 
Works Revival of Ancient Authors Modern style. 

A CEXTURY ago the assertion that the study of languages might 
have a practical, tangible usefulness, would have met with little 
encouragement Such a conviction begins, however, to gain 
more and more ground, and as the striking advantages and 
fruitful results of Comparative Philology appear, the zeal of the 
student increases and the doubts of the skeptic are silenced. 
The very necessity of studying other tongues and of investi- 
gating the affairs of other countries and ages, if we would un- 
derstand the social fabric and peculiar character of modern 
times, has been the primary cause of that enlargement of ideas 
which has been so brilliantly exhibited in more enlightened 
etymological researches. 

It was little more than an imperial paradox, when Charles 
V. said that he considered the ability to speak a new language, 
equal to the acquisition of a new sense. The great monarch 
loved to utter such sentences, and this, the more so, because the 
faint anticipations of a superior mind were gilt by the rays of 


his crown, until the} 7 dazzled the admiring eyes of his courtiers 
with all the brilliancy of genuine light. Still, there is no doubt 
that an acquaintance with the great general laws of language 
aids us essentially in the use of foreign idioms, as well as of our 
own vernacular, and these advantages are less evident, only be- 
cause the results of comparative philology are but rarely applied 
to the practical study of languages. To him, however, who 
traces the origin, historical development, and grammatical affin- 
ities of one language with those of another, all parts of an 
idiom become life-endowed. A new interest attaches itself to 
what heretofore appeared lifeless material, mere empty forms, 
and the result of ancient but unproductive usage. The higher 
faculty of reason lends its powerful aid to memory, and thus 
greatly facilitates the acquisition and use of other tongues. The 
etymology of a word once ascertained, the sanction of reason 
obtained for what at first appeared a gratuitous supposition, and 
such a word will hardly ever escape our memory. It is there 
connected by the higher associations of kindred thought with 
other ideas, and we keep it quickly, easily, and firmly in our 
mind. Trench, in his entertaining volume " on words," fur- 
nishes numerous and well-selected examples of such results. 
Thus it is even with grammatical forms. As soon as their 
original and real meaning has become clear, as soon as we 
have succeeded in placing their origin and power in the proper 
light, we can dispense with many rules and countless laws 
which were necessary, only from an imperfect understanding of 
these forms. It was this knowledge which gave the Cardinal 
Mezzofanti such apparently miraculous power over unknown 
idioms ; he applied the general principles of language to indi- 


vidual idioms, and thus acquired, as it were, an instinct of their 
peculiar nature. Few men will have forgotten the tedious 
hours spent in fruitless attempts to connect any idea with the 
terras : declension, case, (to. Let the youthful student once 
hear of the naive manner by which the Peripatetics of old 
tried to explain to their adult pupils the mystery of the mutual 
relations of nouns to each other, and all becomes clear and easy. 
When he sees the perpendicular line representing the primary 
form in the so-called nominative, and the angle of " declension," 
in which line after line, representing genitive, dative, (fee., 
approach in their "cosus," or fall the horizontal, he will laugh at a 
difficulty that grave philosophers and sages so simply explained, 
and Byzantine scholars so successfully concealed. The affixes 
and suffixes of inflected languages, also appear no longer mere 
empty sounds and arbitrarily chosen syllables, which our memory 
retains but with difficulty ; they are now seen to have been 
words of their own, to have fulfilled their <lestiny, and often to 
form the most interesting and instructive part of a language. 

It is well known that most of the modern languages of 
Europe are mixed or corrupt, and that therefore a large proper 
tion of their vocabulary can convey to the majority of the peo- 
ple who nse it, but a very inadequate impression, such as may 
be derived from the habitual association of a certain sound with 
a certain idea. Xo Frenchman, Italian, or Spaniard, can know 
his own language well, without more or less familiarity with 
Latin ; to the Englishman who would know his own tongue, an 
acquaintance with Latin and German is equally indispensable. 
For it is in our own mother tongue, that we are apt most sensi- 
bly to feel the advantage of a more thorough and general 


knowledge of the science of language. It is thus only that life 
is given to 'mere forms, and that we learn the meaning of words 
we have used from infancy by mere unconscious imitation. 
Satisfactory as it must be to learn that the holy Sabbath of the 
Christian bears the heathenish name of the sun, and that the 
daisy looks up to us with the "day's eye," it is not curiosity 
alone that is to be satisfied, nor mere amusement that is to be 
furnished. , Both higher and more useful advantages may be 
gained. We handle those instruments best whose make we 
know, and profit most by telescopes, whose construction and 
material are familiar to us. Language is, if not the only, cer- 
tainly the most direct and useful instrument of our mind 
ought we not to know it well ? It is surprising how much bet- 
ter a language bends to the purposes of the author, the orator, 
and the poet, when its philosophy and history are known to 
him. Ludicrous in the extreme are, on the other hand, the 
blunders committed by otherwise well informed and highly 
gifted authors, when they represent former times, and try to 
imitate older forms of language. The mere collection and em- 
ployment of antiquated terms, or obsolete words, produces little 
of that effect, which a better insight into the historical develop- 
ment of an idiom alone can secure. It was reliance upon such 
merely mechanical imitation which caused the tragic end of the 
unfortunate Chatterton. In order to give his pretended relics 
of ancient art the appearance of antiquity, he rejected almost 
every word that was modern, selected obsolete phrases and ex- 
pressions only, and thus produced a dialect entirely different 
from any that was ever spoken in Great Britain. What power- 
ful aid have, on the other hand, English authors derived from 


an intimate knowledge and judicious use of that portion of their 
vernacular which was formed by their Anglo-Saxon forefathers, 
in their savage but poetical age. They knew that the words 
which fall first upon our ears from the lips of our mother, the 
words that we hear "in the home of our childhood, and amidst 
the sports of our youth," express the earliest and dearest sen- 
sations, and awaken in the heart of the hearer the strongest 
and most powerful feelings of our nature. Hence English stvle 
is impressive, English poets are popular, and English orators 
successful, in proportion as they employ the words which con- 
stitute the language of our home and our heart. Gray's Elegy, 
Milton's Massacre in Piedmont, Crabbe's Hall of Justice, and 
Cowper's Castaway, are monuments of the simple majesty of 
Saxon-English. Its power over the mind is not less strikingly 
proved by Larimer's terse and self-commending Saxon, of which 
Swift in a later age and Cobbett in our own have been the 
mighty masters, and, through it, the masters of their English 
readers and hearers. Besides, all who speak English may find 
in their own mother tongue an ancient idiom, to which they 
may successfully refer in their inquiries how language has 
been formed ; they can there find a reason and a meaning for 
forms which possess neither life nor interest to the ignorant, 
and while they learn to prefer the original stores of their native 
tongue to the gaudy but borrowed plumage of foreign growth, 
they will no longer use words and phrases merely because all 
others do so, but because they know they are the best, the 
worthiest, and the most efficient that can be chosen. They will 
find them to be so, not by accident or by some mysterious 
power, but because a language which has stored up the united 


treasures and combined efforts of the highest intellects of a na- 
tion for ages, must, by its very tones, reawaken like qualities, 
and excite like feelings, in the minds of later generations. A 
language becomes thus to him who knows its philosophy, as 
well as its outward forms, a very " charm to conjure with." 

Such a knowledge is, moreover, almost indispensable to him 
who would, by a good and faithful translation of the master- 
works of foreign nations, communicate to his own countrymen 
the inappreciable treasures of ancient and modern genius. In 
such cases, idiom has to be rendered by idiom, and the very 
spirit of a different cast of minds to be embodied in his own 
vernacular. How can hft seize the almost imperceptible aroma 
of foreign inspiration who does not know the peculiar fragrance 
of his own tongue ? What else but a thorough familiarity with 
the latter, can enable him to render delicate shades of meaning 
in a foreign idiom, by corresponding forms of his own ? How 
can he ever hope to feel, rather than to know, the precise and 
accurate difference of synonymes, like the English "banish," 
and "exile," unless he knows the German "Bann," and the 
Latin " ex silire," the Teutonic punishment inflicted by sentence. 
and Cicero's definition of "perfugium potius supplicii, non sup- 
plicium." It is thus that the character of a nation may be said 
to show itself, in the success of their work of making foreign 
literature their own ; and the superior conscientiousness of the 
German, and the light carelessness of the Frenchman, appear 
perhaps in nothing more conspicuously than in the better 
knowledge and greater faithfulness exhibited in German trans- 

We hail it, therefore, as a most cheering sign of modern 


progress, and as a creditable evidence of the taste of our age, 
that the works of old authors and especially the poems of for- 
mer ages are more frequently resorted to and republished than 
heretofore. The reader of our day is thus conducted to the 
very well-head and fountain of his mother tongue ; he sees the 
first sources and primal uses of his speech, and obtains an accu- 
rate, distinctive perception of the significance of its terms and 
idioms. Researches of this kind, in all languages, appear indis- 
pensable not only to the attainment of that pregnant concise- 
ness, imaginative at once and definite, which we value as the 
highest triumph of literary composition, but also to the preser- 
vation of that standard purity of expression which arbitrary 
fashion and foreign influence constantly tend to disturb. The 
old authors, who have, as it were, originated the frame and 
energies of their idioms, become thus landmarks and beacons 
to which our eye may turn when we apprehend to float too far 
out on the sea of innovation, and, here also, a knowledge of the 
past will enable us to make the best use of the present 




Lost races Ethnology Relation of races Provincial Dialects Literature and 
Er.rly History. 

MORE important aid, however, is obtained from a comparative 
study of languages in historical researches, and it was probably 
by the assistance rendered to this sister science principally that 
its high merits and unexpected usefulness first obtained more 
generally credit and acknowledgment. Languages have, of late, 
become new and productive mines for history ; mines requiring, 
however, great skill in discovering the precious metals, and still 
greater art in bringing them up and freeing them from impure 
alloy. Well may the words of Ennius here be applied : 

" nee quisquam (etymologiam) 
In somnis videt priu' quam jam dicere coepit." 

Careful and accurate researches of men of the highest merit 
have led to the result that languages will speak when history 
and even poetical tradition are silent. Not only are the idioms 
of many nations the only monuments which they have handed 
down to posterity, but we must bear in mind that, more gener- 


ally still, language was the first and earliest manifestation of the 
human intellect at the very time when the earliest efforts of the 
human mind were made, when the foundation was laid of the 
existing system of thought and of institutions of every kind, 
when, in fact, all human development first commenced. Lan- 
guage remained as the only evidence of the inner life of man, 
when all records are silent even as to his outer life. " For," says 
the learned Frisian, Halbertsma, " it pleases not the muse of his- 
tory to speak but late, and then in a very confused manner. 
Yes, she often deceives, and, before she come to maturity, she 
seldom distinctly tells the truth. Language never deceives, but 
speaks more distinctly, though removed to a higher antiquity." 
Philology explores the inmost recesses of language, and, by such 
means, brings to light the fossil remains of early history, dis- 
covers the migrations of nations and changes of empires, and 
regains lost portions of our race. World-conquering races, full 
of unbounded vigor and irresistible power, nations that owned 
large portions of the globe, have disappeared and are forgotten 
among men. What remains of them ? Here and there a few 
gigantic heaps of stone, like those of Carnak and Eunnymede, 
and words. Words that have attached themselves to moun- 
tain-chains and mighty rivers, and, even now, carry back our 
memory to days long gone by, the only evidence of the former 
power of empires and the existence of races. But races are not 
only thus known to us solely by their language ; often we have 
the language left, whilst the race has utterly disappeared ; thus 
the idiom, called Zend, belonged to a people of whom we know 
absolutely nothing, and which we only presume, from their 
speech, to have a certain form ! 


The fundamental principle of all language, its nature as a 
product of the mental power of man, of his divine spirit, leads 
us back into dark and distant ages, not reached by tradition, 
and to remote portions of the globe, but rarely visited by the 
adventurous mariner. A comparative study of various idioms 
according to their inner structure, and their arrangement, upon 
this basis, into families, has enabled modern science similarly to 
arrange the prominent nations of the earth into great families, 
on the ground and by the aid of the connection between their 
languages, and, especially, according to the grammatical genius 
of these idioms. This has, to be sure, as yet been possible only 
with those races whose languages we know best, the Iranian 
group, but the rocks of Van and the rivers of Babylon are full 
of bright promise. This classification of nations, by means of 
the subtle association of the tongues they speak, has become the 
safest and most ancient evidence of their first origin, and serves 
as groundwork for a real history of the intellectual development 
and civilization of mankind. Such is the great purpose of Eth- 
nology, and most astonishing are the results obtained by the 
joint labors of the two sister sciences. The principle has been 
established that similarity of language is prima facie evidence 
of community of descent. It is not absolute evidence ; but it 
furnishes strong and plausible ground for the presumption that 
races, distant from each other, however they may differ in color 
of skin and hair, or of mental and moral development, if they 
call the same thing by the same name, and use the same forms 
or order of words to express the same shade of meaning, must 
either have carried on a continued and direct intercourse with 
each other or be closely related by common descent. If, there- 


fore, history tells us that two nations have been dwelling at 
remote distances from each other for centuries, and the linguist 
finds a genuine similarity between their respective idioms, he 
feels justified in deducing from this circumstance a unity of de- 
scent, and points with satisfaction to the remarkable success 
with which Comparative Philology has established, for instance, 
the common origin of all the Polynesian islanders and the con- 
nection of Greeks and Germans with the Arian race of Hindustan. 

Such researches will show how tribes, separated by immense 
distances in time and place, are related to each other, and how 
they still preserve traces of their long-forgotten common descent 
in their language. Thus the various provinces of countries like 
France, where common fate and the all-absorbing principle of 
centralization would seem to have permanently effaced every 
distinct trace of difference of origin, still cherish, in the words 
they use, the only bequest left them by their first fathers. The 
Breton speaks a dialect strongly tinged with Celtic, the Xorman 
exhibits in word and sound traces of the Xorse language of old. 
Languedoc resounds with Spanish and Moorish gutturals, the 
Provence with the soft and harmonious vowels of Italy. The 
Gascon is still a Basque in his tongue, though a genuine French- 
man in all other characteristics, whilst the language of the 
whole Xorth is deeply marked with traces of German influence, 
which, here also, show most in the pronunciation and less in 
the vocabulary and syntax. 

It is for such purposes especially that the study of provincial 
dialects has, of late, been resumed with eminent success. It is 
in conformity with the general spirit of generalization, which 
characterizes modern researches, that the attention of scholars is 


no longer confined to one or two languages only. For long 
centuries narrow prejudice and painful ignorance, combined, 
sought information in no other tongue but Greek or Hebrew ; 
at one time the influence of the church and the recovery of an- 
cient MSS. limited all studies to Latin or Greek ; rash conclusions 
and individual predilections gave, more recently, exclusive im- 
portance to the Sanscrit. It ought, however, to be borne in 
mind, that as the botanist, the philosophic student of nature, 
does not allow himself to be guided by taste or fancy, but by an 
earnest desire for truth, and, therefore, thinks the lowly moss 
and the humble mushroom as important as the rosebud and the 
oak, so the student of philology, also, ought to view the lowest 
of languages still as the offspring of man's divinely endowed 
mind, and as ever bearing the mark of its birthplace in all of its 
features. The reward never fails, and so have these humble 
dialects, also, made ample return for the attention paid them ; 
they have been found to contain the sweetest songs of all nations, 
and to have been the last refuge of exiled words and ancient 
terms which fashion had banished from courts and cities. Al- 
most unchanged in pronunciation, intonation, and even orthog- 
raphy, when written, they have preserved among the simple 
races of inaccessible mountain regions or secluded valleys much 
of the ancient stock and the primitive forms of the national 
tongue. Not without good reason are they called "patois," 
perhaps like the " patavinitas" of Livy, the language of the 
fathers ; although, in fact, they are native tongues, living lan- 
guages in a state of nautre, unrefined and unadorned, but also 
free from foreign admixture and arbitrary change. Though not 
relished by the fastidious palate, says Bosworth, these streamlets 


thai, of old, have flown down from the fountain-head into remote 
and sheltered corners, preserve their original purity and flavor. 
It is this charm of freshness and directness which gives such 
success to those authors who have best known how to make use 
of them, as Rabelais and Montaigne in parts of their works, and, 
above all, Grimm in his old German u Maehrchen." These pro- 
vincial idioms are the very language of Ben Jonson, Shakspeare, 
and Chaucer, and difficulties remain in these and other authors, 
riddles for the most acute critic, which a provincial, an East- 
Anglian, would have solved at first sight, or upon merely hear- 
ing the words. The Italians know better how to appreciate the 
light to be obtained from the study of such dialects, and instead 
of finding them neglected and despised as in England, we See 
that the vocalic Venetian, the harsh, aspirated Tuscan, the farago 
of imported words in Naples, have all their separate dictionaries 
and their literature. 

These dialects, however, can do more than merely gratify 
our curiosity or please our taste. They have been found fertile 
sources of much historical information that could have been 
derived from no other source. It is easy to study the languages 
and to know the history of those races that have been the great 
instruments of Providence in the onward movements of civili- 
zation ; their annals are clearly legible, they have all the charm 
that success carries with it even in science. But there is at least 
something touching, if less imposing, in the history of those 
idioms that have been overcome by better fortune or greater 
force. Once upon a time they also had their day of splendor 
and dominion, were spoken at the brilliant court as well as at 
the humble cottage hearth, resounded in song and oration, were, 


in fact, deemed sufficient for all the varied purposes of a lan- 
guage. But fortune forsook them ; conquerors entered the land 
of their people, and deprived them of their birthright. Driven 
from the high places and broad lands of their native country by 
languages often inferior in essential qualities, and compelled to 
borrow from them without scruple or thanks, they had to seek 
refuge in the humbler but safer regions of the people. Whilst 
Providence changed the face of a continent, mixed its races and 
fused primitive nationalities into larger families, these dialects, 
cherished and jealously guarded by the humblest of a nation, 
often served as the only but almost sacred tie between the scat- 
tered and subjugated children of a fallen race. Thus the Breton 
of France and the Welshman of Great Britain, though separated 
for centuries by a different allegiance and stormy seas, know 
each other still as brothers, and the bible of the peasant of Bre- 
tagne brings light and joy into the hut of the miner of Wales. 
The Catalan, who proudly boasts cf his gracious and kind- 
hearted queen, notwithstanding his loyalty, feels stronger affec- 
tion for the Frenchman on the eastern slope of the Pyrenees, 
whose language is almost his own, than for his fellow-citizens 
whose dialect he hardly understands. 

We learn here again that it is the people which has been 
the faithful depositary of old idioms as well as of many a vener- 
able heirloom of the past; it is to the humbler classes that we 
must look as to the most conservative guardians of the ancient 
elements of society. They love, left to themselves, their ancient 
traditions, their old costumes, and, more than all, the language 
of their forefathers. They feel an instinctive veneration for such 
memorials, and cherish their faith in them. Who knows not 


the warm attachment of the Welshman and the Breton for the 
past, shown in no instance more touchingly than in the fond 
affection with which they love to recite their ancient lays ? To 
this day the young men of the Provence go about in soft sum- 
mer nights, according to ancient custom, begging for a little 
flour to make their Christmas cakes, and singing songs that 
have been heard on the same soil for a thousand years. It is 
by such means that these provincial dialects present to us lan- 
guages in all their early freshness, and thus reflect, as in a mir- 
ror, the character of races now grown old and feeble, or entirely 
ruined and forgotten, but then in the days of their youth and 
vigor. Contemporaries of the younger years of nations, they 
represent even now those pure, first sensations, those spontaneous 
but powerful impressions, and simple but deep emotions of the 
heart, which fade away as childhood ripens into more mature 
age. They abound with words and forms, expressive of the re- 
lations of men in their early simplicity and sacredness, and 
fragrant with the sweet breath of youthful purity and affection . 




For the Reformation For Constitutional History. 

IF such researches into once living languages that are now 
but humble dialects have been interesting and attractive to the 
scholar, they have often been found of much greater importance 
yet to the historian and powerful instruments in the hands of 
the reformer. Thus the Anglo-Saxon has, as an independent, 
national tongue, long ceased to exist. Driven out by the Nor- 
man from palace, legislature and tribunal, its tones were forgot- 
ten, its records covered with the dust of ages, and the learned 
contemptuously ignored it. Already, a few years after the 
Conquest, Robert Grosse-Tete, bishop of Lincoln, knew but two 
languages in England, Latin for men of letters, French for the 
educated the Anglo-Saxon he either did not or would not 
know, nor those who spoke it. Yet it lived, and many were 
there to whom it was dear, as the language formed by their 
valiant forefathers in a rude but poetical age, and, above all, 
because it gave to them alone of all European nations the inesti- 
mable privilege of reading the word of God in their own tongue. 
It was, however, only the humble serf, the lonely cottager and 
the outlawed forester who thus guarded it as a precious heir- 


loom. They slened with vague admiration to brilliant ballads 
praising the bold deeds of the noble Norman, but the simple 
strains of their own poetical chronicles and the plaintive songs 
of their mother tongue appealed to deeper, almost sacred feelings 
and still more endeared to them the language in which they 
were embodied. Thus Piers Ploughman tells us of " Sloth, who 
does not know his' paternoster, is ignorant of all hymns on the 
Saviour or our Lady, but well versed in (Anglo-Saxon) rhymes 
of Robin Hood." We see, then, here also, that the Anglo-Saxon 
with all its precious relics, its rich stores of literature and its 
ample contributions to the English of our day, was not preserved 
by the high and noble, the learned and wise, but by the humble 
and unlettered, the despised people. They treasured it up and 
watched it jealously, so that when England was almost despair- 
ing of political freedom and religious liberty and looked in vain 
for help to learning and wisdom, she found in the forgotten 
and neglected dialects of distant provinces assistance as powerful 
as it was unexpected. Anglo-Saxon blood would not have re- 
ceived justice at the hands of modern historians, the Englishman 
and the American would not now look with just pride to their 
remote ancestors, if the study of their ancient and now no longer 
living tongue had not taught posterity to venerate those men 
who clearly perceived and expressed the fundamental truths of 
civil liberty, and exhibited in their writings that love of the 
Scriptures and independence of faith which, even now, charac- 
terize the Anglo-Saxon. Does it not, literally, speak volumes 
to the honor of that " rude and illiterate " people, that they 
translated the Bible more fully and frequently than any other 
nation of that age or long afterwards ? Ought not the millions 


that now speak English gratefully remember their fathers, 
whenever they repeat the Lord's Prayer, which, in 1500 years 
and in spite of all changes and invasions from abroad through 
which England has passed, yet has admitted but three foreign 
words into its Anglo-Saxon form ? The marriage service of the 
Episcopal church, in ah 1 its touching simplicity and impressive 
earnestness, is an equally eloquent witness, speaking in the 
words of a forgotten tongue, of the piety and fervor of an 
ancient race. It breathes, still, the same spirit that was in the 
Venerable Bede, when he spent his dying breath in concluding 
his version of the gospel of St. John, the same spirit that was 
revived in the zealous Wicliffe, and ultimately, with no small 
help from Anglo-Saxon writings, asserted the birthright of the 
Englishman, first claimed and enjoyed by the Anglo-Saxon, to 
read the Bible by his wn fireside and in his own tongue. 

The Reformers themselves, when they wished to establish 
the truth of their, bethought themselves of early Saxon 
works on such subjects, and, to their great joy and surprise, 
found that their ancestors had, in homilies and religious writings, 
foreshadowed all the important doctrines for which they now 
contended. They found, for instance, in Paschal's homily, their 
own views of the Eucharist, and in the Anglo-Saxon Gospel ver- 
sions, triumphant proof that the Scriptures, now prohibited by 
the Church of Rome, had once been read by the people in the 
vulgar tongue. Similar aid was obtained from like sources 
when, towards the end of the sixteenth century, forebodings 01 
a political change were felt in England, and the Anglo-Saxon 
was once more remembered and called upon to furnish weapons 
for the impending struggle. The researches made by some of 


the first scholars of the age and the boldest champions of Eng- 
lish liberty, who unexpectedly found themselves studying an 
humble dialect, proved that the spirit of freedom which ani- 
mated their forefathers, could even now furnish them with a his- 
torical and inalienable title to the rights they had in vain prayed 
for at the throne of their monarch. Tardy justice was then 
done to the race which the proud Norman had so haughtily 
despised, and which now gave to late generations, in its laws 
written before all other nations of Teutonic blood, so striking an 
evidence of its innate love of liberty and high sense of justice. 
It is true that linguistic studies do not always and at once 
produce such immediate advantages as in the case of the Anglo- 
Saxon ; but they will always furnish us with a better insight 
into ancient times, and add to our knowledge of days long gone 
by. It is in this light, especially, that the study of languages 
becomes an all-important aid to history : by enabling us to read 
in words and grammatical structure what neither annals nor 
tradition have been able to preserve. 




The Etruscans, Ac. Ancient Inscriptions Bunsen and Egypt Niebuhr and 


THUS history furnishes no clue to the early times of many a 
race of the earth, whose blood still flows in the veins of power- 
ful nations. The origin of the Etruscans, represented by the 
Florentines of our day, is shrouded in almost impenetrable 
mystery. Of the Pelasgians, we only know that their lan- 
guage, differing from the Greek, was spoken at Khreston and 
at Platsea, but the genius of men like Thirwall, Grote, Niebuhr, 
and Miiller has tried in vain to trace them back to their earlier 
history. Neither the Cimmerii of the fourth century before 
Christ, nor the Huns of the fifth centuiy of our era have yet 
found their proper place among the races of our globe. The 
inhabitants of Southern and Central America, the natives of 
San Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica are a riddle to the 
ethnologist, and surmises innumerable have been ventured to 
explain the origin of North American Indians. We know but 
just enough of the latter to encourage the hope that in their 
language we may find a clue to the manner in which these 
rapidly disappearing representatives of a once all-powerful race 
probably passed from Eastern Asia, from Kamskatka to the 


Aleutian chain, and thence by Aliaska to their present habita- 
tion. In the same way, it is believed, we may, through the 
idioms spoken in Eastern India, find an explanation of the strik- 
ing differences existing among the natives there, who vary as 
much in color as in language, and whose history is as yet per- 
fectly unknown. 

It is one of Bunsen's beautiful thoughts, that inscriptions 
like those of Babylon, Nineveh, and Persepolis, have been pre- 
served under the protecting veil of the earth, until the auspicious 
time when the unparalleled success of modern investigators like 
Burnouf, Lassen, Wilson, Rawlinson, Hincks, and Benfey, would 
enable us to read in the arrows and wedges of these monuments 
the history of nations flourishing in Asia at a time when Europe 
was inhabited by painted and tattooed savages. The ingenious 
methods by which modern Science has been able to treat the 
forms and roots, the grammatical conjunction, and the very 
spirit of a language, as so many historical monuments exhibiting 
the mental development of extinct, or but recently discovered 
nations, have led to most astonishing results. Such are the im- 
portant revelations obtained in the East which fill the mind 
with wonder at the antiquity of the unveiled knowledge, and 
with admiration of the skill that brought them to light Such 
is the light thrown by Layard and others on the most remote 
history of Asiatic realms, and the marvellous confirmation of the 
records of Holy Writ by those inscriptions. Such is the re- 
markable success which rewarded the labors of Bunsen in his 
Egyptian researches, and first led us to consider the Egyptian 
tongue not only as a language which represents the primeval 
history of that land of mystery, but as tie only known historical 


monument of the earlier period of the human race, a thousand 
years before Moses, and therefore the only record of the Ian 
guage and civilization of primitive Central Asia. 

Another instance of the power of language to throw light 
on times of comparative darkness and on periods of which all 
records are lost, is the admirable use which Niebuhr has made 
of a few fragments of ancient Italian idioms, for the purpose of 
restoring, by such means, their birthright to the earliest inhabit- 
ants of Italy. Not even tradition, fable, or myth, knows any 
thing of the time before the foundations of ancient Rome were 
laid ; Romulus and Remus themselves are threatened with the 
fate of similar historical personages, and sent, with Hengist and 
Horsa, into the land of myths. But modern researches have 
brought to light ancient inscriptions written in a language far 
older than all historical records, older, probably, than tradition it- 
self. By the indefatigable industry and brilliant genius of modern 
philologists, the language of these monuments has been studied, 
analyzed, philosophically investigated, and, finally, traced to the 
far East, to that distant and mysterious cradle of Indo-European 
languages, and their long-forgotten and lost mother tongue. In 
all features of this oldest Latin, Philology has distinctly seen and 
clearly demonstrated this first descent and relationship ; Latin 
has been proved to be older than Greek, instead of being de- 
rived from it, as heretofore scholars even firmly believed. Ad- 
ditional researches furnished new light, until finally enough was 
obtained to refute and annihilate every argument in- favor of 
the descent of Latin from Greek, through the ^Eolic, or of its 
being the result of a mixture of Celtic and Greek, as even Nie- 
buhr still believed. The Umbrian and the Oscan were found 


to be as okl as the Latin itself; and the Etruscan, of which 
every trace seemed to have been lost, saw its claims of kindred 
with the native tongues of Italy, strengthened and substantiated. 
Thus old errors were set aside, and truth was established or 


Latin ami Rome Soetonioa and P in j Ltugwge and the National Intellect. 

DIGGING in this laborious but profitable manner through 
the accumulated rubbish of centuries, the analytical comparison 
of languages has not only rendered important aid in the ex- 
ploration of times of remote antiquity, but it has also furnished 
the historian with new testimony for more recent epochs. Treat- 
ing the language of a people as the embodiment and full ex- 
pression of its spiritual life, and tracing, to the minutest detail, 
the manner in which the various mental qualities and moral in- 
stincts of a race would naturally give a peculiar cast to their 
idiom, Comparative Philology successfully reads in the history 
of a language the history of the people by whom it was or is now 
used. Each great event, each new effort towards progress, is 
clearly legible in their idiom. What fight has not, in this way, 
been thrown on the character of the Roman, since the history 
of the Roman language has become better known ? The dif- 
fusion of his highly endowed idiom, possessing rich literary trea- 


MIIVS. ;iinl borne on tho wings of triumph and victory, is now 
seen ID have In rii one of lli.- jrivat means mi ployed l>y hivine 
I 'lovidence iii uniting and binding loin-ther the various race 1 of 
Kurope. I'liny already observes it power '' to make man hu- 
man, and to !-,i\e liim a common country," nnd ever since, Latin 
WIIH first sjiokcn on Italian soil, it- li.i-. l -n tin- representative, of 
K'oman \irlue and Knniaii M-ranilc\ir. A youn^ nnd vigorous 
dialect, it, overcame easily the other dialects of the jieninsuln. 
Some of ili. -in as old, some even older than their formidable 
ii\al, llie\ (|iiii-|;Iy snccimilied and disappeared from tho J)ft- 
ternal soil, liwivin-j neither u literature nor ,-i history, scarcely a 
mere memorial of their former existence. The sumo SUCCORS 

IOC panied the Latin in its progress l.c\ I the natural limits 

Of UlO Alp8 Jtlid the Pyrenees; the Celtic, tllO Unsque, and the 
Milanese \\cre driven into the farthest corners of the provinces, 
and rapidly conquered. Only when it met with equal or 
superior intellectual cultivation, the Latin permitted itself to bo 
amalgamated with other idioms; for it could compier nations, 
l>nl not minds. Already Suetonius mentions the) bold and in- 
dependent words of Atleius ('apito, who told Tiberius that " he 
mi:;lit ;;ive citi/.eiislii| to men, but e.uild not. u,'ive i-ipial rights 
to words." Thus, in refined Greece juul her colonies, Latin, 
though tho language of tho Conqueror, remained for over a 
stranger, who had como too late and found no homo ; whilst ill 
Northern (iermany, and in the Mast among tho Slaves, whom 
Herodotus called Sarmatio, and places on the banks of the Don 
near the Caspian Sea, this plant of Italy, accustomed to a milder 
climate, could not take root, and left the rugged soil which the 
K'oinan eagles had conquered, to a later and hardier vegetation. 

LATIN VNM THK KOM \N <'n \i: v, ii ;;. 80 

\\t\\\ the Komaii empire its language also declined, markiui;; 
from year to year the increasing degeneration. Hut even after 
the mistress of the \\orld lia.l been dethroned, her language -still 
sur\i\ed :ui.l rose onco more, in new forms, Imt animated by the 
same spirit. The Komance languages became, iu their turn, 
elo<]ii'iit \\ it nesses of the spiritual continuance of Koine, lon<; afl.T 
her political death, and of the r\tnit to \\hich the l,.fiy t.-ndencles 
of ancient Koine ha\e sur\i\ed the dissolution of the empire, 
jivini; new life to ne\\ Uin^.loms \\liieli i,.>e from lier ruins, and 
inspiring them \\ilh all the \\i"doiu Romo li.-ul :ic<juired, and 

l)C((ucath<Hi to future ngos in Law, State, and Church. 

The Latin thus appears to the historian a glorious monii 
ment of that jx)\vor of the miiul \\hieh. manif.'sted in lan^uftgC, 
has sur\ i\ed more than twenty centuries, 1>\- the side of the 
perishal.lo power of nmtorinl force. The Latin language has 
since n->t only kept the empire of old Koine. IMI! .-id. led to it 
lands to coiKjii.'i- \\l\ich sh> would have lacke.l CV.MI the Know- 
ledge of their . \i-tni. c. Not only Spain, Italy, France, half of 
Holland, and S\vit/erland, and 1 'acoroiuanic \Vallachia, still 
owe allegiance to the fallen empire. Imt e\.-u heyond the ocean 
\asl territories, uh.iw.r the French, the Spaniard, and the 
1'oituguOSO have estJlhlished empires and coloiii/.ed islands. 

Judging by such results, language b -coines, to a certain extent, 
a standard l>y which to measure the intellectual JKIU.-I- of rac.-, 
and often marks out a nation for the accomplishment of Ljreal 
dffds. |>\ its intimate connection \sith all hranehcs of infellcc 
tnal etlort, it is road l>y the ohservant student as a pr.nnis.- of 
future eminence; for he \ie\\s j| as an rvid.'nce of the \i^.,r of 
the national min. 1. an. 1 as a powerful instruiiK-nt ot piogl 


13y its aid the difference in the fate of various conquered races 
may be explained ; we may see why the German and the Celtic 
came forth from their struggle with the Roman in such different 
ways : the German remaining German, the Celtic idiom be- 
coming Romance. Their language teaches us that the Teutonic 
race, when brought in contact with Rome, possessed already a 
strong national mind, and a young, vigorous tongue. They 
had, therefore, sufficient strength to appropriate and incorporate 
into their own idiom a great number of Latin words, without 
giving up any essential features of their Teutonic grammar and 
mode of expression. The Celtic nations, on the contrary, a 
weak and already declining race, yielded to the overpowering 
influence of Roman civilization, and adopted, not only the sub- 
stantial, but also the formative elements of the Latin, thus giv- 
ing riso to new languages, not Celtic idioms, but branches of 
Latin, modified and influenced by Celtic elements. 




Ex Onente Lux All Great Creeds from the East All Great Impulses from the 
East All Great Languages from the East. 

THE fate of a nation may, therefore, be read in the language it 
speaks. No stronger proof of this can be offered, than the 
simple and well-established fact that those languages are the 
most complete in words, the most perfect in structure and the 
richest in literature, which were spoken by the nations that 
have, successively, swayed the destinies of the earth. During 
four thousand years we find that all great nations were great 
also in their idioms ; for the same mind which produced these 
rich and highly-developed languages, made itself afterwards, 
felt in history. The standard-bearers in every great onward 
movement, the representatives of the progress made, step by 
step, in the advance of the human species, these races exhibit 
their superiority in no feature more clearly and distinctly than 
in the nature and the perfection of the idiom they used. Thus 
a history of these so-called Indo-European languages, one of 
which has always ruled the world, would be a history of the 
civilization of mankind. Other languages may have, even 
now, an equal or greater extent than any of these. The Malay 
family in its two great divisions, the Malay proper in the East 


and the Polynesian in the West, is spoken all over that im- 
mense world of islands from Madagascar to the Easter islands, 
and from the Philippines to New Zealand, spreading thus, in 
spite of the intervening ocean, over two-thirds of the inhabited 
globe. But what is its importance as a language? Where its 
literature ? Spoken by races uncounted, and in oceans scarcely 
known, it has contributed nothing to the development of the 
human race, and given no earnest of future power. 

In the Indo-European languages, on the contrary, we have 
learned to recognize the highest group of idioms, subordinate 
in physical conformation to no other group, and spoken by the 
eight great historical races which constitute the Asiatic-Eu- 
ropean stock, who from the days of Iranic Asia to our own 
times have ever and alone possessed the highest treasures of art 
and intellectual pursuits. They appear upon the page of his- 
tory as holding the power of the world in their hand ; they 
alone can claim, of all mankind, conscious speculation and phi- 
losophy, and to them alone have the mysteries of the Beautiful 
been revealed in Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting. The 
same marked distinction is seen in their languages. All of 
these nations, even the most remote, speak original tongues, 
more intimately connected with each other than with any third 
tongue or family of tongues upon earth ; and as their strong 
hand rules the destinies of the earth, so their languages have 
ever held the sceptre of the higher empire of the mind. 

Indo-European they are called, with reference to their origin 
in Eastern India, from which they have gradually been borne 
on the waves of immigration through the whole of Europe, 
finally crossing the Atlantic, to let the same speech be heard 


from the Himalaya in the far East to tbe Rocky Mountains of 
America. It is but natural that the languages of men also 
should have followed the great westward march of the nations 
of the earth. Accompanying them as their proudest attribute, 
their most characteristic mark, they appear, ever since history 
and tradition speak of them, to have been the very heralds of 
the light and greatness that first dawned in the Orient, and 
gradually diffused itself over Western worlds. As the motto of 
the London Translation Society, " Ex Oriente Lux," expresses 
it, we find that all that is truly great and permanently useful to 
the human race has come to us from Asia, where the nations 
of Europe lay as infants on their great mother's bosom, and first 
practised their physical and intellectual powers. History tells 
us of no greater empires than those that were founded in the 
East. The mind of man knows no religion, his soul no faith of 
true inspiration, but such as Asia has first known. All the wis- 
dom and the jealous secrecy of Egyptian priests could not secure 
their sacred faith against almost entire oblivion. Made in 
Egypt and for Egypt only, it has vanished even from memory 
sooner than her mysterious monuments and sand-covered tombs. 
What remains of the far-famed Grecian mythology I What of 
Rome's ancient gods ? They are a fable, a dream, or, at best, 
a beautiful myth. Druid-worship and Scandinavian mythology 
still attract the curious and please our fancy, but who be- 
lieves in them now ? 

Permanent, on the other hand, as the foundations of the 

earth are the religions that rose in the mind of Eastern nations, 

that Asia bore and cherished in their youth. Millions still 

follow the strange but profound doctrines of ancient teachers in 



China. Boodhisra is even now the most widely spread religion 
of the world, and founded, as modern travellers think, more 
than five centuries before Christ by the Indian saint Sakhya- 
Muni, it numbers even now among its votaries the Cingalese, 
Siamese and Burmese, a large portion of the vast population of 
China, and all the Mongolian nations of Central and Northern 

' O 

Asia ! 

It was in Asia that the words of the Almighty were first 
heard by the ear of man in accents of thunder ; it was there 
that the enthusiast Mohammed unrolled his turban to be a 
banner for hosts, and a sacred sign for more millions than the 
earth counts Christians. It was by Asiatic Jews that the Gospel 
of our Saviour was first preached, and from their land it poured 
its heavenly blessings over the wide world. 

"With these great religions. Europe owes to Asia every one 
of those mighty impulses that, from time to time, have given 
fresh life to sinking empires, or new hopes to despairing nations. 
From the days when the Persian wars against Greece first set 
in motion a principle that was to find a limit to its power only 
at the end of the then known world, to the hour when the 
memorable words of the great apostle proclaimed from the Areo- 
pagus of Athens the Unknown God, Europe was but a pupil at 
the feet of her venerable master. Races in countless multitudes 
crossed the vast steppes that separate the two continents, and 
wave followed wave, until Europe was overflowing with men of 
new blood and youthful vigor. The Islam shouted its rhapso- 
dies of triumphant, fanaticism into the ears of the frightened 
Spaniard, and awakened that spirit which, in the Crusades, 
carried the nations of Europe to learn new wisdom and dearly- 


bought experience on the shores of their mother-country. Fierce 
Mongols and still fiercer hordes of the same race, but different 
form, then invaded Russia, and planted in its vast territory the 
germ of future empires. Turks, from Asia, again dethroned 
the Mistress of the world in noble, old Byzanz, and, finally, 
there came, within the recollection of this generation, that last, 
peaceful conquest of Europe by Asiatic letters and Eastern 

It was then felt and first acknowledged that to Asia was due 
not only the faith and civilization, but the very speech of Eu- 
rope also. All the principal European languages were found 
to have their relations in Asia ; all the important idioms of our 
day were distinctly traced back, one by one, to a common foun- 
tain head, of which the Sanscrit furnished the oldest known 
form. A comparison of these languages showed, beyond doubt 
and dispute, their relation to the venerable Sanscrit, a fair 
mother, indeed, whose features they all bore, more or less dis- 
tinctly, as they had left her sooner in their progress towards the 
West, or had lingered longer around her, near her ancient home. 
For it was found that those nations which now inhabit the 
western portions of Europe, like the Celts, must have left first 
the land of their fathers on the table-land west of the mountain 
ridges of Mustag and Belustag. Their idioms had, therefore, 
lost most of their original identity with their mother tongue, 
and developed their own forms the more independently and in- 
dividually, the greater the distance was, in space and time, that 
separated them from their first home. They are, for the same 
reason, the last of the idioms whose relation to Asia has been 
successfully proved. Others, again, like the Persian and Indian , 


which had been left longest in the land of their j'outh, are even 
now the interesting representatives of the original Indo-Euro- 
pean" family. 



Early Studies of Sanscrit Its Advantages for Comparative Philology Its ex- 
tensive Literature Its present Representative in Europe Its clear Or- 
ganism, &c. 

WITH the exception of a few less important branches, all the 
languages of Europe have thus been traced back to the San- 
scrit, a language used by millions in Asia, fifteen hundred years 
before Christ, and considered effeminate and degenerate at the 
time of Alexander the Great ! Spoken, even now, by no less 
than three hundred and sixty millions of men, her daughters 
cover the earth from the Brahmaputra through Central Asia 
and Asia Minor to the Atlantic, from the mouth of the Ganges 
to the Ferroe isles and Iceland, and thence to the Christian 
inhabitants of North America and her colonies, as far as they 
claim European blood. 

Hydes, Bourchier and Fraser knew, no doubt, more or less 
of Sanscrit already in the early part of the eighteenth century ; 
but all the correct information possevssed by that age was due to 
the noble and disinterested energy of Anquetil du Perron. At 
the early age of 23, and actuated by an eager thirst of know- 
ledge, he enlisted as private soldier on board an India-bound vessel, 


and endured, for years, incredible privations to win the good- 
will and confidence of two Persian Magi, who, at last rewarded 
this nnparalleled zeal by allowing him to obtain some know- 
ledge of the Zend, and of the sacred books or the Parsees. 
Halhed, in 1778, first opened the inestimable mines of Sanscrit 
literature, which Colebrook, Prinseps, and Wilson, afterwards 
made a most fruitful source of valuable knowledge. The San- 
scrit has, ever since, been considered as the most important of 
ah 1 languages. 

Of late, especially, much attention, and perhaps too much, 
has been given to it as containing a key to most of the promi- 
nent idioms of the world, of which it alone could give an under- 
standing, and unveil the real origin, character, and meaning. 
Already Sir W. Jones thought the Sanscrit more perfect than 
the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely 
refined than either. Mr. Brian Hodgson, a competent and im- 
partial judge, called it a speech capable of giving a soul to ob- 
jects of the senses, and a body to the abstractions of Meta- 
physics. The discovery of Sanscrit and its application to 
linguistic researches was considered as opening a new era in the 
history of Philology ; and as soon as in the Sanscrit were heard 
the accents of a common mother-tongue, the broad fact of an 
intimate and original connection of all the Arian or Indo-Eu- 
ropean languages, was at once established, and under the guid- 
ance of this new loadstone have since sailed almost all the phi- 
lologists of our day. In vain was it urged that Sanscrit had no 
history, that its roots were not primitive, but only known after 
at least a verbal change had taken place ; that it was, in itself, 
no universal language, but a strictly Indian form of a tongue. 


Some fierce, bold adversaries did not even hesitate to declare the 
Sanscrit a fictitious idiom, concocted by the Brahmins after the 
expedition of Alexander the Great into India, a theory which 
Schlegel calls as happy as that which would convert the pyra- 
mids of Egypt into natural crystallizations. 

It has, ever since, maintained its place as the representative 
of the Indo-European languages, which are all inflecting, and, 
consequently, most highly developed. The advantages it offers 
for a comparative study of languages are certainly great, its 
merits as a standard, by which to judge others, undisputed. 
Its rich and long continued literature enables us to observe it in 
various forms, through a longer space of time than any other 
tongue. The hymns of Veda carry us back to days of hoary 
antiquity, when the first Arian settlers migrated to the north of 
India, and spoke what might possibly be called a primitive lan- 
guage. The Pali contains, at least, the most ancient words 
used by the nations of Western Hindostan ; a fact for which 
the name of a scholar like Lassen is sufficient authority. In it 
were written the doctrines of Boodhism in Ceylon and Eastern 
India, and from thence carried, during the first century of our 
Christian era, into China, where modern researches have dis- 
covered some few works, written in the ancient Pali character. 
The Sanscrit of the Laws of Menu is no longer that of the 
Vedas, and soon changes into the language of the epic poems 
of later centuries, the Mahabbarata and Ilamayana. Then 
follow the peculiar forms used in the didactic, moral, and lyric 
effusions which reach down to the Alexandrian period, and a 
still greater change is observed in the popular dialects used in 
the Edicts of As'oka, at the time of the Boodhistic reformation, 


as we find them carved on the rocks of Kapurdigiri, Dhauli, 
and Giznar. The soft, melodious Pracrit of later Indian names 
soon led to further decline, until finally all vital principles seem 
to have been extinguished in the Bengal of our day. Thus we 
are enabled to trace the Sanscrit from its earliest rise through 
days of most brilliant splendor, from generation to generation, 
marking each stage of its gradual decay, until we see it now, 
as the Latin in Europe, no longer a living language, but limited 
in use to literary and religious purposes. Hopes are even en- 
tertained that the last and only direct descendant of this most 
ancient tongue, which Europe knows, the language of the 
Gipsies, may help to throw new light on the subject. It is one 
of the gratifying results of modern researches, that the various 
medlar dialects of that mysterious race have at last been proved 
to point all to Asia. The learned Pott has succeeded in tracing 
them, under all the various names they obtained since they first 
appeared, during the fourteenth century, in the Eastern part of 
Europe, to their only genuine designation of "Sinte," a slightly 
modified form of the old " Ind." Rejecting all mere epithets 
like " Kalo " or " Mellele," which merely refer to their darker 
color ; or, like the French " Bohemians," the English " Gipsies," 
the German " Zigeuner," the Spanish ''Gitano," and even the 
local "Pharao-nepek" (Pharao-people), which designate their 
supposed home, he establishes by philological arguments and 
proofs, their descent from the earlier nations of Asia, and thus 
secures for the remote mother of tongues an humble but genuine 
representative in the very heart of Europe. 

To these advantages of a continuous history, abounding 
with illustrations, the Sanscrit adds the merit of a clear and 


transparent organism. It is more complete, says the profoundest 
of Sanscrit scholars, Franz Bopp, more distinct and more or- 
ganic in its structure than any other tongue, and exhibits, 
moreover, a conspicuous originality of grammatical structure. 
Containing, in its original state, not a single exotic term, and 
nothing but simple roots in their primitive form ; it is, on the 
other hand, the most successful of inflected languages. Com- 
positive and flexible like no other tongue, it admits us into the 
very secrets of the formation of idioms, and thus has first taught 
us, by example, the criticism of language ; i. e., the fact that 
languages, also, are governed by certain, rational laws. If, 
therefore, the Sanscrit has been at one time, and probably is 
yet, overestimated, it will still ever retain the undoubted merit 
of having furnished the best material for the first scientific 
study of languages and their comparison. The very error of 
considering it, as was at first very generally the case, the mother 
tongue of all languages of the earth, led, in being corrected, 
to the discovery of great truths. It was soon questioned 
whether Sanscrit was the parent even of European tongues or 
merely an elder sister, holding the same relation to them as the 
Latin to the Romans, and the more careful inquiry into such re- 
lations produced those most astonishing results which, of late, 
have raised the study of these points to the dignity of a science. 




The Sanscrit The Iranian The Greek The Latin The Celtic The Gothic 
and Germanic The Slavic Other European idioms. 

NOR will it ever be forgotten that the Sanscrit was the first and 
oldest of those Indo-European tongnes, which were spoken by the 
races that have successively ruled the world. At a time when tra- 
dition still lingers and history is but just beginning, the Sanscrit 
was already heard on the sides of the heaven-aspiring Hima- 
laya, and in the luxuriant plains of the Ganges. A people of 
high intelligence spoke it, and sages and philosophers used it 
in teaching those doctrines from which most of our philosophy 
even is derived, and which contained ideas that, recast by Plato 
and grafted by the fathers of the Church on Christianity, form 
no unimportant part of our own boasted wisdom. 

When it decayed, the old tree sent up young and vigorous 
shoots, one of which, the Iranian, became, in its turn, the lan- 
guage of those who held the sceptre of the world. The Me- 
dians and Persians, whose vernacular it was, founded under 
Cyrus and Cainbyses the mightiest monarchies, extending from 
the Indus to the Nile, that this globe has ever witnessed. Its 
sovereignty in the dominions of the intellect was even more 
brilliant and permanent. In broken accents we hear it, even in 


our day, speak through the wedge inscriptions of Persia, relat- 
ting the lofty deeds of Cjrus, Darius or Xerxes ; whilst already, 
in the middle of the last century, Anquetil du Perron discovered 
in Surat that memorable monument of Asiatic wisdom, the 
Zend Avesta. Well named the " Living Word," this Iranian 
book is a striking proof of the lofty intelligence of this race, 
and the high perfection of their language. It unfolds to us the 
grand Monotheism of Zoroaster, and in so doing, exhibits that 
language in its older form, which still survives in the modern 
Persian, the Pehlevi, the idiom of the Sassanians, and the 
Pazend, the mother of the common dialects of our day, and 
represented, in its purity, in the well known epic poem of 

Whilst these masters of the world and " Kings of Kings " 
were still in the midst of their career of glory, the sceptre im- 
perceptibly passed into the power of a new tongue, spoken by a 
few, apparently insignificant tribes, which had migrated west- 
ward from Central Asia, and, as Thracians or Pelasgi, mingled 
their blood with that of the Phoenicians on the islands and 
coasts of Greece and Asia Minor. As their power increased they 
felt ashamed of being called the children of foreign climes, 
claimed to be autochthones, and, finally, on the plains of Mara- 
thon, wrested the sceptre of the world from the Iranic race. 
Their classic language and ample literature ruled supremely 
wherever science^ was honored and arts were cultivated, and, 
through them, exercised a powerful influence on later ages- 
Their share in the history of our race, was the light of science 
in its widest extent, and in all the clear brilliancy of exposition 
which it could derive from art. In their language sang the 


greatest bard that our era knows ; in it the venerable father of 
history wrote his unsurpassed masterwork, and in the same 
idiom have the earliest sages of Europe bequeathed to posterity 
the very sum and substance of Greek wisdom and philosophy. 
In Greek spoke the masters of forensic eloquence in favor of 
those principles of rational freedom and equality which it has 
cost centuries to confirm and permanently to establish ; in 
Greek, finally, the Hellenic mind created that fullest representa- 
tion of the eternal laws which rule the fate of man in political 
society, the drama. 

When the Hellenic race had accomplished its great voca- 
tion in the succession of supreme nations to teach, by exam- 
ple, the possibility and virtue of self-government, equally inde- 
pendent of hierarchical tyranny and of absolute monarchisra, a 
cognate tribe rose farther west, to give, in its turn, a new form 
and a new direction to the fate of man. The Romanic race, 
cognate and contemporary with the Hellenic, and, like the lat- 
ter, the result of a mixture of various elements, the Umbrian, 
Oscan and Etruscan, with Sabine and Greek additions, spoke a 
language bearing on its face the marks of a similar amalgama- 
tion of linguistic elements. Tracing its origin back to the so- 
called Pelasgic, a form even older than the Greek which we 
know, it abounds with elements derived from the sister tongues, 
the Umbrian and the Oscan, which latter was spoken as late as 
the Era of the Caesars ; its Etruscan elements, and those belong- 
ing to Messapia, which are of still unknown parentage, are over- 
laid with a strong admixture of barbarian, possibly Celtic 
origin. It is to this latter portion, probably, that the language 
as well as the national character of the Roman, owed its essen- 


tial features, and that success which secured to his eagles and 
his authors the dominion of the world. Endowed with more 
energy than intellect, and holding valor and discipline the high- 
est of virtues, the Roman spoke a tongue powerful and majes- 
tic, but subject to stern and fixed rules ; lacking, therefore, 
that exquisite eloquence and refined intellectuality which justi- 
fied the fastidious Greek in blaming the rival tongue for its 
" grandiloquent " tendency. The Romanic race, also, had its 
great purpose to fulfil in the history of the human race : it en- 
dowed man with laws that form the groundwork of our own 
codes, and developed first, but at once, with permanent success, 
the principles of municipal freedom, the next step in the aspira- 
tions of man towards liberty, after national independence had 
been secured by the genius and the valor of Greek patriots. 
From the moment that the government of Republican Rome de- 
generated into an Imperial despotism, its grandeur began to fade, 
and its decay was strikingly illustrated by corresponding signs 
of decline in its language and literature. It sunk into a 
lethargic slumber, from which even the thunder of invading 
armies could not rouse it again, and thus fell under the rule of 
the despised barbarian. 

The strange, and as yet but half unveiled mystery which 
hangs over the Celtic race, seems to attach itself not less fatally 
to its language also. The only nation on earth that has ever 
migrated against the current, as it were, from West to East, 
the Celts were long considered the most ancient race of Eu- 
rope, and enjoyed the unenviable reputation of being among 
men what the beaver and the elk are among animals : creatures 
which have lived their cycle, and are destined to become extinct 


under the tread of advancing civilization. Once, owing to their 
migratory instincts and habits, the Celts were one of the most 
widely spread nations of the earth, extending from the pillars of 
Hercules to Asia Minor, and from the banks of the Tiber to 
the Ultima Thule. 

A singular people, as nobly determined not to die, as un- 
fortunately constituted for lite, and unwilling to confess them- 
selves beaten in a struggle as old as the sixth century, they are 
the only race of Indo-European descent that has never suc- 
ceeded in establishing a permanent empire. Yet even now, 
when they have been driven westward into the most remote 
corners of Europe, they exhibit in law, language, and features, 
peculiarities so striking and characteristic as to bear most elo- 
quent witness of the power of their race and the antiquity of 
their tongue. Yielding to the pressure of successive and over- 
whelming waves of eastern immigration, and gradually disap- 
pearing from among the powerful races of Europe, they have 
left the whole portion of the world which they once owned, as 
well as the records of history, marked with a long series of 
names of places and persons. They have bequeathed to most 
languages of our day a lasting impress and permanent features, 
which still bear witness of this interesting idiom, farthest re- 
moved in space and time from its Asiatic sisters, and exhibiting 
marks of the highest antiquity and rudest originality. 

After ancient Rome had fallen, there appeared on the stage 
of the world that race which, to the present day, has held the 
sceptre in a firm and determined hand. The German proved, 
from his first appearance, the most intrusive and absorbing of 
all invaders. From Germany he encroached upon the Celts, 


then upon the various branches of Goths in the Roman em- 
pire: as Frank, he conquered Gaul; as Saxon, England, and 
under the inappropriate name of Anglo-Saxon, he has ruled 
over the sea and taken new continents for his habitation. The 
Teutonic race has, in the various stages of its history, developed 
the great progressive principle of individual independence, and 
thus completed the circle of national, municipal and individual 
freedom. It was the same innate vigor and youthful energy 
which gave German tongues the superiority they have ever 
enjoyed since the days of the Minnesingers and of M. Luther ; 
first of all European tongues translating the Word of God from 
classic but forgotten originals, and thus enabling the Saxon race 
to worship their God in their own mother tongue. Its supre- 
macy is established ; the German proper claims having reached 
the highest degree of intellectuality that the human mind has 
yet attained, whilst the Saxon in England and America justly 
boasts of the more practical height of commercial prosperity 
and unparalleled maritime greatness. 

In the far East, however, the prophetic eye may see already 
the first faint dawn of a new light. There the Slavic Empire 
rises in its gigantic proportions, enhanced by distance and 
mystery, but already extending from icy Siberia to the fertile 
plains of Bohemia, and threatening, ere long, to dethrone the 
Teuton, and to grasp the sceptre of Europe with its young and 
fearless hand. 

Thus we see not only how the centre of the empire of the 
world has gradually and steadily moved westward, from the 
banks of the Ganges to the shores of the Atlantic, but we learn, 
also, how the languages spoken by those who, in their turn, 


stood highest among their fellow-men, are the most perfect and 
the best representatives of the progress made by the mind of 
man in different ages. 

The Indo-European languages have, therefore, obtained so 
particular and almost exclusive attention because they belonged 
to the privileged races of men, and in this connection, became 
at once the instrument and the depository of all that the mind 
of these nations has ever produced. The great laws of lan- 
guage, and what little is known of the history of language has, 
for similar reasons, been derived almost exclusively from an in- 
vestigation of the same idioms alone. They offered naturally 
peculiar advantages and inducements. They are the only 
idioms known to us, which possess a literature. They are in- 
timately connected with the races that have made the history 
of the world, and embody whatever is great, useful, and good 
in the sphere of the mind of man. They are both most easy of 
access, and most instructive. "Whilst the Shemitic family of 
tongues, which flourished in times of remote antiquity, lives 
now but in the unproductive and decaying tongue of the Arab, 
of which Europe knows but a very humble representative, the 
Maltese, and in the Hebrew, as far as it is used as the artificial 
language of the religion and the worship of Jews, the Indo- 
European languages are still the masters of Europe, and barely 
suffer a few different idioms of the same continent to continue 
a modest and unhonored existence. 

Of these latter the Tataric sends from its home near the 
Ural and in western Siberia the Osmanli into Turkey, the 
Samojedic into the northern part of European Russia to the 
mouth of the Lena, and the Finnish. Estic and Lappic as far 


west as the frontiers of Russia, so that in the Tschudic it 
reaches Christiania, in the isolated Magyar, even Vienna. The 
Basque (in the vernacular, Euskaldunak) is probably the most 
interesting of all idioms that claim not immediate descent from 
Asia. The fact that it shows no relation at all to Asiatic 
tongues, whilst history positively asserts that all Europe was 
settled from Asia, has led to the belief that the Basque might 
be the only remnant of the tongues of the earliest inhabitants 
of Europe, previous even to the immigration of the Celt?. 
Although it has been spoken since time immemorial in the 
same remote provinces near the Bay of Biscay, and is still the 
language used by more than six hundred thousand Basques, it 
had long escaped all notice, and when first known, gave rise to 
the strangest surmises. That modern science is now more 
familiar with its form and structure, we owe to Ilumboldt, 
whilst Scandinavian scholars are, at this moment, attempting to 
connect it with its cognate branches, and to restore to it its an- 
cient birthright. It is but by degrees, however, and with great 
caution, that the veil can be lifted which still conceals it in the 
same mystery that surrounds the old Etruscan and the Um- 
brian, which, like the Basque, are still unknown tongues, prin- 
cipally because they show no direct connection with Asiatic 
idioms. Whatever progress, therefore, the science of languages 
has been able to make in our times, it owes to the investiga- 
tion of what, after all, constitutes but a small fraction of the 
languages of our globe. The Indo-European family alone has 
been more thoroughly studied, and yet it has already furnished 
results which fairly promise still greater success, and a deeper 
insight into the nature of language itself, when other tongues 


are as well known, and the additional knowledge is brought to 
bear upon the great principles of the science. 


General Rules Laws of Language. 

SMALL, however, and scanty as the material is, and imperfect 
and incomplete as the knowledge it has afforded must neces- 
sarily be, the youthful science has, at least, established these 
two great truths : 

That languages are subject to laws, rational and philosophic, 
like all other manifestations of the mind of man, and 

That languages have their history, which may be traced 
from the first indefinite sound of the infant to the last sigh of 
the expiring giant ; that they grow, prosper and spread, decline 
and finally succumb with the nations by whom they are spoken, 
and with the mind of which they have been, at once, the expo- 
nent and the evidence. 

To establish these laws, and to trace the History of Lan- 
guages through their various stages, is the main purpose of 
Comparative Philology. To accomplish this end, we follow lan- 
guage to the .earliest times, where History is silent and Man in his 
childhood, but where language itself appears yet as the imme- 
diate expression of thought, proceeding directly from the soul of 


man, fresli and full of life, true and unrestrained, a pure mirror 
of his undisturbed existence and primitive reflection. We view 
Language, in these researches, as in constant and direct connec- 
tion with the ever active mind of man, and we find that the 
plan of making it and the progress in forming it are not in the 
hand of man alone, but, like his own fate, subject to the will of 
the Most High. We consider, moreover, a language not merely 
as given and ready at a certain time, nor as standing by itself, 
subject to laws of its own, but we trace all idioms back to the 
period when their oldest forms are still apparent, and then com- 
pare these one with another. For only when we have found 
these primitive forms, which alone are proper objects of com- 
parison, and by comparison afford valuable results, a systematic 
science of language can be said to begin. It will, then, receive 
aid from the three branches, which, for such purposes, are in- 
dispensable to each other : Lexicography, or the mere know- 
ledge of words; Comparative Grammar, which investigates 
their structure and inflexions ; and a Comparative History of all 
the various idioms which belong to the same great family. By 
such means it has already been ascertained that the Indo- 
European languages actually show, and all languages probably 
will show, in their general outline and in special phenomena, an 
essentially corresponding history, which, once ascertained for 
all idioms, would be the history of language itself. The laws 
to which language has been found subject, partake necessarily 
of the double relation it bears to matter and spirit. Words 
have a body, and that body, though the very lightest on earth, a 
mere breath and a sound, is subject to the same laws that rule 
over all matter. But words have, also, a meaning, express an 


idea, and thus are brought under those rules which control even 
the heaven-born mind of man. 

Some of these laws are, therefore, based upon such in- 
fluences as affect language from without ; others arise from the 
inner nature, the spiritual life of language. Even physical in- 
fluences are found to produce certain effects and to leave their 
mark upon the most powerful idioms, because language, though 
it be the product of our divine mind, is still bound, like it, to 
outward nature, and subject to her laws. The influence of lo- 
cality does not, of course, extend to the actual creation of a pe- 
culiar character in languages ; it is important only as far as it 
promotes and matures certain properties, like harmony, richness 
or flexibility, the germs of which are necessarily co-existent 
with the nation itself. Such causes operate indirectly but not 
the less powerfully, and if we find languages remarkable for 
euphony and beauty, in rugged, inhospitable countries, or harsh 
jarring accents amid the natives of a genial climate, we may 
generally look for the overwhelming influence of mightier 
causes, like migration or subjugation, that have produced such 
unexpected results. Even the soil on which a language grows 
marks it with its own indelible stamp. Dwellers on lofty 
chains of mountains or the elevated plains of hilly districts, use 
broad vowels and guttural consonants. The Doric was as 
harsh as the Ionic soft. Sparta's elevation was more powerful- 
ly felt in her dialect than her position south of Athens, with its 
milder dialect The English of Northumberland and Newcastle 
contrasts with that of the level counties and of Coventry, in the 
same striking manner that the German of the Tyrolese and the 
Swiss differs from the dialects of Westphalia and Mecklenburg. 


The Abruzzi resound with deep, guttural sounds ; in Sicily soft 
vowels abound until they become wearisome. As the mountain 
air, sharp and rough, loves diphthongs and aspirates, the low- 
lands produce narrow, thin vowels, and the flat shores broad 
but loud sounds, now chiming in, and now contending with, the 
music of the ocean waves. 



Climate and geographical position Decline of idioms when removed to unfa- 
vorable regions Remarkable instances. 

PROFOUND studies, like those of F. von Schlegel on Portuguese 
poetry, and on the influence of climate and locality on the for- 
mation of dialects, teach us that the geographical position of an 
idiom affects it the more powerfully and permanently as the or- 
gans of speech are on this side subjected to direct and lasting in- 
fluences. The larynx, and, in fact, every one of tboso most in- 
genious and complicated instruments which enable us to speak, 
are susceptible of dilatation and compression, from the effects, 
not only of our will, but also of cold and heat, denser and 
thinner currents of air, and the general state of the body. 
Hence it has frequently been asserted that the climate of a 
country has been the main agent in producing the original va- 
riety of its dialects. These once produced, tradition and cus- 


torn would soon perpetuate them, and the regularity with 
which the climate first and most affects guttural sounds as the 
most sensitive, next the palatial, which are determined by the 
position of the well-protected tongue, and, least of all, the more 
delicate labials and liquids, has given additional force to such 
opinions. General effects of this kind are readily observed in 
the Xorth and South of ah* great continents. The languages of 
the South and the East are more or less limpid, euphonic and 
harmonious, as if impressed with the transparency of southern 
skies. They seem to repeat, in their soft accords, the sounds 
produced by the palm-tree waving in the breeze, the low, sweet 
rustling of the long grass of the savannahs, and the gentle, har- 
monious murmuring of a thousand small voices of living and 
enjoying beings. The clear blue sky of the sunny South is re- 
flected in the clear, open vowels of southern languages, the 
natural result of free, generous breathing, which produces sounds 
ringing full and clear through the pure atmosphere. Nor is 
the energy and austerity of vigorous northern climates less dis- 
tinctly expressed in northern tongues. The misty, murky clouds 
of an insular world produce a reluctance to open the lips, and 
thus to admit the foul air ; the words are clipped and uttered 
with great rapidity through closed lips, or hissed through firmly 
compressed teeth. In still more northerly regions languages 
seem to re-echo the crash of falling trees, the noise of tumbling, 
rumbling rocks, or the roar of tremendous cataracts, if they do 
not sink to a whisper, fearing to freeze the very air in the lungs, 
or to arouse the spirits that dwell in brook and forest. 

The same language may even change its nature when trans- 
ported to distant regions, and many a colony bears witness to 


the effects of a colder or warmer climate, in its altered form 
and pronunciation of the mother tongue. Thus the Greek of 
the Asiatic colonies exhibits in the works of Herodotus a 
marked change from that of Homer. The energetic and sim- 
ple language of the master poet contrasts strangely with the ac- 
cumulation of short and slender vowels, and the absence o. 
those slight asperities which impart tone and vigor to a melodi- 
ous tongue, in the words of the historian. This inferiority of 
the later language was not less the effect of the enervating in- 
fluence of a seductive climate, than of the Oriental luxury and 
the despotism of new masters, that had broken the mind and 
enervated the spirit of the Greek colonists. Involuntary re- 
moval from one locality to another has frequently produced 
similar results. The Bushman, whom Linne considered almost 
an orang-outang, once spoke the noble and still existing language- 
of Bechuana and other Kafre tribes ; but the cruelty of the 
Hottentot drove him far northward, into the inhospitable wil- 
derness of Interior Africa. There, under the influence of a fatal 
climate and terrible sufferings, the once beautiful idiom has de- 
generated, and become corrupted to such a degree, that only 
most careful researches have been able to connect it, once more, 
with its former associates. The Hottentot himself furnishes 
another instance of such climatic influences. Of all the peculiari- 
ties of his language, none is more striking than the remarkable 
clacking of the tongue, which Nodier ascribes to an attempt to 
imitate the roaring of a tiger, called " rauquer " by Buffon, 
upon the authority of the well-known verse in the Philomela of 
Albus Ovidius Juventinus : 

"Tigridcs indonritae raucunt, rughmtquc Icoucs." 


This Hottentot " click " has, among the more northern 
tribes, degenerated into a simple hiatus or pause ; a hardly per- 
ceptible feature in their speech, and yet forming an essential 
part of their language, indispensable for certain idiomatic ex- 

A most interesting but little known race of Europe fur- 
nishes an equally striking proof. The Suomi of Finland, known 
already to Strabo as Suomi, speak a language which is justly 
considered the most refined and beautiful of all Tataric idioms. 
This stock of languages presents, in its numerous branches, the 
peculiarity, that each degree westward exhibits corresponding 
improvement, shown in a steadily increasing love of full-sounding 
forms, a dislike to monosyllables, and the addition of unac- 
cented vowels for the purpose of lengthening and softening 
harsh sounds. There is one branch, however, of this family 
which has suffered a peculiarly cruel fate. The Finn, it is sup- 
posed, conquered in remote times the Lapp, who claims to have 
been the original inhabitant of Finland and Esthonia. Even 
now the Lapp is looked down upon with contempt by the Finn, 
who proudly says, " The Finn by his word, the ox by his horn." 
And, certainly, the language of the unfortunate Lapp has not 
been improved by being driven towards the polar regions, 
where long exposure to a most inclement climate and extreme 
cold, combined with the effects of incessant persecution by hos- 
tile tribes, have impoverished and utterly disorganized this 
tongue. It is, in form and essential features, still the same as 
the Finnish ; it still preserves, as a mark of former linguistic 
beauty, some remarkable ancient forms, like the Dual of 
Pronouns, but its powers are gone and its numbers are 




Languages are not destroyed The idiom of the conquered race prevails. 

THIS example shows us, at the same time, that of all external 
influences which may affect and alter an idiom, none has ap- 
parently greater power than the conquest of a country by a 
race of different blood and language, followed by a permanent 
subjugation of the former inhabitants. Yet we know that Caesar 
already confessed the inability of the most powerful conqueror 
to make or unmake a single word ; and general experience 
teaches us that conquerors, so far from imposing their own 
tongue upon the subjugated nation, have, in almost all cases, 
been compelled to adopt the language of their victims. At the 
very time when Mummius sacked Corinth and the glory of 
Greece passed away, she may be said to have conquered Rome ; 
for the haughty mistress of the world adopted with her philoso- 
phy the language also of fallen, humbled Hellas. Thus a lan- 
guage, spoken by a few thousands who dwelt within a small 
compass, who had neither commerce nor large conquests abroad, 
and in a climate not over-favorable, mastered the great empire 
of Rome. Virgil, in his Eclogues, imitated Theocritus, in his 
Georgics, Hesiod ; the ^Eneid is full of Grecian mythology and 


Homeric images, and the whole episode of Dido is taken from 
Euripides and Apollonius Rhodius ; Horace incorporated in his 
Odes fragments of Greek lyrics, and the far-famed " vis comica " 
of Plautus is mainly due to Aristophanes, Menander, and other 
Greek authors. Rome again kept her hold upon the world, 
long after the Eternal City had fallen into the hands of despised 
barbarians, by means of her idiom. The very races that 
wrested from her enfeebled grasp France, Spain, and finally 
Italy itself, were conquered by the charms and the power of the 
Roman language. So the Franks, when they made themselves 
masters of Gaul, and even changed its name to France. With 
frank, bold and patriotic minds came these victorious Germans 
to their second home ; a tall, fair and valorous race in the 
midst of a small, weak and humbled nation. But this same 
poor remnant of Celtic antiquity, with the foot of the Frank on 
their neck, overcame their haughty masters, and compelled them 
to exchange the German of their native land for the Celtic- 
Roman of their new subjects. 




French and Saxon part of English French in England before the Con- 
quest Favored by King and Court Marie de France French prevailing; 
in England. 

THE proud Norman, also, was not more successful, when the 
fatal day of Hastings placed the British realm in the hands of 
his race. In vain was his tongue, the Norman-French, spoken 
from throne, pulpit, and judgment's seat ; in vain did he long 
disdain to learn the language of the enslaved Saxon. For a 
time the two idioms lived side by side, though in very different 
conditions ; the one, the language of the master, at court and 
in the castles of the soldiers who had become noble lords and 
powerful barons : the other, the language of the conquered, 
spoken only in the lowly hut of the subjugated people. The 
Norman altered and increased the latter, but he could not ex- 
tirpate it. To defend his conquest, he took possession of the 
country, and, master of the soil, he erected for tresses and castles, 
and attempted to introduce new terms. The universe and the 
firmament, the planeis, comets and meteors, the atmosphere 
and the seasons, all were impressed with the seal of the con- 
queror. Hills became mountains and dales valleys, streams 


were called rivers, and brooks rivulets, waterfalls changed into 
cascades and woods into forests. The deer, the ox, the calf, the 
swine, and the sheep appeared on his sumptuous table as venison, 
beef, veal, pork, and mutton. Salmon, sturgeon, lamprey and 
trout became known as delicacies ; serpents and lizards, squir- 
rels, falcons and herons, cocks and pigeons, stallions and 
mules were added to the animal kingdom. Earls and lords 
were placed in rank below his dukes and marquises. New 
titles and dignities of viscount, baron, and baronet, squire and 
master were created, and the mayor presided over the Saxon 
aldermen and sheriff; the chancellor and the peer, the ambas- 
sador and the chamberlain, the general and the admiral 
headed the list of officers of the government. The king alone 
retained his name, but the sfatfe and the cawri became 
French ; the administration was carried on according to the 
constitution ; treaties were concluded by the ministers in their 
cabinet and submitted for approval to the sovereign ; the privy 
council was consulted on the affairs of the empire, and ZoyaJ 
subjects sent representatives to parliament. Here the members 
debated on matters of grave importance, on peace and war, 
ordered the army and the wavy, disposed of the national trea- 
sury, contracted debts, and had their sessions and their parties. 
At brilliant feasts and splendid tournaments collected the 
flower of chivalry ; magnificent balls where beauty and oWi- 
czous music enchanted the assembled nobles, gave new splendor 
to society, polished the manners and excited the admiration of 
the ancient inhabitants, who, charmed by such elegance, recog- 
nized in their conquerors persons of superior intelligence, ad- 
mired them, and endeavored to imitate their fashions. 


But the dominion of the Norman did not extend to the 
home of the Saxon ; it stopped at the threshold of his house ; 
there, around the fireside in his kitchen and the hearth in his 
room, he met his beloved kindred ; the bride, the wife, and the 
husband, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, tied to each 
oi/ier by love, friendship, and kind feelings, kneio nothing dearer 
than their own sz#ee fome. The Saxon's fiocks, still grazing in 
his yie/o's and meadows, gave him TmTfc and butter, meat and 
wool; the herdsman watched them in spring and summer, 
the ploughman drew his furrows, and used his harrows, and, 
in harvest, the car and the ^cw/ ; the reaper plied his scythe, 
piled up sheaves and hauled his wheat, oats, and rye to the 
6am. The wagoner drove his wcw'rc, with its wheels, felloes, 
spokes, and nave, and his team bent heavily under their yo&e. 
In his trade*by land and sea, he still so/a 7 and bought ; in the 
store or the sAqp, the market or the s^reef, he cheapened his 
goods and had all his dealings, as peddler or weaver, baker or 
cooper, saddler, miller or tanner. He 7 erc or borrowed, trusted 
his neighbor, and with s&z7 7 and care throve and #reM> wealthy. 
Later, when he longed once more for freedom, his warriors took 
their weapons, their azes, swords and spears, or their dreaded 
bow and arrow. They /ea/rea 7 without stirrup into the saddle, 
and fa/Zeo 7 with o'ari and gavelock. At other tomes they 
launched their ooate and sfo/?s, which were still pure Anglo- 
Saxon from &ee 7 to oec& and from the 7i(?Zw of the rudder to the 
jfqp of the THOS, a/?o2 and ashore, with sat7 or with oar. As 
his fathers had o'one before him in the land of his birth, the 
Saxon would not merely eat. drink, and sleep or speno 7 his time 
in playing the Aarp and the fiddle, but by walking, riding, 


fishing, and hunting, he kept young and healthy, while his 
with her children were busily teaching or learning how to 
and to write, to sz'ng" and to draw. Even needlework was not 
forgotten, as their writers say that, " by this, they stone most 
in the world" The wisdom of fafcr ages was not known then, 
but they had their homespun sayings, which by all mankind 
are yet looked upon as r wisdom, as : (?oc? AtZps them that 
help themselves ; lost time is never found again ; when sorrow 
is asleep, wake it not ! 

Thus the two languages, now contending and then mingling 
with each other, continued for nearly four hundred years side 
.by side in the British kingdom ; the Norman French, an exotic 
plant, deprived of its native soil and heat, flourishing for a time, 
but gradually withering and fading away ; the language of the 
subject, like an indigenous tree, trimmed by the rough storm, 
grafted in many a branch by an unskilful hand, but still giving 
shade with its wide-spreading foliage, and bearing flowers and 
fruit in abundance. The Xonnans had conquered the land and 
the race, but they struggled in vain against the language that 
conquered them in its turn, and, by its spirit, converted them 
into Englishmen. In vain did they haughtily refuse to learn 
a word of that despised tongue, and asked, in the words of the 
minister of Henry ITL, indignantly : " Am I an Englishman, 
that I should know these (Saxon) charters and these la\\~ 
In vain it was that William and his successors filled bishopric 
and abbey with the most learned and best educated men of 
France, and deposed Saxon dignitaries, like "Wulstan, Bishop of 
Worcester, because he was an "idiot who did not know the 
French tongue, and could not aid in the king's council." 


Neither sufferings nor death itself could, apparently, teach these 
haughty Normans the necessity of learning the language of their 
new home. When in the year 1080 some Northumbrians pre- 
sented to Vaulcher (Walchere), bishop and lord of Durham 
(Dunholme), an humble and submissive request, the proud pre- 
late required, in answer to their request, that they should pay 
four hundred pounds of silver. Their astonished but determined 
spokesman asked for leave to consult with his associates, but, 
knowing the bishop's entire ignorance of Saxon, he said to his 
friends : short red (speech), god red, slee (slay) ye se bisceop ! 
and immediately they fell upon the bishop, and slew him and 
one hundred men of French and Flemish blood ! 

It is well known how Kobert of Gloucester and some of his 
followers, who befriended the Princess Mathilda in her diffi- 
culties with Stephen, were taken prisoners at the siege of Win- 
chester, and had to pay with their lives for their ignorance of 
Saxon, which alone betrayed them, when they fled, in excellent 
disguise, through the country. The manner in which Henry II., 
on his return from Ireland, resented the imagined insult of some 
Pembrokeshire peasants, who greeted him as their "goode olde 
cynge ! " has passed from Brompton into most historical records. 
Much later even, when Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, was Chan- 
cellor to Ptichard I., he knew nothing of the language of the 
people, whose interests were intrusted to his care. Iloveden 
tells, with great simplicity, in his letter of Pugh, Bishop of Cov- 
entry, how the great Chancellor became a defaulter and escaped 
to Canterbury, carrying with him the keys of the king's castle ! 
Thence he made his way to the seashore, disguised as a female 
linen-merchant, and, seated upon a stone near the water's edge, 


waited for the vessel that was to carry him across the Channel. 
Some countrywomen approached, and asked the price of his 
ware. He could not answer a word ! Others came ; curiosity 
was excited ; and when the unlucky bishop laughed at his own 
predicament, they resented the provocation by lifting his veil. 
They discovered the newly-shaven beard of the sulky woman ! 
Workmen happened to come up, joined in the chorus of indig- 
nant women, knocked the Chancellor down, and dragged him 
through sand and mire to a neighboring town, where he was 
kept prisoner in a dark cellar until some Norman soldiers came 
up and saved him from further disgrace. 

The Anglo-Saxons themselves seemed, moreover, determined 
to aid with all their power in breaking down their mother- 
tongue. Long before the Norman invasion, it had already been 
the common custom of the wealthier among them to send their 
children to French convents. The frequent residence of Eng- 
lish monarchs in France made them familiar with, and fond of, 
their future masters. Louis of France, who, from his long exile 
in England, was called d' Outremer, brought French manners 
and French language to the court of his generous host ; and, 
already in the year 975, a French word (la drove) occurs in 
an English document The marriage of Ethelred II. with 
Emma, daughter of Richard of Normandy, was the first link of 
that chain which, sixty-four years later, resulted in the union of 
England and Normandy. His widow, afterwards the second 
wife of the Dane Canute, fled with her two sons to her native 
land, and there educated the future monarch of England, Ed- 
ward I IL, who, upon his ascension of the throne, brought with 
him the manners and customs of France, and, with them, the 


language he had learned in his exile. His attachment to a 
foreign tongue, for which many excuses could be found, was 
aped by his courtiers, who took a miserable pride in adopting a 
foreign idiom instead of endeavoring to restore the energy of 
their own. Some imitated Norman manners and language to 
please the king and to flatter his followers of Norman blood ; 
others thought thus to make themselves acceptable, when ask- 
ing favor or office, and still others studied it from .motives of 

O * 

ambition. Thus Ingulphus of Croydon tells us no monkish 
fable, when he speaks of his own knowledge of French, and 
cites French manners as the most polite accomplishment of his 
age. This influence assumed, of course, a different aspect after 
the conquest of England. What, before, inclination and fashion 
had commended to the courtier and the ambitious, became now 
a matter of necessity and personal interest, and the illiterate, 
subjugated nation was apparently so ready to forget the ver- 
nacular, that already in 1091 few but the oldest men could still 
read Anglo-Saxon letters ! Vanity was, now also, as powerful 
a motive as necessity, and Higden tells us in his Polychronicon, 
that not only " upplandissche men will liken himself to gentle- 
men and fondeth with great besyuesse to speak Frenche for to be 
tolde of," but th^ Uhe very peasants, to appear more respectable, 
interlarded their speech with French morsels (" rurales homines, 
ut per hoc respectabiliores videantur, francigenari satagunt omni 
nisu"). Even patriots considered a knowledge of the language 
of the Conqueror indispensable, if they would hope to be of any 
use to their unfortunate race. The illustrious and ill-fated Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, who rose to be the first English Primate 
of England, Thomas a Becket, could boast of knowing French 


as well as the Conqueror himself; he had learned it from hatred 
and for the purpose of overthrowing the enemy of his country. 

Thus the Anglo-Saxon had almost disappeared as the lan- 
guage of authority or social intercourse ; nor did it find protec- 
tion or encouragement in Literature ; and from the sad morn- 
ing when Tailefer sung his ballad of Roland at the head of the 
Norman army at Hastings, to the days of Chaucer, no English 
romance was heard in England. French -was sung as well as 
spoken. We hear of the unfortunate Chevalier Luc de Barre, 
whom Henry I. " le Beauclerc," deprived of his eyes for some. 
" serventois " or satirical songs which seem to have been as 
numerous as popular in the army. Anglo-Saxons themselves 
preferred writing in the language of those who were best able 
and most likely to appreciate their talents and to reward their 
efforts. Thus Robert Grossetete, the famous Bishop of' Lincoln 
under Henry HI., though a native of Suffolk, wrote his Chasteau 
d' Amour and Manuel des Peches in French, and even Gower, 
the " moral " Gower, as Chaucer calls him, whose curious tomb 
may still be seen in Southwark, began his career as a French 
poet, excusing himself for his bad French thus : 

" Al universite de tout le monde, 
Johan Gower ceste balade envoie 
Et si je nai de Francois la faconde, 
Pardonetz moi que jeo de ceo foravoie ; 
Je suis Englois, si quier par tiele voie 
Estre excuse " 

Old, venerable works had to assume a new garb ; Anglo-Saxon 
poems forgot their majestic step and impressive alliteration to 
appear in Norman rhymes. The great " lady trouvere," Marie 


de France, translated into Anglo-Norman tlie rich treasures of 
Latin, Welsh, Saxon, and Armorican poetry. The oral legends 
of Wales and Brittany, the songs of King Arthur and his Round 
Table, and of the Holy Graal, she 

"Translata puis en Englies 
Et j'eo 1'ai rime en Franceis," 

as we read in her own fair writing in the still extant MS. of her 
valuable and copious works. 

Thus the Norman language seemed to be as victorious in 
England as Norman armies had been, and was to the end of the 
fourteenth century the official language of government, spoken 
by king, bishops, judges, nobles, and " gentils horames." 
Power, rank, wealth, influence, and fashion, all seemed to con- 
spire to suppress and banish the tongue of the conquered race. 
Provision was made to prevent even future generations from 
using any but French words. The letters of sovereigns, which, 
like those of private citizens, had heretofore been almost exclu- 
sively written in Latin, appear since Edward I. suddenly in 
French ; and Rymer has a dispatch of Prince Henry, after- 
wards Henry V., to his father in French. The minutes of the 
Corporation of London, recorded in the town clerk's office, 
were in the same language, and priors and monks were 
compelled to address their bishops and to keep their journals in 
the language of the Norman. The statutes of Oriel College, 
of Oxford, of the year 1328, compel the students to converse in 
Latin or French : " Si qua inter se proferant colloquio Latino 
vel saltern Gallico proferantur," and the same injunction is found 
in the statutes of Exeter College, seven years later : " Romano 


aut C4allico saltern utantur," whilst even in grammar schools 
younger boys were ordered to construe their Latin into French. 
The indignant Trevisa informs us that " children in schole azenes 
(against) the usage and manir of alle naciouns, beeth com- 
pelled for to leve hire owne langage and for to constrewe hire 
lessons and her thingis in Frenche." 



The Saxons ill the majority Ignorance of Normans Germanic elements of 
Norman French The Normans cut off from Normandy Danish aid. 

CONQUESTS, however, cannot exterminate a language, nor drive 
it from its native soil. The Normans, with all their power and 
strength, lords of the land, masters of the people, and every 
advantage on their side, could not destroy a highly cultivated 
ancient and national tongue, like the Saxon. It rose against 
them and conquered them in its turn. As circumstances and 
principles are generally both the same in all cases of conquest, 
the fate of the Anglo-Saxon by the side of the Xorinan French 
may serve as an illustration of the effects of such influences on 
the formation of a language. 

The fondness of Anglo-Saxon rulers for the tongue of 
their neighbors had, at an early period, called forth a certain 
opposition, which, though then little noticed, nevertheless 


strengthened, no doubt, the ties that bound the people to their 
mother tongue. Soon after the time when a strong Norman 
party prevailed at the English court, and Edward III. cher- 
ished and encouraged French manners and language, the great 
body of Anglo-Saxon nobles assembled in solemn council, de- 
creed the banishment of all foreigners, including Normans, and 
swore not to adopt the speech of those whom they generally 
and justly despised. Nor could their feelings have changed 
much when they subsequently raised a powerful Saxon noble 
to the throne, for the avowed purpose of resisting Norman 
aggression, and in Camden's Remains we find the important 
passage : " Herein is a notable argument of our ancestors, 
steadfastness in esteeming and retaining their own tongue. 
For, as before the Conquest, they disliked nothing more in 
King Edward the Confessor than that he was Frenchified, and 
accounted the desire of a foreign language then to be a fore- 
token of the bringing in of foreign powers, which indeed hap- 

The Normans could, as conquerors, seat their Norman 
French upon the throne, and the judge's bench, at the dais of 
the noble, and in the refectory of the monk, but they found the 
door of manor and cottage jealously guarded. Their numbers, 
moreover, were too small to allow them to spread all over the 
kingdom. Their soldiers were stationed in a few garrisons and 
citadels to secure the towns and overawe the country, where 
their great skill in fortification, of which the Saxons knew 
nothing, was an ample compensation for their small numbers. 
The few Norman soldiers and their families, thus immured in 
castles, and too haughty to associate with the despised Saxons, 


anxiously preserved their connection with France, where many 
still possessed estates, and held no intercourse but with their 
own countrymen. All such communication, however, was cut 
off when Philip Augustus, of France, conquered Xormandy, and 
the English Xormans could no longer go "home" to refresh 
their vernacular, or new Normans come " over " to join their 
prospering relatives. Their intellectual superiority, also, aided 
them no longer in the same degree as at the time of the Con- 
quest Then the Saxons, already accustomed to French, were 
comparatively illiterate and ignorant, and their mother tongue 
was, in part at least, spoken by the lower classes only. Xow, 
the Xormans saw their ranks filled up, and the honors of their 
Conquest given away to men whose only merit was the skilful 
use of the broadsword and fidelity to their leader. The church, 
heretofore the guardian of all knowledge, was filled with suc- 
cessful adventurers. Three hundred years after the Conquest, 
Louis, a layman, was made bishop of Durham, but nearly lost 
his dignity because, with all possible efforts, he could not learn 
to pronounce Latin. In vain had his private tutor tried to 
teach him the sound of words he did not understand. When, 
at the ceremony of installation, he reached the word " metro- 
politicae," he could not overcome the difficulty, though " breath- 
ing hard.* and cut the matter short by saying, " seit pur dite." 
On another occasion, when called upon to consecrate some priests, 
he found himself unable to pronounce the words, "in enigmate," 
and, in the midst of the sacred ceremony, he exclaimed : " Par 
St. Lowys. il ne fu pas curteis qui ceste parole ici escrit ! " 

The same ignorance gradually invaded convents and con- 
vent schools. At the time when Bishop Lanfranc's exertions 


and learning rescued many an invaluable treasure from impend- 
ing destruction, books were so rare among the Normans, or so 
little valued, that lie commanded one book to be given to each 
religious body of the kingdom at the beginning of Lent. A 
whole year was allowed for the reading, and he who had not 
achieved this mighty task, was to prostrate himself before the 
abbot and to crave his indulgence ! As late as 1294 the whole 
library of a bishop of Winchester consisted of seventeen volumes, 
and for a MS. bequeathed to a convent, a daily mass said for 
the soul of the testator was considered a fair equivalent. Large 
sums of money were lent on books pledged as security ; others 
were entailed like an estate, to descend in a certain way and 
never to be sold. Instances are known, in the year 1422, of 
books being given away, whilst the use was reserved to the 
donor during his lifetime, and the grant was solemnly recorded 
by many witnesses, who united in pronouncing irrevocable dam- 
nation against him who should be wicked enough to steal or 
deface such a treasure. 

The Norman-French was, therefore, neither carried to all 
parts of the great kingdom because of the comparatively small 
number of invaders, nor supported by the aid of intellectual 
superiority. The Anglo-Saxon, on the other hand, had been 
carefully guarded and preserved by the people ; it had never 
lost its hold upon their affections ; persecution and the necessity 
of concealment had made it but all the dearer to the suftering 
race. It now made its way, slowly and almost imperceptibly, 
but with unerring and unceasing perseverance, from rank to 
rank, until it finally reached the very court from which it had 
been so ignominiously driven, and seated itself once more upon 
the throne of England. 


This was, of course, a slow and gradual process. It had to 
rise from the lowest hut and the humblest mind ; it had to con- 
tend with all the power of the land. Unforeseen circumstances, 
however, and causes too much overlooked, favored its success, 
and secured it a permanent hold on the nation. The fact that 
the Xorman French itself was not pure French, but contained 
already Germanic elements, must have greatly aided the amal- 
gamation of the two idioms. Even the pure langue d'oil, the 
tongue of Northern France, was full of Gothic words and forms ; 
for Clovis and Charlemagne were both Germans, and spoke 
German. Normandy became, afterwards, the prey of Scandi- 
navians, who were, also, of Germanic stock, and spoke a Ger- 
manic idiom. Some followers of Rollo were even Danes, lutes, 
and, probably, Englishmen. Ever since his invasion into Neus- 
tria, Xorse, i. e. Xorvegian or Danish had been spoken by his 
followers in the northern parts of France. There it maintained 
itself with such constancy that the Conqueror himself knew 
Xorse ; and that, much later, William L, second Duke of Xor- 
mandy, sent his son to Bayeux, there to learn Danish, since at 
Rouen nothing was spoken but the " langue Romane." The 
French were early accustomed to call this Xorse English ; and 
it is not a little remarkable that the scanty but characteristic 
vestiges of their dialect, preserved in local names, and the single 
exclamatory phrase which we possess in Rollo's own words, are 
rather Anglo-Teutonic in their sound. As the Xorrnans had 
thus themselves but adopted the language of their new subjects 
and neighbors in France, much probably had been retained of 
the original structure and characteristic tendencies, if not of the 
very words of their mother tongue. All these elements were 


of the same stock with the Anglo-Saxon of England, and favored 
the union of the two idioms the more directly, as the abundant 
Danish elements common to both languages served as a fusing 
medium. Instances may be found, very soon after the Con- 
quest, of the manner in which the two languages reacted, one 
upon another, and, only twenty years later, we meet already 
with the French word, " adouber," which had assumed a Saxon 
garb : " se cyng dubbade his sunu Henric to ridere." 



The Bible The Ministry and the Saxons. 

IT is, however, to its connection with the church and to the re- 
ligious spirit of the Saxons principally, that their idiom owed its 
preservation and final triumph. Thanks to its liberal tendencies, 
its insular independence, and sturdy firmness, the British church 
had always been less dependent on Rome, and less accustomed 
to the use of Latin than other churches. Most of its ceremonies 
were early performed in Saxon, and of the purity and constancy 
with which the ancient tongue had been preserved in such forms, 
a baptismal confession of the time of St. Boniface may serve as 
an example : " Ik forsacho diabole end allum diabol gelde end 
uallm piaboles werkum end wordum, Tlmnach end Woden ende 
Saxnote, ende allum them unhoklum the hira genatas sint." 
The clergy set a noble example of the veneration in which their 


mother tongue was to be held and none despised, as on the 
Continent, to write on sacred subjects in the vernacular. Thus 
not only prayers, creeds, and confessions were said in Saxon, 
which was truly the language of the church, but the same lan- 
guage could also boast of containing more translations from the 
Scriptures than any other language of that period and long 
afterwards. The famous Durham Book, or St Cuthbert's 
Gospel, in the Cottonian Library of the British Museum, and 
Rushworth's Gloss, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, are noble 
and interesting witnesses of the zeal of the early Anglo-Saxon 
church, which thus possessed, at least, the four Evangelists in 
the vernacular, at a time when the cognate German was but 
little esteemed, and the Bible of Ulfilas the only other instance 
of a vernacular version of the Word of God. 

After the Conquest, also, the church still remained the pro- 
tector of the despised tongue. For long years, praeceptors of the 
Anglo-Saxon were continued in some monasteries, as in Tavis- 
tock and Croyland, where the liberality of the Saxon princes 
had provided for such instruction. Still greater aid, however, 
was derived from the circumstance, that during the time of the 
Norman tyranny, the church alone offered an outlet from servi- 
tude and bondage. Every young serf, who took holy order*, 
was for ever free. Hence a large influx of Saxons into parishes 
and convents, and a still greater number of Saxon priests who 
were not attached to any particular church. These were, more- 
over, mostly men of ardent patriotism, and invested with the 
double prestige of a sacred office and of blood relation to the op- 
pressed race. They soon wielded all the influence that learning 
and piety gave them over the popular mind, and the effects 


were generally felt. Already in 1354 an order appeared that 
no ecclesiastical preferment should be given in England to any 
person not conversant with the English language, excepting 
only a Cardinal. It was from this class of patriotic men that 
the great a Becket arose, and, a few years later, William the 
Bearded, a native Saxon, who has earned the rare renown of 
being a profound jurist, and the first pleader in English courts 
of justice, who spoke both Saxon and Norman with equal 
eloquence and success. Devoted to the cause of his race, he 
rose to eminence, and was for a time entirely successful, but 
perished in 1196, the victim of his devotion to a cause which 
words alone were too weak to defend, revered by his brethren 
as a martyr, and long known as " the last of the Anglo- 

Another humble and lowly class of patriots was found 
among the burgesses of English towns. The Saxons, deprived 
of all hope to distinguish themselves at court or in arms, op- 
pressed and ill-treated on their estates, peopled the fortified 
towns, and carried to them all the perseverance and industry of 
their race. Here they were allowed to enjoy comparative free- 
dom and their ancient municipal institutions. The toleration 
of some sovereigns, the wise foresight of others, protected them 
here ; Richard and John gave them the privileges of " free 
burghs, 1 ' and soon trade and commerce, wealth and political in- 
fluence attached themselves to the rising cities. Here, also, the 
tongue of their fathers found an asylum ; a mercantile jargon 
at first, it soon became the medium of all communication ; new 
topics were discussed and produced new forms of speech, and 
such intercourse naturally tended strongly to favor its amalga- 


mation with the Norman-French. Political circumstances 
hastened the desired result. From the time that Normandy 
had fallen into the hands of the French, it became the policy of 
English sovereigns to discourage the use of French, the language 
of their enemies. The reign of Edward III. was, in this respect, 
probably the most important for the language which owed al- 
ready so much to the spirit of this monarch, the splendor of his 
reign, and the liberal encouragement it received at his hands. 
Desirous to break off all friendly connections between his sub- 
jects and the Continent, he proscribed the exclusive use of the 
French tongue, admitted the Saxon or English in pleadings 
before civil courts, aided the vigorous growth of its native litera- 
ture, and thus prepared the first revival of genius and taste in 
English since the days of the Conquest. 

By such assistance and through such agencies, the apparently 
fatal consequences of a Conquest, followed by total subjugation, 
had been avoided. The Anglo-Saxon was not only not destroy- 
ed, but had survived in spite of all that seemed to conspire 
against its existence, and gradually recovered what it had lost 
in a few days, by the slow but unceasing labor of ages and the 
inherent power and vitality of a national tongue. 




Ill Poetry Gower Mixture of the two Idioms Charter of Continuation 
Statute of Edward III. 

IT recovered its place, as ever is the case with languages, first 
in poetry. Already, a hundred years after the Conquest, Nor- 
man nobles sang English rhymes ; in fact, the earliest we know 
fell from the lips of Normans, as, for example, those of Robert, 
Earl of Leicester, and his Flemings of the year 1173 : 

" Hoppe Wylikcn, IIoppc "\Vyliken, 
England is tliyne and mync," &c. 

nnd the well known boast of Hugh Bigot, Earl of Norfolk, 
under Henry II. 

" Were I in my castle of Bungny, 
Upon the river of Waveney, 
I would no care for the king of Cockcney, &c. 

Most of these songs, moreover, begin with the words : " Listen, 
Lordlings," and thus show that they were by no means con- 
fined to the oppressed race, but listened to in castle and palace. 
By the side of French minstrelsy there appear, gradually, more 
and more versions of such romances into English, containing of 
course many French idioms, together with before unknown po- 


etical phrases, but enriching the language by the coinage of 
new words, and the addition of new expressions. The very 
fact that the English was thus overloaded not enriched with 
French terms, however objectionable in itself, made it all the 
more easy to minstrels and acceptable at Court, where pure 
Saxon would, probably, have been neither understood nor ad- 
mitted. The translators, or "diseurs," retained mostly but such 
"strange" (French) words as -they knew not how to translate 
or as suited their rhymes, and thus introduced a number of 
French words, for which even Chaucer finds an excuse, when 
he says : 

" And eke to me it is a great penance, 
Situ rhyme in Englisc heth such scarcity, 
To follow word by word the curiosity 
Of Graunson, flower of hem that make in France." 

On the other hand, we find that such a change had come over 
England as to induce Gower, whose fame had been established 
upon his fifty French ballads, to obey, in his old age, the com- 
mands of his sovereign, Richard II., who ordered him to write 
his later works in English. 

The first strains of this new English muse were, of course, 
very inharmonious, and their harsh and rugged measures are 
but little softened by the frequent mixture of the two contending 
languages, either in the same line or in alternate couplets, as, 
e. g^ in the original of Goethe's famous prayer in Faust : 

" Mayden moder mild, oycz oet oreysonn, 
From shame thou me scilde, et de ly mal feloun, 
For love of thyne childe, me menez de tresoua, 
Ich wes wod and wilde, ore su en prisoun." 


which dates from the end of the thirteenth century, and a simi- 
lar one of the time of Henry IV. : 

Of Remembrance 
With-oute endyng, 

me peuaunce 
And grete grievaunce 
For your partynge." 

The same effect was next perceived in the language of pub- 
lic documents and of institutions of learning. The conservative 
tendency of the English government, its most characteristic and 
fortunate quality, admitted the new tongue but slowly, and has, 
in fact, never allowed the Norman-French to be entirely aban- 
doned. The Saxon Charter, or Instrument of Confirmation, 
given by Henry I. to William, Archbishop of Westminster, is 
probably one of the earliest instances of the use of Saxon for 
official documents, and was, no doubt, mainly due to the influ- 
ence of an Anglo-Saxon queen. Soon after followed the famous 
Letters Patent of king Henry III. in support of the Oxford Provi- 
sions, which were sent to each county in Latin, French and Eng- 
lish, although the parties as well as the proceedings had been 
French, and although the first statute, do scaccario, of the year 
1 26C, given by the same king, is found only in Norman-French. 
A curious pause occurred during the fourteenth century when it 
became apparently the fashion to put law matters into French 
verse ; there exist, at least, still metrical copies of the Statutes of 
Gloucester and Morton, and a compiler of the reign of Edward 
I. says, that he preferred executing his task in " common ro- 
mance," in plain French prose, to translating it into rhyme. 


The most important measure was the statute of Edward III. 
(36 Edw. IIL st. I. c. 15), who, when he entered upon his fif- 
tieth year, as an act of grace, abolished pleading in French, 
" unde in suo Jubileo populo suo se exhibeat gratiosum." It 
seems, however, that the gift thus granted was too gracious and 
liberal to be strictly carried out. It states that " reasonably 
the said law and customs the rather shall be perceived and 
known, and better understood in the tongue used in the said 
realm, and by so much every man may the better govern him- 
self without offending the law, and better defend his heritage ; 
and in divers countries where the king and nobles have been, 
good governance and just right is done to every person because 
that the laws and customs are used in the tongue of the coun- 
try ;" and upon this ground directs that pleadings and judg- 
ments in the Court of Westminster shall no longer be had in 
French but in English. The same plea might very advantageous- 
ly have been applied to the language of the laws themselves 
and the speeches of the practitioners ; but this would have been 
too great a boon, and both continued in French, thus showing 
that the English began to preponderate in the scale, although 
so slowly as to indicate the great weight it had to overcome. 
As if anxious still farther to limit the extent of the gracious 
gift, the same statute, after granting the request, contained in 
the petition on the parliament roll, " that all pleas shall be 
pleaded in English," adds, u and that they be entered and en- 
rolled in Latin," which words were not in the parliament roll. 




Use of French now English taught first in schools in 13S5 Caxton and 

AN instance occurs, also, about the same time already of 
English being used by one of the high functionaries of the 
crown, the Chief Justice, Sir Henry Greene, declaring the cause 
why parliament was summoned " en Engleis." From that time 
the Saxon, or as it began to be generally called, the English, 
and the French were used indifferently. Whilst as late as 1271 
the laws of the realm still contain a French translation of such 
Anglo-Saxon terms as had to be used, and the latter spelt in a 
manner indicative of profound ignorance, we find in the sub- 
sidy of Wolle, &c., 1 Henry II., that the monarch granted his 
royal assent in English : " be it ordeined as it is axed ! " The 
proceedings in parliament and the statutes themselves continued 
for some time yet in French ; the first bill of the lower house in 
English dates from the year 1425 ; and the first statute, drawn 
up in English, was probably one that appeared during the reign 
of Richard III., when John Russell was Lord Chancellor. It is 
remarkable that this was also the first statute printed. Gradual 
but final abolition of French in matters of law or record might 
have been expected from these promising measures ; this was, 


however, never done ; so far from it, that even at the present day 
parliamentary formulas still preserve the old idiom of the Con- 
queror. The royal assent of the British sovereign to ordinary 
public bills, is given in the words, " La Reine le veut ;" to 
private bills, " Soit fait comme il est desire ;" to bills embody- 
ing petitions or declarations of right, as in the time of Charles 
I., " Soit droit fait comme il est desire ;" and to the particular 
bills, called the supply and appropriation bills, presented at the 
time of prorogation in open parliament, " La Reine remercie 
ses bons sujets, accepte leur benevolence et ainsi le veut." A 
bill of either house, when passed, is indorsed with the magic 
words, ' Soit baile aux Seigneurs," " aux Communes ;" and at 
the beginning of each session the lords cause an entry to be 
made, in French, of the appointed receivers and triers of peti- 
tions, " For England and for Gascony " ! It was in vain that 
Oliver Cromwell tried to abolish these last vestiges of Norman 
dominion and gave his assent in plain English ; the old forms 
came back with the Restoration, and have remained unchanged 
ever since in all official acts of the crown. In legal records, 
however, an act of parliament of the time of the Common- 
wealth, prescribes the use of the English language, " because," 
as Whitelock, the advocate of that act, said, to reconcile his pious 
brethren of the robe, " Moses also drew up the laws of the -Jews 
in Hebrew, and not in Chinese or Egyptian " ! The argument 
might easily have been strengthened by the dissatisfaction with 
which, as Cranmer tells us, suitors of the time of Henry VIH. 
listened to the pleadings of their attorneys in French, which the 
poor clients did not understand. 

In 1 483, under Edward IV., the French still furnished most 


terms for games and mercantile transactions ; but long before, 
Trevisa tells us, in his naive simplicity, that former " manirs 
hath some dele changed in the year 1383 in all the gramtner 
scoles of England," when children were taught English, and 
even mentions for our admiration the names of the two worthy 
schoolmasters who introduced this most commendable reform. 
John Cornewaile, he says, " a maistre of grammer changide 
the lore in great scoles and construction of Frensch into En- 
glisc," and Richard Pencriche " learned that manner of teach- 
ing of him." 

When finally Caxton used the magical power of the newly- 
invented instrument in his skilful hands, multiplied English 
books and English readers, and encouraged by his press many 
to turn authors who could only write in their native tongue, 
the English language may be said to have assumed its inde- 
pendence and its rank among the national idioms of Europe. 
Nor ought it to be overlooked, that the merits of Caxton are 
by no means limited to the skill of his press and the admirable 
use he made of it. His own intelligence, tact and judgment 
were no small aids to an idiom but just emerging from a state 
of inorganic amalgamation and unsettled grammar. Before he 
printed Higden's Polychronicon, he tells us in his own words, 
he " wrote over all the said book, somewhat changed the rude 
and olde English, that is to wit, certain words which in these 
days we neither used ne understood," because " certainly our 
language varyeth far from that which was spoken when I was 
born." Of his enlightened liberality, also, he gave a memor- 
able instance in his first enterprise, the printing of the Canter- 
bury Tales. When they were published, he found he had 


chosen the very worst MS. existing, and at once undertook a 
second edition, " for to satisfy the author, whereas tofore by ig- 
norance he had erred ia hurting and diffaraing his book ; n a 
noble confession, and a noble reparation. Almost all the books 
he printed were English ; they were the best of their kind ; 
and of his labors in the good cause he says modestly and touch 
ingly at the end of his work, " Thus end I this book, and for 
as moche as in wryting of the same my penne is worn, myn 
hande wery, and myn eyen dimmed with overmoche lookyng 
on the whit paper, and that age crepeth on me dayly," <fcc. 

Conquest, then, had not succeeded in destroying the ancient 
tongue. It never can do so entirely ; but it does not follow 
that it may not alter and often radically change the language 
of the conquered. Of such an effect the English of our day 
bears but too striking marks in its tendencies and general cha- 
racter, its orthography and grammar. In spelling it knows no 
law, not even that of.analogy ; grammatical inflections have been 
lost almost without exception ; it prefers, in sound at least, mono- 
syllabic words more decidedly than any other language, and 
labors under the disadvantage of a constantly varying, uncer- 
tain accent Norman conquest and Norman rulers, it is true, 
have not deprived it of its Teutonic character, and have left to 
the English of our day, at least, one-third of pure Anglo-Saxon 
descent, and that third the most indispensable, essential and 
life-giving portion ; but they have taken from it the plastic 
power of moulding its own elements into new forms, and that 
innate richness and admirable regularity which the German sis- 
ter has, in most parts, more successfully preserved. 

The effect of Conquest on Language is, then, not always 


direct and intentional. It generally arises from the hauglity 
indolence of the conqueror and his contempt for the bondsman. 
The masters learn but just enough of the language of their new 
subjects to make themselves understood ; they disregard gram- 
mar, reject complicated inflections and variable terminations 
those refined expedients of a highly cultivated idiom. The 
same course is pursued by the vanquished. To be simply un- 
derstood, not to detain their impatient master, to express their 
meaning briefly and with despatch, they also drop all that is 
not strictly necessary, use nouns and verbs only, as we do with 
foreigners who know not our language, and disregard particles 
and inflections. This is one mode of decay in languages, sub- 
ject, like their growth, to certain principles and fixed rules 
which prove that conquest, however final and complete, may 
alter a language but cannot destroy it, thanks to the deep roots 
which every idiom has in the genius of the race by which it is 
spoken, and the beautiful harmony between the sentiments of a 
people and its mode of expression. 




Mental peculiarities of nations The Ethic element in language In wortls, in 
sounds, in structure. 

IF climate, external circumstances, and conquest can effect 
such changes in a language, not less may be expected from 
the influence of general habits, or social revolutions. The 
occupation of a people is necessarily reflected in its tongue. 
Beautifully has Grimm, in his history of the German language, 
pointed out what it owed successively to the age of the hunter, 
the shepherd, and the husbandman, and how eacli portion of 
this and every other language might be traced back to such 
epochs. Some nations, which are even now migratory, or still 
upcn the low grade of the hunter, show in their language their 
great intimacy with the life in nature; thus the Delaware 
abounds in pictorial expressions, as when it calls an acorn " the 
nut of the leaf hand." Two branches of the same stock will 
often bear witness to the occupation of those by whom they 
were spoken. The continental German has few words, and 
those mostly of foreign origin, relating to the sea, whilst his 
brother, the sea-faring Anglo-Saxon, has furnished the world 
with numerous and beautiful terms for all that concerns navi- 


gation. The more philosophic character of languages of Eastern 
nations reflects their habits of meditation ; as they pry more 
into the secret of their own being, their idioms also abound, 
like those of the Hindoo, with metaphysical abstractions and 
religious expressions. The peculiar cast of the mind of a na- 
tion will gradually mark its language, until the latter repro- 
duces its characteristics by a predominance of words belonging 
to particular departments of thought or life. The spiritual life 
of each race is embodied in its language, and affects it not 
only in certain epochs, or at decisive moments, but through 
ages of incessant activity. Every generation leaves there the 
impress of the spirit of its age, and the most powerful and most 
sensitive, the most penetrating and most contemplative minds of 
the people, each and all, pour into it their strength and tender- 
ness, their depth and inward being. From period to period, 
therefore, can the influence of such agencies be traced in the 
gradual changes which a language has undergone. The French 
is at first as frank and full of chivalrous naivete, as those were 
who spoke it ; it reflects the urbanity and discretion of a later 
age, becomes polite and arrogant, delighting in " pointes " and 
" jeux d'esprit" under Louis XIIL, and assumes an elegance 
and a strange mixture of nobility and ostentation under the 
Grand Monarque. Who does not almost instinctively perceive 
in the elear and pure sounds of ancient Greece, and its harmo- 
nious, rhythmical construction, another manifestation of their 
highly refined national mind, which delighted in producing, by 
the word of the poet or the chisel of the sculptor, those wonders 
of harmony and just proportions which are still the admiration 
of our own day ? Nor was the objective character of this 


highly gifted race less clearly expressed in their tongue ; here 
also perfection of form was classic art ; here also beauty and 
success consisted in a fortunate division of words into vowels 
and consonants, and a strict observance of purely mechanical 
laws which ruled the length of a syllable and the cadence of a 
verse. The German, on the other hand, shows as strikingly 
the subjective character of that nation. In it there is no offen- 
sive doubling, and no accumulating of consonants ; no mechani- 
cal rule determines syllabic quantity ; but a word is accented, 
and a syllable lengthened in proportion to its intrinsic value, as 
an original root, or as the bearer of a more or less important 
idea. The external form yields at once to the subjective nature 
of the sound ; the word is respected only as the representative 
of a spiritual idea. No law of fixed and prescribed rhythm 
binds the poet ; the euphony of the word is determined by its 
mental music, and his verse is, therefore, apt to be more pro- 
found in meaning than melodious in sound. 

It is almost a trite saying that the English language is the 
strongest evidence of the predominant practical tendency of the 
English nation. It abounds in abbreviations, omissions of rela- 
tional words and ellipses of all kinds, which made Voltaire 
sneeringly say, that they gained half an hour in speaking with 
a Frenchman. The Englishman seems to have applied to his 
language the great principle of mechanics : to produce with the 
smallest possible means the greatest possible effect It is truly 
a grand sight to mark how a language, by the aid of incredibly 
small technical means, becomes the mighty instrument of hu- 
man thought, and proves perfectly well adapted to all purposes 
of social and political life, not to speak at all of its admirable 


This very fact shows the great ethic element of the science 
of language, and attests its growing importance for the study 
of man in his inner nature. The mutual relations between the 
mental life of a people and their language, afford us the 
means of obtaining a clear insight into their character. Ap- 
parently insignificant Avords, terms of every day life, become 
thus of great interest to the philosopher, and furnish, when cor- 
rectly interpreted, a clue to many an apparent mystery. Few 
have failed to notice the diversity of terms for the appreciation 
of female beauty in different languages. Is it unimportant, or 
accidental, that the Frenchman substitutes his "beau" and 
"joli " for the "hermoso" (forrnosus) of the Spaniard, whose 
fastidious eye values the symmetry of form above all other 
merits ? Almost every nation considers a different particular 
quality as identical with beauty, and expresses it accordingly. 
Thus the honest, upright Swede bestows his affections upon a 
"vacker flicka" (lit. brave girl); the German traces his first 
perception of the " Schone " (from Scheinen) to the agreeable 
action of color and light upon his eye. Proper names, also, 
pass like current coins from generation to generation, until they 
lose the sharp outlines of their first forms, but still bear eloquent 
witness of the very thought that was predominant in the mind 
of those who first gave or bore them. An Abraham and an 
Isaac still have the stamp of their sacred origin, and all the 
names of the Orient are fragrant with poetic and flowery met- 
aphor. The ample, magnificent Roman, in his desire to per- 
petuate his name, surrounded it with two others as a safeguard 
against oblivion or confusion, whilst the Scot, the Irishman, and 
the Welshman of our day still love to refer to their father 


clan or tribe as their last source of pride. The aristocracy of 
European countries, like the conquering races of all lands, rejoice 
in bearing the names of the territories they have won by their 
valor, as the Spaniard adds name to name, to make known his 
high parentage and just claim to be considered a " hidalgo," 
the son of somebody. Why is it that death appears so 
strangely disguised in some languages ? The poetical Greek 
called his burying-place, such as it was, a Kot/in/rj/ploy, or sleep- 
ing place ; the faith of the Hebrew spoke in his u Bethhaim," 
or " house of the living." The proud Roman avoided the very 
name of what was to him, but too often, mere annihilation ; ' 
he did not like to die, but called it " vitam suam mutare," 
" transire a seculo," or " si quid de eo humanitus contigerit" 
The French of our day shows, with regard to death, that pecu- 
liar feature in the national character which dislikes being dis- 
turbed by unpleasant impressions in the enjoyment of life, and 
most admires ingenious delicacy in avoiding all directness by 
euphemistic terms. The word " mort " is but rarely heard in 
France ; it has an icy breath about it, which the Frenchman 
avoids as a bad omen, like the Roman of old ; the odor of 
death he changes into an a odeur du sapin ;" he prefers the 
" char funebre," to the " corbillard " u trepas " and " deces " to 
straightforward terms, and the English "corpse" is to him a sim- 
ple " corps." The genius of the language bends to his whims 
and fancies so far as to allow him to speak of " mourir tout en 
vie, ?> and even to say "se mourir," as if death was nothing bat 
a voluntary act, chosen at will. Highly poetical and slightly 
transcendental appear, on the other hand, the German " Fried- 
hof " and u Gottesacker," which gradually find their way into 
other idioms also. 


An unexpected insight into national peculiarities is thus 
often gained by watching the effect of certain modes of 
thought or even passing fancies of a people on their lan- 
guage. It appears strange that the Frenchman should deem 
travelling (travailler) his hardest work, and to be a Gentile 
(gentil) his highest honor. Both these words were formed 
when the Germanic Frank conquered Roman Gaul. A heathen, 
a Gentile, he was nevertheless the conqueror ; and what had 
been a term of stern rebuke and fierce condemnation became, 
in the powerful master of the land, a word of distinction ; 
" homo gentilis " soon changed into " gentil " and " gentil- 
homnie," and from its new home crossed the Channel to be- 
come in England a "gentleman." But long after the Frank 
had achieved the conquest, he well remembered the vast 
amount of labor and blood it had cost him to get over the im- 
mense walls with which the Roman tried to protect his fortified 
encampments and towns. To scale them, to get " trans 
vallum," was the most difficult part of his military labor ; so 
he soon came, by analogy, to call every uncommon effort a 
" travail," and what the Frenchman still ascribes to the labors 
in childbed and the report of the Minister of Finances apparent- 
ly his hardest works as they are both called " travail " by emi- 
nence the Englishman of the Middle Ages applied to his labor 
in travelling through foreign countries. 

It is, however, not in classes of words or single words only, 
that the effects of such peculiarities of the national mind may 
be seen. The very sound of a language, its most minute details, 
bear the mark of that unbroken connection between mind and 
word. Some languages are soft and harmonious, because they 


were formed in a happy and peaceful state of society ; thus the 
Greek and, though perhaps less clearly, the Latin show, even 
now, to the careful observer, that they belong to nations among 
whom the ear and the laws of harmony were well developed 
and therefore consulted. The Romance of our day still ex- 
hibit symptoms of the times of barbarism during which they 
assumed their form, and that it was necessity and the stern 
will of the Conqueror which gave them existence. The slightest 
peculiarities, undistinguished by the foreigner, often remain as 
witnesses of strange peculiarities of a nation which, as a people, 
may long since have disappeared from among the dwellers 
upon earth. Conquerors may overthrow thrones, destroy cities 
and villages by fire, exterminate the inhabitants by the sword, 
and yet not eradicate such slight differences. They may stand 
in arms upon the banks of a river, as the Galaadites of old stood 
ready to destroy the last of the Ephratians who would hiss with 
Ephraiui in pronouncing the word " Shiboleth," instead of giving 
it the peculiar sound of the Galaadites, and yet the same almost 
imperceptible hiss, which cost centuries ago the life of tens of 
thousands, is heard, even now, on the opposite sides of a ford 
in the river Jordan. 




The Latin Lexicographers Danish in English Italian in French Les 

THIS mysterious power of Language to perpetuate the nicest 
shades of thought, so positively contradicting the old saying, 
" verba volant," is the more surprising, as a mere caprice, a 
fashion, a whim, often suffice to produce such changes. Nor 
would this be possible if Language were really made, as was 
once believed, by the few and not by the many, if it lay in the 
power of a Sheridan or a Jones, a Luther or a Webster, an 
Academy of Sciences or of Bran, to modify a national tongue. 
It is the people, and the whole people, by whom language is 
made, and every fraction of a nation has its representative 
there. Whether this fraction be the highest or the lowest in 
the land, its individual influence is a caprice whenever it acts 
without necessity, consideration or taste., though very often such 
caprice is in reality the most subtle metaphysic, escaping both 
the perception of the learned and the consciousness of those who 
act by it. 

The Latin already exhibits instances of such effects produced 
by local influences or the authority of certain classes of society. 
Seneca and Silius use as correct phrases as we find in the speech 


" Tn Catilinam " or in the " ^Eneis," but tlie introduction of bad 
constructions and newly-invented words, as well as the confound- 
ing of different kinds of style with each other, prove abundantly 
that the language of Seneca and Silius is no longer that of 
Cicero and Virgil. The change of gender in the word " alvus," 
which Priscian tells us was once Masculine, may have had no 
better cause than the grammatical blunder of Louis XIV., who, 
when only five years old, called for "mon carosse," and thus 
made the former Feminine for ever a Masculine. 

The tendencies, also, of certain portions of a people are often 
strikingly illustrated by the biased taste of the best lexicog- 
raphers. Thus Sheridan and Jones represent the popular ten- 
dency of the English idiom, whilst Walker leans towards the 
more elegant language of those classes of society which claim 
both better knowledge and greater refinement. As the history 
of Languages becomes better known, their irregularities and 
whimsicalities are gradually explained and referred to their 
proper source. That the English should give the peculiar 
sound of an additional y to precisely nine words beginning with 
g or k (guile, guise, guide, guard, kind, kite, kibe, kine, and 
sky), is now generally ascribed to the influence of Danish, 
where the same sound is found, and the silent h in Thames and 
Thomas is similarly explained. A more striking instance is the 
influence of Italian pronunciation on the sounds as well as the or- 
thography of the French in the time of the Valois, and when the 
" Mignons " of Henry VHL extended the corruption of their man- 
ners to the language also. A handful of favorites and unlettered 
courtiers, under the protection of Catharine and Maria of Medici, 
succeeded in giving the French an Italian form and sound, which 


the foolish tendency to imitate, and the slavery in which Paris 
has ever held all France, soon propagated through her pro- 
vinces. Concini and his followers imported a large number of 
Italian words, of which, a few, like " courrier, cavalier, spadassin, 
cadenas, aviser," and others, were naturalized, whilst some, like 
" fillette, peccadille, bouchelette, and vermeillettre," are to be 
found only in contemporary authors. Charles IX., and his 
passionate fondness of Tasso, and Louis XIIL, with his par- 
tiality for Marini, gave additional countenance to their " Cour- 
tisans Italianizants," whilst the great Cardinal, when he placed 
himself at the head of the French army to invade Italy, made, 
for his own use, the word, " Generalissime," which soon became 
a model for similar titles. 

But among the many instances of the power of fashion, and 
its effects upon language, which French history affords, none is 
probably more generally known than the innovations of the 
" Precieuses," of whom Moliere, in his comedy of that name, 
has left us an exquisite picture. Some "begueules" of the 
Court, and the Marais, under the protection of Marie de Man- 
cini, made an attempt to change the orthography of a language, 
" so that ladies might be able to write as easily and correctly 
as gentlemen." Of course, all other considerations were sacri- 
ficed to ease and facility, and yet the efforts of the greatest 
men of that age were ineffectual in resisting the power of 
persons whose only but efficient weapon was fashion. Editions 
of Corneille, Pascal, and Moliere, published during that period, 
show the state of transition, and the efforts made to resist, for 
instance, the introduction of the Italian sound for the French oi. 
Thus Racine, in his Mithridate, still rhymes " reconnois " with 


"fois," and in his Plaideurs "exploit" with "lisoit," but Cour- 
val Sinnet says already : 

" Et que dirai-je pins? II faut dire ; il allet, 
Je ere, Frances, anglais, il diset, il parlait." 

The spelling did not always follow the sound, as the present 
form of " crois, Francois, allait," will show, but in some cases 
the etymologic appearance of words was entirely changed by 
such innovations. Thus the word " etrecir " belongs to the 
time when courtiers called " etroit " " etret," as in the verses of 
Fontenelle : 

" La nation des belettes 

Et dans lea portes etrettes 
De lenrs habitations," 

and from it derived the new verb ; the latter has remained, 
" etroit " has recovered its original form and sound. It is well 
known that the caprice of Voltaire made this "ai" classic in 
some words, whilst others remained arbitrarily unchanged, as 
simple fashion or frequent use had preferred. The French say 
still "Danois, Suedois," because these names were much less 
frequently mentioned by the fashionable world, than the names 
of their better known neighbors, the " Anglais et Hollandais," 
and the name " Polonais " was left undisturbed and unaffected 
by fashion, simple " Polonois," until Henry III. was chosen King 
of Poland, and that country and its elections became an inter- 
esting subject of conversation at court. It is to fashion, also, 
that the French owes its beautiful but foreign sound of the " gn" ; 
up to the days of Lafontaine the g was, if not quite, at least 


nearly silent, and thus " maligne " rhymed with " machine,' 
" hymenee " with " assignee ;" but when Louis XIII. brought 
home his Spanish bride, her soft and liquid pronunciation of 
those letters, in imitation of the Spanish n, was at once imitated 
by all courtiers and " gens de monde," and soon became a per- 
manent sound even in French words. 


Poets Dante Luther Predominant Dialects. 

OF all such influences, however, which are brought to bear upon 
Language, and continue from age to age incessantly to form 
and fashion it, none can be considered more powerful and more 
improving than that exercised by the poet, tho " maker " of lan- 
guage. Controlling a hitherto lawless tongue, checking its wild 
growth, freeing it from arbitrary, violent use, a Dante or a 
Luther may well be said to have created, or, at least to have 
formed a language. It matters not how rude and imperfect 
the dialect be, how little adapted, how unable to express 
what agitates the human heart and fills the aspiring mind of 
man, the eternal and innate idea of the Beautiful, possessed by 
the poet and the earnest seeker after truth, strives incessantly 
to gain an outward form, to bend the rough implement to its 
lofty purpose, and thus gradually improves, polishes, and refines 
the humble and imperfect instrument. The expression, it is 


well known, is not b:rn with the idea ; it is created by it The 
art of the poet is, therefore, the highest art of Language, be- 
cause its perfection consists in the success with which it gives to 
the internally revealed idea an outward form and life. Poetry 
knows no higher aim than to make the external form harmoni- 
ously correspond with the heaven-inspired perception, as it is re- 
flected on the soul of the poet, and besides the requisites of in- 
trinsic worth and a clear conception of the idea, it needs, for all 
practical purposes most, a harmonious form of expression. 

For the poet, to be a true poet, must be able to speak to all, 
and not to one class of society, or to men of one way of think- 
ing only. He must lay aside all that is foreign ; for, to speak 
to the heart of others, his own words ought to come from the 
heart, and neither abstract wisdom nor scholar-like erudition will 
do his work. Shakspeare, who advanced English poetry more 
than all poets before him, knew nothing of Anglo-Saxon, never 
read Layamon or Wickliffe's Bible, and studied no English or 
Anglo-Saxon grammar, for none was then written. Martin 
Luther knew not that the Xiebelungen Lied was in existence, 
and Goethe did not study Ulfilas or Otfried to write his 

Even in an ancient literary language, the influence of the 
poet is continually felt, as he preserves its purity and refines and 
elevates his mother tongue. Every idiom has its purer forms 
and stricter constructions for the poet or the orator, by the side 
of a less constrained and less stately style for the fireside and 
the busy marts of life, where language is clipped and shortened 
down to the indispensable, and moves leisurely, in dressing- 
gown and slippers, in the easy flow of familiar conversation. 


At other times it is poetry, and literature generally, that 
decide in favor of rival dialects. Wherever many contend for 
supremacy, as in Germany and Italy, or, all are crowded into a 
space too narrow for equal development, as in the British Isles, 
poetry favors some, which it protects against being smothered 
and crowded out, as air and light will favor one branch more 
than others, on a thickly-grown oak. Originally, every dialect 
is equally capable of being developed into a national and literary 
language. Which of several is to obtain the supremacy over 
others depends not so much on their intrinsic beauty or power, 
as on the mental superiority or historical importance of that 
part of a race by which it is spoken. Thus the Saxon and the 
Suabian dialect contended long for the supreme rule in Ger- 
many. As Suabian or Saxon Emperors ruled the land, so the 
one or the other was spoken, sung, and written. The unexpected 
but well-founded preference of M. Luther for his native dialect 
soon gained for the so-called middle German an eminence, which 
the more richly endowed rivals have never been able to reach. 
Men of lofty genius and great deeds may secure immortality 
even to a dialect, but generally they prefer and choose the best 
means for their great purposes. Thus all the different dialects 
of Greece had once their own literature ; but the Attic, employ- 
ed for literary purposes much later than the Doric and ^Eolic, 
soon overcame them all, and produced the greatest works of 
Greek genius and Greek science. 

Each author, moreover, naturally seeks that style and such 
forms as suit his fancy or promise to forward his purposes best. 
At the time of the so-called Renaissance, Rabelais, who was 
still upon Gallic ground, and as yet very little of the Frenchman, 


sought for a language that would move free and unrestrained, 
to serve as a vehicle for the wild and capricious activity of his 
genius. He hated, therefore, what he expressively calls the " ver- 
bocination Latiale," and his language abounds with forms and 
terms taken from the freer Greek. The Reformation gave France 
a Calvin, whose strict, rigid, and unbending temper preferred the 
stately, systematic Latin, and cast his language in stem and mas- 
sive forms, even surpassing his model tongue in the rigorous con- 
sistency of his syntax. At a still later day, we hear the classic 
Bossuet pay his tribute and thanks to the great Reformer, and 
yet choose words and prefer forms so different from all others, 
that Chateaubriand's enthusiastic admiration saw in them the 
creation of a new language, and a just title to the name of 
" Father of Modern French." 

It is in this way, also, that M. Luther has been called the 
creator of modern German. He has, however, better claims 
upon our gratitude than that erroneous title ; for nobody can 
create a language but He who has created all things. The 
founder of Protestantism can easily afford to content himself 
with the merit of having established the literary authority of 
the German of our day, and of thus presenting to us probably 
the most remarkable instance of the influence which a single 
author may have on the language of a nation. In that noblest 
work of human genius and faith, his version of Holy Writ, he 
determined and fixed the grammatical forms of his mother 
tongue, and cultivated it according to its inner spirit, thus best 
promoting its organic development. Without M. Luther and 
his great work, Germany would probably never have enjoyed 
the advantages of one common language for all her numerous 


provinces. His Bible established and secured the supremacy 
of the so-called High German, and made it what Jacob Grimm 
calls " a Protestant language." As, in his lifetime already, not 
only all Protestants, lettered and unlettered, used it, but the 
very Catholics who denied the authority of his translation, saw 
themselves compelled to address their countrymen in the lan- 
guage of their great adversary, if they wished to be understood ; 
so it has, since, by its " freedom-breathing " nature, insensibly 
overpowered the poets and authors of Catholic persuasion, 
and, in its admirable purity, still forms the very foundation of 
modern High German. 



Anglo-Saxon version of the Bible Gospel of St. Cuthbert and Rushworth's 
Gloss King Alfred Layamon, the Ormulum Robert of Gloucester Ro- 
bert Mannyng Richard Rolle. 

INSTANCES of similar nature are, of coxirse, not wanting in the 
history of other idioms ; but the English has, in this respect also, 
been most fortunate in avoiding the dangers of any one great 
revolution, by the eminent services, which men of rare talents 
and still rarer judgment, have rendered, in successive periods, 
and always when most needed, to the great work of developing 
and refining this northern tongue. 

In the earliest days of the Anglo-Saxons, there arose already 


men whose patriotism and desire of usefulness led them to de- 
vote their leisure and their talents to the task of rescuing the 
treasures of ancient lore or former history, from the solitude to 
which they were consigned by their Latin form, and to trans- 
late them into the vernacular. Their churchmen felt soon the 
vast importance of enabling the people to read the Word of 
God in their mother tongue, and probably animated by their 
example, and the same noble motives, their legislation promul- 
gated the laws of the land in Anglo-Saxon, thus giving to 
Europe the earliest documents of legislation, written in a Teu- 
tonic tongue, by the new masters of the world, the despised bar- 
barians. There is something touching in the manner in which 
the so-called Gospel of St. Cuthbert tells us how one bishop 
of Liridisfern, Eadfrith, wrote the Vulgate in fair, round Roman 
characters, and another, Ethelwald, u attired and blazoned " it, 
while Billfrith, the anchoret, ornamented it with gold and gems, 
gilding the very facings, and adding portraits of the Apostles. 
Last comes he, whose merit is greatest, the humble presbyter, 
Aldred, " an unworthy and most miserable priest, who, with the 
help of God and St Cuthbert, overglossed" it in English. 
Truly a work of love, requiring no small amount of intellectual 
and mechanical labor in those dark days of the eighth century, 
and meeting with small reward, for hardly was the book 
finished " to the greater glory of God," when ruthless Danes 
landed near the church, and the flying monks, in their haste 
to escape, dropped the precious volume into the sea. St Cuth- 
bert alone, says the pious chronicler, preserved it from injury, 
and guided those who recovered it Well may it then bear 
the kind Saint's name. 


Not far distant in time, and still less so in place, there was 
another humble presbyter at work, performing the same holy 
work of translating the Vulgate into Saxon. His was the 
so-called Rushworth's Gloss, which " Farmen presbyter thus 
gleosode," a poor priest at Harawada, who was aided by 
MacRegol and Owen, and has left us, to our great benefit, the 
Latin and Saxon in corresponding letters. This noble monu- 
ment of humble, disinterested love of the sacred writings, has 
thus become a most useful means of gaining an insight into the 
etymology of the Anglo-Saxon, and has rendered later ages 
invaluable service. 

Nor did men of high rank and elevated dignity disdain to 
engage in the same praiseworthy work. What the great Alfred 
has done, by translating himself, or causing to be translated 
under his own supervision, books of Christian and Pagan wis- 
dom, is well known to the general reader. Aelfric, the ab- 
bot, also, has left us those memorable homilies, which are so 
valuable for philology and theology, because they were written 
in that English dialect which had but just been adopted as the 
language of literature, and was, therefore, understood by all in 
the wide realm. We cannot but admire, even now, the author's 
vast biblical knowledge ; we ought not to forget to give him 
due honor for his services rendered to his neglected and barely 
developed mother tongue. Numerous are the works of Anglo- 
Saxon authors, who thus contributed to the formation and re- 
finement of that idiom which still gives all the essential parts 
to the English of our day ; but they are either too little known, 
or too badly translated, to enable us fully to judge of the influ- 
ence they may, individually, have exercised on their vernacular. 


It is, therefore, only after the Xorman Conquest, that we 
see once more men rise who, by their genius and patriotism, 
exhibit the influence of literature on national tongues. It was 
a period of amalgamation : the Xorman was Saxonized, the 
Saxon Xormanized, and an intermediate idiom began to be 
formed, first used in the cities where the two races mingled 
more freely with each other, as their inequality was less marked 
there than in the rural districts. This idiom had, as it were, to 
be made anew ; principles equally applicable to its two compo- 
nent parts, had to be agreed upon and established as a rule. 
This was done by the early writers of the Norman period, and 
fortunately their talents and attachment to their mother 
tongue were strong enough to encourage them to write in the 
humble Saxon, rather than in the tongue of their victorious 
masters. They were noble representatives of that sturdy, inde- 
pendent people, which soon recovered their liberty, and, with 
it, the language of their forefathers. Among the many works 
of this kind, the Ormulum is probably the earliest specimen of 
English composition. The high, narrow folio, with its double 
columns, is filled with a paraphrase of the gospel histories by 
a poet whose name is not accurately known. Layamon, the 
humble priest of Ernleye, near the banks of the river Severn, 
has left in his translation of Wace's romance of Le Bret, a work 
remarkable for a rare facility of rhyming, and still more so, for 
its Saxon purity. Tlie language appears but one step removed 
from the Anglo-Saxon of old, and bears a striking resemblance 
to one of its genuine descendants of our day, the dialect spoken 
in Worcestershire. 

The most, authentic metrical work in Old English, it 


belongs to the age of Henry I., when literature began once 
more to meet with encouragement and support. The works of 
authors were, then, read for three days successively before one 
of the Universities, or other judges appointed for the purpose, 
and if they met with approbation, copies were permitted to be 
taken by monks, scribes, illuminators, or readers. The para- 
phrase of Orm seems to have obtained the right granted by 
these old-fashioned critics, although it was written in a new 
metre, and characterized by a strange fondness for double 
consonants, as in the words brotherr, affterr, <fec. Warton goes 
perhaps, too far, if he asserts that not a Gallicism is to be found 
ia the whole work, nor even a Norman term. It is true, that 
all the essential forms of the Anglo-Saxon grammar are care- 
fully observed, and that a few alterations would make it almost 
pure Saxon ; but its merits as a model and a beacon, guiding 
the ancient tongue through the dangers of the Norman flood, 
are not less great because it really contains such an admixture 
of French as could hardly be avoided, without obscuring the 
meaning. Thus "benche" has, at least, taken a Norman 
termination, and "restee" is evidently derived from the 
French " rester." 

The influx of French words produced, however, no sensible 
change as long as the two languages, spoken in England, were 
kept as distinct as the two races by whom they were used. It 
was only when both races and idioms were brought in imme- 
diate contact with each other, when they began to amalgamate 
about the middle of the thirteenth century, that the danger 
becaTne imminent, and the Saxon was threatened with final 
destruction. Under such circumstances even the most artless 


writers, if they but preserve the purity of their idiom, have 
their merit, and show what literary efforts can do towards the 
preservation of a language. 

Such are the claims that Robert of Gloucester has on the 
gratitude of his country. A monk of the Abbey of Gloucester, 
under Henry III. and Edward L, he has left behind him a dry, 
metrical version of the fabulous Latin Chronicle, ascribed to 
Geoffrey of Monmouth. His work, compared with that of 
Layamon, is far more French, as no doubt the language of his 
contemporaries was ; still the very fact that he chose for his 
translation a West-Saxon dialect that of Gloucestershire and 
thus preserved a large number of Saxon idioms and constructions, 
had surely its effect upon the thousands who read his work or 
felt encouraged by its publication in their hopes for the perma- 
nence of their tongue. The sentiment he expresses in the fol- 
lowing lines is as true as it was melancholy : 

" I ween there be ne man in world's conntreyes none 
That ne holdeth to their kind speech, but England lone. 1 ' 

He wished to write a history of his country, which he at least 
considered authentic, and not in unintelligible Latin, in which 
he found it, but in a language which would place it within the 
reach of his illiterate countrymen. For this purpose he over- 
came the natural vanity of authors, and employed the language 
of the people without any attempt at embellishment, using even 
rhymes only to aid their memory. 

The merits of his namesake and successor, Robert Mannyng, 
are greater in proportion to the purity of his Saxon. For fifteen 
years he lived at the priory of Black Canons, at Brunne, and 
thus explains his surname : 


" Of Brunne I am, if any me blame, 

Eobert Mannyng is my name ; 
Dan Eobert of Matton, that ye knov, 
Did it write for fellow's sake. 

I wrot noght for no disours 

But for the lief of symple men, 

That strauge^Inglis cannot ken; 

I made it not for to be praysed, 

Bat that the lewed (ignorant) men were aysed. 

For lewede men y undertoke 

On English tunge to make thys boke." 

Even such a writer, uncouth and unpleasing as his words and 
his thoughts often appear to the fastidious ear of modern read- 
ers, contributed, in his way, to form a style, to polish his native 
tongue, and to encourage others by his example. It is, for in- 
stance, not improbable that his success induced Richard Rolle, 
the hermit of Hampole, in Bury, to employ the leisure his retreat 
near the nunnery of Hampole, in Yorkshire, afforded him, in a 
metrical paraphrase of the Book of Job, some penitential psalms, 
and the Lord's Prayer. These English rhymes, and his more 
famous "Pricke of Conscience," were, it is thought, translated 
from Latin. Unattractive and tedious as a literary work, they 
are of great interest as having been written in a despised idiom, 
and from pure and noble motives. He says himself, that 

" 'Therefore this boke is in Englis drawe, 
Of fell matters that bene nnknawo 
To lewed men, that are unkonando 
That con no Intyn undirstande." 



The Rhymour Minot and Davie Robert Langland Barbour Andrew of 
Wyntown Trevisa Gower Chaucer English Orthography. 

IF Thomas Leirmouth, of Ercildoun, in the shire of Merch, gen- 
erally known as the " Rhymour," and much praised by Robert de 
Brunne, can be safely considered the author of " Sir Tristrem," 
England owes to a Scotch poet of the thirteenth century the 
earliest model of a pure English style. Another poet of the same 
age, Lawrence Minot, is probably the first original poet whose 
works have survived. They are already far superior in true 
poetical genius, and especially in purity of language, to the ob- 
scure and more than half French works of Adam Davie, which 
seem to have been written about 1312, when the author was 
marshal of Stratford le Bow, near London. It is, however, but 
fair to add that Minot has had the advantage of a reprint of his 
words by Ritson, whilst the two MSS. of Davie, in the Bodleian 
and Lincoln's Inn Library, are wretchedly copied, so that the 
meaning is often utterly destroyed by the capricious peculiarities 
and stupendous ignorance of the transcribers. These defects of 
scribes were no small additional difficulties, with which the 
youthful language had to contend, and a good, faithful copyist 


was in those days worth all the talent of a careless, Frenchified 

A touching contrast with such caprice and ignorance is ex-, 
hibited in the devoted affection which breathes in the works of 
Robert Langland, a secular priest of the County of Salop, born 
at Mortimer's Cleobury, Shropshire, and a fellow of Oriel College, 
Oxford. He seems to have been deeply enamored with the old 
Saxon poets and their spirit, imitates in his verses the metre and 
even the alliterations of Caedmon, and exhibits an astonishing 
familiarity with the forms and the character of the Anglo-Saxon. 
That his visions of Pierce Plowman are probably the most ob- 
scure work of his age, is to be attributed rather to the state of 
confusion and transition in which he found the language, than 
to his mode of thought. Nor must it be overlooked that the 
poor country priest wrote his bitter satires against church and 
state in fear of being crushed by the civil power, or being burnt 
by ecclesiastical discipline, and that the necessity of concealment 
dictated the vehicle of veiled allegory as the best means of dis- 
guising the meaning. The difficult task, moreover, of closely 
imitating models that belonged to a distant period, to which he 
added others of his own, like that of having " three wordes at the 
leaste in every verse whiche beginne with the same onne lettre," 
and the uncouth, rugged dialect of the midland counties in which 
he wrote, were by him triumphantly overcome, and furnish ad- 
ditional evidence of the power with which a poet may mould his 
rude and imperfect material so as to answer his great purposes. 
It is hardly less important to the philologist that the Mercian 
dialect, which he seems to have preferred, and which is still 
heard in the speech of Salopian laborers, appears visibly changed 


in the successive MS. copies that were made during the lifetime 
of the author, and thus show how, within the limits of one gen- 
eration, the language was improved and developed. 

As literature revived in England, and authors employed the 
vernacular for purposes of science as well as in poetry, the lan- 
guage became purer and purer ; so that the works of the latter 
part of the fourteenth century already present much fewer and 
less striking differences from the English of our day. This was 
the age of the great masters, to whom the present form of that 
language may fairly be ascribed. A series of political and sa- 
tirical songs and poems in the vernacular, which belong to the 
time from Henry III. to Chaucer, form, as it were, the back- 
ground upon which the works of men like Mandeville, Trevisa, 
Wicliffe, and Chaucer himself, stand forth prominently. Even 
Scotland, whose language in those days differed but slightly from 
that of the sister kingdom, could boast of her Barbour, whose 
biographical romance, " The Bruce," procured him a pension 
from David Bruce, and from posterity the renown of having 
adorned the English language by a strain of versification, ex- 
pression, and poetical imagery, far superior to his age, and 
admirably calculated to aid it in its onward course. Another 
Scot, Andrew of Wyntown, long prior of a convent on St. Serfs 
Island, in Loch Levin one of the most ancient religious estab- 
lishments in Scotland has left behind him, in his "Orygynale 
Cronykil of Scotland," a more curious than important specimen 
of the language of his time. Still his language is pure, his 
Alexandrines flow easily, though not over correct, and his history 
was in his day generally read and admired. It is, however, to 
English authors like Gower that we must look for evidences of 


the gradual change wrought in the language of those days, and 
to Chaucer, the father of English poetry, for the final and tri- 
umphal result of such efforts. Trevisa's English version of Hig- 
den's Polychronicon, an absurd farrago of all events he had 
read or heard of since the creation of the world ; the small por- 
tion of Wicliffe's Bible that alone was printed, and which is char- 
acterized by a liberal and almost instinctive adoption of vernacu- 
lar diction ; and Sir John Mandeville's English writings the first 
prose work in the new language were no doubt powerful aids 
in the steadily progressing development of the English tongue. 
They show clearly how it gradually absorbed the Norman ele- 
ments with which it had been first mechanically and forcibly 
united, to assume in the hands and by the genius of great au- 
thors a complete and finished existence. The English language 
appeared now, thanks to such assistance, no longer overawed 
and ruled by the French ; but enriched by new elements, and 
endowed with new powers which it had adopted and naturalized, 
thus overcoming the fatal effects of a proximity so close and a 
contact so continual as to threaten the complete subjugation of 
the weaker idiom. Literature had, in fact, rescued the Saxon 
element from utter destruction, through a process of absorption 
and amalgamation, directed by the genius of poets, the tact and 
judgment of scholars, and a happy instinct in those who wrote 
for the people. The greatest merit in this great work is due to 
Geffray Chaucere, as he calls himself, of whom already Occleve 
speaks as of "the great finder of our language ; " whilst modern 
critics claim for him, as the founder of modern English, the 
same honor that Germany gives to her Luther. That he was of 
Norman descent, as the frequent mention of his name in the 


Battel Abbey Roll and his personal appearance seem to indicate, 
but adds to his claims on the gratitude of his countrymen. It 
is true that his early familiarity with metrical romances, and his 
extensive translations from that rich mine of poetry, led him to 
introduce a large number of foreign words, and even to attempt, 
for the sake of harmony, a new accent and new pronunciation 
in many cases, which have earned him the title of " French 
Brewer." But he deserves this blame as little as Spenser's 
praise, that his English was "a well of English undefiled." 
Careful comparisons have proved, that in no part of his work, 
not even in his Romaunt of the Rose, are less than two-thirds 
pure Anglo-Saxon : his Canterbury Tales are even purer, as in 
the well-known words of the jovial monk : 

" When he rode, men might his hridle hear 
Jingling in a whistling wind, as clear 
And eke as lond as doth his chapel bell." 

And further on 

" That Cristes love, and his apostles twelve, 
He taught ; but first he followed himselve " 

probably the most touching description of a true minister of 
Christ which English poetry possesses, and as superior in its 
simple force and vividness to Dryden's imitation as to similar 
verses of Goldsmith and Cowper. 

In selecting the language of his day for his .romances, and 
even for the most remarkable of his works the " Conclusions 
of Astrolabie " for " lytel Lowis in lith Englyshe " he showed 
that superior tact and judgment which gave him such unsur- 


passed influence on the formation of the national tongue. His 
language is, in form, as old as the reign of Edward the Con- 
fessor, with only those Sectional modifications and new words 
which the intervening three centuries had gradually introduced 
and made English. He altered not, nor did he attempt to im- 
prove the English of his time : he simply chose its most modern 
form, sometimes preferring a Norman word because perhaps it 
rhymed better or sounded softer, but still always considering 
the French as a foreign tongue ; for he said, " lette Frenchmen 
in French also enditen their queint termes, for it is kindly to 
their mouthes, and let us shew our fantasies in such vvordes as 
we learnden of our dames tongue." He would not, therefore, 
reject a useful word or a striking expression merely because 
they were of foreign birth, but always kept in view the noble 
aim of improving his mother-tongue, and thus contributed 
largely to its progress. For this he deserves the more thanks, 
as he had to contend with great difficulties. He found the 
foreign element, the French, not quite blended nor harmonized 
with the native Saxon : it had as yet passed but very partially 
through the amalgamating process of common usage. Hence 
arose a most unsettled state of pronunciation, or, rather, accen- 
tuation, as the letters and syllables which afterwards became 
mute then still retained their proper sound, as in French. Of 
this he complains himself in his Troilus and Cressus, where he 
says : 

" And for there is so great diversity, 
In [English and in writing of our tongue, 
So pray I to God that none miswrite thee, 
No thee mismetrc for default of tongue,^ 
And read whcreso thou be or elles sung, 
That thou be understood, God I bcseeche." 

CHAUCER. 1"73 

This great diversity of spelling, and the absepce of all fixed 
rules of orthography and pronunciation, are, as is well known, 
defects under which the English labors to the present day. 
They were the almost unavoidable result of the gradual amal- 
gamation of so different elements. Much, however, was done 
by Chaucer to establish greater uniformity ; and the power of 
the poet in improving his language in mere matters of form, 
also, may be measured by the simple fact that it is to him, 
mainly, that the English owes its infinitives without the for- 
mer n, its participles in ing, its single article the, and its con- 
tracted forms of the participle past. It remains true of him 
what Lydgate said, that he 

.... "made first to dystylle and raine 
The gold dew dropys of speche and eloquence 
Into our tnnge through his excellence." 


Occleve and Lydgate James I. Charles of Orleans Caxton and Contempo- 
raries Sir Thomas More. 

THIS great work of Chaucer was supported and continued by 
men like Occleve and Lydgate, whose writings, though feeble as 
compositions, still contributed to propagate and establish those 
improvements in the language of their land which were now 
beginning to prevail at large. That Occleve, as well as Gower 
and Chaucer, had originally been bred to the law, led Watson 


to ascribe to lawyers the merit of having first polished and 
adorned the English tongue. It surely was not due to the 
poetical genius of Lyclgate, whose " Siege of Troy," written at 
the command of Henry V., when still Prince of Wales, is most 
verbose and diffuse, and could hardly earn for its author the 
praise bestowed upon him by the same critic, " that he added 
considerably to those amplifications of the English tongue, and 
was one of those writers whose % style is clothed with the per- 
spicuity of English phraseology of the present day." An ex- 
cuse for the poet, whose language is otherwise clear and fluent, 
and whose merits of his mother-tongue are undeniable, may 
possibly be found in the fact, that age deprived him, as he says, 
"of all the subtylte of curious makyng in Englyshe to endyte." 
The authors of the latter half of the fourteenth century had 
thus exercised such influence on their vernacular as to form it 
fully and rationally. It was then cultivated more generally, 
and written with some approach to uniformity. Nor are his- 
torical proofs wanting of the estimation which the newly-de- 
veloped language had by such means acquired in the eyes of 
the great and even of foreigners. James I., who was educated 
in London, wrote, as is well known, his poem in honor of Jane 
Beaufort, the granddaughter of John of Gaunt, and afterwards 
his wife, in English. Such examples could not fail to have a 
general and lasting effect; and ''The King's Quair" (cahier) 
deserves to be mentioned for the same, if for no better cause. 
Equally familiar are the sweet poems which Charles of Orleans, 
the father of Louis XII., wrote, when English policy and French 
injustice kept him, after the battle of Agincourt, for twenty-five 
long years a prisoner in England. 

CAXTOX. 175 

It has already been mentioned that William Caxton, as an 
author and as a printer, produced probably as great a change 
in English as Chaucer himself; and the astonishing effects of 
the increased frequency with which English was now written 
and printed, are easily seen in the greater brevity of expression, 
compactness of construction, and occasional elegance of later 
authors. Already, in 1447, William Lichfield left 3083 ser- 
mons written by his own hand in English ; and the translation 
of the ^neid, which Gawin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, pub- 
lished in 1512, at a time when no metrical version of any 
classic, except Boethius, existed in English, gave ample proof 
of the progress and the increased capacity of the language. 
How nearly the latter then already approached the English of 
our day, and with what gigantic strides it must therefore have 
emerged from its former state of confusion and irregularity, 
may easily be seen in the many works of that age, which is 
generally considered the commencement of a new era in polite 
English literature. With the Paston letters, the metrical chro- 
nicles of Harding, and Sir John Fortescue's discourses, the old 
obsolete English seems to have disappeared. Even these works, 
however, present only occasionally antiquated forms and words, 
as they still prevailed about 1570, and they appear not unin- 
telligible, but only quaint, and present no difficulty to the mo- 
dern reader possessed of general information. Sir Thomas 
More's historical writings and ballads, like the Xut Brown 
Maid, cause often surprise by their modern turn and structure. 
The former proves his noble heart, by his fondness for his mo- 
ther-tongue. He says : " English is plenteouse enoughe to ex- 
presse oure myndes in anythinge whereof one man hath use to 


speeke with another ; " and when it is said to be " rather bar- 
barous," he indignantly calls that "all a fantasye." He thus 
earned Ben Jonson's praise, that his works might be considered 
models of a pure and elegant style; while Hallam calls his 
history of Richard III. " the first example of good English lan- 
guage, pure and conspicuous, well chosen, without vulgarisms 
or pedantry." 


Henry VIII. Elizabeth Surrey and Wyatt English Satirists John Skelton 
Spenser Ancient Languages in England Sir Thomas Browne. 

HENRY VIII. attempted poetry himself, and Elizabeth wrote 
(with charcoal on a shutter in her prison) " A Ditty ; " but a 
more marked proof of the importance which these sovereigns 
attached to the development of the national tongue appears in 
the liberal policy by which they enabled the literature of their 
days to aid in its gradual refinement. Italian sonnets also be- 
came known in England, and were successfully imitated by men 
of great talent, like the unfortunate Henry Howard, Earl of 
Surrey, who had studied the poetry of the continent with such 
success as to enable him to seize the spirit as well as the form 
of the great Petrarch himself. The effect in England was the 
same as in Italy. The desire to express distinctly the most 
minute shades of sentiment, led to a new and happy coinage or 
combination of words : picturesque, compound epithets and 
glowing metaphors were invented, and the necessity of observ- 


ing the strict metre and complicated rhyme of these models 
taught English authors conciseness, accuracy, and harmony. A 
race of satirists also sprang up some successful, like William 
Roy, whose nervous language told with great effect upon Car- 
dinal Woolsey ; others, like John Hey wood, compelled by 
Queen Mary's persecution to seek refuge abroad. Both these 
authors, however, wielded their English tongue with a forcible 
pointedness, which developed new powers and gave it additional 
versatility. Hey wood's collection of English proverbs possesses, 
moreover, its intrinsic interest for the philologist. The doubt- 
ful but not unimportant honor of being the father of English 
doggrel belongs to one of these satirists, John Skelton, tutor to 
Henry VHI. in his youth, and "a great scholar" in the eyes 
of the learned Erasmus. Oxford made him her poet laureate, 
but posterity has judged differently. Pope calls him the 
" beastly Skelton," and then saves him by coupling him with 
"Chaucer's worst ribaldry learned by rote;" whilst Coleridge 
speaks of his " Boke of Phylipp Sparrowe " as of an exquisite 
and original poem. His only but great merit lies in the happy 
use he made of the vulgar forms of his vernacular, in address- 
ing the people in the language of the people, and in the fact 
that, as he says, 

" Tho' my ryme be ragged, 
Tattered and jagged, 
Budely rain beaten, 
Busty and moth eaten, 
If ye take well therewith, 
It hath in it some pith." 


In this respect he adds to the merit of being, with the exception 
of Howard and Wyatt, the only English poet between Chaucer 
and Elizabeth, that of forming the connecting link between the 
genuine and vernacular poetry of Langland and Chaucer, and 
the Elizabethan dramatists. The praise bestowed upon him 
by Caxtoa, that he "translated oute of Latyn into Englysche, 
not in rude and olde language, but in polished and ornate 
terms craftely," applies but to a small portion of his work, such 
as his poetic elegy on Edward III. whom he represents as 
saying : 

"Where is now my conquest and victory? 
"Where is my riches and royal array? 
Where be my coursers and my horses hye ? 
Where is my myrth, my solas and my play? 
As vanyte to nought al is wandred away. 
0, Lady Bes, longe for me may ye call ! 
For I am departed tyl domis day ; 
But love ye the Lord that is soveraygne of all. 
Where be my castles and buyldynges royall ? 
But Windsor alone, now I have no mo, 
And of Eton the prayers perpetuall, 
Et ecce nunc in pulvere dormio." 

In these quaint but expressive effusions he really shows the 
happy harmony of language and of thought, which belonged to 
that more refined period of letters, and, no doubt, assisted both 
in developing and enriching the language and in improving 
and refining the tasto of those who used it. In his bitter, ir- 
reverent satires against Woolsey, he is, on the contrary, insuf- 
ferably coarse and offensive, and apt to be, when gay and 
frolicsome, rather indelicate and unscrupulous. The occasional 


obscurity of his language arises principally from his perpetual 
allusions to old customs and long-forgotten events ; from his 
frequent use of cant phrases, quaint terms, snatches and burdens 
of popular songs ; and from his general and unrestrained use 
of the vulgar tongue. In spite of these drawbacks and his 
frequent Latin expressions, he showed, however, undoubted 
talent and masterly skill in using the Saxon part of the lan- 
guage, and thus succeeded occasionally in writing whole pages 
which bear a closer resemblance to the English of our day than 
less idiomatic writing of much later authors. The book of the 
Sparrow, for instance, contains these stanzas, which bear but 
few traces of having been written in 1508 : 

" It was so pretty a fool 
It would sit on a stool, 
A learned after my school. 

It had a velvet cap, 

And would sit in my lap, 

And seek after small worms 

And sometimes white bread crumbs. 

A many times and oft, 
Between my breasts soft 
It would lie arest ; 
It was so propre and prest ; 
Sometimes would he gasp, 
When he saw a wasp, 
A fiy or a gnat, 
He would fly at that, 
And prettily would he pant 
When he saw an ant. 

Lord, how he would pry 
After the butterfly 1 


Lord, how he would hop 
After the grasshop ! 
And when I said, Phip ! Phip I 
Then he would leap and skip. 
Take me by the lip. 

Phylip would seeke and take 
All the fleas blake 
That he could there espye 
With his wanton eye." 

It was left, however, to the exquisite fancy and musical 
diction of another poet to carry the English to its greatest 
height of perfection, whilst he himself lived on the shores of 
Mulla, surrounded by a people who spoke a foreign, barbarous, 
and most inharmonious language. Spenser earned his renown, 
too, in spite of the bad tools with which he had to work a 
language not yet quite formed, and to which he rather injudi- 
ciously added unnecessary archaisms, while the style of his 
contemporaries underwent a change in the opposite direction. 
But the effects of this preference were as beneficial as his mo- 
tives had been honorable. He took the language at a time 
when it was still rude and imperfect, hesitating, in many essen- 
tial parts, between the Saxon and the Norman pronunciation, 
and by his genius moulded it so as to bring out all its latent 
riches and unsuspected musical harmony and beauty. A still 
greater difficulty, which he triumphantly overcame, and which 
served him as a means by which most to benefit his mother- 
tongue, and of adding another remarkable instance of the influ- 
ence which literature may exercise on national tongues, was the 
prevailing partiality for the ancient languages. They had but 


just become known again, arid to the cbarm of novelty and 
fashion were added the powerful attractions of literary treasures 
either newly discovered, or, at least, now first generally known- 
The sovereigns themselves shared this fondness. Anna Boleyn 
read Greek with facility and delight; and Queen Elizabeth 
replied in Greek to the address of a Polish ambassador. Criti- 
cism, on the other hand, was but in its infancy, and pedantry 
a prevailing fault, not of the studious and the learned, but of 
the courtier and the illiterate. Most injudicious attempts were 
made to introduce large numbers of Latin and Greek words ; 
men were not satisfied with such additions to their own language 
as were necessary and useful, nor did they add according to 
some systematic method ; but these importations from abroad 
were made at random, and frequently from a mere blind love 
for long, full-sounding expressions. This anomalous jargon 
was hailed by many influential men as a model of melody and 
refinement They considered it a matter of national pride to 
imitate the scholars of the continent, who knew no other lan- 
guage but Latin for science and literature, and the English was 
threatened once more with the entire destruction of its power 
and original purity. A scholar of rank and influence, Sir 
Thomas Browne, who wasiiimself by no means free from such, 
vice, said that it would " soon become necessary to learn Latin 
in order to understand English, and a -work would prove of 
equal facility in either." It was at this period that the English 
was enriched with words which ought for ever to preclude it 
from all complaint of long Spanish or German compounds, such 
as incomprehensibility, incommensurability, supererogatory, in- 
divisibility, and thousands of the same stamp and length, 



The English Reformers Sir John Cheke Roger Ascham Thomas Wilson 
and early English Grammars The Latinists of the age of James Hooker 

IN this emergency two branches of literature especially came 
to the aid of the language, and employed their powerful influence 
to preserve the character of the national tongue from foreign 
aggression and injurious admixture. The fathers of English 
Reformation, from Wicliffe to Latimer, employed a language 
which addressed itself to the people, as it was used by men 
who had risen from the people, and felt attached to it by the 
strongest ties of love of their country and Christian zeal. They 
kept their works, therefore, remarkably free from Latin influ- 
ence, and always preferred the vernacular in speaking and 
writing. Translations of the Bible came again into general 
use, familiarizing all with the Saxon forms of their idiom in its 
native simplicity and force, and thus establishing a standard 
which was in itself a protection and a safeguard against too 
general innovation. Anglo-Saxon authors were once more 
rescued from oblivion, and as the courage and the zeal of the 
Reformers rose with the aid they received at the hand of their 
bold and independent ancestors, their language was strengthened 


by the frequent use of half-forgotten Saxon terms, which, now 
resumed their former power, and soon obtained a strong hold 
upon the mind of the nation. It was, of course, especially 
among the uneducated classes in the agricultural districts of 
England, that the national idiom was thus preserved in a state 
of purity and stability, while the so-called intellectual orders of 
society went on ingrafting foreign and often heterogeneous 
elements. Still the English proper had thus become the lan- 
guage of religion ; Protestant England regarded it with national 
partiah'ty and pious reverence. Wicliffe became as familiar to 
court, city, and country as Chaucer; and a better knowledge 
of his and similar works was soon considered essential to the 
character of a well-bred man. 

These feelings were, of course, not without their effect upon 
Spenser, and caused, no doubt, his great love of the language 
of Chaucer, which, though slightly antiquated, was neither 
obsolete nor unfashionable. He boldly proclaimed his prefer- 
ence. He appealed from the vitiated taste of the court and 
the learned, to the good sense of the nation ; he thought that 
significant words could not be degraded by passing through 
the lips of the people, and, with fixed purpose, formed his 
style after the homely, but venerable models of the great mas- 
ters before him. Of the eminent success with which he availed 
himself of the fertility, pliancy, and harmony of the English, 
and of the influence he thus exercised on his native ton<nie, his 

O * 

world-wide fame gives ample evidence. 

If equal honors did not fall to the share of others who 
labored with no less earnestness and love in the same good 
cause, the fault lies, partly at least, with the lawless state of 


science and literature in those days. It was an age of adven- 
ture and experiment ; not only on the high seas in search of 
new continents, or in the realms of science and faith to discover 
new doctrines and creeds, but in language also. The whole 
new world of antiquity, with its riches in words and wisdom, 
had suddenly been thrown open to all ; no guide pointed out 
the way, no barriers limited the range of thought or taste, and 
the use to be made of these large treasures was left to the 
unexperienced discretion of perplexed writers. All the greater 
is the merit, and all the more striking the influence of those 
authors who boldly dared to stem the current of fashion and 
popular taste, and to break the shackles with which Latin and 
Greek were endeavoring to fetter the national tongue of England. 
Already Sir John Cheke, the great professor of Greek, had 
proposed a plan of reforming the English of his age, by eradi- 
cating all words that were not of Anglo-Saxon origin. What 
he failed to achieve by his pamphlets and lectures, his pupil, 
Roger Ascham, furthered at least by efforts the more praise- 
worthy, as it required, certainly, no small virtue in a man so 
fondly attached to the ancient languages, to abstain from using 
them largely, especially at a time when public taste counte- 
nanced and encouraged such innovations. But Ascham's mind 
was too patriotic to permit him to think that his native tongue 
could be improved by the admixture of foreign phrases, as he 
says : "If you put malvesye and sacke, redde wine and white, 
ale and beere, and al in one pot, you shall make a drincke not 
easye to be knowen, nor yet holsome for the bodye." In 
obedience, therefore, to the precept of Aristotle, to think like 
the wise, but to speak like the common people, he was the first 

Ro(iER ASCHAM. 185 

to set an example of a pure and simple taste in writing, to 
which England owes more than to his zeal and success in the 
cultivation of Greek. He rejected the use of foreign words 
and idioms, and endeavored to show in his Toxophilus, which 
he dedicated to u all the Gentlemen and Yomen of England," 
and intended for a model of a pure English prose style, that 
such a subject might be treated with grace and effect in English 
as well as in Latin. Himself one of the most learned and 
accomplished scholars, he places his preference for the former 
upon the ground that " as for the Lattine or Greeke tongue, 
e verve thinge is so excellentlye done in them, that none can do 
better. In the Englishe tongue, contrary, euery thing in a man- 
nere so meanlye both for the matter and handelinge, that no 
man can do worse . . . Many Englishe writers .... usinge strange 
wordes as Lattine, French and Italian, do make all thinges 
darke and harde." 

Xot less credit is due to the zealous and distinguished, but 
unfortunate author of the first English work on Rhetoric. 
Thomas Wilson, whom Elizabeth had frequently employed as 
ambassador in her negotiations with Mary Stuart and the Low 
Countries, and who died 1581 as dean of Durham, left, among 
numerous writings, his " System of Logik," and " Art of 
Rhetorik," for the " use of all suche as are studious of eloquence, 
sette forthe in Englishe." His indignation at the reckless man- 
ner in which foreign words of all kinds and languages were 
introduced, was only equalled by his contempt for some efforts 
at alliteration made by contemporary authors. "With regard to 
the former he says : " Some seek so far outlandish English that 
they forget altogether their mother's language, and I dare swear 


this, if some of their mothers were alive, they were not able to 
tell what they say : and yet their fine English clerks will say 
that they speak their mother tongue, if a man should charge 
them with counterfeiting the King's English. Some far-jour- 
neyed gentlemen, at their return home, like as they love to go 
in foreign apparel, so they powder their talk with oversea lan- 
guage. He that cometh lately out of France, will talk French- 
English, and never blush at the matter. Another chops in with 
English-Italianated, and applieth the Italian phrase to our 
English speaking. The fine courtier talks nothing but Chaucer 

the unlearned or foolish fantastical, that smells but of 

learning (such fellows as have seen learned men in their days) 
will so Latin their tongue that the simple cannot but wonder 
at their talk, and think surely they speak by some revelation." 
He expresses as energetically his preference for those who can 
write elegant English, which he seems to mention as a talent 
somewhat rare in his days, for he says : " I knowe some 
Englishemen that in this poinct have suche a gift in the Englishe 
as fewe in Latin have the like." Such just and patriotic views 
ought to have met with better reward, but poor Wilson, who 
was tried in Rome, "coumpted an heretike," and narrowly 
escaped to "his deare countrie," remarked not without bitter- 
ness : " If others never gctte more by bookes than I have doen, 
it wer better be a carter than a scholar, for worldlie profite " 
a sentiment, no doubt, re-echoed in many an age and distant 

The English language, thus established by literature, scon 
found its grammarian also. An attempt, at least, was made to 
settle the orthography of the still strangely mixed idiom, and 


in "W. Bullokar's " Bref Grammar for English, for the 
parcing of English spech, and the easier coming to the know- 
ledge of grammar for other langages," we find, by the side of 
much affectation and gross ignorance, an earnest desire to give 
a more rational form to old and to newly coined words ; and, 
curiously enough, perhaps the first attempt at a phonographic 
mode of spelling English. 

It is an equally striking evidence of the influence which 
literature constantly exercises on that language which it em- 
plop as its instrument, that the subsequent period presents, as 
it were, a retrograde movement in the development of the 
English. The country was fairly overflooded with Latin. The 
sovereign, notwithstanding he had once ordered his son Henry 
to write to him in English, "because it best becometh a king 
to purifie and make famouse his own tongue," did all in his 
power to deserve the title of "king pedagogue of a nation- of 
pedants," and his example was but too subserviently followed 
by court and people. Latin was the language of European 
literature, and English scholars read little but Latin need we 
wonder that they imbibed a habit of thinking Latin, and of 
transferring, when they wrote, Latin idioms to their style ? For 
new thoughts and new inventions, brought by the full tide of 
reviving knowledge, new terms had to be created, and these 
were, as a matter of course, chosen from the Latin. But Latin 
was made to do more than its legitimate duty of refining and 
purifying the vernacular ; it was used without necessity and 
regularity. Sir Thomas Browne, Jeremy Taylor, Donne, Bur- 
ton, and others, mostly recluse men, writing far from the world, 
and not for the many but for the few, who constituted the class of 


learned men in those days, introduced thousands of words which 
never have taken root in English, and have since become obso- 
lete. Pedantry, however, was popular for the time; and if 
divines and philosophers ever could destroy a language, it would 
certainly have been done then. The good sense of the people, 
and a returning consciousness of the superiority of their mother- 
tongue, caused them, fortunately, soon to drop words which 
could he found as brief and forcible in English ; as, for instance, 
Jeremy Taylor's coinage of funest (sad), effigiate (conform), re- 
spersed (scattered), deturpated (deformed), clancularly (stealthi- 
ly), ferity (fierceness), conception (rebuke), intenerate (soften) ; 
whilst others, which he used incorrectly, like immured for en- 
compassed, extant for standing out, insolent for unusual, contri- 
tion for bruising, and irritation for making void, were never 
allowed to pass current. Latin influence was also felt in the 
structure of the language ; English particles were disused, be- 
cause the synthetic Latin had none, and long periods and com- 
plicated constructions abound even in the works of Hooker 
and Milton. They may have given, as Coleridge thinks, " a 
stately march and sometimes majestic and organ-like har- 
mony" to their diction; but they did not agree with the simple 
directness of the English, and, on the whole, have contributed 
but little to the improvement of that language. Milton's genius 
brought, once more, the aid of literature to the rescue of the 
threatened language. In his speech for a free press, he inveighs 
earnestly against authors who are " thus apishly Romanizing, 
and whose learned pens can cast no ink without Latin." In 
his works he showed, by his excellent judgment and exquisite 
taste, the proper use that ought to be made of the idioms of 


classic languages : not to mould the outward form of the ver- 
nacular by them, but to infuse into it, by their aid, a classical 
spirit. Upon this principle he acted himself, with unerring 
instinct ; and although all the most idiomatic writers of that 
period, South and Swift not less than others, were early tinc- 
tured with classical literature, Milton alone was both the most 
learned of poets and the purest Saxon writer of his age, using 
the Latin to adorn his style, and at the same time proving the 
English to be equal to the most sublime conceptions. 


The Restoration French in England Addison and the Essayists Johnson's 
Dictionary Home Tooke Recent changes in English. 

AFTER the English language had thus been firmly established 
in its essential features, and seemed to be secured against the 
most imminent dangers, literature was content to direct its 
gradual refinement by filing away asperities, throwing out 
redundancies, and naturalizing useful exotic terms. This guid- 
ance became most visible when new efforts were made by well- 
meaning but injudicious writers, to add stores of foreign words 
to a tongue that needed them not. 

The Restoration had already brought, with its young mon- 
arch and merry court, a number of French words and expres- 
sions. Their taste and associations were all derived from 
France; a knowledge of her manners and language was con- 


sidered necessary for every one who laid claim to higher polish 
and "gentility," and as Latin returned to law-records, French 
came back to reports ; highways were called again " chemins," 
tithes " dimes," and man and wife " baron et feme." An erased 
portion of the MS. of Rowe's poem on Dryden, copied by Old- 
mixon, contains the following lines, characteristic of the influ- 
ence of the returning sovereign, and the striking difference 
between the pure, Addisonian English of Dryden's poems, and 
the mixed language of his comparatively worthless plays : 

i" Backt by his friends the Invader brought along 
A crew of foreign words into our tongue 
To ruin and enslave the freeborn English song ; 

Still the prevailing fashion propt his (Dryden's) throne 
And to iour volumes let his plays run on." 

Some of these French terms, however, were really serviceable, 
and enriched the English not only with distinct expressions for 
distinct ideas, but also with different names for the same object, 
viewed in different lights. Addison, and the contemporary 
essayists, gave it new dignity and elegance. They attempted, 
for the first time, to use the concentrated phraseology of the 
language of abstraction for the discussion of common topics, 
and thus raised the general style, and tuned the ear of the 
public to the perception of harmony in prose as well as in 
poetry. Of all these authors, Johnson is commonly considered 
the highest authority and the most influential writer. His 
merit lies, with many, principally in the " Dictionary of the 
English Language," an undertaking, the necessity of which 
Swift had already expressed in his "Proposal for correcting, 


improving, and ascertaining the English tongue, in which, were 
it not for the Bible and Common Prayer Book, we should 
hardly be able to understand any thing that was written, say, 
two hundred years ago." Johnson's genius and literary sove- 
reignty are historical facts ; as a great and powerful writer, as 
the first critic of England, he checked the impertinence of inno- 
vation by the success with which he exhibited in his great work, 
at one view, the resources of his mother-tongue, and the use 
made of them by the best writers. In this aspect his influence 
on the form of the English language is undoubted, and gener- 
ally admitted to have been healthy and permanent. On the 
intrinsic merit of his works opinions may differ ; it is certain 
that if he did not exactly coin new derivatives, he revived dis- 
used terms and employed them frequently, influenced, no doubt, 
by his familiarity with Sir Thomas Browne, Jeremy Taylor, and 
Burton, who supplied him with Latinisms. Of these his well- 
known definition of "net-work" is a popular illustration. The 
selection of words and the copiousness of his dictionary have as 
little escaped criticism. It has been said that he starved what 
ought to have been kept up, and pampered what he should have 
kept down, until the language had, like himself, little sinew and 
much fat The criticism, however, is itself like one of those 
Johnsonian expressions, full of fine words and brilliant by anti- 
thesis, which were so easy to imitate, and so tempting, especially 
to younger writers, that his imitators ought to be blamed more 
than the great author himself, whose later writings were, more- 
over, much purer than those he published first. More serious 
is the charge that Johnson wrote but a dialect of English, and 
gave in his dictionary merely a selection of those words which 


form the English language. Chalmers, in his Apology for the 
Believers, assures his readers that there are in Shakspeare alone 
one thousand words not found in Johnson's Dictionary ; and 
the Rev. Gilbert Wakefield, in a letter to Mr. Fox, states that 
he had collected from. Milton more than five hundred " solid 
and nervous" words, equally missing. But it is no easy task 
to ascertain with tolerable precision what words were, at any 
given period, generally used and received ; and no better proof 
can be given of this difficulty than the fact that, for instance, 
Mr. Todd added, in his time, several thousand words more to 
the list ; whilst modern philologists assure us that there are now 
some thirteen thousand words in common use in England which 
do not appear in any (English) dictionary of the language. 

It is a matter of sincere regret with all who know the real 
merits of Home Tooke, that his spleen and causticity of temper 
should have prevented him from becoming what his talents and 
labors might easily have made him the father of modern Eng- 
lish. Darwin says very truly of him, that he first let in light 
upon the chaos of English etymology, and displayed the won- 
ders of formation in language at least in the particles. His 
mistaken vocation was the eternal bar to real greatness : the 
life-long struggle with it embittered his life and his mind, al- 
ready too fond of paradox, and made him the very Ishmael of 
literature and politics his hand against every man's hand, and 
every man's hand against his. 

During the last century, the influence of literature on the 
English language has perhaps been less evident, because of the 
general activity in all branches of human knowledge. A ten- 
dency to import a large number of Latin and Greek terms was 


the necessary consequence of the extension of physical sciences, 
of Botany, Geology, Conchology, Mineralogy, and Chemistry. 
These were, of course, mostly technical terms, formed as new 
words were required to answer to the advance made in know- 
ledge and the discovery of new facts. Fortunately, men of 
genius and taste were then also found to check the too free im- 
portation, and to limit the number of new words to the demands 
of absolute necessity. Paley, Sir John Herschel, and Sir Charles 
Bell, proved in their classic works that the result* of science 
may be stated with dignity, and expressed in a popular manner, 
without the slightest ostentation of terms. Southey discarded 
much of the cumbrous Latinity of Johnson, and enriched the 
language by valuable Saxonisms. He was probably, with Cob- 
bett, the most idiomatic writer of that day, as he always acted 
up to the views he thus expressed on that subject in a letter to 
AVilliam Taylor, of Norwich : " I can tolerate a Germanism for 
family sake ; but he who uses a French or Latin phrase where 
a pure old English word does as well, ought to be hung, drawn, 
and quartered for high treason against his mother-tongue," 

The most recent instance of the influence which authors 
have exercised on the English, is the tendency towards German- 
isms, produced by the increased familiarity with German litera- 
ture, and the intentional or unconscious imitation of German 
forms. Carlyle's peculiar style is perhaps the most striking 
evidence of such a change of literary standard: words like 
steamboat, handbook, fatherland, and standpoint are examples 
of those German formations that have actually been naturalized 
in English. 

Other languages present even more remarkable instances of 


the manner in which their literature has contributed to model 
and develope them, though probably in none of them can that 
influence be traced so distinctly from epoch to epoch. The 
Frenchified German of the age of Louis XIV., the strange and 
varied garb in which the Italian appeared at different times, the 
very existence of the Portuguese as a language, are so many 
cases of new standards erected and established by the powerful 
influence of literary genius. 



Not influenced by Literature Older and Purer Forms preserved Dutch, 
French, and Indian Elements. 

THE United States show, on the other hand, the not less inter- 
esting manner in which a language, not under the direct control 
of authors, and not acted upon by a national literature, hesitates 
to change its former standard, and to admit even such words as 
have long since been adopted by the people at large. The 
classic works of an Irving or a Prescott betray in no instance 
the native country of these authors ; and even the lighter litera- 
ture of the day presents but sparingly genuine Americanisms. 
It is from the lips of the people only, and in the columns of 
those eminently useful teachers of the nation, the newspapers, 
that the ancient bequest of the Puritan, and the tribute of the 
Indian, the Welsh, or the Norwegian can be found. No coun 


try presents apparently a wider field for changes, and stronger 
motives for altering the standard of our imported tongue. The 
vast distance that, until lately, separated it from the mother- 
tongue, was a safe protection for the sounds and forms of the 
sixteenth century. "Whilst the language of England has been 
subjected to the unceasing influence of continued contact with 
Europeans of other races and languages, the English of the 
United States has remained more or less stationary, and pre- 
serves many a word or expression, now called slang or provin- 
cial, but, in truth and reality, classic old English. As the 
French of the Canadas still approaches more nearly that of the 
regency and of the age of Louis XIII. and XIV., the English 
of the Northern States especially is far more Anglo-Saxon than 
that of England itself; and its colloquial peculiarities have be- 
come provincial or obsolete in the very parts of Great Britain 
from which the immigrants came, but may still be found in the 
standard authors of the period at which they left their home. 

In the wilderness of the Far "West, and the wilderness of 
free minds, new thoughts and new expressions have constantly 
been springing up, and new modes of thought have sought new 
forms of speech. But few only of these, and of the large contri- 
butions made by the different races who form the population of 
the United States, have found their way into the literature of 
America, and yet they belong to the most important and valu- 
able class of words. The Dutch have built stoops to houses, 
and placed bosses into workshops ; they have filled the kitchen 
with kohlsla, spack, and applegees, crullers and olykoke, and 
taught children to love their favorite St. Nicholas. New- York, 
from the sea-shore to the banks of the beautiful Mohawk, 


abound with Dutch names, and the Kaatskill Mountains ap- 
pear in albums by the side of the Abruzzi and the Pyrenees ; 
but where is the Dutch word that appears in literature ? The 
whole South is covered with bayous, saults, levees, crevasses, and 
every habitan from the St. Lawrence to the Ponchartrain has 
his calaboose and his cache ; but these names never travel be-' 
yond the ocean, and find their way in no other books but books 
of travel. The Indian hammock and wigwam, his canoe and 
mocassin, are among the few words of this class that have 
reached the shores of England, and will soon be found in Eng- 
lish dictionaries ; but the larger majority of these terms, 
though useful and legitimately adopted, are still looked upon as 
"provincial," and that merely because in this case language has 
not been supported by literature. 



Researches in Language Mode of Study Etymology Laws of Euphony 
Linguistique Highest purposes of Language. 

EVEN in a more strictly philosophic view, the advantages to bo 
derived from a scientific study of languages are of considerable 
importance. There is more to be read in language itself than 
in all that has been written by its aid. The great machinery 
of thinking, the only channel through which the soul of man 
can commune with Him who gave it, and with those who are 


made like ourselves, cannot fail to claim and engage our closest 
attention. In such studies we examine man, not in his material 
and animal relations, but in his peculiar and privileged charac- 
ter as an intellectual and rational being. Language shows us, 
moreover, the human mind not only in a single aspect, or in a 
mere passing activity, but in its very first, primitive manifesta- 
tions, and thus reveals to us the original poetry of the unworn 
mind of man, together with the various national appropriations 
of this original wild music to the infinite variety of human 
thought and affection. As we can think only in words, and as 
our sentiments ever remain vague and unproductive until they 
have been expressed to others, or at least to ourselves, language 
betrays all that those who speak it really are ; it exhibits the 
moral nature of man as well as the intellectual, and becomes 
thus eminently expressive in its beauty and perfection, and sig- 
nificant even in its corruptions. This is the intrinsic value of 
language, as an object of study and examination. Each idiom 
embodies all the thoughts and modes qf thinking of all ages, 
sexes, and classes of all the various minds and hearts of the 
nation who speak it as their Ternacular ; grouped together in 
families and viewed in the aggregate, these idioms represent the 
mental activity of races for thousands of years ; and if we finally 
unite them under certain laws and principles, language, as such, 
appears as the outward representative of the mind of the human 
race. In each idiom efforts are made to grasp and to express 
great truths ; in each, new and different views are formed ot 
this and the future world ; in each, a new side of the heaven- 
born mind of man is read, as it manifests itself in the same 
glorious search after eternal truth. In this respect, language is 


as faithful a mirror to art as to science or religion. The essen- 
tial principles of all are the same. Michael Angelo said that it 
was by the study of Dante he acquired the art of painting, 
sculpture, and architecture ; and Galileo affirmed that through 
painting he had become enamored of astronomy. When the 
brilliant and subtle, but false philosophy of the last century, in 
its folly undertook, to dethrone God, it invented an idea and a 
name to stand between the Infinite, of which it meant to deprive 
man, and the chaos, into which it was plunging him, an abstrac- 
tion, an idle sound : " Supreme Being." God is a word as it 
is an idea : the Supreme Being of Robespierre and his bloody 
apostles, and of the sophists and infidels of our day, is a part 
of a sentence, neither a word nor an idea. It is in this light 
that Coleridge looked upon words when he said that, if they 
are not things, they are living forms by which the things of 
most importance to mankind are actuated, combined, and hu- 
manized. The same poet shows, perhaps more markedly than 
other modern authors, that a nice use of language is a proof of 
a feeling, as well as of a well-informed man, and that a loving, 
appreciating heart, holds more knowledge than a clear head and 
a bright understanding. He parted ideas and sentences 
asunder, to exhibit their indestructible essence and beauty, as 
the mineralogist detects and exhibits the primary form of the 
crystal in a lump of earth ; and encouraged by his example and 
success, the modern writers of England have more and more 
illustrated the force and purity of their native tongue. 

In such studies and researches, however, we must not only 
observe facts, but judge them ; we must not be content to look 
at phenomena, but through them; in fact, we must not stop at 


words, but proceed from words to things, and thus earn for our 
studies the name of a science. It has been too long the humble 
employment of philologists to study the anatomy of languages 
only ; they have, of late, fortunately begun to inquire into their 
physiology also, and soon, it is hoped, the genius of a language, 
its spiritual essence, will no longer be the veiled image of Sals. 
The philologist has, in such studies as these, three duties to 
perform. He must first trace the present forms of words in 
modern languages up to the living roots of ancient languages, 
and go as far back as he can, applying always the great laws 
which govern the formation and the subsequent changes of 
words. This branch is commonly called Etymology. He must, 
secondly, inquire into the reasons why such forms, and no 
others, have been chosen to express such ideas. Proceeding 
from the fundamental truth, that in the working of the divine 


mind of man, nothing is casual or arbitrary, he must try to 
trace the correspondence between the outer form and the inner 
meaning between word and idea, and thus engage in the doc- 
trine of sounds. His last inquiry will be directed to the changes 
and alterations which these forms have undergone, through the 
agency of various influences from without and withiu; he will 
ask when and how they took place ? and establish both the 
time and the first cause upon such principles as constitute the 
branch of this science which has lately become best known as 

When a language has been thus investigated and illustrated, 
the philologist can proceed to the higher branches of his science. 
Having the material all before him, clear and transparent in all 
its aspects, he will now be able to judge how far each idiom has 


fitted itself and become capable of fulfilling the great purposes 
of language generally, and to what extent it may contribute, 
within its range, to the higher purposes of life. Only then can 
the study of languages be called a science, when it desires 
knowledge not merely for practical use, nor even for the higher 
purposes of literature only, but as an aid in the lofty vocation 
of man, the never-ceasing search for truth and light. 



No Language original and unmixed Historical School Lexical School Fatal 
Errors Critical School. 

VARIOUS methods have been pursued in these researches, but 
all are based upon one common principle, that no language, by 
itself, is sufficient to explain its own nature and character. 
The circle of no idiom is complete, because no idiom that is 
known to us has arisen simply and solely from a certain number 
of roots. On the contrary, all languages of the earth have 
been, and are still, in unceasing intercourse with each other, 
not to speak of the thousand delicate fibres by which they all 
are connected with their common ancestors. Hence the abso- 
lute necessity of a comparative study of languages. History 
has taught us, from time immemorial, that no part of the globe 
is so remote and inaccessible that it could not have obtained its 
from elsewhere. What does modern science know 


of the time when England and Sweden formed part of the 
European continent ? What does it altogether know of the 
former distribution of land and water on our globe? How 
little, then, can we judge, from present appearances, or from 
historical records, of the relation in which races and their idioms, 
now separated by oceans or continents, may once have stood 
to each other ! The presumption is, that no modern language 
is quite pure and unmixed, as all of them were first spoken by 
some race of men, as unwilling to stay at home at a time when 
nations travelled from world to world, as unable to resist en- 
tirely the constant pressure of new waves of migration. Whether 
they exchanged their home for distant countries, or were in- 
vaded and subdued in the land of their fathers, their language 
must necessarily have undergone frequent and important changes. 
Even the mere circumstance of geographical proximity has a 
powerful effect upon idioms, although they may belong to en- 
tirely different families. The neglect of this fact has often misled 
otherwise accurate observers, who saw in such accidental effects 
the result of original relationship. Thus the Magyar owed to 
its admixture of elements borrowed from neighboring races, its 
once assumed Indo-European character. The Lettic is so filled 
with Slavic elements, that it has often been called a Sclavic 
tongue ; and even the apparently most unimpressive Chinese, 
shows in the dialect of Peking marked traces of the Tungusian, 
acquired by frequent intercourse with near neighbors. 

Hence the first rule in the study of languages : to inquire 
into the connection of each idiom with others, as long as any 
trace of such relationship is perceptible, and to pursue these in- 
vestigations into every part of the idiom, its words, grammati- 


cal forms, and general nature. For this purpose, the grammati- 
cal elements, especially, the analogies in form, and meaning of 
inflections, are made the principal subject of inquiry. This is 
the system now generally adopted, and most successfully adopt- 
ed by Bopp and his school. It is the only possible one, in the 
comparison of languages which belong to the same family, but 
are historically and geographically so far apart as, for instance, 
the German and the Sanscrit. The result is a clear exposition 
of the etymological origin and development of the analogous 
grammatical forms in these idioms. It does not show, how- 
ever, the historical connection between them, or their relation 
to each other in point of time. 

To this subject the so-called Historical School pays more 
exclusive attention. It endeavors to show the different use which 
a language made, at various times, of certain elements, and, if 
possible, the very period of transition, when one use was given 
up, and another substituted for it. Upon this historical basis it 
then establishes the analogies of the secondary language with 
others of the same epoch. It is this school which has first and 
triumphantly established the great law, that all languages were 
formed by nations in a migratory state, when those, who spoke 
them, were hunters, herdsmen, or warriors. Then only were all 
words vernacular, and there must be sought for the original re- 
lationship of idioms. The earlier the specimens of any modern 
language are, the more strikingly will they exhibit their affinity 
and analogy with others, because then its elements and forms 
are still in their simplest state, unaffected by all the various in- 
fluences that were subsequently brought to bear upon them. 
Hence, the nearer we approach the source from which the 


mighty river of a national idiom takes its first rise, the purer 
the water ; the more remote the period at which we study a 
language, the less disturbed it appears in its original structure. 
It is by such a process of investigation that foreigners have suc- 
ceeded in giving England the best works on the vernacular por- 
tion of her language. The Latin and French, as far as it ex- 

O O 

ists in English, are sufficiently well known, and the origin of 
such words can easily be traced ; but the original and most im- 
portant part of English is derived from the Anglo-Saxon, and 
can only be satisfactorily understood and illustrated by the aid 
of a thorough knowledge of that idiom. "Whilst English schol- 
ars neglected this important truth, the learned Rask devoted all 
his time and vast erudition to the study of Saxon, because he 
considered it indispensable for his researches in Danish ; and 
German authors did the same, from a conviction, that without 
a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon, they could not satisfactorily ex- 
plain the older forms of their own tongue. 

Formerly philologists limited their researches almost en- 
tirely to the study of the material of languages ; and the so- 
called Lexical School bestows, even now, its attention principal- 
ly on words and forms only. A mere comparison of words is, 
by those who follow this method, considered sufficient, upon the 
principle that words form the substance of language, whilst 
they hold grammar to be only its form or fashion. The talent 
and the perseverance of distinguished men who formed this 
school, have produced astonishing results, whatever may be 
now thought of the vast superiority of a combination of the 
critical systems with the lexical. The success of the latter has, 
necessarily, been most striking where it has been brought to 


bear upon a single idiom or a distinct family of languages. 
The works of Hammer Purgstall and Balbi, of Abel Remu- 
sat in his Researches in Chinese, and of Julius Klaproth in his 
"Asia Polyglotta," belong to the noblest monuments of the en- 
ergy and perseverance displayed by authors who employed this 
method. Of equal, if not higher merit, are the more general 
compilations of Whiter, in his " Etymologicum Universale," Lt. 
Col. Vans Kennedy, in " Researches," Count Gulianoff, in " Uni- 
ty of Language," Pallas, in his famous compilation, undertaken 
by order of the Empress Catharine of Russia, Baron Merian, in 
his " Tripartitum," and " Principes de 1'Etude Comparative des 
Langues," and Fried rich Schlegel, in his " Philosophy of 

The great difficulty with which, the Lexical School has not 
always successfully battled, is the frequency of accidental like- 
ness, and the facility with which resemblances and analogies 
may be discovered, as long as the mere outward form of words 
is considered a sufficient standard by which to measure their 
affinity. The English " good " is strikingly like the " goeta " of 
the African Galla, and "leg," like the Sowansi "lug;" the 
Modern Greek for " eye " is " mati," and the Marquesas Island- 
ers call it " mata." Even names of localities sometimes cor- 
respond in a surprising manner ; a " Carnac " is found in Up- 
per Egypt, as well as near Morbihan in France, and " Lomond," 
and " Jura," are names that occur alike in Eastern France, in 
Scotland, and in even more remote portions of the globe. But 
these casual resemblances, however striking in themselves, and 
amusing to the lover of the curious, are worth nothing in a sci- 
entific view ; at least, they prove nothing, because they prove 


too much, and teach that affinities of languages must not be 
sought for in mere outward and casual analogies. Coincidences 
of this kind, says the learned Pott, are alike only as flour and 
arsenic resemble each other. Ask the rats, he adds, after they 
have eaten the arsenic, if they have found out the difference. 
Pott himself had tasted of the poison in his first philological at- 
tempts, and could thus the more effectually warn others against 
the sad mistakes into which even profound thinkers and inde- 
fatigable students have been led, by attaching undue weight to 
outward resemblances, and a merely empiric mode of investiga- 
tion. It is well known that Spanish was once proven to be 
genuine Irish, and not a Romance idiom ; and French authors 
offer, perhaps, still stranger examples of whimsical explanations. 
Henri Estienne, with others, claimed for his mother tongue the 
distinction of a direct and unmixed descent from ancient Greek ; 
Estienne Guichard and Pierre le Loyer discovered, on the con- 
trary, its Hebrew origin, and traced it back to the language of a 
Jewish colony sent to France in the times of the Patriarchs. 
They found that the inhabitants of Anjou were descendants of 
Esau, especially '' because they were so fond of lentils." Per- 
ron saw in French the language of the Autochthones of Gaul, 
whom Julian praises as silent, though not as mute ; Gebelin 
called it pure Celtic, and only Raynouard established its Roman 

Much safer, and, as tar as the present state of the science 
admits of a comparison, much more successful, is the so-called 
Critical School, which attaches much less value to the number 
of resembling words than to their kind, and makes grammati- 
cal analogies and affinities the principal standard by which to 


judge the connection between different idioms. Here no claim 
to historical affinity is admitted, until the whole material and 
the original texture of a language, have been carefully exam- 
ined according to distinctly traceable and generally acknow- 
ledged rules of analogy. The strictest proof is demanded, 
that resemblances thus discovered are neither merely ideal nor 
accidental, but essential ; that they are not the result of intru- 
sion from without, but indigenous ; and not isolated, but run- 
ning through the whole idiom. The admirable works of men 
like Bunsen and Grimm are ample evidences of the safety and 
efficiency of this method. Their researches have, moreover, es- 
tablished certain general rules, which may now be considered 
as the fundamental laws upon which the Science of Compara- 
tive Philology is based. They are briefly these : 

Each idiom must first be studied, individually, by itself. 
Its present forms must be traced back, through all their essen- 
tial changes in the course of time, to the oldest and earliest 
epochs of existence. Where the material exists, ancient docu- 
ments like the Edda in Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon Chronicles 
in English, and Ulfilas' Bible in German, are studied and com- 
pared with more recent forms. If there is no such literature 
accessible, as in the Slavic family, the older forms must, at 
least, be deduced by logic, analogy, and a comparison with 
cognate idioms. Only when thus the first, pure, and genuine 
elements of a language have been obtained, stripped of all the 
effects of subsequent modifications by historic influences, acci- 
dent or casual contact with other races only then can the lan- 
guage be said to be known, and ready for comparison with 


All comparisons resting upon mere similarity, are now 
rejected, as simply amusing, but unproductive. The delight of 
former philologists in tracing certain words from what was 
fancifully called their first root, through a thousand van-ing 
forms, is little appreciated by modern scholars. To compare the 
Slavic " doter," with the Teutonic "doter," the Dutch " dochter," 
the German " tochter," the English " daughter," the Persian 
" duchtar," the Karelian " tutter," the Lappic " dauktar," and back 
again to the Greek &vyarr t o, is a pleasant, but, in itself, utterly 
unprofitable task, and leads, almost unavoidably, to mistakes ; 
like the pretended and just as plausible affinity between the 
Slavic " smrt," the Greek poQog and ^o/o, the Latin " more," 
and the German " mord ; " or, still worse, like the often quoted 
resemblance between the Greek uval.oyog and the German 
"aehnlick.'" Such similarity is not useful, not so much because 
these words do not all point to the same origin, as because the 
way in which they have been derived grammatically, and 
developed logically, can now be proved to have been a differ- 
ent one in almost every language ; and. as the result is to be 
ascribed to different causes, the final resemblance is by no means 
absolute proof of an original affinity. 

In comparing languages, therefore, with a view to trace 
their affinity, all words must at once be rejected that form not 
an essential part of the idiom. Mere interjections, the favorite 
subjects of investigation with older philologists, must be set 
aside as mere inarticulate bursts of feeling, not reacted upon by 
the mind, and, therefore, in no way conclusive evidences of the 
general character of a language. Mere onomatopoietica are, 
more or less, common to all idioms, and can, therefore, give no 


clue to the particular character of any one. The same will be 
the case with mere casual coincidences, and with resemblances 
that occur only in certain parts of a language. 

Objection has often been made to the theory, that coinci- 
dences can be casual ; it has been stated, that the chance of 
finding the same combination of letters used for the same pur- 
pose in two languages, is as one in a million ; and Dr. Young 
has even taken the pains of calculating the probability of such 
an occurrence, according to a law of combination. But even 
if these coincidences are not actually casual, they rest upon a 
law which makes them equally worthless for all purposes of 
comparison. Certain words, and even whole classes of words, 
are namely found to resemble each other in languages derived 
from one primitive stock, not so much because of this common 
origin, and a continued connection between these tongues, as 
because circumstances of a peculiar nature protected them, and 
them only, against such changes as may have affected the 
whole language until all other traces of a former relationship 
were effaced. Such are the words we learn in our infancy, the 
result of the earliest development of our faculties, and connected 
with our first impressions. These homebred words which name 
father and mother, the parts of our body, and domestic animals 
these terms of first necessity, like the personal pronouns and 
numericals, without which no human language can exist, and 
which are never exchanged for foreign terms, become a kind of 
indestructible property in families and tribes, and serve to keep 
alive through centuries of separation and oblivion, the recollec- 
tions of a common mother tongue. To this class may l>e added 
certain terms connected with tho simpler arts, and the early 


progress of civilization, as plough, weave, sew, the names of 
weapons, tools, and instruments of chase ; these are often found 
to agree where even domestic terms differ, and are of incalcula- 
ble value for the history of such languages. 

It is now considered utterly insufficient to limit inquiries 
into the nature of a language to certain parts only. Some phi- 
lologists used to study, the numerals, others the pronouns or 
conjunctions of certain idioms, and hoped by such means alone 
to obtain an insight into their history and nature. Even now 
the first five or ten numbers are frequently given as the only 
specimens of a newly discovered tongue. This is the less satis- 
factory, as the value of the numerals compared with that of a 
like number of other words, is naturally different in different 
languages. Throughout the whole of the Indo-European family 
they are alike, and yet the whole remainder of some of these 
idioms may be entirely unlike. On the other hand, the Ame- 
rican languages have throughout different names for the nu- 
merals, while the remainder frequently shows less considerable 
differences, and often striking and general analogies. Conclu- 
sions drawn from so small, and, in some instances, quite unim- 
portant parts of a language, must therefore be accepted with 
great caution. 

A large number, moreover, of resembling words, does not 
by itself prove a relation between two idioms : it is not so much 
the number as the kind of words that must be regarded, and not 
so much the outward resemblance of radical?, which, as has 
been shown, is but too frequently quite accidentally, as the 
analogy of etvmological development and of grammatical struc- 
ture. The French "jour" appears to have little in common 


with the Latin " dies," and still it is the same word. Both are 
derived from the Sanscrit "div," which meant clear or bright, 
and gave to Greeks and Romans their words for God and day : 
the Latin derived from " dies" and " dives " the adjective " diur- 
nus," which the Italian softened into " giorno," and the French 
shortened into, "jour." 

It is this branching off from a common root which has 
caused etymology so frequently to be compared with botany. 
The structure of a word is in this respect certainly not less won- 
derful than that of a flower. It springs forth from the human 
mind as mysteriously as the tender blade rises from the bosom 
of the earth; it has a root and a stem, its leaves and branches 
in its flexions and derivations, and to all these it adds a meaning, 
which the botanist in vain seeks for in the flower. But the 
word passes not like the flower with the light of the day, spring- 
ing up in the morning and withering with the setting sun. The 
word is to-day a tender shoot, scarcely visible, bending under 
the weight of a butterfly, and two hundred years later it stands 
like the proud oak, with its massive branches darkening the sun 
and defying the fury of the storm. But herein lies one of the 
dangers besetting the path of the student of words. Often the 
branches are still living, or have taken roots of their own when 
the parent stock is long forgotten. The English " better " and 
"worse "have lost their positives, " bet " and " woe," the past 
"went," its present, "I wend;" and English grammarians hesi- 
tate not to call them "irregular " forms ! In other cases, two 
branches have assumed independent forms and meanings, as the 
English words " bishop " and " episcopal," " minster " and " mo- 
nastery," "priest" and "presbyter," and the superficial investi- 


gator considers them both as original words. To avoid these 
mistakes, comparative philology makes it the duty of every in- 
quirer from the beginning to enter into the spirit of each idiom, 
to trace out its living principles and its operative power. He 
must constantly bear in mind, that a near affinity of languages is 
impossible without an identity of structure in inflexions and for- 
mative words or syllables. If language exhibits as it embodies 
the spirit of a nation, the spirit of the language itself is, in its 
turn, exhibited in its grammatical system. All accidental re- 
semblances must, therefore, here also be laid aside ; all mere 
affixes and suffixes ; all terms borrowed from neighboring races ; 
in fine, the idiom must be stripped of all that is either not gen- 
uine or not essential, and then only can analogies and their 
comparison be useful for the purpose of pointing out the histo- 
rical connection between different languages. Their grammat- 
ical structure then appears as an inborn element; each epoch, 
moreover, will have its own peculiarities in grammatical forms, 
periods of transition which connect these with each other, and 
the whole idiom thus presents itself as a complete and genuine 
organic structure. Inquiries pursued in this spirit have led to 
most remarkable results, and already brought to light laws of 
great importance. Such is the law of Bopp, who first proved 
that the personal terminations of the verb are, in all Indo-Euro- 
pean languages, derived from the same source as those of other 
cognate idioms, and that they contain the remains of personal 
pronouns which have been added to the verbal root, and, of 
course, changed more or less in the gradual development of dif- 
ferent languages. 

The next step in such researches is to seize upon the parti- 


cularly distinguishing characteristics of each idiom. To do this 
successfully, a certain instinct has to be acquired, which will en- 
able the student to identify himself with the mode of thinking 
and feeling of that people whose language he means to investi- 
gate and to compare with others. Great minds have already 
of old felt this imperfectly ; and when Charles V. spoke of the 
English as a language fit for birds, German for horses, Italian 
for ladies, French for men, and Spanish for God himself, he gave 
utterance to the general but characteristic impression which 
these idioms are apt to produce. 

Languages appear, then, no longer mere mechanical struc- 
tures, but, in their higher vocation, as enveloping and embody- 
ing specific national notions. Gray theory now blossoms forth 
into a green living tree. Formerly words were treated very 
much as plants were studied by the older botanists. Their De- 
candolle or Cuvier in their pocket, they would gather the tender 
children of Flora into the recesses of their huge maps, dry them 
at home, analyze them with a magnifying glass, classify them, 
and, finally, deposit them, well dried and pasted, for the learned 
world, in their splendid but lifeless herbarium. There was the 
plant, says Vinet, authenticated and easily to be recognized ; 
but where were its color and graceful shape ; where the breath 
that made it gently wave to and fro ; where the perfume it grate- 
fully sent up to God ; the bright water in which it reflected its 
lovely form ; the whole glorious scene for which it was intended 
by nature, and to which it lent, in return, life and beauty ? So 
it was with words. Long enough have grammarians taught 
dry rules and long exceptions, but too long have they spoken 
of idioms, caprices, and irregularities. Modern science knows 


no such anomalies ; it sees even in the caprices and fancies of 
an idiom only so many crystallized expressions of that mind of 
the nation which works unceasingly at the loom of its language, 
and weaves the fine texture of its idiom. 



Their Vocal and Musical Element Grimm's Law of Commutation The 
Accent The " Click " of Hottentots, &c. 

LANGUAGES have their moral principle as well as the races whose 
minds they represent Whilst the Frenchman laughs at the 
" sentiment and pipe " of the German, he claims for himself 
" esprit et champagne." This " esprit " again appears in a con- 
cise form in his " bon-mot,' ? and decks itself with all possible 
finery in his " causeries," where mere ' ; riens " are made impor- 
tant by artistic skill, and the insignificancy of the subject is con- 
cealed by the brilliant firework of the style. Other nations can 
rarely appreciate, much less imitate this " esprit," because it is 
so thoroughly and exclusively French. In the same way the 
German " minne" is as untranslatable into French where " mig- 
non " and " amignoter " are the poor remnants of a noble word 
as the English " home." The Spanish " picaro," the Italian 
"concetti," the Swedish "ja so," the Arabic "tayeb," and a 
thousand similar words, express delicate shades of moral con- 
ceptions which can but seldom be represented even in cognate 


idioms. They are, in fact, expressions of instinctive feelings 
rather than of conscious sensations. Thus the nice distinction 
between the English " will " and " shall " is an almost insupera- 
ble difficulty to the foreigner, whilst there exists no example of 
misuse even among the lowest of the English people. It is be- 
cause this accuracy has all the force and perfection of an instinct. 
In other languages the mode of address is highly expressive of 
moral conceptions. Why is it that in all the older Shemitic 
languages the feminine prevails far more generally than the 
masculine, so that in some of them e. g., the Ethiopian idioms 
the numerals exist only in the feminine form ? Why does 
the Dacota terminate his question with " he," if the person 
questioned be near ; but by " hwo " if the latter is at a distance, 
and prohibits women from ever using this syllable " hwo ? " Few 
only have retained the classic " thou," except in prayer and psalms, 
or family intercourse. As early as the days of artificial pomp 
and hollow splendor in Byzant, a certain sense of superiority 
was connected with the plural, as if the power of many was con- 
densed in the one person to be honored: hence the "Pluralis 
majestaticus " which the Prankish emperors imported from Con- 
stantinople, and which was soon imitated in all the Romance 
languages. The German's deference to rank caused him to 
employ the still less direct " they," whilst the haughty, self- 
respecting Spaniard, and the cringing Italian, prefer the most 
artificial way of all, by using the pronoun representing a third 
person, " her mercy " or " her excellency." A similar feeling 
seems to have induced the German, of all nations the only one, 
to give capital initials to all nouns, as if instinctively desirous 
thus to express their greater importance. 


Among the evidences of the living principle of a language, 
few are more important than the vocal and musical element. 
There exists no well-developed language which does not ac- 
knowledge some internal law of euphony, from which many 
peculiarities arise, afterwards to assume artistic consistency. 
This faculty, also, is the immediate result of certain moral qual- 
ities of the people, and completes the number of means which 
principally enable us, from the language of a nation, to derive 
an accurate idea of its inner nature. If the substance of radical 
words exhibits clear marks of the character of a people ; if the 
formative words betray more of its mental habits, these last- 
mentioned elements initiate us, as it were, into the most secret 
feelings and hidden emotions of a race. Thus we find that, as 
the perfection of vocalism is one of the most striking features 
that distinguish the Indo-European languages from all others, 
so amoug them again the vocalism of the -Greek was superior 
even to that of the Sanscrit in variety and euphony : hence 
Greek poetry possesses, in part at least, of all idioms, the great- 
est delicacy and subtlety of metrical and musical development 
Isolated instances of this spirit of vocalism have long been 
known. The curious laws of transmutation, prevailing in Celtic 
languages, had often attracted public attention. Having pene- 
trated first and farthest west into Europe, they have probably 
first severed their connection with the cognate tongues of the 
Indo-European family, and thus present certain peculiarities 
which differ most from the original type, and are no longer 
found in other idioms. The extremely delicate changes which 
initials undergo under the influence of the last consonant of the 
preceding word, are all the more difficult to understand, as this 


last letter has often been lost, and yet its effects continue to be 
felt. Thus the Irish word, colam (dove), when declined with 
the article, assumes the following varied forms : Nom., an 
cholam; Gen., na colame; Dat., do'n cholam; Gen. plur., na 
geolam, &c. Other nations are unable to pronounce certain 
consonants in immediate succession, and avoid the difficulty by 
inserting a vowel between them; thus the Chinese and the 
Finns change the word "Christ" either into "Echristo" or 
" Cheristo." The Eomance languages, it is well known, sup- 
press, for similar reasons, a number of consonants in Latin 
words, for which they substitute vowels ; the Italian replaces 
the Latin I and s almost regularly by an i, and still shows a 
peculiar fondness for double consonants, sacrificing analogy as 
well as etymology for the gratification of this morbid taste. 
The Spanish prefers ue to the Latin o, and softens ct into ch, 
whilst the Portuguese is curiously partial to the letter r. and 
substitutes it for the original I wherever it can be done. For- 
merly, however, these changes were looked upon as mere curi- 
osities, and not, as it ought to be, as indicative of and depending 
on certain laws prevailing in the mind of the people which 
made them, and as thus throwing light on both their language 
and their character. 

This so-called euphonic principle was probably first pointed 
out in the Ugro-Tartarian languages, and more particularly by 
Vignier in his Turkish grammar, where he called it the "quad- 
ruple harmony of vowels." He showed, that in the principal 
idioms of that family, the Magyar, Tschudi, and Finnic, only 
certain vowels can occur in the same word, and that the vocalic 
harmony prevails through the entire vocabulary, and extends 


even to the grammatical system. Rudiger, Dobrowsky and 
Rask have since thrown ample light upon this most interesting 
branch of linguistic research. The study of national songs also 
has contributed largely to train our ear to the perception of 
these nice shades and peculiarities, and the admirable, though 
unfortunately incomplete work of K. M. Rapp on the ** Physi- 
ology of Language," contains gratifying results of such investi- 
gation. It was, however, left to the great Grimm here also to 
lay down those laws and fundamental principles which serve 
now as a general basis for such inquiries. He established the 
fact that every language, perhaps every dialect, has its own im- 
mutable laws of u L'mlaut, Ablaut or Inlaut (guna)," which are, 
it is true, carried out iu different ways, but all follow invariably 
a certain order and fixed rule. The vocalism of each dialect 
may, furthermore, be reduced to the first laws of the original 
type, and thus the study becomes truly an etymological study, 
and the student one who explains forms according to their type 
(6 TO erv/zov Xtyei). 

Grimm's application of this great law to special cases is one 
of the most brilliant triumphs of modem science ; and his laws 
of the interchange of consonants and vowels, as they are found 
to be common to whole families, may be considered " the two 
gates leading into the very sanctuary of Etymology. " He proved 
that all the Teutonic languages have adopted a scale of articu- 
lation of their own, based upon a certain regular deviation from 
the Phonetico-Etymological system of the Sanscrit. To mention 
but one example, and that by no means the most striking, he 
showed how the Sanscrit p, remaining so in Greek and Latin, 
changes in Gothic (and old German) into /, and in modern 



German into/ or v ; thus these consonants are seen to change 
regularly and consistently from step to step; the Sanscrit, with 
Greek and Latin presenting the first, the Gothic the second, 
and modern German the third step. As there are but three 
such steps or classes existing for consonants (tennis, media, and 
aspirate), a further change is, of course, not possible, and would 
only lead to a repetition of the same circle. We insert the law 
and a few examples : 




Old German. 

Mod. German. 

























































Old German. 

Mod. German. 


iroDj, iroSoy, 

pes, pedis, 
















(^Eol.) W/r*, 
































(Dor.) TV, 








lli.- i-, 





Greek. Latin. Gothic. Old German. Mod. German. English. 

e5oj, sedes, sitan, sizar, sitzen, sit. 










































Thus Grimm established, by a most regular and systematic 
analogy, in at least five languages, by a rare combination of 
philosophic thought with philological accuracy and linguistic 
research, a sure method for analyzing any given language used 
for detecting its affinities to others of the same family. 

Of a still more spiritual nature, and, therefore, more difficult 
to seize, is another evidence of the peculiar character of a lan- 
guage its accent. It must be considered as a more immediate 
exhalation from the mind and the soul than any other part of 
spoken language, and it presents, in return, the most delicate 
shades and varieties of feeling, and yet it has, for that very rea- 
son, been considered as perhaps the most permanent peculiarity 
of a language. Little is as yet known of its precise nature and 
immediate connection with the mind. The whole harmony of 
words, on which point the Greeks are well known to have been 
most sensitive, rested with them on the accent ; and even in 
Eoman theatres the pit would notice a false accent on a syllable 
with unerring accuracy. It must, however, in those days have 
been much more than what it is commonly understood to mean 
at present Aristoxenes speaks of the " song of the discourse," 


and Dionysius of Halicarnassus even fixes the difference between 
a grave and an acute accent, by comparing it to a quint, which, 
in the circumflex, may have occurred twice on the same vowel. 
Cicero also says : " Est in dicendo etiam qnidam cantus." The 
accent then was literally what its name implies, a musical ele- 
ment of the language, although modern languages have long 
since forgotten what was meant by the Latin " accentus" (ad 
cantus), or the Greek " prosody" (Trpos ciSr)) : two features of 
those ancient idioms, so highly valued and carefully observed 
that we need not be astonished at the energetic and rather 
contemptuous manner in which Julian compares the songs of 
Germans on the banks of the Rhine, to the cawing of hoarse 
birds, and the sounds heard further north to the neighing of 
horses and barking of dogs. 

Our poets and orators have comparatively little to do with 
the extreme subtlety and complexity of distinction with which 
the Greeks distinguished between accent and quantity. The 
former, moreover, we know, was constantly changing both 
character and place in the same word, accompanying each slight 
change of form, quantity or value, by flexion, composition or 
derivation. Now, accent and quantity are almost always alike, 
and but here and there a faint trace of former laws survives. 
The Italian occasionally recalls the precision with which the 
Romans avoided accenting the last syllable, and thus earned 
from the fastidious Greeks the name of " grandiloquentes," by 
placing an accent upon the last part of a word only when it is 
needed to mark the loss of a final syllable. In a similar way, 
French words that have been naturalized in English, show the 
effect of the Anglo-Saxon preference for an accent on the first 


syllable: "jugement" has become "judgment;" "gouverne- 
ment," " government ;" " capitaine," " captain ;" and under such 
influence most of them lost their last syllable entirely, until 
Voltaire could say, with a certain air of truth, that in speaking, 
the English gained two hours a day over the French, as they 
" swallowed half of their words." 

How important, nevertheless, this element may become in 
establishing the proper relation between the accent of a lan- 
guage and the character of a nation, can be seen from the 
simple but suggestive fact, that the Romance languages, ex- 
hibiting their inherited sense of material beauty, accent almost 
invariably the last syllable but one, while the German "s sense 
of spiritual beauty accents whatever syllable may be most im- 
portant, without regard to euphony or established rule. The 
delicacy of the French ear, and the peculiarities of the musical 
element of that language are well known ; although in the 
course of time much of this original delicacy must have been 
lost, enough is left to mark it with a peculiar and indelible 
stamp. The delicate distinction between hard and soft con- 
sonants, the extremely gentle aspiration of the " h aspire,'' and 
especially the graceful sound of nasal vowels and the liquid /, 
form transitions from vowels to consonants, and a gentle con- 
nection between them, which few other languages can rival. 
A French critic, Dupuis, called these nasal sounds, from the 
analogy between the diatonic scale of French vowels and the 
notes of their music, the true " bemols " of the language. 

Bunsen extended already the effects of this musical element 
in language to whatever belongs to peculiarities of intonation 
and the greater or less prevalence of certain classes of sounds in 


each idiom. But there are even still fainter features in lan- 
guage, more difficult to perceive and yet characteristic and es- 
sential almost in proportion to their spiritual nature. Such are 
the "click" of the Hottentot, or the mere lengthening of a 
syllable which alters its meaning. Mexican nouns, for instance, 
when they terminate in a vowel, form their plural merely by 
lengthening the last sound in the form of a long aspiration? 
which, at first, makes no other impression upon the stranger 
than a pause, during which the vowel seems to lose itself into 
air. In the southern dialect of the Guarana language, the 
suffix of the perfect "yma" is pronounced more or less slowly, 
as the past, which it indicates, is more or less recent. 

Another success obtained by the comparative study of lan- 
guages, according to the principles just referred to, is the estab- 
lishment of a standard by which languages may at once be as- 
signed to one or the other class of idioms. This standard is not 
based upon mere external circumstances, the present location, 
the outward form, or the historical fate of a language. It rests 
upon that only characteristic which can never fail or mislead 
the degree of perfection with which any given idiom fulfils the 
great purposes of language. 



The Monosyllabic The Agglutinizlng The Inflected. 

IT has already been said that language has to reflect the picture 
or idea produced on our mind by means of sound, so as to 
communicate it to others in a tangible shape. Tt has therefore 
to find utterance for the whole activity of the mind. But the 
mind never ceases for a moment to reproduce outward impres- 
sions, and proceeds with the rapidity of lightning. Language, 
on the other hand, has to translate, as it were, these impressions 
one by one into words, to arrest the fleeting thought in its pro- 
gress, and to clothe the ethereal idea in a bodily frame. More- 
over, the mind of man has an almost unlimited sphere : it ranges 
from world to world, and perceives alike tb.3 well-defined, posi- 
tive impression and the vaguest sensation of an instant. Lan- 
guage has, to reproduce all these perceptions, only a few sounds, 
and a poor, decaying idiom. It cannot follow the mind, there- 
fore, in its inconceivably rapid perception of imponderable 
thought : it must now and then lag behind ; it must be satisfied 
with a partial and fragmentary reproduction ; and can convey 
only the outline or the essence of ideas. The proportion, now, in 
which this is accomplished by different idioms forms the stand- 


ard by which they are judged, and suggests the three classes in 
which they are commonly divided. 

In examining this mutual relation of mind and language, it 
is found that the latter has to perform two duties, which cause 
the principal difference between the various idioms. In our 
mind, namely, no idea, no thought rises in the abstract that is, 
standing clearly alone and disconnected from all other thoughts. 
We know, on the contrary, that the mind conceives at once, 
and necessarily together with the idea the relation, also, in 
which it stands to other ideas its mental connection. To per- 
ceive an abstract idea, it is well known, is one of the most diffi- 
cult processes of mind, and there is good reason to doubt whe- 
ther it can ever be fully accomplished. Our thoughts consist, 
therefore, of two distinct parts : the idea itself, or what we might 
call the material of the thought, and the relation of that idea to 
others. The substantial part finds its equivalent easily enough 
in language; it surely lias a name for each object ; but it is not 
so easy to represent the relation also instantly and fully. This 
relation is so unsubstantial, so delicate a perception of the mind, 
that, as was said, the material word cannot at once follow, nor 
always adequately express it. Generally, therefore, the idea it- 
self only is rendered in language by a genuine word, a root ' 
the relation, on the contrary, is but indicated or suggested by 
some addition to this root, or by a slight change in its form. 
For language has no separate means, no special material by 
which to represent this ideal relation, which connects the ab- 
stract idea of our mind with actual existence and object with 
object. It can only employ the same material which already 
served to render the idea itself, once more and in a peculiar 


form, to express, as well as it can be done, its mental connection 
also. Thus the most perfect of known languages, the Greek, 
represents in the word tzvnrov the idea itself by the root rvn ; 
whilst I is added to suggest its relation to the past, z that to the 
present, and ov its connection with one or more agents. The 
accent conveys probably a still more delicate connection of the 
idea with the mind of the speaker. 

It is this difference of manner and success in the attempt to 
express the mental connection of ideas which constitutes the 
standard by which all languages are judged. The variety of 
articulate sounds in each, their so-called lexical difference, is of 
comparatively small importance. The sounds themselves are 
always the same, because the organs of speech are the same in 
all men, and the number of articulate sounds they can produce 
is rigidly limited. Their arrangement alone differs in different 
idioms ; this is always more or less mechanical, and affects^ 
after all, only the material of the language. The various modes 
of expressing the relations of ideas, however, reflect the mind, 
the manner of thinking of a nation : they are consequently not 
mere mechanical contrivances, nor limited to words and sounds. 
They produce grammatical distinctions, and include those far 
more subtle and delicate systems which substitute an artificial 
order of words, quantity, accents, or musical notes, for the words 
themselves. These various methods distinguish the three great 
classes of languages, which, though differing in principle and 
general character, are still connected with each other by those 
gradual transitions that join link to link in the great chain of 
organic nature, and thus form that great harmonious whole 
which shows no missing member nor abrupt change. 


The simplest of all languages, as to form, are the Monosyl- 
labic, like the Chinese and almost all the idioms of Eastern 
India. Here the common principle prevails, that the name of 
the object alone is expressed by articulate sound, and this, more- 
over, invariably by a single sound, a syllable. As this is the 
simplest, so it was probably the earliest form of all languages : 
this unity of sound corresponding to the unity of thought. For 
nations have their childhood as well as individuals, and during 
that epoch they are, like children, unable to perceive more than 
one object, or to entertain more than one thought at a time. 
They content themselves with merely giving a name to an ob- 
ject, without expressing at the same time its connection with 
others. The latter is at least not represented by vocal means, 
but at best only hinted at by position, accent, or equally ambi- 
guous and insufficient modes of suggestion. 

In this first class of languages, the word itself is yet in its 
simplest form ; undeveloped not only, but even unorganized, 
like the crystal, which in nature represents the simple unit in 
contrast with the connected higher organization of plants and 
animals. The mind of man has here stopped at the mere crea- 
tion of words. It has not as yet proceeded, or, at least, but 
awkwardly attempted, to make them organic that is, subservi- 
ent to each other by breaking their absolute, isolated nature, 
and by changing them, through flexion, into parts of a great 
and premeditated system. In fact, the supreme power of 
human intelligence has not yet succeeded in mastering the raw 
material and bending it to its higher purposes. Words are 
heaped one upon another, like the rude, massive blocks of Cy- 
clopean structures, employed architectonically only in building 


up a sentence which the feeble and equivocal aid of musical 
enunciation alone makes, in a few cases, rather more intelligible. 

These Monosyllabic languages, imperfect as they seem, are, 
nevertheless, spoken by almost one-half of all mankind. The 
Chinese is the most familiar idiom of this class, which expresses 
the idea itself only by a sound, and the relation either not at all 
or but very imperfectly. Its monosyllabic words are all integral 
unities, and this principle is so strictly and consistently carried 
out that this remarkable language admits only the simplest form 
that a syllable can have the combination of a consonant with a 
vowel. As the life of a language depends wholly and entirely 
on the mental life of the nation by which it is used, the Chinese 
has remained as stationary as the mind of the people. Lacking 
that most efficient of all means of improvement the power of 
generalization or deduction and making, therefore, little or no 
progress, the Chinese excel, on the other hand, in a happy talent 
of imitation, and a remarkable skill acquired by incessant prac- 
tice in the same pursuit. They show the same marvellous dex- 
terity in handling the raw material of their language, arranging 
it in forms of bad taste but great delicacy, and giving it an arti- 
ficial life, at least by such means as a superior intelligence or a 
better taste would disdain to employ. A more detailed account 
of this interesting and, as yet, little known language, will be 
given in a later part of these sketches. 

Some of these apparently least perfect idioms show a ten- 
dency further to develope themselves by occasional attempts at 
composition for the purpose of thus expressing certain relations 
of the word and its idea. Two words are placed side by side, 
to convey by mere juxtaposition the mental connection that 


binds both together. " Man-people," " child-woman," or " child- 
man," are thus used in Chinese, instead of the English " man,' 
"girl," and "boy." That even modern languages of muct 
higher pretensions are not quite above this child-like mode ol 
expression may be seen from words like "hen-sparrow," "roe- 
buck," in English, and the German " Mutter-scha " or"Hirsch- 

Where these attempts to express the relation, if not in the 
name of the object itself, at least by its side, are systematically 
carried out, and thus constitute an essential feature of language, 
the process is called, by an awkward but familiar term, ag- 
glutinizing. This is considered the distinctive characteristic ol 
the second class of languages, none of which is monosyllabic in 
the same degree as the Chinese, nor as yet inflectional like the 
Latin or German. Here an additional^ step has been taken in 
the development of language. It expresses not only the idea 
itself, but the relation, also, by articulate sound. The latter is 
mostly placed by the side of the name of the object ; in a few 
cases it is already organically connected with it. In no instance, 
however, is the root itself changed or inflected : the connection 
between the two words is merely mechanical, often quite acci- 
dental, and mostly brought about in a forced and complicated 

In this class words assume at least the semblance of organic 
life; they consist already of several syllables, joined together 
for specific purposes, and bearing a relation to each other. It 
shows the active life dwelling in language, that even in these 
mechanical compounds already one part influence's the other, 
either by its predominant signification or by a superiority of 



accent, and this mutual relation of part to part constitutes the 
characteristic mark of a higher order of words. They are no 
longer mere lifeless forms, simple crystals, but sounds endowed 
with a certain degree of mental life. 

The very fact, however, that the mind has not yet been 
able to fuse together the sounds expressive respectively of the 
idea itself, and of its relation to others, explains the great variety 
of modes by which this most numerous class of idioms accom- 
plishes such a mechanical junction. Some write the two words 
consistently separate; others combine them already in one word 
and a few, approaching the higher class of inflecting languages, 
even go so far as to unite them by fixed laws of vocal harmony, 
compelling the vowel of the subordinate word to harmonize 
with that of the more important root. In all of these cases, 
however, the compound word remains' an inorganic unity of 
aggregates. Xor can this be otherwise in languages which are 
compelled to employ for the expression of a mere mental con- 
nection, words that were originally, and are still, at the same 
time, names of objects. They must use the latter, because they 
have as yet no separate class of sounds, whose sole and special 
purpose it is to represent the relation of ideas to each other. 
Availing themselves, therefore, of such names of objects as 
seem to be best adapted for the purpose, they join them more or 
less loosely to the original word or root, and thus, by an associ- 
ation of ideas, succeed in expressing, what the idioms of the 
first class never even attempted to do, the relation of that root. 
This principle of verbal and mental juxtaposition, produces, 
especially in the verb, a great variety of strange forms, impos- 
sible in the higher or inflected languages, and constituting one 


of the characteristic features of the principal families of tongues 
in this class, the Tataric, the African and the North American 
Indian. Here, also, a single consonant is sometimes sufficient 
to express an idea : in Lazic g means to raise, and in Suanic Z, 
to write. To these simple roots almost any number of other 
words may be added, as in the Basque word aita, father, which 
may thus increase aita renatu, meaning : to make that (the 
property) of the father. The Mexican also affects apparently- 
monstrous agglomerates of this description, particularly in 
making a verb the centre of such a structure, and then clustering 
around it an almost indefinite number of words, governed and 
governing, united only by a very simple vocal contrivance. The 
Mexican ni-naca-qua, I eat meat, the 206 so-called conjuga- 
tions of this kind in Basque, and Delaware words like k-uli-gat 
schis, thou little fair paw, are but modest examples of a princi- 
ple equally powerful in the most perfect of this class of idioms, 
the Suomi or Finnish proper, and in the Mantchoo, the lowest 
of all Tataric languages. To this class belong the Coptic and the 
Dekhan family, with the Telinga, or Telugu, Tamul, Kamataka, 
Malabaric and Singhalese ; the great Malay family and the Tataric 
idioms, including the Samojedic and Magyar, the Turkish and 
Finnish in Europe, and the Siberian and Mantchos in Asia; 
finally, also, the languages of North American Indians, which 
complete the number of polysynthetic idioms. No longer life- 
less and isolated like the crystal, the words of these languages 
rather resemble the higher organism of plants, which consist of 
various parts, though each part, whether shaped as a root or 
fragrant as a flower, is only a leaf again, and all may be as 
easily separated as they are loosely joined together. 


A few idioms in which the combination of syllables appears 
already so systematic and permanent as to resemble organic 
unity, form the natural transition to the inflectional class of 
languages, which Modern Science considers the most perfect. 
This superiority is strongly marked in structure as well as in 
form. Inferior to the lower class of languages in uniformity 
of method and etymological precision, the inflected idioms pos- 
sess a far more desirable feature, an almost unlimited variety of 
expression. In their structure, on the other hand, they are dis- 
tinguished by the facility with which they represent in one 
animated body, by means of inflection, all the various ideas and 
apprehensions which instinctively form themselves in our mind 
into similar, collective groups. Here, therefore, the articulate 
sound follows the activity of the mind closely and completely ; 
as in thinking no idea is conceived without its accompanying 
relation, so these languages unite the sound representing the 
former and that conveying its mental connection so intimately > 
and fuse them together so artistically, as to form but one word 
of the two. The triumph of the mind in combining two ideas 
and viewing an object, not by itself only, but at once in its various 
relations to others, is thus instantly reflected on the outward 
word by a corresponding union of two sounds in one. The 
form, the vis inertiae of the raw material, is here overcome by 
force of the mind, by the intellectual powers of the idea dwell- 
ing in the word, and a unity is thus obtained, which does not 
destroy the power of each part, but makes them both subservi- 
ent to the expression of the one, predominant idea, as the dif- 
ferent members of the animal are made subject to the one will 
of its instincts. 


The relation, which in the first class of languages was not 
represented at all, and which the second expressed but imperfect- 
ly, finds here a full and precise expression in the so-called form- 
ative particles. These, originally full roots and names of objects, 
have been deprived by long continued practice and the influence 
of a powerful intellect, of their power to represent a substance, 
and are compelled now to express, not the idea itself, but its 
mental connection only. Stripped of their original meaning, 
altered and modified for specific purposes, they are fused together 
with the root or actually inserted in it, and thus produce inflec- 
tion. Comparatively few in number, they serve in the same or 
but slightly altered forms, for the modification of every word 
susceptible, in form and meaning, of such influence. This 
process appears again in various stages. In the Shemitic lan- 
guages, for instance, the idea itself is represented by the more 
substantial consonants, whilst the subsidiaiy mechanism of 
vowels is employed to convey to the mind the delicate variety of 

In other idioms, inflection is as yet little more than a compo- 
site principle of formation, mainly working by external additions, 
and the secondary elements do not blend with the principal 
word in the same easy spirit of coalition as in the higher mem- 
bers of this family. This is, of course, a kind of composition 
resembling that of the second class ; it does not combine, how- 
ever, two separate conceptions mechanically only, but shows 
rather, that the principal idea, represented by the root, is to be 
viewed in a specific light, and this is pointed out by the addi- 
tional, second part. Thus the unity of the word is not impaired ; 
on the contrary, pains are taken to show that the suffix has lost 


its original signification and independence. Of these symbolic 
means, which express the relation without disturbing the unity 
of the word, one of the earliest and most efficient is redupli- 
cation. Already in Sanscrit, and since in Greek, Latin and 
German, the repetition of the first syllables of a word was a 
means to denote its increased importance and to mark plurality 
or frequency. 

Another mode of inflection consists in a change of the root 
itself by variations of its elementary sounds. This is always 
symbolic, preserves the substantial identity of the root, and yet 
clearly expresses the peculiar aspect in which its signification is 
to be viewed. The relation of sex or gender, for instance, is 
here suggested by a vowel, which in itself appears as the repre- 
sentative of male activity in the Masculine, or of the receptive 
character in the Feminine, and thus a delicate but precise change 
of sound expresses here a relation, which, in the second class, 
two independent and unconnected words rendered but imper- 
fectly. Thus time also is pointed out by the simple change of 
XetTro) into t\nrov or AeXoirra, and oiyraip into griep or gripant. 

The intimate connection between the mental life and cul- 
ture of a nation and its language, explains why these most 
perfect and most highly developed idioms are found to be tLe 
work of those nations which have been or are now the best 
representatives of the progress made by man. The races that 
have successively ruled the world, have also possessed the lan- 
guages that show the highest development, in expressing most, 
and that most best. To this third class of inflectional idioms 
belong, therefore, the Indo-European languages, reaching from 
the Brahmaputra to the Atlantic, and the Shemitic idioms, in- 
cluding the ancient Hebrew and the Arabic -of our times. 


In this general system of three classes all languages now 
known find their place, for they include all possible means of 
expressing thought. Some belong of course to an intermediate 
stage, others are even now in the process of transition. A few 
belong partly to the one and partly to the other class, as not 
every organic substance rises to the comparative perfection of 
animal organization, and nature has substances half plant and 
half animal, leaving a trace, a permanent specimen upon each 
step of the ladder on which organic life ascends. The higher 
organized classes especially show, one and all, distinct traces of 
a connection with the lower classes. Those of agglutinizing 
tendencies_often keep the two words that express relation and 
idea, quite distinct, using each independent of the other, whilst 
even those of the third class are, as far as their roots or sounds 
for original ideas are concerned, still wholly monosyllabic. Their 
formative words are all secondary words, that is, in no case 
genuine roots, and even in the best inflected idioms many cases 
are found, where idea and relation are expressed merely by a 
mechanical junction, a more apparent than real union. 

It was long supposed that every language had to pass through 
each of these three classes, as through so many stages of gradual 
development, progressing from a monosyllabic expression of 
the idea only to a mechanical combination of two sounds, 
in order finally to accomplish the organic union of inflect- 
ed words. But the history of such languages as are known 
to us at various periods of growth and, positively con- 
tradicts such a presumption. No trace of such development is 
found in those idioms we esteem highest. Was the Latin ever 
monosyllabic ? or has the Chinese during 2500 years of literary 


cultivation ever ceased to be so \ The very fact that at the first 
dawn of history we see the languages of the earth already fully 
formed and developed, is the best evidence that we know noth- 
ing of the whole period, during which they first arose and were 
fashioned. We must not forget that language and history are 
alternating faculties of the human mind. The one must be 
made and perfected, before the other is thought of or begun. 
Moreover, both Schlegel and Humboklt agree, that there was a 
certain epoch in the history of the human race given to the crea- 
tion of idioms, as Geology has her periods for other forms and 
creations. This utter absence of information, this complete want 
of material even, by which to judge, will ever prevent us t'.-oni 
determining with precision, what course of development lan- 
guages originally passed through, to assume their present f .mi. 



Their first origin unknown Their early derelopment time-historical No new- 
languages formed. 

THE history of the tirst origin of language we have seen to be 
a matter of speculation only ; nor does history itself give any 
account of the growth, the building up of an idiom. That part 
of their development is ante-historical. As far, at least, as we 
know the history of the world, we meet with no absolutely new 
formation of a language, nor even with any essential addition 


made to the radical elements by means of which language is 
formed. Even the Romance languages of our day, and the 
English, are not genuine, new formations, but at best only 
the budding of new, vigorous shoots from an old decaying trunk. 
But there is, nevertheless, a history of every idiom traceable : it 
is the history of all the changes which a complete and fully 
developed language has undergone in accordance with and under 
the influence of the fate of that nation by whom it was spoken. 
This forms the second period in the history of every idiom ; this 
can be ascertained and studied, because it is contemporaneous 
with that of nations. 

This period has, heretofore, been almost universally consid- 
ered a period of decay, and this opinion has been apparently 
supported by the fact, that languages appear richer in words and 
forms the farther we can trace them back to their early ages. 
The idioms derived from the Sanscrit are poor in proportion to 
their age ; the abundant inflections and ingenious combinations 
of the Latin have almost entirely disappeared in the Romance 
languages of our day. The meaning of radical parts is lost; 
the correspondence of sounds, their signs and letters, entirely dis- 
regarded. The simple analytic construction is substituted for 
the complicated and fastidious synthetic arrangement of ancient 

Another evidence in favor of such an opinion has been found 
in the well established fact, that the fuller of life and action the 
history of a nation is, the greater is the loss of original perfection 
in its language. The eventful history of all Indo-European races, 
and the comparative poverty and simplicity of modern langua- 
ges, are easily accessible instances. Idioms are rich in proper- 


tion as men lead a calm and impassionate life. There is known 
to Linguists a language which they consider one of the most 
perfect spoken by man ; it possesses an almost unlimited flexibil- 
ity; it is expansive, copious and systematic, soft, plaintive, and 
pleasing to the most fastidious ear. It is the Poongevee, spoken 
on the Gaboon river in Africa ! Of Indo-European idioms, also, 
the Lithuanian passes for one of the richest and noblest ; it still 
possesses the original Sanscrit terminations, which all other 
European tongues have long since lost but the race who speak 
it, is almost unknown ; it has no history, and both nation and 
tongue are rapidly disappearing. Most of the savage and uncul- 
tivated dialects of Africa and Xorth America are among the 
most complex in organization and elaborate in structure but 
where is their literature, and where are the great deeds of their 
men I The same is observed in branches of the same languages. 
The Old Norse, a rich and beautiful tongue, survives still, dwarf- 
ish in form and impoverished in estate, in modern Scandinavian 
languages. One of the sisters, however, left early their common 
home and sought refuge in distant Iceland. A few independent, 
noble families, unwilling to bear the yoke of the tyrant Harold 
Harfagr, left Sweden in 875, and settled the barren, lonely 
island ; whilst the Old Xorse in the mother country was subject- 
ed to violent changes and the influence of almost constant impli- 
cation in continental strife and excitement, divided into various 
branches, and lost so much as to make its ancient saoras a mvs- 


tery to modern readers, it remained pure and rich beyond mea- 
sure in the far-off colony. There peaceable, intelligent men, 
animated by ardent patriotism and a warm attachment to their 
old legends, kept themselves and their tongue entirely free from 


historical commotion, and their children can now read their 
eddas, their songs of Odin,Helge and Sigurd, far better and easier 
than the German could read his Ulfilas, the Englishman his 
Chaucer, or the Frenchman the edicts of hi.-> earlier monarchs. 
The Icelandic has thus remained pure and undisturbed, Avhilst 
the Swedish has lost most of its riches, and the Danish has suffered 
in proportion to its success during the wars with England and 
the Continent. The conquest of England by Canute was a 
death-blow to the Norse of Denmark. 



The older a language the richer The decay only apparent The material redu- 
ced The sounds simplified The inflections lost Remarkable instances in 

THIS so-called decay, however, is but apparent ; it is, in reality, 
a progress and an improvement. For the perfection of langua- 
ges does not consist in their number of words, their variety of 
forms, or inconsistent regularity. If it were so, the lowest idioms 
would be the best, and the Abiponese, which has a different pro- 
noun for a third person, according as he or she is absent or pre- 
sent, standing or sitting, at rest or walking, would be infinitely 
superior to the Germ an or the English. 

Language, being a spiritual manifestation of the mind, tries, 
'ike the mind itself, to rise above matter ; it has a tendency, 


ever active and ever progressive, to strip off all forms with which 
thought is encumbered ; it strives to free itself more and more. 
All the changes by which languages indicate this apparent 
decay, are mainly attributable to this desire; hence their two 
principal manifestations in filing down roots, forms and inflex- 
ions to the utmost simplicity, and in a constant advance from 
materialism to formalism, from natural to metaphorical expres- 
sions, from the physical to the intellectual, from the concrete to 
the abstract. Languages follow, in this, but the universal law 
to which all faculties of .man are subject ; the immortal soul 
longs to break through its earthly prison, the mind strives to 
rise unfettered to on high, and seeks utterance in freest, simplest 
sounds. What is thus lost in forms, is gained in clearness and 
directness. Hence it is that in ancient languages, Grammar, 
the doctrine of or mere forms and words, is by far 
the most important feature ; in modern languages, on the con- 
trary, greater attention is paid to the Syntax ; that is, to the 
arrangement of words according to their precise meaning, and 
to the peculiar use made of words under the delicate influence 
of mental efforts. The languages of antiquity bound the mind 
down to fixed and rigid forms, as the Mythology of those days 
bound the soul to gods and demi-gods innumerable. As soon 
as the mind of nations became free, free from ignorance and 
superstition, free from hindrance by war and daily want, it rose 
above mere form, it needed no longer a meaning to each letter, 
but seized at once and by a higher, more powerful effort, the 
general idea expressed in a compound. Modern languages, 
therefore, live not so much in and by visible forms, as by tone 
and action, and by peculiar combinations of sounds and expres- 


sion. The more the latter are appreciated and developed, the 
more are mere forms, mere mechanical contrivances, neglected. 
It is here also the same law which governs language as well as 
all organic nature. Civilization does not produce stronger arms 
or sharper senses, but stronger minds and simpler means. So 
with language ; if the loss of forms is a sign of decay in some 
respects, it is surely also a sign of increased and refined sensibil- 
ity. What formerly required long words, a simple hint now 
expresses ; not abundance of tangible form and material sub- 
stance make the orator, but a slight modulation of the voice, a 
scarcely perceptible change in the order of words, convey the 
most delicate shades of meaning. Pitt, Canning and Brougham 
are surely not less eloquent in their decaying English, than De- 
mosthenes and Cicero were in the classic Greek and Roman. 

It is for such reasons that the material part of languages, 
tangible as it is to the senses, is more perfect in idioms, the higher 
we ascend in their history; but in later periods the spiritual 
part prevails. Quicker thoughts and more delicate perception, 
use only the essential part of words, often but just enough to 
point out, instead of fully expressing, the idea ; and, on the other 
hand, the same quickened and refined perception seizes this idea 
with equal readiness and directness. The mind becomes thus 
indifferent to the mere form, treats it carelessly and arbitrarily, 
and finally leaves the body of the word, which then rapidly de- 
cays, until, as in English, little more than the mere roots, mostly 
monosyllables, in sound if not in writing, are left behind. 

Thus certain forms, very frequent and of eminent usefulness 
in ancient languages have, of late, been lost altogether. Both 
ancient and modern idioms, the latter in their older forms, 


abound with reduplication, as a favorite means of increasing the 
power of the root, by changing it from the singular to the plu- 
ral, from the positive to the superlative, or from the present to 
the past. The Greek abounded with such forms in verb and 
noun ; the Latin has bequeathed us its marnor, turtur, career, its 
quisquis, its jamjam and fefelli, &c. ; the Italian has his tututto 
and benbene ; the Hebrew, Lettic, and Finnish, alike emphasize 
words by adding cognate syllables, and the Malay and Philippine 
tongues to this day form the plural by repeating the singular or 
its last syllable. These repetitions, however, are neither beauti- 
ful nor more than a mere mechanical contrivance ; it was against 
the better taste, and the more delicate perception of modern 
times, to express ideas by mere quantities of sounds. Hence 
these reduplications have been almost entirely abandoned even 
in the Romance languages, and still more generally in German 
idioms. The Latin jejunus. cucurbita, and cucullus have shrunk 
into jeune, gourd, and cowl, and the English prefixes "ge" and 
" a," are perhaps the only instances left, the former in " crum- 
ble," from " gerumpel," and "yclept" from " geclepode ;" the 
latter in words like afraid, athirst, adrift, or ashamed. 

This decay, however, leading finally to a certain spiritualiza- 
tion of languages, is, of course, not arbitrary nor subject to cas- 
ual influences ; it follows the same great and immutable laws 
which govern languages through all their stages. It is gradual, 
like the historic development of races ; it may be divided into 
periods corresponding to those in the history of the latter, and 
has analogous results in all idioms, as the annals of nations ex- 
hibit, after all, the samo leading features and never-changing 
final results. This similarity in development and end, is the 


more to be expected, because, in the first place, man is the same 
every where, and his organs of speech are essentially alike. 
It is a well known law of nature, which limits the sounds we 
can utter to the three vowels, a, i and u, with their intermediate 
shades of e and o, and the so-called diphthongs. In spite of an 
infinite subdivision and almost incalculable number of variations, 
there is no other sound but these and the established consonants, 
needed, or within the reach of invention. They are limited, like 
the colors in nature, distinct and complete, and, for the most 
part, even imitable by mechanical contrivances. The same feel- 
ings will every where produce nearly the same inarticulate sounds, 
and all languages have certain words in common, derived from 
a successful imitation of external sounds. 'This similarity of 
ends proposed, and of means afforded for that purpose, must 
necessarily produce similar effects, and the history of the decay 
of languages furnishes many striking instances of this resem- 
blance. The famous laws of Grimm rest mainly upon the fact, 
that certain combinations of sounds change alike in different 
languages, principally because of this physiological identity of 
the organs of speech. There is no doubt that the so-called diph- 
thongs were originally genuine double sounds, and still the same 
process of simplification has taken place in ancient as in modern 
languages. Festus tells us, already, that "aulas" was the gen- 
uine form of the "olas" of his day; "aurum," was by the un- 
lettered pronounced "orum," and "auriculas" "oriculas." The 
same process, it is well known, has produced the apparently 
arbitrary and undefined pronunciation of English vowels. The 
whole system of orthography, with its almost infinite variety and 
inexplicable differences between sound and spelling, abounds 


with instances of the effect produced by such influences. There 
is no doubt that originally letters represented an exact image of 
sounds as they were at the time of the introduction of writing, 
although the most complete alphabets must, from the beginning, 
have been insufficient to represent all the delicate shades of the 
human voice. Soon, however, a difference is observed between 
letter and sound ; this gradually increases as the sound changes, 
whilst the writing remains the same as it was fixed at a certain 
epoch. As, at the same time that this process is continually 
going on, greater refinement, caprice, or mere chance alter our 
idea of the beautiful, rough, harsh sounds are frequently softened, 
and superfluous or cumbersome parts rejected. Hence the great 
difficulty of spelling such languages correctly as present impor- 
tant differences between the form of words and their sound. 
The French "son" means now: "his" "bran "and "sound," 
and neither "j'aimai" nor "autour" represent in sound more 
than half of their letters. The foreigner is much puzzled at first 
to write the same sound " write," " right," " rite," and (wheel) 
"wright," or "u," "you," "-ewe," and "yew," or "to," "too," 
and " two." Thus the German has retained the harsh combi- 
nation of k and n in " knie, knoten, and knabe," whilst the Eng- 
lish still writes it, but does not pronounce it in the same words, 
" knee, knot, and knave," nor the g in " gnaw and gnash." The 
saddest havoc has been done in English proper names, some of 
which were Xorman French, hard to the Anglo-Saxon in sound 
as in government, and, therefore, ill-treated to the extent of his 
power. The cities of Chalons, La Rochelle and Cahors furnished 
Chalmers, Rokely and Chaworth ; Zouch must suffice for De La 
Souche, and Sacheverell for Du Saut Duchevreau. Cockburn 


cannot make its k heard, and Mayoribanks is simply March- 
banks, whilst Cavendish and Cholmonvely have dwindled into 
Can dish and Chumley. Others are differently mutilated : St. 
Paul appears as Sampole, and St. Clair as Sinclair; St. Maur 
changes into Seymour, and St. Pierre into Sampier. The ancient 
Koboretum resembles as little the modern Revere, as the more 
recent Oaktown its present form Acton. Nor have towns fared 
better : Rokeby is contracted into Rugby, and Agur-stone into 
Hagerstown ; Chateau Vert succumbs to the later legend of 

o * o 

Little John's having shot over it, and remains ever after Shotover ; 
and the Eau- Guerre of the Normans, designating graphically 
the war of waters at the mouth of the Severn, sinks into the 
insignificant word Eager. It is well known how absurdly the 
names of London taverns have changed from " Bacchanals," into 
Bag and Nails," or from "Boulogne Mouth" (Harbor) into 
" Bull and Mouth ;" a fate to which even Christian names have 
more or less succumbed. The Welch Ap has lost its meaning 
and half of its substance in the change from Ap Hugh to Pugh, 
and, in like manner, in Prichard, Power, Price, Perry (ap Harry), 
Powell and Bowen, whilst Nelly's, Gilbert's, Benjamin's, and 
Christopher's son must be content with the brief Nelson, Gib- 
son, Benson and Kitson. Here and there the effect of the great 
law of analogy, which is one of the most powerful influences 
brought to bear upon a decaying language, appears even in 
these apparently arbitrary changes. Thus in the strange but 
very frequent transposition of letters, as, for instance, the r of 
various languages ; the old German ors is in English only horse, 
in German already ross, and so in French roussin, in Spanish 
rocin. The English card changes into scratch, breed into birth, 


gross into coarse ; from the Latin forma it makes frame, from 
German brunn its bourn, from French grenier the softer garner, 
and from its own Saxon gars the modern grass. Certain affixes, 
also, or prefixes, appear to have unconsciously and ignorantly 
found their way, upon the same easy principle of analogy, to 
words which required them not ; as the Latin ex in exiguus, or 
the Cymric ys, the English s simply fastens itself to pin in spint, 
card in scratch, queak in squeak, trump in strump, wing in 
swing, (k)nob in snub, quench in squench, crawl in scrawl, and 
to cry in scream, as in hundred, others. It is but rarely, and 
then in consequence of remarkable events, that the sound remains 
the same whilst the spelling alters, as in the English victuals, 
which is now pronounced as it was originally written, " vitail." 

It is, however, not the forms of words only that are thus^ as 
it were, worn down to produce at last a more compressed, col- 
loquial, and business-like language. The inflections themselves 
suffer ; the mind being disposed to cast away these bridges that 
lead from words to the understanding. Languages feel, as it has 
been aptly said, oppressed and wearied by an abundance of 
forms, produced in the vigor of their first youth. In divesting 
themselves, afterwards, of these exuberances, they follow but the 
dictates of a wise economy, and by analytical, simpler expressions, 
accommodate themselves to the wants of every-day life. Only 
the essential grammatical forms remain, and the powerful law 
of analogy, strengthened still more by liberal concessions to 
euphony, soon reduce them to the greatest possible uniformity. 
The English has thus reduced all Anglo-Saxon cases to one poor 
genitive in s, and moreover, uses this same convenient * for the 
expression of the plural number. Him from hine, whom from 


(w)hone, and twain from twan, are probably the only old accusa- 
tive forms now existing. Plural forms in en, like oxen, brethren, 
&c., are rather more frequent; but whilom seems to be the only 
dative that has been saved. The strong nouns, as well as the 
strong verbs, have, from their nature, been more successfully 
preserved. The Infinitive in an, has disappeared entirely, and 
exen the partciple past has lost its fuller form, though in some 
instances the older termination prevails still by the side of the 
shortened modern form, as in spoken, drunken, broken, cloven, 
or bounden. Even these are, however, rapidly disappearing, as 
well as the analogous form of the third person, singular, in th. 
What is practically gained by such measures, is, of course, a pro- 
portionate loss of the original beauty of human speech. The 
happy harmony between the spirit and the form of words exists 
no longer, and the wings of human thought are broken. The 
meaning of words is much less apt to be interfered with, than 
the words themselves. Still, here also, a certain change may 
be perceived in most modern languages. Words are treated as 
money : the gold coin disappears in part, and its sign only, a 
kind of conventional money or a paper currency, well adapted 
to the wants of our age, takes its place. The progressive mind 
of a nation is more attentive to the inner meaning of words, 
than to their outward form; but it takes the former also, as it 
were, upon credit, and the Englishman, for instance, says : I 
thank you, without recollecting that his words originally meant, 
I shall often think of you ! In all these instances we see, how 
languages decay apparently, because the maturer mind of the 
people handles the material more boldly, and a transition takes 
place from a sensuous to a more intellectual tone in mind and 



The "making" of new words Old words revived Conversion of words. 

THE same idioms which 1 ;se thus both forms and words, increase, 
on the other hand, their stock by various means. The most fre- 
quent source of new additions is derivation, of which already 
the ancient languages give ample examples, and which, in all 
idioms, follows very nearly the same rules. Of rarer occurrence, 
but none the less important, is the actual making of words. We 
do not mean to speak of such absurd attempts as, for instance, 
that of Mr. John Pinkerton, who meant to give to hi* mother 
tongue the rhythms and the melody of Southern idioms by add- 
ing Italian terminations to English words. He furnished a new 
version of Addison after this fashion : " As I satto on the 
toppino of a rocko, ttc.'' We need not add, that this most 
extravagant experiment met with nothing but withering scorn 
and interminable ridicule. To make new words is, of course, 
the privilege mainly of great authors, who, as new ideas germi- 
nate in their fertile minds, often use for them new forms of ex- 
pression. Some of these please, and remain in the language. 
Such additions were already made of old ; Chaucer added to 
the stock of English numerous expressions of sensible objects 


and of simple feelings ; Shakspeare and Locke contributed not 
less largely. Even of late we have seen the English enriched 
by the two German terms, landsman and fatherland, the former 
used by Sir W. Scott, in his Quentin Durward, the latter made 
and introduced by Byron after Isaac D'Israeli. Science, above 
all, abounds in daily new created terms. The United States, 
also, promise a large addition of new words ; some of them of 
unknown origin, like caucus ; others correctly derived, as bank- 
able, boatabla, mailable, or mileage ; the majority arising from 
new circumstances, as backwoods, clearings, and diggings, a 
dugout and a sleigh (for sled and sledge), husking and corn- 
shucking, prairie-hens, &c., and breadstuffs, or political names 
like Hunkers (from haunch). 

In other cases languages are enriched by the readmission 
of antiquated, formerly vulgar or foreign words ; this is a source 
of constant increase, and such archaisms are said to infuse new 
life into decaying idioms. It was a favorite mode of obtaining 
new words even among the ancients, and Plutarch as well as 
Cicero furnish many an example. Alfieri was extremely fond 
of old, obsolete terms, and the works of J. J. Rousseau, Bernar- 
diu de St. Pierre, and Chateaubriand, owe to such an admixture 
much of their peculiar charm. How fanciful national taste is 
we may see from Willie's objection (in his Collection of Voy- 
ages) to Eden's use of such words as despicable, destructive, 
imbibe, obsequious, ponderous and prodigious, because "they 
smelt too much of Latine," whilst they have since become 
genuine English words. The term lunch, also, was, until the 
end of the last century, only used by servants and vulgar people, 
and humbug is well known to be of much more recent date. 


A popular method of obtaining new words in English, is 
the conversion of words from one part of speech to another. 
This is peculiarly easy in a language so entirely without inflec- 
tions and characteristic terminations ; the interchange can readi- 
ly be made, and the convenience is so striking as to secure it al- 
most invariable success. Adjectives are used as nouns, and 
black and white are converted into the Blacks and Whites ; 
whilst the Reds have not yet obtained a footing. The Sweets 
and Bitters of life are a similar instance. Modern writers seem 
to be especially fond of converting nouns into verbs. Sir Walter 
Scott already spoke of " an old drinking, cavaliering butler," 
and the best Reviewers have : " It gravels and dispepsias him ; 
we chloroform all kindly feelings ;" 4i a master who can Crom- 
wellize the Assembly and Monk the State'*(!) ; ' : shepherding a 
lady" and " they placarded the streets." Bulwer speaks among 
others, of " the days when we went gipsying ;** " dull rivered 
veins," " low civilized rooms," and " to pooh pooh a nation." 
Quite recent are the verbal forms in ize, as, demoralize, appe- 
tize, vulcanize, and sulphurize, though some will hardly be " na- 
turalized,*' supported as they are by D'Israeli, who speaks of 
" Protestantizing Ireland," and by Bulwer, who " Xormanized" 
the Saxons. Xor can better success be hoped for words like 
"comeatable" and " uncomeatable," which Hilpert's English 
German Dictionary quaintly derived from Latin " commeatus," 
Older forms, also, are often revived, as at present the old Anglo- 
Saxon participle in en, seems to regain favor. We find, that 
" a Congregation was holden," " a Court Baron was holden," or 
we hear of " proven gold," " mathematical axioms already pro- 
ven," " the proven writer of Junius," and " a bereaven mother." 




They lose form and accent Their original beauty and meaning 1 Remarkable 
instances in English Injury to the vernacular. 

OF all the various modes of enriching a language, none is 
beset with more dangers than that of borrowing foreign terras. 
We mean, of course, not that large number of strange words 
found in all languages by the side of the home-stock, which were 
forcibly introduced by intercourse with foreign nations, and 
which, once naturalized, cannot be expelled again. We refer 
only to such loans as are commonly made at hap-hazard, mostly 
without the slightest regard to the nature and laws of the idiom 
to which they are added, and seldom from other motives than 
bad taste or sheer indolence. It has been strikingly said, that 
these stolen words resemble the embers that stuck to the flesh 
the eagle stole from the altar, and burnt the robber. Generally 
it is observed that more names of things than of ideas are bor- 
rowed, because a new idea is apt to create with it a new name, 
also, and this requires not a loan from abroad. There are more 
nouns imported than other words, and, altogether, more words 
than grammatical forms. The latter are the result of the indi- 
vidual mind of nations, and of a finer, more intellectual nature 


than words ; they are, therefore, much less easily understood 
by others and transferred abroad. 

Borrowed words, however, are almost always a cause of em- 
barrassment to the language which has received them. If they 
remain unchanged, they are always easily recognized as stran- 
gers by their foreign garb, and will be apt to become perfectly 
lawless, having forgotten their old and not yet learned their new 
laws. Should they be made to adopt the manners of their new 
country, both parties are apt to suffer. 

The foreign terms are apt to be misspelt and misused both ; 
the people at large are not familiar with the precise mode of 
writing other languages, and, therefore, spell borrowed words 
either downright wrong, or try to adapt them to their own or- 
thography. Of the former the English affords many examples : 
collega has become colleague ; frontispecium, frontispiece ; the 
Italian sovrano is sovereign, and lantern was changed into 
lanthorn, when these instruments were made of horn. Spain 
is a curtailed Hispania, and the often quoted " pocket-handker- 
chief " literally meant " cover for hand, for head in pocket !" 
The Danish word 6g has been contracted with the article " an'' 
into nag, whilst the old English nadder (German, natter) was 
deprived of what ignorance took to be the same " an," and 
appears now as " adder" only. In other cases we observe a 
strong tendency to naturalize borrowed words, by bringing them 
in form and meaning nearer to English words, producing the most 
ludicrous malformations. Out of a large and more or less fa- 


miliar number of such ill-treated foreigners, we mention only a 
few, that may possibly be not as generally known. Whole 
French phrases, like " qu'en dira" and " quelque chose," have 


been violently contracted into " quandary," and " kickshaw ;" 
" langouste" is now a " long oyster," and the " chartreuse" a 
" Charter House." Following the corruption of " Hoc est Cor- 
pus" into the Hocuspocus of the Continent, Chaucer already calls 
a man from the Holy Land (Sainte Terre) a " saunterer," and 
thus bequeathed to our day the word " to saunter," and a " coeur 
mechant" appears as a gruff " curmudgeon." The Italian " gira- 
sole" suggested " Jerusalem" artichokes, and " lustrino" the mo- 
dern " lute-string." The German " falbel " appears in English as 
"furbelow ;" " gemein" as "yeoman," and the old German " vi- 
zago" as " wiseacre." A " vertiigale" must needs become a 
"farthingale ;" "sal" and "petrum" appears clearer as "salt- 
petre," and an "ear-wrig" (from the mode of wriggling) is im- 
proved into "ear-wig," as Johnson's " gorseberry" is now a 
" gooseberry." The French " chaussee" is in England a " cause- 
way," and even the American thinks " Hellgate" more express- 
ive than the original, " Hurlgate," or prefers to call the preserved 
meat of the Peruvian Indian "jerked" rather than with its true 
name " charki." Trench, in his work on words, has quoted a 
number of similar words ; but the same process is known to 
other languages besides the English. The Greek ftovrvpov, our 
" butter," was a similarly altered word, borrowed from the Scy- 
thian, and the Romans called Erin " Hibernia," connecting the 
name with the indistinct recollection of the winter, hibernus. 
The Italians have changed the Capitolinus in like manner into 
" Campidoglio," an " oil-field ! " The German has still more 
striking transformations of this kind. What Luther still cor- 
rectly called " Sinfluth," or immense flood, his descendants now 
call " Sundfluth," or " flood of sin ;" the " Mausethurm" or mouse- 


tower of Bishop Hatto is familiar to all who have ascended the 
Ehine, and still it was originally only a " Mauththurm" or toll- 
tower, where vessels paid the customary duties. Geography 
has taught us the barbarous name of " Katzenelbogen'' or cat's 
elbow, which history knows as " Catti Melibocus." and the ex- 
pressive " Katzenjammer" or cat's misery, which German drink- 
ers feel the day after a debauch, had a still more ignoble origin 
in the old " Kotzen jammer." 

How grievously the accent of such borrowed words suffers 
in other languages, has been elsewhere already mentioned ; the 
English is famous for its ill-treatment of French words especial- 
ly, but other nations have scarcely less cause to complain, and 
the sensitive Greek would certainly be not a little shocked to 
hear his beloved aj/e//.c3v7/ called an anemone. The gender, 
also, of such words is naturally often misunderstood or purpose- 
ly changed. It is well known how the Norman conquerors 
were neither possessed of the necessary knowledge and discri- 
mination, nor willing to employ it, in distinguishing the Anglo- 
Saxon genders, so that the English lost them all, and now only 
retains the so-called natural gender, distinguishable only in the 
pronoun. Ignorance or wilful carelessness have both produced 
the same result ; the Latin already had nouns with two genders, 
liKe anima and animus ; in French they are still more numer- 
ous. It is often extremely difficult to trace the gender of words 
back to the first idea, which connected the one or the other with 
the names of objects or ideas. We know, for instance, that in 
Greek and Latin, the names of trees were originally feminine, 
because both nations fancied them, at first, inhabited by nymphae, 
whilst metals were to them neuter, as lifeless, and consequently 


without sex. More recently we notice the change in the gen- 
der of the words, Sun and Moon. Scandinavian mythology 
and the Prose Edda taught that Mundelfori had two children, 
a son called Mani, and a daughter, Sol. Hence the Anglo- 
Saxon and Old English as late as the fifteenth century, spoke of 
the moon as a masculine and made the sun a feminine. The 
German has these two genders even now. At that period, how- 
ever, classic authors obtained great authority ; the old heathen 
mythology was revived, and much used in writing and in con- 
versation. There Phoebus and Sol were both gods, Avhilst Diana 
and Luna were goddesses, and so sun and moon had to change 
their gender, and assume that which they have in modern 

Borrowed terms suffer thus in form, accent and gender ; can 
we wonder that their original meaning and beauty also is con- 
stantly lost ? Azote and oxygen spoke to the Greek, who made 
the word, of a principle that gave or took away life ; to the 
Englishman, who borrowed it, it is a mere sound without a 
meaning. A " disease of the lungs " is plain enough ; why 
then supplant it by a " pulmonary complaint ? " Clubs, on the 
other hand, are considered of doubtful utility ; but surely it was 
not necessary to call them " Lyceums," regular wolf s-dens, or 
quite wise to style a hall an "Atheuamm," that is so rarely 
visited by Minerva. A modest little flower pleases us, when it 
looks up to us as the day's eye (daisy), but we wonder only at 
a " chrysanthemum." A Forget-me-not awakens the sweetest 
associations in our minds ; even the Frenchman becomes poeti- 
cal, when he speaks of them as Yeux de la St. Vierge, but the 
botanist at once destroys the charm with his " Myosote scor- 


piolde," or " Mouse-ear like a scorpion ! " Even better reason 
to object to borrowed words Lave the unlucky ones, who are 
accused of calling for a " chay," speaking to a *' Chinee," or 
referring to a " claw " of Parliament, as so many regular sin- 
gulars of " chaise, Chinese, and clause." 

The injury of borrowing without necessity and discrimina- 
tion affects, however, not the foreign words only ; it extends to 
the language that receives them, also, by preventing native 
words from being developed and by causing good old terms to 
be forgotten. The English has, thus, lost many valuable words, 
which did their duty and appeared to advantage in the works 
of Chaucer and Shakspeare. Nothing, in fact, has saved it from 
being overrun with foreign words, and yet impoverished in its 
own stock, but the unparalleled assimilative or digestive energy 
of the idiom. It seizes upon these imported terms, which in 
the course of its development it has borrowed from a hundred 
sources, subjects them immediately to all the rules of the ver- 
nacular, identifies them with its own native words, and thus 
obtains by this unsurpassed eclecticism an abundance of forms 
and a vigor of expression which are ample compensation for an 
apparent want of originality. 

For purposes of reference mainly, and with the hope of saving 
the students of Philology and Ethnology much mechanical 
labor, the following sketch of the languages of Europe, arranged 
upon philological principles, has been added to the preceding 
remarks. That not all the languages of the earth were inclu- 


ded, had its reason, and will, we trust, find its excuse in the 
imperfect knowledge which we as yet possess of the great ma- 
jority of these idioms, and the easy access to such special works 
as treat exclusively of the more important and better known 
languages. A few words on the Chinese alone have been added 
in the expectation, that an example of a monosyllabic language 
might, by contrast, serve to bring out in stronger light and 
clearer outlines the character of the Indo-European idioms. 
Most of the material here presented has been obtained from 
the admirable work of a distinguished German philologist, 
A. Schleicher, of Bonn. Asa valuable aid for the student, the 
Physical Atlas of Berghaus is strongly recommended. 



EUROPE contains, in proportion to its superficial area, more dis- 
tinct and strikingly marked families of languages, than any 
similar portion of the globe. A careful subdivision gives at 
least ten independent groups of separate idioms. In Oceania, 
on the other hand, two such groups, the Malay proper and the 
Polynesian, cover alone the immense space between Madagascar 
and the Easter Islands, the Philippines and New-Zealand, thus 
exhibiting a uniformity of language extending over nearly two- 
thirds of the globe. 

In regard to languages, Europe forms one great whole with 
Asia. The single Basque excepted which even the erudition 
and sagacity of a Humboldt have not been able thoroughly to 
explain and satisfactorily to trace back to its legitimate ancestors 
all the languages now spoken in Europe have their relations in 
Asia, and thus give additional and conclusive proof of the historic 
theory, that the population of Europe came originally from dis- 
tant Asia. 

The great majority of these idioms constitute the Indo-Ger- 
man, or more correctly, the Indo-European family of languages ; 
they are in large groups, the Greek, Roman, Lettic, Slavic, Ger- 
man and Celtic: to which, however, smaller and detached 


branches of other groups must be added. They are called Indo- 
European in reference to their birth-place in India, from which 
they have been successively borne on the waves of immigration 
through the whole of Europe, finally crossing even the Atlantic, 
and thus causing the same speech to be heard from Himalaya 
in the East, to the Rocky Mountains of the far West. They all 
are inflecting languages, and in them we have learned to recog- 
nize the highest group of known idioms, subordinate in physical 
conformation to no other, and spoken by the great historical 
nations which constitute the Asiatic European stock of races. 
These, eight in number, have, from the dawn of history, held 
the sceptre of the world in their hand ; they alone possess, of 
all mankind, conscious speculation and philosophy, and to them 
alone have the mysteries of the beautiful been revealed in archi- 
tecture, sculpture, and painting. This marked distinction is not 
less clearly exhibited in their languages ; all of these races speak, 
even to the remotest member, original languages, more inti- 
mately connected with each other, than with any third group or 
family of tongues in the world ; and as their strong hand ruled 
the destinies of the globe, so their languages have ever held the 
sceptre in the higher empire of the mind. 

Turkey -in Asia Minor, and the chain of Caucasian langua- 
ges, alone interrupt the continuous succession of these idioms, 
from the banks of the Brahmaputra to the westernmost shores 
of Europe, and beyond that, by way of the Ferroe Isles to distant 

A very small proportion of European languages belong to 
the Shemitic family, once so powerful in the days of the Syrians 
and Chaldeans, the Hebrews and the Phoenicians, and of 


Carthage, in Africa, but now mainly represented in Asia and 
Africa by the Arabs alone. In Europe, this family can now 
claim nothing but the Maltese dialect, a remnant of later, pro- 
bably Arabic, immigration, and the Hebrew, as far as it lingers 
on in a kind of artificial existence, wherever Jews use it as the 
language of their religious books and worship. 

A third powerful family of idioms which has its representa- 
tives in Europe, is the Tataric branch, consisting of agglutiniz- 
ing languages only. Covering an enormous, even now but 
partially explored extent of territory in Asia, it sends its outposts, 
as it were, into the very heart of Europe. These are the Tun- 
gusians (Mantchoo), the Mongols, and the Turks, who cover the 
immense space between the 150th and 17th degree of E. Long, 
and extend thus from unknown eastern and northern limits, far 
into European Russia. Detached branches are found in the 
Caucasus, the Crimea, and Asia Minor. From thence the Turks 
have carried their idiom into the territory of the Greek, Alba- 
nian, and the Slavic idioms, and there founded small but nu- 
merous colonies, in which their Tataric dialects continue to be 
spoken. High in the north of Russia, from the White Sea to 
the mouth of the Lena, is heard the language of the Samojedes. 
which, though little known, may be safely considered as belong- 
ing to the so-called Finnish branch of the same great Tataric 
family. To these greater divisions of the latter, must be added 
certain smaller but not the less important idioms. These are, 
along the Baltic, the Finnish proper, the Esthicin, and Lappicin, 
closely connected with each other, but by position and general 
character, entirely separated from the cognate Samojedic. Far 
in the south again, like a solitary island, lies the mysterious 


Magyar, which recent researches of superior merit have success- 
fully restored to its long-forgotten family, the Tataric, which is 
thus seen to extend from the shores of Japan, in the east, to 
the vicinity of Vienna and Christiania, in the west. It is well 
. known that a portion at least of this group, Finnish, has of late 
come to be considered of highest antiquity in Europe. A the- 
ory, or, as Latham calls it, a ''grand suggestive guess," has 
been suggested, that the Indo-European languages were brought 
by a second wave of immigration from the east, which over- 
whelmed and nearly destroyed the first settlers, the original 
Finnish population. This ingenious and well-supported theory, 
which alone offers a satisfactory explanation of the mystery that 
surrounds, as yet, the Lappic, Finnish, Basque, and Magyar, is, 
however, as yet mainly supported by the archaBologists and ana- 
tomists of Scandinavia. But the very fact, that so eminent men 
as the Norwegian Keyser and Ketzius, the successor of Berzelius, 
supports it, is an eloquent proof of the attention it deserves for 
itself, and of the happy union which begins to connect philology 
with the kindred sciences. 

The Basque alone remains by the side of these three great 
and powerful families of languages, that divide the kingdoms of 
Europe among themselves, solitary and unknown. Formerly, 
it is presumed, spoken all over the peninsula, it is now driven 
back to the mountain gorges of Biscay, and there it stands, still 
cherished by a noble race, but unclaimed by relative or friend 
among all the languages of the earth, and alone of European 
tongues, bearing no likeness, and showing no affinity with those 
of their common fatherland. 

If Such are the relations in which the tongues of Europa 


stand to each other, and to cognate idioms at a distance, there 
is, on the other hand, no resemblance or analogy -whatever be- 
tween them and the languages spoken in Africa, of which the 
ancient and still somewhat mysterious Egyptian is by far the 
most important. Of other African dialects, at least, so little is . 
as yet known, that neither their peculiar characteristics, nor their 
general importance, can be properly estimated. No relation 
exists, furthermore, between any of the European languages and 
those of the American Continent, which exhibit a remarkable, 
though only recently discovered analogy with each other, from 
Cape Horn to Greenland. The Malay and the monosyllabic 
idioms of eastern and north-eastern India, are, in their very na- 
ture, radically different from those of Europe, belonging to a 
distinct family, and found only, as far as they are known, in a 
stage of development very different from that of inflecting lan- 

The languages of Europe are thus seen to form, with those of 
Asia, one great whole, bounded in the south, west, and north, by 
the ocean (Suez alone excepted), and separated from it in the 
east only by a number of different unconnected idioms. The 
only exception is the Basque, which shows no connection with 
this gigantic family of Asiatic origin, and claims, as yet, the 
right to be considered the only native, or, at least, original 
tongue of Europe. 

The Celtic, Albauese and Finnish (Magyar), which until late- 
ly were viewed in the same light as the Basque, have since been 
restored to their proper connection, one of the most signal tri- 
umphs of modern philology. 

A remarkable feature in this general outline of European 


idioms is the fact, that their linguistic connection is not supported 
by physical family-likeness, or, in other words, that languages 
and races do not always seem to go together. Thus the Ta- 
taric (Turkish) languages are spoken by two distinct races, the 
Caucasian in Europe and the Mongolian in Asia. The Lapp of 
Northern Scandinavia bears no resemblance to the Southern 
Magyar, and yet their tongues are sisters. The ethnologist ex- 
plains this apparent discrepancy readily by the influence of cli- 
mate, occupation, and historical fate, which affect the physical 
constitution of man much more powerfully and permanently 
than his language. 

The history of the different idioms of Europe is, of course, 
known only in the case of the Indo-European languages ; al- 
though even among these there are some without documents of 
former ages. The Tataric languages are but very imperfectly 
known. Only the inflecting languages, the Indo-European and 
the Shemitic, have ruled the fate of the world ; as these idioms 
occupy the highest rank in the wide range of tongues, so the na- 
tions that spoke them stood foremost among men in physical 
force and worldly success not only, but still more so in intellec- 
tual development ; hence they alone possess a Literature relating 
to former ages, of which no trace is found among the non-inflect- 
ing languages of Europe. 

The following remarks exclude, therefore, necessarily, an 
historical account of the latter idioms. They are mentioned 
only as they exist now. On the other hand, we have not thought 
it necessary to omit such languages as are called dead, but still 
survive, in some form or other. The Latin and the Greek have 
not died out, but only changed their form and character ; the 


Latin still lives in the Romance languages, the Greek in the 
Romaic. Others again, like the Lettic, in Prussia, the Slavic 
in Polabia, and the Celtic in England, were virtually destroyed 
by superior force. They died not by inner necessity, but by out- 
ward circumstances. They exist still, though only as provincial 
dialects, or integral and essential pails of great national tongues, 
and their history, therefore, belongs not exclusively to the past, 
but so far at least to our times, as we find their words or cha- 
racteristic features in modern languages. Hence these, also, 
have been mentioned in their proper place, and apparently with 
the greater propriety, as, without a knowledge of their nature 
and history, the victorious idioms that destroyed them, could 
hardly be well understood. 



The Chinese. 

THE Chinese, as a language, belongs to the first or least developed 
class, the Monosyllabic ; it expresses nothing but the idea itself 
by articulate sounds, and leaves the relation to be guessed at, 
by other words, musical notes or gestures, and is, necessarily, 
strictly monosyllabic. Its words are of the simplest structure, 
the principle of unity unity of sound corresponding to unity 
of idea being so strictly preserved that only the very simplest 
form which a syllable can have, the combination of a single con- 
sonant with a single vowel, is admitted. The only exception of 
this general rule is apparently the word e ul, as the French write 
it, or urh, as Morrison has it, which means, among other signi- 
fications, anc?, and seems at least to add a second vowel to its 

In Chinese, as in all monosyllabic languages, words have a 
form only, but not life ; they are without inflections, never 
changed, and even the use of particles, in remedying this de- 
fect, is rejected in Chinese. 

Of genuine consonants the Chinese grammars count thirty- 
six, which, however, would be easily reduced to a much smaller 


number, if they were counted like European consonants. Some 
of them are, moreover, but very rarely used. Only one conso- 
nant can begin a word, and combinations of consonants are un- 
known ; but all sibilants, even tsch, are considered single sounds. 
Many sounds of frequent use with us, are unknown to the Chi- 
nese, as r, d, 6, and others. The vowels, on the other hand, pre- 
sent a great variety ; there are diphthongs, to each of .which 
i or u or both may be prefixed ; the final vowel may, moreover, 
be pronounced through the nose in two distinct ways. Thus 
there are words which are to the Chinese ear simple, but which 
in English could only be represented by an accumulation of 
vowels, like ias, iuan, or iang. Still, here, also, as with the 
consonants, not all combinations of sounds occur really, and 
even considered in a merely phonetic point of view, it is found 
that only about four hundred and fifty such combinations are 
used. To these must, however, be added the modifications of 
these sounds, produced by the four (perhaps five) musical notes 
or accents, the even, the raised, the lessened, and the returning, 
which vary the signification of a large number of words. So 
entirely is the meaning of words made to depend upon this sys- 
tem of nmsical change, that Chinese satires appear, when re- 
cited in one tone, to be expressions of pure and sublime thoughts, 
whilst a slight change of tone converts them into ludicrous or 
obscene gibes. 

Each syllable has, under these circumstances, necessarily many 
meanings, and these can be determined, in each individual case, 
only by external aids. Thus the word tschen may mean, among 
other things, a ship, a basin, a pole, an arrow, the down of 
birds and coverlids made of them, a plant,- <fec. Even the con- 


nectiou with other words of the same sentence cannot always 
clearly point out which of these many meanings is to be selected, 
as would be the case with English words of many significa- 
tions ; and a careful arrangement of words, gestures, or other 
accidental aids, is required to aid the acute and well-trained 
mind of the Chinese, not in understanding, but in guessing at 
what is said or written. The Chinese is, therefore, not written 
with letters but with signs ; it is not phonetic but pictorial. 

Originally its alphabet was, in fact, nothing but a series of 
pictures, each representing an idea and a word. Now there is 
for each signification of a word a separate sign or word added 
in writing, but not uttered in speaking, and the same sentence 
which, spoken, might admit of various meanings, can in writing 
have but one. There are over 50,000 different signs now ex- 
tant, but not all of them are in common use. They are written 
in perpendicular columns, beginning at the top of the page and 
reading downwards ; these columns are arranged from the right 
to the left. The so-called letters are 

1. Genuine pictures, or signs, suggesting both an idea and a 
sound together. Sun and moon are thus represented by a 
round disk and a crescent ; above and below by a dot ; above and 
below a short dash; one and two by a single or double stroke ; 
friends by the two halves of a bivalve, <fec. The present form 
of these letters is. however, not always the original form unim- 
paired ; these- pictures also have undergone such changes as the 
letters of European tongues also exhibit at different times. Some 
h:;ve become angular, others round ; but there is always left 
sufficient resemblance with their original forms to retrace the 
unmeaning sign of the present day, to the full picture of ob- 


jects of former trues. These merely pictorial signs constitute 
only about the thirtieth part of the whole number, of which 
the great majority are, 

2. Signs which consist of two elements, one phonetic and 
the other ideographic. They suggest, therefore, first a sound, 
and then, by means of the second, the idea which is to be at- 
tached to that sound. Both are originally pictorial, and, by 
themselves, suggest such an object and a sound ; but, when 
thus placed side by side, each of these pictures loses part of its 
power : the first conveys now a sound only and no idea, the 
second the idea only, and no sound. Thus the above-mentioned 
word " tschen" means, by itself, " ship," but when its sign is 
added to another, it has no longer any meaning, and serves 
merely as a phonetic mark, to determine the sound of the pre- 
ceding syllable. In other words, every sign to which it is added 
will be pronounced " tschen," but will have a different meaning, 
determined by it own peculiar nature. When " tschen" is add- 
ed to a sign, meaning water, it signifies " water-basin ;" with 
the sign of wagon it means " pole ;" with that of feathers, 
" down," and with that of arrow, " hunting-arrow." 

It is by this awkward but efficient system of double signs, 
that all ambiguity arising from the many meanings of each 
sign is avoided. The principle is, however, not very strictly 
and consistently carried out ; as there are for some words many 
signs, and again for some signs many meanings. This consti- 
tutes the principal difficulty which foreigners encounter in learn- 
ing Chinese. On the other hand, this same power of all these 
so-called letters to suggest an idea as well as a sound, enables 
other nations, like the Annamites and Japanese, to use the Chi- 


nese signs for their own language. Spoken they could not be 
understood, as they have their own sounds for these letters ; 
but written, they will be understood not read by all who 
are familiar with their appearance. By a similar contrivance, 
the Chinese are enabled to use their signs to represent European 
words ; they take them merely in their phonetic power, disre- 
garding their signification entirely, and thus write ling-ki-li for 
English, ya-su-hoei-sse for Jesuit, or ki-li-sse-tang for Christian. 
The number of signs which are exclusively used to convey 
a meaning to the sign by the side of which they stand, is com- 
paratively small. They are, therefore, constantly repeated, 
giving a new meaning to an indefinite number of phonetic signs. 
The latter, again, are divided in as many classes as there are 
ideo-graphic signs, with which they may be coupled. It is only 
in this manner that Chinese letters can be arranged in a lexical 
form. They are all classified under the heads of keys, as the 217 
ideographic signs are commonly called. The latter are, in the 
first place, arranged among themselves according to the number 
of distinct strokes or parts of which they consist ; simplest first, 
those consisting of several strokes following according to their 
number. The same standard serves, then, for the arrangement 
of the numerous signs under the head of each key. In looking 
for a Chinese word, to ascertain its signification, its two parts have, 
therefore, first to be examined, with a view to ascertain which of 
them furnishes the sound, and which the meaning. The form 
of the latter is then analyzed or dissected, so as to obtain the 
precise number of parts or strokes of which it consists. The 
keys of the dictionary being arranged according to this charac- 
teristic, it is not difficult to find the corresponding sign among 


the words, which consist of the same number of strokes 
as the word sought for. The next step is to ascertain, in like 
manner, the number of strokes of which the phonetic element 
of the word consisted. These phonetic signs are, as has been 
mentioned, arranged according to the same principle, under the 
head of each key ; and it will, therefore, be comparatively easy, 
the key once being found, to seek for the second part, also, under 
the proper head. There the whole word is then met with, 
and, by its side, both the sound of the coupled letters and their 

The sound of a word, it will be seen, stands in no relation 
whatever to its meaning; these two powers of a sign are entire- 
ly independent of each other. Even the oldest monuments, of 
which the Chinese claim to possess some that daj farther back 
than even the traditional records of Europe, convey, therefore, 
no information as to the changes which the language must have 
undergone at various periods, like all other idioms spoken on 
the globe. 

Foreigners, also, learn to understand the Chinese much 
more readily than to read it; an experience entirely different 
from that of other languages. Scholars have been found who 
could fluently read and translate Chinese works, without being 
able to sound a single letter. 

Chinese words are necessarily invariable ; there exists, there- 
fore, no grammar of that language. The relation of word to 
word, or idea to idea, is expressed by position only ; all gram- 
is ar, then, is here syntax. Every word can, according to theo- 
ry, serve alike as noun, adjective, or verb. Some few signs, 
however, are in practice used for specific purposes only, and this 


is the only evidence which the Chinese exhibits of a tendency 
to develops itself and to improve. The common language of the 
Empire, the Kuan-hoa, or so-called Mandarin language, as 
distinguished from that of Kuang-tung (Canton), and of the 
coast, Tu-Kian, is especially inclined thus to limit the use of 
some words, and promises soonest to reach a higher degree of 
perfection. The dialect of Peking, on the contrary, shows al- 
ready, and to a considerable extent, the effects of constant inter- 
course with the Mantchoo. 

Ambiguity arises, necessarily, in proportion to the great 
poverty of the spoken language. As here one sound only is 
heard for each word, and the sign which determines its mean- 
ing, remains mute, the listener has to employ great ingenuity 
and cunning to guess at the precise signification for which that 
sound may be intended in each case. Nor does even Chinese 
etiquette consider it a want of high-bred courteousness, to beg 
for an explanation. This is commonly given by an additional 
word, which will lead the mind of the other in the right direc- 
tion ; much remains, however, for the unusually acute and subtle 
mind of the Chinese to be guessed. For neither number nor 
gender can be expressed by the word itself; at best, these ideas 
also are only suggested by additional words, in the same way in 
which the English speak of hen-sparrows, jackass, roebuck, &c. 
The word for " man," is thus coupled with " crowd," to express 
"men," with "child "for "son," and " daughter " is represent- 
ed by " woman-child." So with other parts of speech : " Use- 
people-power," is " with the people's power ;" " hundred-man- 
good," is " the best of men," and " see protection," is " to be 
protected." In like manner moods and tenses, pronouns and 
adverbs, are rather suggested than actually expressed. 


The Chinese is a language which has been spoken for thou- 
sands of years by a nation of millions. Bunsen is disposed to 
consider it a wreck of the primitive languages of the earth, a 
great and striking monument of antediluvian speech. Inflexi- 
ble and inorganic, it has remained the same for ages, and neither 
change nor progress is perceptible in any of its essential features. 
Nevertheless, the Chinese also has a literature, older and more 
abundant in many branches, than that of any Indo-European 
idiom. Entirely different from the latter in every essential fea- 
ture ; it is, on that account, not to be considered an imperfect or 
insufficient language. It serves, on the contrary, all the highest 
purposes of language generally, and is, in its way, perfect The 
great Humboldt already remarked the striking consistency with 
which the monosyllabic, uninflecting principle, is carried out 
throughout the whole structure. It shows more distinctly than 
any other tongue on earth, the double nature of spoken words, 
as containing a sound or a body, on one hand, and a meaning 
or the spirit on the other hand. In the Chinese alone, these 
two elements are separated and held distinct from each other, 
with an intellectual power and perseverance, of which higher 
idioms and greater nations show no example. The very absence 
of all grammar, that is, of all external signs of the relation in 
which words and their meaning stand to each other, suggests a 
higher capacity of the intellect of the Chinese to supply what 
is not expressed, and to read the meaning of words in almost 
imperceptible features, by the mere force of their reasoning 
power. It is certainly no small triumph for a language to be 
able to express by the aid of only about 500 distinct sounds, 
which by tone and accent may be increased to 1200, all that 


the boasted superiority of more perfect languages conveys, per- 
haps, more distinctly, "but neither more simply nor more per- 



1. Tataric Family., Mongolian! Turkish Karatsclia Nogai Kumuckian 
Kirghis Tataric of Kasan Bashkeer, &c. Finnish Branch. Samojedic 
Ugrian, Permian, Bulgarian Lappic, Finnish proper, Estic Magyar. 

EUROPE possesses only a few, but very largely extended, lan- 
guages which belong to the second class, superior to the mono- 
syllabic, of which an instance has been given in the preceding 
remarks on the Chinese, and yet not sufficiently developed to 
rise to the degree of perfection exhibited by the inflecting lan- 

They express the idea itself by a word, the relation only by 
additional syllables or letters which are loosely and mechanically 
joined with the former. Their superiority to the monosyllabic 
consists, therefore, in the power to express the relation by a 
change of the word itself, instead of being compelled to add one 
or more words to suggest it. They are inferior to the inflecting 
languages, inasmuch as this change of the root is only mecha- 
nical, produced by mere juxtaposition, and not by genuine in- 
flection, following permanent and rational laws. The change 
from " man," to " men," of the inflecting English, is still rep- 


resented by " man " and " mancrowd." The verb is, on this 
account, the most important part of speech in these idioms ; 
around it cluster words innumerable to convey all the various 
relations in which an action may be thought of, as regards the 
nature of the agent, the locality, instrumentality, time, fcc. Of 
this characteristic feature, the idioms of the North American 
Indians and the Mexicans furnish the most striking examples; 
in Europe, single instances only are found, in the Tataric and 
Caucasian idioms, and the Magyar. 

1. Tataric Languages. 

Tungusians, Mongols, Turks, and the numerous idioms be- 
longing to the Finnish or Tschudic family, constitute the great 
bulk of the Tataric branch of languages. Their connection was 
first established by Schott, whose works on the Tataric and on 
the Altaic idioms, published in 1836 and 1839, are still the 
highest authority on the subject According to traditions cur- 
rent among the scattered tribes of this family, their first home 
must be sought for on the high table lands of the Altai, in Asia ; 
hence the names of Altaic or Tataric, by both of which they 
are frequently designated in modern writings. 

The continuous chain of idioms, belonging to this family, 
extends from the east of Asia to the centre of Europe ; it pre- 
sents in its numerous branches the remarkable peculiarity, that 
it improves steadily and regularly, as it proceeds farther west. 
This is shown by an increasing love of full sound forms, a dislike 
to monosyllables, and the addition of unaccented vowels for the 
purpose of lengthening and softening harsh sound*. 


The language of the Mantchoo, a Tungusian dialect, occu- 
pies the lowest place among them, as far as they are known ; 
the Suomi, a Finnish dialect in Russia, is the most highly de- 

The Tataric languages have certain peculiarities in common, 
which distinguish them from other families of idioms. Their 
roots admit of no prefix ; although this mode of composition is, 
in all other cases, one of the most frequent and perfectly legiti- 
mate ways by which agglutinizing languages form new words. 
The Asiatic languages, especially the lower dialects, still write 
the two elements of a word, that which expresses the idea itself, 
and that which represents the relation, in separate words ; the 
more developed, like the Finnish and Magyar, consider them 
already as inseparable. In this point, also, the gradual improve- 
ment of these remarkable idioms is more and more distinctly 
visible, as they extend farther west, and the Finnish is already 
so consistent in this tendency as to approach closely to the per- 
fection of inflecting tongues, among which it has been often, 
though erroneously, enumerated even by eminent scholars. 

In the whole family of these idioms the regimen precedes 
the word on which it depends : the genitive its noun, the object 
its verb ; hence it follows, that they have no prepositions. A 
still more important principle is not only common to all Tataric 
idioms, but, as far as is known, their exclusive property. It is 
the law of vocal harmony. The vowels of the agglutinized syl- 
lables must harmonize with those of the roots. By this means, 
two great purposes of language are fulfilled ; the unity of the 
word is preserved in all compositions, and the secondary charac- 
ter of the addition in reference to the more important radical 


part, is, externally also, represented by the necessity which com- 
pels the former to yield and accommodate itself to the vowel of 
the root The vowels are, for this purpose, divided into hard : 
a, o, u ; middle : i, (e), and soft vowels : a, (e), 6, u, and, based 
upon this division, the law is, that a hard vowel in the root 
makes the vowel in the affix hard ; a soft one makes it soft ; 
middle vowels may be followed by hard or soft vowels, and in 
combinations of both, hard and middle vowels in the root re- 
quire hard vowels, soft and middle radicals soft vowels in the 
affix. Thus, for instance : 

1. TURKISH : aghd, lord, makes the plural : agha-lar. 
MAGYAR: juft, sheep, makes juh-dsz-nak, to the shepherd. 
MAGYAR : hdz, house, makes hdz-bol, out of the house. 

2. TURKISH : er, man, Plural : er-ler (not tr-lar, as above). 
MAGYAR: kert, garden, kert-esz-ntk, to the gardener (not kert-asz- 

nak, as above), or kert, garden, kert-bOl, out of the garden. 

3. MAGYAR: sir, grave, sir-nak, to the grave. 
TURKISH: giz, daughter, giz-lcr, daughter?. 

4. FIXXIC : papi, priest, papi-ltd, of the priest. 
MAGYAR : mozdit-ok, I move. 

5. FINNIC : terdt (properly terakse), stc-el, ler-Gkse-lta, of the steel. 
MAGYAR : tejerit-tk, I hoax. 


The whole Tataric family consists of two principal and essen- 
tially different branches. The Tataric proper, in the east con- 
tains the Tungusian, of which the Mantchoo is a dialect, the 
Mongolian and Turkish ; the European branch, in the west, 
comprehends the numerous branches of the Finnish, or as the 
Sclavonic races call it, the Tschudic. The Tungusian alone is 
"not" represented in Europe ; the others are all found in some 
dialect or other. 



(a.) Tataric Proper. The Mongolian appears in Europe 
mainly in the Olot-dialect, spoken by the i r.merous Mongolian 
hordes who occupy the vast plains east ai;d north of the mouth 
of the Volga. A smaller, insulated colony of Mongolians exists 
much higher north, where the Samara River falls into the Volga. 
They are descendants of the OlSts on the Kokonor and Altai, 
and did not, probably, reach their present home until the sev- 
enteenth century. 

The Mongolian is one of the least developed of the languages 
which form this family ; in grammatical simplicity, it resembles 
still the Mantchoo, and is especially inferior to the Turkish. 
The conjugation expresses, for instance, neither gender nor num- 
ber, and the number of derivative verbs is very limited. It is 
written with letters closely resembling those of the Mantchoo, 
in perpendicular columns, arranged from the left to the right, 
and contains seven vowels and seventeen consonants. Vowels 
are, however, never considered alone, but always in connection 
with consonants, in syllables ; their alphabet consists, therefore, 
not of twenty-three letters, but of an almost unlimited number 
of syllables. The form of the letters points to a Shemitic origin, 
though it betrays, also, Indian influences of more recent date, 
whilst it has the perpendicular arrangement in common with 
the Chinese. The written form is a very imperfect expression 
of their language ; the vowels, o, u, 6, and ii, are not properly 
distinguished from each other. The alphabet of the Kalmucs 
is complete in this respect, and, altogether, more accurate than 
the Mongolian, 

The Turkish is spoken in a comparatively small portion of 
Europe, by little more than 700,000 Turks in European Turkey, 


and a few scattered colonies. They are commonly distinguished 
from the great Turkish family in the East, by the name Osmanli ; 
their language, as well as their writing, is filled with Arabic and 
Persian elements. Only the common people do not understand 
this refined but mixed language ; they speak pure Turkish ; 
hence Turk and peasant are synonymes, as Osmanli and citizen 
of Constantinople. The more refined the language, the more 
foreign elements it contains. 

Different dialects of the same idiom, but not essentially 
different from that of Turkey, are spoken by the so-called Ta- 
tars of Russia. These dwell in the south, in and around the 
Caucasus, under the name of Tatars ; to the west of the Ossetes, 
and on both sides of the Elbrus, they appear as Karatschai ; 
more numerous and powerful around the mouth of the Danube, 
as far as the Dniester, as Nogai; from whence they extend 
through the Crimea, and the land west of the sea of Azof, up 
to Tagan-rog, and then again north of the Caucasus, until they 
reach the above-mentioned Olot, on the Volga. North of this 
river begins the compact body of Turkish inhabitants of Russia ; 
first, the Kirghis, north and west of the Caspian Sea, and along 
the Ural River ; then the Tatars of Kasan ; further north the 
Bashkirs, ia the valley of the Ural, mingled in the districts of 
Orenburg and Perm, with the Meschtscherjakes, and finally, 
the tribes who speak the Tschuwassian dialects. The language 
of Kasan alone is, properly speaking, a written language, but 
the other dialects are not the less independent, and of great 
importance for the philologist and the ethnologist. 

The Turkish belongs, as has been said, to the most highly 
developed idioms of the Tataric branch ; of those spoken in 


Europe, it is, beyond doubt, the most perfect, It has, however, 
in Europe no letters of its own, as among the Mantchoo and 
Mongols, but uses the Arabic alphabet in spite of its want of 
signs for many purely Turkish sounds. Thus, some of the 
vowels, which play so important a part in these languages, 
cannot be expressed by separate signs ; a and e look alike, and 
so do o, u, o and u. The verb occupies the most important 
position in Turkish grammars ; it admits of affixes for a great 
variety of relations, and these affixes are, strangely enough, 
inserted between the root and the personal termination. As 
an example of the manner in which the principle of aggluti- 
nizing languages is carried out in one of the most perfect idioms 
of that class, we add a few of these combinations of the verb 
sev, to love, a verb which contains a soft vowel, and, therefore, 
compels all affixes to adopt likewise a soft vowel : 

Scv-mek, to love. 

Negative. Sev-me-mek, not to love. 

Impossible. Sev-e-mc-mek, not to be able to love. 

Transitive. Sev-dir-mck, to make to love. 

Negat Sev-dir-mc-mek, not to make to love. 

Imposs. Scv-dir-e-me-mck, not to be able to make to love. 

Recipr. Sev-dir-isch-mcJc, to make to love one another. 

Recipr. Negat. Imposs. Sev-dir-isch-c-mc-mek, not 1<> !>< ;i1>l'- 

to make to lovo c::o another. 
Ri-fLclive. Scv-dr-in-mck, to make to rejoice. 
Refl. Negat Sev-dr-in-me-mek, not to make to rjoice. 
Pass. Sev-dr-il-mek, to be made to be loved. 
Pass. Negat. Sev-dr-il-me-mek, not to be made to be loved. 
Passive. Sev-il-mek, to be loved. 
Negat. Sev-il-me-mek, not to be loved. 


Iraposs. Sev-il-e-me-mek, not to be able to be loved. 

Reflective. Sev-in-mek, to rejoice. 

Xegat Sev-in-me-mek, not to rejoice. 

Imposs. Sev-in-e-me-mek, not to be able to rejoice. 

Passive. Sev-in-il-mek, to be rejoiced. 

Pass. Xegat. Sev-in-il-me-mek, not to be rejoiced. 

Imposs. Sev-in-il-e-me^mek, not to be able to be rejoiced. 

Reciprocal. Sev-isch-mek, to love one another. 

Xegat. Sev isch-me-mek, not to love one another. 

Imposs. Sev-isch-e-me-mek, not to be able to love one another. 

Only the principal or leading forms of each voice have been 
mentioned ; from these are afterwards derived all the varieties 
which person, number, tense, and mood produce in inflecting 
languages. The extremely complicated system of conjuga- 
tion is, however, necessarily the same for all verbs, whilst the 
latter show no organic difference from nouns, a peculiarity com- 
mon to all agglutinizing languages, and equally characteristic 
of the Masrvar. 

2. Finnish Languages. 

This class of idioms, closely connected with each other bv 
striking analogies, and best represented in its most perfect form, 
the Finnish proper, is sometimes called Uralian, or Ugrian, from 
the geographical location of some important tribes of this race ; 
or Tschudic, because the Slavic Russians, in their own lan- 
guage, designate thus all Finnish tribes of the empire. 

Some of these dialects are spoken in the whole country 
along the Ural by Samojedes and Ostjakes, and are, as yet but 


little known, some of the tribes being not even converted to 
Christianity. A recent careful comparison of collections of their 
words has, however, satisfactorily established their character as 
being the parent stock from which is derived the now entirely 
disconnected Magyar. Their western neighbors are the Syr- 
jaenes, Permians, and Wobjahes, wh6se languages differ but 
slightly from the first mentioned, although they are not free 
from Russian and Tataric admixture. The Tscheremisses and 
the Mordunies are separate and insulated colonies of the same 
race on the banks of the Volga, and commonly known as the 
Bulgarian branch of the Finnish family. The literature of all 
these eastern dialects is, however, almost entirely limited to 
translations of parts of the Bible. 

Of greater importance are the western dialects, the Lappic, 
Finnish proper, and Esthic. The first-named extends from the 
White Sea, and the northern coast of Scandinavia (Finnmarhen) 
over the whole northern part of the peninsula down to 60 north 
latitude. The Finnish proper, in the words of the Finns : Suomi 
prevails in Finnland, the Estnic in Estonia, the northern part 
of Livonia and the adjacent islands. These three languages 
have each several minor dialects ; but they are all closely con- 
nected with each other. They are written with Latin or Ger- 
man letters; for printing purposes the latter is more frequently 
used. The cognate Magyar uses none but Latin letters. 

Quite cut off from the great bulk of these idioms, sur- 
rounded by Sclavic and Wallachian races, and mixed up with 
Germans, Gypsies, Armenians, and Jews, we find the Magyars, 
who speak an idiom belonging to the Finnish branch of the 
Tataric family. It is not quite free of foreign elements, though 


infinitely more so than the English or the Osmanli; but in point 
of structure and grammar, one of the best developed of all 
Tataric languages. The idiom is mainly the same wherever it 
is spoken, but it does not cover the whole of Hungary. Pure 
Magyar is found only among the Cumanes, lazyges, and 
Haidules. A large Magyar population fills the western part of 
Hungary; those in the east, in Transylvania, are called 

Among the northwestern idioms of this family, the Suomi 
is not only the richest in literature, but as a language also, it is 
considered the most refined and beautiful of all Tataric dialects. 
Here alone the characteristic law of vocal harmony is consis- 
tently carried out. The Suomi has, like the Turkish, a large 
number of verbal forms ; but its most peculiar feature is an 
unusual number of declensions. A remarkably soft and eupho- 
nious language, the Finnish avoids harsh, monosyllabic roots, 
and adds to them almost regularly an unaccented vowel, so as 
to give to all its forms a trochaic accent Thus the Magyar 
hal, fish, is in Finnish, Jcala (h and & interchange freely) ; kez, 
hand, becomes there, kdsi ; el, to live, eld ; and foreign words 
even are subjected to the same process, Avhen they become 
naturalized. The German hut (hat), and rath (counsellor), are 
in Finnish hattu and raatl. These additional vowels affect, 
moreover, to a certain degree, the affixes (at the end of. the 
root), by means of which the declension of nouns is accom- 
plished. This consists of not less than fifteen cases, as, for in- 
stance : 


Karhu, bear. 
Karhu-n, of the bear. 
Karhu-na, like a bear. 

Karhu-a, (part of) the bear, (as object.) 

Karhut-ta, without the bear. 

Karhu-un, in the bear. 

Karhu-ne-nsa, with his bear. 

Karhu-i-n, (plural) after the manner of bears. 

Karliu-ssa, within the bear. 

Karhu-sta, without, or out of the bear. 

Karhu-lla^ to or by the bear, (like the Dative.) 

Karhu-lta, from the bear, (Ablative.) 

Karhu-llen, to the bear. 

Karlm-t&e, past the bear. 

fCarhit-ksi, into a bear (c. <j. changed into a bear). 

There is, in the Finnish, as in the whole Tataric family, but 
one declension for all nouns. It contains no accusative or form 
for (lie direct object, that relation being subdivided into many 
more accurately defined relations, of which each has its own 
form. The affixes of all cases are the same in the plural as in 
the singular ; but an additional sign in Finnish the letter i 
is placed between them and the root, to designate the plural of 
the noun. Thus the singular karhu-n, of the bear, makes its 
plural karhu-i-n, of the bears, and so through all cases, and in 
nil these idioms. The Lappic presents a striking contrast with 
the Suomi, or Finnish, exhibiting in a remarkable manner the 
influence which climate and geographical location exercise on 
languages. They were originally the same, but at a later 
period the Finns came, conquered Lappland, and drove the 
luckless inhabitants to the polar regions. There, long exposure 


to a most inclement climate and extreme cold, combined with 
the effects of incessant persecution from hostile tribes, have im- 
poverished and utterly disorganized their tongue. It is, in form 
and general features, still the same as the Finnish ; it still pre- 
serves, as a relic of former excellence, some such ancient forms 
as the dual of pronouns ; but its power is gone, its numbers 
are diminished, and it has sunk to the low condition of an in- 
significant provincial dialect. 

The Magyar exhibits a peculiar attention to the laws of 
vocal harmony, which all the Tataric languages have in com- 
mon. It has its so-called hard vowels, a, o, , short or long ; 
middle vowels, e, i, i, and soft, e, 6, 6, u, it. No syllable can 
here, as in Finnish, Turkish, ttc., begin with a double conso- 
nant, and even foreign words, in which such a combination 
occurs are changed to comply with this rule. The German 
franz and stall become ferener and istallo, and the Bohemian 
Jcrdl (king), Trimly. The radical part of a word is never 
changed ; only a few cases of assimilation with suffixes exist in 
the conjugation of verbs. The Magyar exhibits the character 
of a modern form of an ancient tongue in the use of articles ; 
the demonstrative d, or az, serves as definite ; the numeral eyy, 
though less frequently, as indefinite article. They serve for 
all genders, which here, as in cognate idioms, are not distin- 
guished in form. 

For purposes of declension, twenty suffixes are written in 
one word with the noun, and form, as it were, so many genu- 
ine cases ; there can, however, others also be formed, in which 
the suffix remains separate. In either case, the laws of vocal 
harmony are strictly observed. In the forms of pronouns, the 


Magyar shews a remarkable resemblance, not only to the other 
Tataric, but even to Indo-European languages. 


2. Caucasian Family. Iberian Circassian, &c. Lesghian, &c. 3. Basque. 

THESE idioms, spoken in the direction of the Caucasus, from 
the shores of the Black Sea to within a short distance from the 
Caspian, surrounding on all sides Turkish and Iranic dialects, 
are but very imperfectly known. The Georgian seems to have 
obtained a considerable degree of grammatical development, 
and has certain changes of radical vowels, which, if they were 
regularly and consistently carried out, and not merely the 
effects of certain laws of euphony, would entitle it to a place 
among the inflected languages. All the Caucasian languages 
exhibit a remarkable analogy in their laws of euphony and 
their grammar. Bopp considers, at least, the Iberian a mem- 
ber of the Indo-European family ; other authorities believe, 
however, that these Caucasian idioms have only reached a very 
high degree of development, without yet showing such charac- 
teristics as would justify us to treat them as inflecting lan- 

The Georgian Alphabet contains, probably all the sounds 
found in the family; it possesses especially a class of tenues which, 
it is believed, occurs in no other idiom. They are all uncom- 
monly harsh and abound with consonants ; the Ab.chasian and 


Tscherkessian excel all others in this respect. A single conso- 
nant can here constitute a word, as far as it may occur in its 
radical form ; thus in Lazic g means to erect, and in Suanic /, 
to write. 

The language of Georgia the Iberia of the ancients, the 
Gurgistan of Turks and Persians and the Gruzia of the Rus- 
sians, in Georgian called Karthwly is, in the next place, related 
to the Lazic, on the southern shore of the Black Sea and the 
Mingrelian, in the neighborhood of the river Rieni. The Lazi 
were considered by the Byzantine writers as descendants of the 
iLhabitants of ancient Colchis, who lived in this region and on 
the banks of the same river, then known as Phasis. Hence these 
two dialects are frequently called Colchic. The Suanic, spoken 
near the river Euguri, is somewhat different from other branch- 
es of the family, which is generally designated as the Iberic. 

Unlike in some classes of words, but connected by a strik- 
ing and permanent analogy of form, are the Abschasian and 
Tscherkessian or Circassian. The former inhabit the Great 
Abasa, and were known since the first century of the Christian 
Era as Abasci or a/Jcuryoi, in Georgian Abchasi. Their lan- 
guage knows no declension, and the verb indicates neither num- 
ber nor person by its terminations ; it has, however, a peculiar 
power of prefixing or inserting the possessive pronoun in the 
verb, when it is to be used as a personal pronoun, as ara, ride, 
and sara, I ride ; irsc h, to throw ; and i-ha-rsch-oit, we throw, 
where the inserted ha is the pronoun we. The Circassian, 
it is well known, is spoken northwest of the former tribe, in the 
angle which the Kuban River forms with the shores of the Black 
Sea and along the latter towards the south. A few other dia- 


lects spoken in the same region, belong probably to the same 
Caucasian family ; too little, however, is known of them to as- 
sign them, as yet, their proper place. They are commonly 
called the Lesghian dialects, from the territory of Lesghistan, 
in which they are spoken, as well as in Daghestan and some 
parts of European Russia. Dictionaries and other works on 
these dialects prove at least, that as far as they are spoken in 
Europe, they belong to the Caucasian family, and are closely 
related to each other. 

3. The Basque. 

Asa small but highly interesting relic of a once powerful 
family of languages, the Basque still survives in a small strip of 
land in the innermost angle of the Bay of Biscay, along the 
French and Spanish lines, and some distance westward along 
the coast of Spain. The Euskara,&s it is called in its own terms, 
consists of three local dialects, which do not essentially differ 
from each other. 

The structure of this idiom is entirely different from that of 
other European languages, with none of which it shows any anal- 
ogy or relation. It follows, on the whole, the great principles 

of all agglutinizing tongues and forms, for instance, from aita, 

Gen : aita-r-en-a, that of the father. 

Verb: aita-r-cn-a-tu, to make that (the property) of the father. 

Dat : aita-gana, to the father. 

Verb : aita-gana-tu, to make (get) to the father. 

In its power and method of composition it shows a surpri- 
sing resemblance to North American idioms. It takes, namely, 


not, like most other languages, the whole word, but only a part, 
sometimes a single letter, which is, nevertheless, sufficient to 
add the meaning of the whole to the new compound. Thus 
from odeia, noise, and otsa, cloud, it forms od-otsa, thunder, in 
the same manner in which the Delaware takes pilsit, chaste, 
and lenape, man, to form pi-lape, a youth. Its declension is car- 
ried on, as in other agglutinizing languages, by means of post- 
positions, which are not limited to certain cases, but may ex- 
press the most different relations of the noun. 

The Basque verb is one of the most remarkable forms ; its 
various modifications are almost countless. There is, to be sure, 
but one conjugation, which consists in the addition of an auxili- 
ary to the simple root Both, however, the auxiliary in regular, 
and the original verb itself, in irregular verbs, can be modified 
for the expression of the various moods, for which the English 
employs the verbs can, may, shall, use, mut>t, &c. The vowel 
of the root must, when thus increased by a suffix, harmonize 
with the vowel of the latter, and as the radical part often con- 
sists of a single letter, the whole root may be changed. In like 
manner are formed the different tenses, numbers and persons ; 
among the latter the person addressed and the person spoken 
of are each represented by a different form of the verb. These 
only are, in Basque grammars, called conjugations, though in a 
sense very different from the usual meaning ; the changes of 
form for the purpose of expressing the active, passive or mixed 
character of the verb, are called voices. Every verb has eight 
voices; these eight voices have two hundred and six conjuga- 
tions, and each of these conjugations again its various forms 
for moods, tenses, numbers and persons. This most complica- 


ted system bears a slight resemblance only to that of the Mag- 
yar verb, but shows a striking analogy with the corresponding 
forms of American Languages. 

The entire isolation of the Basque among European tongues 
is, however, by no means limited to its forms ; its roots, also, 
the substance or body of the language, show no relation what- 
ever to any known idioms. Accidental resemblances and analo- 
gies occur here, of course, as well as in any two dialects, and 
have once given rise to the opinion that the Basque might be 
a Celtic dialect. This error has, however, been completely re- 
futed ; even the suggestion that it might be the result of a com- 
bination of Finnish and Celtic elements, finds but little favor, and 
the Basque is still the only language that, strange and mysteri- 
ous even in its present form, can claim no relation in Europe, 
nor a home in Asia. 



1. Shemitic Family. Maltese. 

Tin-: essential difference between these and the agglutinizing 
idioms lies, as has been said, in the power which inflecting lan- 
guages have to represent the connection of idea and relation in 
the mind, by a corresponding radical and inseparable connec- 
tion of two elements in one word. This connection is no longer 
loose and mechanical, as in the former class; but the elements 


have become so pliant, and words under the influence of highly 
endowed races, so flexible, that they can be fused together to 
form once more, in sound as well as in thought, one organic 
whole. The inflecting languages are, therefore, the most perfect, 
because they can follow, step by step, the activity of the mind, 
not only expressing the idea, but the relation in which it is 
meant to be understood, instantaneously, and leaving nothing 

Tbe examples which have been given of the characteristic 
features of one or two of the agglutinizing idioms will easily 
explain this difference in its practical results. In the latter lan- 
guages, this declension was brought about by the use of affixes ; 
the plural was represented by a vowel, expressive of number, 
and to this the same postpositions, as in the singular, were once 
more added. The gender had no outward sign ; the verb fre- 
quently neither number nor person. Very different from this 
imperfect system is that of inflecting languages. Thus the 
participle TVJTTWV, TITTTOUO-O, TVJTTOV, shows at once the three gen- 
ders, not only in a material or mechanical, but, as in all inflecting 
languages, in a symbolic form. The radical part is TWTT-OVT; 
the feminine is designated by a long soft vowel ia ; the nomina- 
tive is expressed by the demonstrative o- (as a separate pronoun, 
<*", !?)> an d the neuter is pointed out by the very absence of a 
special designation of gender. The great laws of euphony, so 
beautifully carried out in Greek, require, in the next place, a 
change of these accumulated consonants. The masculine, in 
its full form. TVTTTOVTS, loses both T and s, and as a kind of symbolic 
compensation, and, at the same time, as a sign of the change 
it has undergone, lengthens its last vowel so as to appear as 


TVTTTWV. The feminine, TUTrrovna, contracts TL into s, before 
which letters, according to the same laws, ov must change into 
ou, and then it finally appears as rvTrrowa. The neuter, whicli 
presents not the same offensive accumulation of consonants, 
loses simply its T at the end and becomes TUTTTOV. More striking 
yet is the difference in the two classes of languages in the form 
of the verb. Here, also, the essential feature is the designation 
of all relations to time, mood or person, by a symbolic change 
of the radical part itself, instead of a mere addition of a new 
word. Thus the change from Xdyos, as a noun, to Aeyw, as a 
verb, continues in the latter, and the root AITT, for instance, ap- 
pears successively as XetVco, tXiirov and AeXotTra. So in 
Gothic the root grip becomes in the present greipa, in the past 
graip, in the participle gripans. These examples will show the 
inner life, which dwells in the words of inflecting languages, in 
contrast with the mechanical changes in the lower class. 

Two great classes of idioms constitute the great body of in- 
flecting languages, the Shemitic and the Indo-European. They 
are the languages spoken by the nations who from the days of 
Iranic Asia to our own, have ruled the world and borne the 
standard of progress. Their high perfection is an additional 
evidence, as it is the result of the superiority of these races ; they 
are all, however, decaying, as far as the material form is con- 
cerned. A more powerful principle is here incessantly at work 
to purify and to spiritualize the bodily substance of languages, 
the words ; to simplify the forms and to express symbolically by 
the smallest means and the most delicate shades of sound all 
the operations of the mind, for which other idioms require long 
or numerous words, striking, full forms and ample, mechanical 


1. Shemitic Languages. 
The Shemitic lanjruages are in no essential feature inferior 

o o 

to the Indo-European idioms ; they surpass, on the contrary, 
some of the latter in consistency, artistic simplicity and ingeni- 
ous adaptation of sounds to thoughts. Two peculiarities, how- 
ever, distinguish them. They require, at least in their present 
form, three letters for each root ; and consonants cannot coalesce 
or be fused together with vowels so as to form one organic 
whole, but the consonants still express alone the idea proper, 
whilst it is left to the vowels exclusively to represent the rela- 
tion. The first peculiarity necessarily subjects the formation of 
words to stringent laws, which are hardly compatible with the 
higher, spiritual freedom of this class of idioms. The vowels, 
moreover, are in most of the Shemitic languages (either) not writ- 
ten at all, or merely indicated by diacritical marks. It is 
left to the ingenuity of others to supply them, and a letter in 
Arabic for instance, in which the vowels were written out as in 
English, would be considered an insult, as implying that the 
person addressed could not read ! The separation of duty to 
be performed by the elements of the same word, presents like- 
wise the organic union of the whole. This is particularly felt in 
the necessary consequence, that roots cannot occur as words, be- 
cause they consist only of (three) consonants, and whenever a 
word is added, without which they can, of course, not be sound- 
ed, that vowel gives them, at once, a relative signification. Thus 
qtl suggests the abstract idea of killing, but every form of these 
letters, that is capable of being sounded, expresses a special 


meaning ; and qtol is an infinitive, gotel, a participle, and qatal 
means, he did kill. 

The Shemitic languages have, on the other hand, preserved 
a greater family likeness in words and forms than the Indo-Eu- 
ropean tongues. They are called Shemitic from Sem or Shem, 
the son of Noah, and the connection of the races who use these 
idioms with his descendants. Their home is Southwestern 
Asia, from whence they anciently spread through Palestine,Phoe- 
nicia, Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia. In their Arabic form 
they extended far over Africa and part of Europe. The Hebrew 
of the Jews, spoken all over the wide world, has lost both the 
dignity and the vitality of a national tongue. The other principal 
idioms of the family, the Aramean (Chaldee and Syriac), the 
Hebrew, Phoenician and Arabic (Aethiopian), have almost dis- 
appeared, only the modern Arabic prevails still extensively, 
though rapidly decaying. 

A single dialect represents this once powerful family of 
idioms in Europe, the Maltese, which was formerly considered 
a remnant of the Phoenician or old Punic, but has, of late, 
been successively traced to its Shemitic origin. Tt is principally 
spoken in the open country throughout the island, and in 
some remote districts, remarkably pure. 



2. Indo-Europtan Family. Ariart Group. Indian Branch Gypsy Irauic 
Branch Ossetic Armenian. 

THE languages of Europe belong, as far as number and im- 
portance are considered, mainly to the great Indo-European 
family. The reasons which led to the adoption of that name 
have been elsewhere given ; they are sometimes called Arian, 
from the vernacular name of their home (air/a), which, how- 
ever, refers too exclusively to the Indian and Iranic members of 
the family ; Sanscrit, without regard to the common error, to 
which such a designation would be apt to lead, as if they were 
all descended from the Sanscrit or Japhetic, with reference to 
biblical names, but conveying neither a precise nor correct 

The great mass of idioms which form this most important 
class of languages, are subdivided into smaller branches accord- 
ing to certain differences in the laws of " Ablaut," or transmu- 
tation of sounds. A thorough investigation of the older forms 
of all these idioms has led to the conviction of their common 
descent from a common fountain-head, now no longer in exist- 
ence. They do not all, however, partake alike of the peculiari- 
ties thus inherited from a common ancestor ; the farther east 
they live, the more purely and fully have they preserved the 


original character, as in the Sanscrit of Eastern India ; every 
degree farther west diminishes this resemblance, and the Celtic, 
the oldest and therefore the most remote daughter of the family, 
shows least of all of the Indo-European type. 

The subdivisions are again naturally arranged, two and two 
together, so that Indian and Iranic form the Arian group, 
Greeks and Romans the Pelasgic, Slavic and Lettic the Slavic, 
and lastly, not thus joined together, the Celtic and the German. 
Each of these groups has some representative in Europe, though 
necessarily of very unequal extent and importance. 

Arian Group. 

(a.) Indian. No language of the Indo-European family has 
been known through so many centuries and under so different 
aspects, as the eastern branch, the Sanscrit, which thus, and on 
account of its superior age, is commonly considered the most 
important for all linguistic purposes. The clear and transparent 
organization of the Sanscrit is the most successful instance of 
inflection in languages. Its oldest form is seen in the Vedas ; 
from which the so-called classic Sanscrit differs essentially in 
words, forms, and laws of euphony. At a very early period 
already, new shoots came forth from the old tree, perhaps in 
the same way in which the Romance languages have arisen 
from the Latin. They appeared first as popular dialects by the 
side of the old language, which remained then, as it still does, 
the language of science and of religion. The older daughters 
of the Sanscrit are the Pali, the language of the Boodistic books 
of Ceylon and India, according to Lassen, the oldest preserved 


form of the languages of Western Hindiistanee, and the humbler 
dialects, known collectively as the Pracrit, and found in ancient 
dramas quoted as the language of the lower classes. The numer- 
ous descendants of the Sanscrit, which now exist, have under- 
gone radical changes, are all more or less different from their 
common ancestor, and without exception, largely mixed up with 
foreign elements. Thus the Hindiistanee or Urdu, one of the 
twenty-five idioms of this class which are known to us, contains 
a large number of Arabic and Persian words. The idioms of 
Bengal, the Punjab, Guzerat, Muhratta, &C., exhibit the same 
symptoms, whilst, strangely enough, the Hindi, or Bridj Bhakha, 
the general language of the higher classes throughout all India, 
contains the purer forms of the old Sanscrit. 

The only representative of these Indian languages in Europe, 
is the humble and long despised dialect of the Gypsies, and it 
must certainly be considered a most remarkable trait in the 
character of that mysterious race, that they have so tenaciously 
preserved their tongue, at least as far as the main substance is 
concerned, through so many centuries of lawless, vagrant life. 
Xo nation on earth has so many names, most of which refer to 
their pretended home, Egypt ; as the English (e) Gypsies and 
the Spanish (e) gitano names are principally Sinte an Indian 
word, meaning " dwellers on the Sindhu " or Indus ; jRom, or 
Rommany, man by eminence ; and Redo, Sanscrit Kala, from 
their dark complexion. They are found in large numbers in 
;, Africa, and Europe; rarely on the American continent; 
history knows them only since the fifteenth century, but there 
are reasons to fix the date of their emigration from India at an 
earlier period. Their language had, at an early period, attracted 


the attention of learned men ; Grellman, Richardson, and Mars- 
den, made collections of words from their various dialects, and, 
of late, G. Borrow has given considerable attention to the subject. 
It is, however, to the careful and truly scientific researches of 
the learned Pots, that we owe almost all that is known of their 
language. He has obtained the following results : 

That all the various dialects spoken by Gypsies in different 
parts cf the world, and mixed up with elements of numerous 
other idioms, but mainly with Sclavonic and Romaic, are essen- 
tially one and the same language. 

That it is not a fictitious, nor an artificial (robbers') language, 
but a national idiom ; and finally 

That its descent can be safely and satisfactorily traced back, 
so as to connect it with the great tongues of Western Asia, and 
especially, in spite of all degeneration and admixture, with the 
Sanscrit itself. 

Most of the important words of their language are found, 
almost without change, in the Hindi and Hindiistanee of our 
day ; others can easily be explained by analogous forms of the 
latter. Thus another triumph was achieved by the science of 
comparative Philology, inasmuch as the national origin of this 
strange race was traced and established solely by researches in 
their language. 

(b.) Iranic. The idioms called Iranic were originally, it is 
presumed, closely related to the Indian family, but differ now in 
certain great laws of euphony, which, as they distinguish them 
from the Iranic idioms, are their common and exclusive property 
Such are, for instance, the rule that requires dentals, d, or t, to 
be changed into s, when they precede the letter <; the Sanscrit 

Tun OSSETIC. 299 

baddha, bound, appears in Iranic as bacta, in tlie wedge inscrip- 
tions of the old Persian as basta, and in modern Persian as beste. 
Radical * is changed into A, as in the Greek lirra. and the Latin 
septem ; thus Sanscrit saptan, Latin septem, is in old Persian 
hapta, in modern Persian heft (rra). 

The principal languages of this branch were in times of 
comparative antiquity, the Zend, the language of the sacred 
books, of the Persians, the Zend-avesta, and the old Persian, in 
which the numerous and now well known wedge-inscriptions of 
the Achaemenidan Kings are written. Among the still existing 
idioms, the modern Persian is richest in literature, though much 
impoverished in grammar, and largely mixed with Arabic ele- 
ments. The language spoken in Kurdistan is nearly related to 
the latter ; that of Afghanistan, which belongs, likewise, to this 
branch, has developed itself in a peculiar and original manner. 
The Armenian, though much changed in form and structure 
from the original Iranic, has still enough of the family likeness 
left to connect it beyond doubt with the same family. It is a 
singular fact that the original character of these idioms is most 
purely preserved and best represented in 

The Osselic, the language of a small nation on the very con- 
fines of Europe, and almost completely separated from the great 
mass of Iranic tongues. The Ossetes dwell in the heart of the 
Caucasus, surrounded by Caucasian races, and meeting in the 
West nothing but Tataric inhabitants. History knows but little 
of their origin and fate. Their language, on the contrary, shows 
both at the first glance. They call themselves with the old 
family name, Iron, and their grammar is almost identical with 
that of the older dialects ; their idiom being, in fact, better pre- 


served than even the Eastern representative of the Iranic, the 
New Persian. It is unfortunately not a written language, and 
Ossetic grammars compiled principally for linguistic purposes, 
are written with Georgian or Russian letters. It possesses no 
literature, and hence the influence of the Caucasian idioms, by 
which it is surrounded on all sides, makes itself daily more felt. 
Thus it has adopted, though an Indo-European language, the 
whole system of euphony belonging to the Georgian or Cauca- 
sian tongues. 

The Armenian is the only other representative of the Iranic 
branch in Europe. It is not spoken by a nation, but by so many 
thousand Armenians, engaged in trade and commerce all over 
Eastern Europe, and in so important colonies especially in Hun- 
gary, that it seemed to deserve a place among the languages of 
Europe. It must be borne in mind, also, that the renowned 
convent of the Mechitarians, on the Island of San Lazzaro, near 
Venice, publishes annually a large number of valuable scientific 
and religious works in Armenian, which are sold and read, not 
only in Armenia proper, but in numerous districts of Europe and 
Asia. Smaller colonies are scattered all over Russia, Turkey, 
Galicia, and Hungary ; and the city of Nachitschewan on the 
mouth of the Don is surrounded by many villages and a large 
neighborhood, settled exclusively by Armenians. Similar settle- 
ments, including populous cities, are found in Transylvania. It 
is a harsh and not harmonious language ; the ancient Armenian 
is now considered a dead language, its modern form, in foul- 
smaller dialects, is much mixed with Turkish words, and its 
structure entirely that of the Turkish. The Armenians call 
tlier.:s?lves ffaj. and their land ffajstaan, the land of the Haj. 


They write with peculiar letters, resembling and partly consist- 
ing of Greek letters, and possess a rich literature, especially in 
history. The Armenian version of the Bible, made in 511, is 
still considered as a model of pure Armenian. 


Greek Romaik AJbanese. 

THE two languages which constitute this group are designated 
as the Pelasgic, in the sense in which the latter signified, accord- 
ing to Greek usage, the most ancient. At a period anterior to 
history, it is now believed, the Greek in its oldest and the Latin 
in its earliest form, very closely resembled each other, and what 
they then had in common, and what, consequently, distinguished 
them from other Indo-European idioms, is thus called Pelasgic. 
It is well known that the Latin generally bears the stamp of 
higher antiquity than the so-called classic Greek, and that, 
therefore, the oldest forms of the latter, as the JEolic, resemble 
it more than the later dialects. The opinion, that the Latin is 
a descendant of the Greek, finds but few advocates among the 
scholars of our day ; and the successful study of early contem- 
poraries of the Latin among the Italian dialects, the Oscan, 
Etruscan and others, has but added new and irrefutable argu- 
ments against it. 

Well defined and strictly enforced laws of euphony distin- 


guish the tWb idioms from each other, and here also the Latin 
has, in most instances, the older, original sound, the Greek a 
later or secondary one. Thus the Latin preserves s, where the 
Greek changes it already into h or rejects it altogether ; sus and 
vs, septem and eWa, -arum (from -asurn), and S)v are familiar, 
though not the most striking examples. If the Greek possesses 
a series of aspirants, which the Latin did not originally know 
(ch, th, ph are of later date), it is, on the other hand, almost 
without any spirans, having lost j and V altogether and reject- 
ing s(h) wherever it can safely be done. Modern Greek in its 
vulgar form knows even the h, the spiritus asper, no longer. 
This is, therefore, one of the most distinctive features in the two 
languages. The Greek has aspirates and no spirans; the Latin 
preserves the latter and knows no aspirates. This distinction 
is one of those which most frequently separate cognate idioms, 
but it is never found to mark the descent of one from the other. 
(a.) Greek. Modern Greek is, of course, but a faint echo of 
ancient Greek, but that also was already in the period of decline, 
and had, to a great extent, lost its youthful beauty and vigor, 
when it produced the so-called classic literature. It possessed 
no longer any spirans, without which no language can be con- 
sidered perfect, the loss being, on the other hand, considered a 
common sign of decay, as in the Pracrit and the Romance lan- 
guages, from all of which, as from the Greek, the j has disap- 
peared. It had already an article, another sure .sign of decline. 
Of its real antiquity we have no knowledge; especially because 
the Greeks did not begin to write their language, but at an 
advanced period of their national existence, and then only with 
foreign letters. This defect shows the more strikingly the supe- 

GREEK. 308 

riority of the Indian languages, which possess a literature be- 
longing to that period of which the Greek has not even a history. 
There is, however, material enough in existence, to enable us to 
conclude by analogy and tracing back results to their first causes, 
what must have been the Greek in that Pelasgic or archaic 
period. It was no doubt already independent as a tongue, and 
possessed of characteristic features which distinguished it from 
the other Indo-European idioms. But the language had not 
departed from its great mother-tongue, and developed itself with 
the same independence and originality in all its parts, and was 
moreover broken up into dialects. The Doric and the ^Eolic 
had more or less faithfully preserved their ancient heirloom of 
Indian times ; the Ionic, on the other hand, departed more and 
more from it, and the Attic, in its laws of euphony closely 
following the Ionic, suffered irreparable losses in forms and gen- 
eral structure. The difference is seen here, as in the Germanic 
tongues, most readily in th.e change of the original t into the 
cognate sibilants, as in TV and <rv, </xm, TVJTTOVTI and <f*r)<ri, 
TUTTTOWI or o3Set and oet. This period of dialectic life, during 
which the Greek had its classic literature, is commonly called 
the Hellenic, to distinguish it from the first, the Pelasgic. It 
is well known how subsequently the Attic alone prevailed 
for all purposes of literature and social intercourse, and 
how it soon degenerated, when used by such numbers of 
Greeks, who were not themselves from Attica, until it 
became finally known as the common Greek, ^ KOWTJ StaXexros. 
A later form of this KOWTJ, used by foreigners also, and 
mixed up with numerous barbarisms, the so-called Hellenistic, 
shows already considerable and radical decay ; much more, of 


course, the Greek of Byzantine writers at the time of the Greek 
Empire. After the downfall of the latter, the Greek disappeared 
entirely as a spoken language, and has only of late begun once 
more to be used by a Greek nation. 

The present form of the language, the Romaik, fj pw/xatKr) 
yA<3o-o-a is, nevertheless, much more like the classic Greek, espe- 
cially when written, than, for instance, the Romance languages 
are like the Latin. The explanation rests upon the fact that 
many of those changes in sound or form, which mark the de- 
cay of the Latin in the Romance languages, had, in the Greek, 
already taken place when it ceased to be Pelasgic and became 
Hellenic. Other changes of sounds were not perceptible in 
writing, and can only be judged of by the existing difference 
between written letters and their sounds, as in the case of , ot 
17 and v, all of which the modern Greek pronounces alike, and 
which must have undergone this modification at an early period, if 
we may judge from the way in which words that contain these 
letters were of old already written in other languages. So also 
the pronunciation of ov as a single vowel, a sound which existed 
in classic Greek, it is true, but certainly not before, as both the 
manner of writing it, which indicates a separate pronunciation 
of each vowel, and its etymological formation amply corrobo- 
rate. Nor have the consonants suffered less ; has become the 
English z, the English Ih (formerly t-h), and <f> simply/, 
which was not yet the case in Cicero's times. To these changes 
of sounds in modern Greek must be added the entire loss of 
quantity, for which accent is now substituted, and essential modi- 
fications in declension and conjugation, not to speak of a large 
number of foreign words. It is remarkable, however, that in 

ROMAIK. 305 

this respect also the Greek has suffered and changed less 
than the modern forms of Latin. If the Romance lan- 
guages have been compelled to adopt the use of the article, 
the Greek has, on the other hand, preserved its declension, of 
which the former have but faint traces, and the analytical forma- 
tion of certain tenses it has in common with all other modern 
languages. Ei^ov ypaufrrj supplies the lost form eyeypa^Ktv 
and -5eA<i> ypctyei, ^cXov 7P<"/T? th e rature, <fec. Of the cases, 
most are preserved ; the dative alone is rather obsolete, but the 
dual has been lost both in declension and conjugation. The 
passive exists still, but no optative, and the infinitive is now 
rarely used in its ancient form. The difference in words consist- 
ing more in the addition of foreign terms than in a change of 
the vernacular, is perceptible only in the language of familiar, 
daily intercourse ; but in this point, as well as in the before- 
mentioned features, there is a decided tendency seen to return 
to old, revered forms. Foreign, especially Turkish words are 
rapidly disappearing, and the inflections of the ancient Greek 
are extensively used in literature and oratory. It is, therefore, 
impossible to draw a strict line of demarcation between the an- 
cient and modern Greek, especially since all the influence of 
court literature and science has been employed to restore to the 
language of the people also the noble dignity and graceful beau- 
ty of its ancient form. It may safely be said, therefore, that the 
ancient Greek still survives and claims its place as a living lan- 
guage of Europe, and this in a state of purity, to which, con- 
sidering the extraordinary extent of its literary existence, there 
is no parallel among other European idioms. 

The modern Greek is now spoken on the islands of the AT- 


chipelago and of the western coast up to Corfu, in the Morea, 
and, interspersed with Turkish colonias, eastward as far as Con- 
stantinople. Near Taganrog, on the Sea of Azoph, there is a 
small colony, and further south on the western shore of the 
same sea, a larger settlement of Greeks surrounded by Slaves 
and Tartars. 

In Asia Minor Greek is spoken along the whole coast, be- 
ginning with the district opposite Cyprus, which is also inhabited 
by- Greeks, and continuing over the coast and adjoining islands 
up to the mouth of the Kisil Irmak, on the Black Sea. In the 
interior of Asia Minor the Greek has generally given way to the 

(6.) Albanese. The Albanese are commonly considered de- 
scendants of the ancient Illyrians ; of their language little else is 
positively known but that it belongs to the great Indo-European 
family. In spite of great corruption there are traces enough 
left in pronouns, numerals and the terminations of declension and 
conjugation to establish this relation beyond all doubt. A very 
large number of words, also, are clearly of Indo-European 
stock, and prove their descent even in the changes which they 
have undergone in the process of naturalization. The numerals, 
especially, are almost pure Greek, viz. : (ev-s), 8e, T/OI, Kar/ae and 
; other forms point more directly to the Latin, as a-nrep 
and super), with the Latin change of h into s ; KIVT, 
hundred ; e (et), and, not /cat ; iras (post). 

The presumption is, however, generally in favor of a de- 
scent from the Greek, but also of a separation from the latter 
at a very early epoch, because the forms which it has in com- 
mon with the Greek, resemble more nearly the oldest than any 


other forms. Many of the changes and losses which it has since 
suffered, cannot now be satisfactorily explained, as but very 
little is known of the history of this race, and their language 
has never possessed a literature. A new testament was pub- 
lished at Corfu in 1827, with Greek letters, which do not fully 
represent all the sounds of the language. Besides some rather 
uncertain sounds of vowels as well as of consonants, they have 
a digamma, pronounced like the gentle g of Northern tongues. 

The Albanese is now spoken by a race of men, counting 
about a million and a half* and calling themselves Schkipetars, 
whilst the Turks give them the name of Arnauts. They dwell 
on the western side of the Grecian peninsula from the bay of 
Patras to the river Drino, in the Albania of our day and those 
provinces of Modern Greece that h'e immediately to the south 
of it From the northeastern corner of this territory the Al- 
banese extend eastward, with frequent interruptions, far into 
Bulgaria. The majority are Christians ; the rest Mohammedans. 

It is a remarkable circumstance that along the Lower 
Danube, and farther southwest, a number of idioms are grouped 
together, which agree in nothing but thorough corruption. 
They are in fact the lowest of their respective families. These 
lost sons are the Wallachian of the Latin branch, the Bulgarian 
of the Slavic, and the Albanese of the Greek. All three agree 
especially in one point, the addition of the article to the end of 
the noun. 



Latin Italian Spanish Portuguese Provengal French Wallachian 

(c.) Latin. The history of the Latin language is the histoiy 
of Rome. As the empire was founded, made permanent and 
extended from province to province, so the language it spoke 
also arose, grew and spread abroad, and as the great princi- 
ples, the very soul, of ancient Rome long survived its fall and 
bequeathed to the new kingdoms rising upon its ruins the spirit 
of Roman Law and Roman Government, together with that 
Church which it had raised and fostered in early infancy, so the 
Latin language, also, has risen again in the Romance idioms 
an eloquent evidence of the spiritual continuance of Rome after 
its political destruction ! 

The Latin, it is now well known, was not bora on Italian 
soil, but was formed as one of many dialects of the great un- 
known mother-tongue, during a period unknown to history, 
until it also left the mysterious cradle of the Indo-European 
family in the far East. Comparative Philology has established, 
not beyond controversy, but to the satisfaction of Science, that 
there are traces still left in that Latin, which is actually known 
to us, that clearly and distinctly prove a higher age for the 
Latin than for the Greek, and that the long-prevailing idea of 

LATIX. 309 

a descent from the Greek through the JEolic is simply an 
anachronism. We know not how and when it left the father- 
land of the Indo-European tongues, but we do know that it 
came not alone to Italy, and did not, perhaps for long centu- 
ries, alone represent that family there. Like the Latin, before 
or soon after it, appeared these other branches also, and their 
memory, although darkened and overshadowed by the brilliant 
success of the victorious idiom, still survives in scanty but all- 
important relics, such as the Eugubine Tablet and inscriptions 
in Umbrian and Oscan. They differ, in fact, but little from 
Archaic Greek, and exhibit, at least, a predominance of the 
Pelasgian element which is common to Greek and Latin. They 
prove thus, at the same time, their own descent from the Indo- 
European family and that of the Latin. Not they alone were 
thus cast aside and allowed to perish ; other idioms also, not of 
Indo-European descent and possibly the first comers in Italy, 
like the Etruscan, were driven from their native soil, and with, 
it from history and memory, to make room for the only supreme 
master of the land, the Latin. Possessing no literature, and 
spoken by races evidently inferior to the Eoman, these sister 
languages and early rivals were soon overcome and sooner still 
forgotten. A more striking evidence of the power of the Latin 
can hardly be found than this utter disappearance of idioms 
like the Etruscan, the language of the ancestors of Maecenas, 
and long after Pericles, still the vernacular tongue of one of the 
most civilized and powerful nations of the earth. A few but 
half-deciphered inscriptions on vases, coins and rocks, are all 
that is left of the tongue of a mighty nation ! 

But Rome was not destined to rule over Italy only, and the 


Latin, which had shared its victories at home, now appeared 
irresistible under the wings of the eagles of Rome abroad. 
Conquering, levelling and absorbing, it passed the walls within 
which nature seemed to have intended to confine it, the Alps 
and the Pyrenees. The Celtic, of which it either already con- 
tained or then appropriated not unimportant elements, the 
Basque and the Albanese had to surrender to the victorious 
idiom or to take refuge in remote corners and inaccessible 
mountain gorges in order to protract their miserable existence. 
Only where the Latin met equal or superior intellectuality, 
where it came in contact with languages possessing either 
youthful vigor or high refinement, it could not conquer minds 
as Rome conquered provinces. In Greece and the Greek colo- 
nies it always remained a stranger, that had come too late and 
could not find a home there, although spoken by the masters 
of the land and protected by Roman legions. In Germany 
also and the Slavic East, the Latin would not prosper ; it 
wanted the mild climate of its Southern home and left the 
sterile soil to a younger and more vigorous vegetation. What 
it conquered it kept ; for thousands of years and in the midst 
of revolutions that convulsed all Europe, when kingdom after 
kingdom disappeared and new, fearful races came to people the 
land a signal evidence of the permanent power of the mind by 
the side of the transient power of material force ! It kept it 
not only, but increased it ; it added to its ancient inheritance 
large territories, to conquer which Rome would have lacked not 
only the means and the spirit, but the knowledge of their very 
existence. Not only in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, half 
of the Netherlands and half of Switzerland, as well as in Daco- 


romanic Wallachia, is modern Latin now spoken, but beyond the 
Atlantic ; also in all the broad provinces and populous colonies 
belonging to France, Spain or Portugal, on the whole continent 
of America, in fact wherever the Anglo-Saxon race does not 

This modern Latin is represented by the so-called Romance 
Languages. Already in the fifteenth century an opinion began 
to prevail among men of great erudition and good judgment in 
Italy, and, soon after, also in France, that the Romance was not 
a daughter but a contemporary of the classic Latin. It was 
maintained, that, by the side of the latter, there existed already 
in the golden age of Roman Literature a common language, 
characterized, among other peculiarities, by the use of articles, 
auxiliary verbs, and similar, aids in Modern Languages. This 
opinion has, of late, caused no small controversy among men of 
eminence. It has been contended that no mention is made in 
any Latin author of the existence of such a dialect or language, 
and that, had it existed, the French and the Spanish must 
necessarily have been derived from the Italian, as the direct and 
immediate representative of that pretended idiom. Such a 
descent, however, cannot be traced. To avoid this difficulty, 
another Romance idiom, the Provengal, was brought forward 
by Raynouard, with great ingenuity and learning, as possessing 
that universality which he could not, in the face of history, 
ascribe to the Italian. The great abundance and variety of 
forms in the language of the Troubadours, and the fact that it 
showed various combinations of sounds where the other Romance 
idioms admitted but one of each, made it a comparatively easy 
task to find for each peculiarity of the Italian, French, Spanish 


or Portuguese, some corresponding form in the Provencal. 
From these circumstances, Raynouard derived the conclusion 
that the latter was older than any of the Romance idioms, and 
had at a later period given birth to these. Schlegel, already, 
and after him Lewis, have successfully refuted this opinion. 
The former showed that this great variety of forms arose from 
the simultaneous appearance of Southern French, Catalonian 
and Piedrnontese elements in the language of the Troubadours, 
and the latter proved by even ampler evidence than that ad- 
duced by Raynouard, that each of the Romance languages had 
developed itself, independent of the Provencal and directly from 
the Latin ! 

These arguments gave, however, no proof for or against 
the existence of a so-called Lingua rustica or vulyaris, of which 
the ampler use had been made for the explanation of Romance 
Grammar, the less was known of it. To this source were as- 
cribed all the peculiarities and irregularities in the Romance 
languages, that could not be traced back to the Latin. These 
being carefully collected from the existing Romance languages, 
and other parts being added to it, according to the Laws of 
Analogy, there arose soon, in apparent reality, a language and 
a grammar, complete in all parts, remarkably consistent in its 
structure and grammar, and exciting no small wonder and 
admiration. One fact only was overlooked : that this lan- 
guage was at no time either vulgaris or rustica, or a language 
at all, but simply the result of philological industry and inge- 

It needed, however, no such intermediate language to ex- 
plain all the changes through which the Latin had gone in 


order to reappear as Romance. The great characteristic features 
of the former, by which it is distinguished from all other lan- 
guages, are the barytonic accent, the simple but substantial in- 
flection by means of consonants, the limited power of deriva- 
tion, the plain, logical structure or syntax, and, lastly, the per- 
manency of signification in words. These five essential ele- 
ments the Latin has preserved in all its descendants, and through 
all changes, with considerable success. It is especially remark- 
able how very consistently the Romance idioms have retained 
their Latin accent, in spite of all mutilations and euphonic 
changes. It took, as is well known, the place of the prosody 
of the Latin, which had been lost by the ignorance of barbarian 
races ; the modern ear heard no longer the quantity which the 
subtle sense of the Roman accurately observed. It is this pre- 
servation of the accent in all Romance languages, which alone 
has saved accented syllables from those modifications and cur- 
tailments, which almost every unaccented syllable has suffered 
more or less seriously. Greater havoc was, of course, made in 
the inflection of the Latin. Its substantial character was re- 
fined and softened, and its consonants were sacrificed to the 
general tendency of all Romance idioms to have vowel-termi- 
nations. Even the final vowel of nouns, that had lost their termi- 
nation, was preserved only in the Southern languages (anno and 
ailo) ; the Northern rejected this last sign of inflection also, and 
retained nothing but the radical syllable (an). To this mutila- 
ted singular was then added a similarly imperfect plural form, 
which, by the force of analogy, soon appeared in all cases as an 
s only. A Latin declension had thus become impossible, and 
prepositions were used, though only at a later period, as a mat 


ter of necessity, and in a regular manner, to express the relation 
of nouns in a sentence. Subject and simple object required no 
such aid, except in Spanish, where the Latin ad serves to ex- 
press not only the dative, but the accusative also. For the 
other two most common relations of genitive and dative, de 
and ad were employed ; more complicated relations had in 
Latin already required the aid of prepositions. The mutilated 
form of the noun could thus, once more, be seen in its relations 
of number and case ; but additional aid was needed to restore 
its original expressiveness. The pronoun ille was then added 
to such words as were to be definitely individualized, whilst the 
numeral unus conveyed the expression of species and unity. 
The uniform mode of using these scncalled articles shows how 
soon the same want was felt, and the same remedy employed, 
in all of the Romance languages. 

Of the inflections of the verb, rather more were saved than 
at first appeared to be probable. Whether they lost more or 
less of them depended mainly upon the extent to which their 
distinctive features and their terminations had been saved ; all 
escaped which could still be discerned by their final letter, when 
the respective idiom had become an independent and national 
tongue. Hence almost all accented terminations are still ex- 
isting. The relations of present, a continued or completed 
past, in direct and indirect moods, can, even now, be expressed 
through all numbers and persons as accurately as in Latin. The 
French alone, from an excessive tendency to precision, uses per- 
sonal pronouns before the verb. The loss of final letters occa- 
sioned mainly the loss of certain forms of the verb ; amabam, 
for instance, and amabo, could no longer be distinguished after 


the former had dropped its final m; and thus all the Ro- 
mance idioms are now without the Latin future. To supply 
this as well as other inflections, the so-called auxiliaries were 
employed, and of these especially habere, though of course, in 
a much shortened form. In most instances it is used separate- 
ly from the verh itself; in the future alone a construction has 
taken place, of which the Spanish gives, perhaps, the clearest 

Amar and he make amare. 

Amar " has " awards. 

Amar " ha " amard. 

Amar " hemot " amaremos. 

Amar " (habeit)hfi* " amor a it. 

Amar " (haben)han " amardn, 

The decided tendency of all Romance idioms to drop a 
final r or *, made it at once impossible to preserve any part of 
the inflections of the passive. To substitute here also the ana- 
lytic method, by means of the auxiliaries esse or stare, was the 
easier, as the Latin itself had already admitted the same expe- 
dient in parts of the passive voice, and the principle was now 
only more generally applied. 

The modifications of sounds, in the next place, present that 
peculiarity of which Raynouard had so ingeniously and suc- 
cessfully availed himself for the support of his theory, that they 
are common to all Romance languages, and yet not in accord- 
ance with the well-known Laws of Euphony of the Latin. But 
here also the existence of a lingua rustica is not required to ex- 
plain this phenomenon. The comparison of other derived lan- 
guages of the same family shows that different nations often 


exhibit a remarkable uniformity in the change of sounds pro- 
duced by the various means employed for such purposes, as as- 
similation, transposition, or entire omission of letters. There 
is probably no one such modification of sounds common to all 
the Romance idioms, for which an analogous change might not 
readily be found in Pracrit sounds, as compared with the San- 
scrit. The great motive in all these cases is to adapt a foreign 
tongue, which, like the Latin, was imposed upon a conquered 
nation, to the natural predilections and accustomed modes of 
pronunciation of the latter. Certain sounds of the Latin were, 
it is true, differently modified in different nations. The #, for 
example, became in Portuguese a hissing sound, in Spanish a 
guttural, and in French a sibilant, because these new sounds 
were, from the first, peculiar to Portugal, Spain and France. 
The Latin had, in fact, to be naturalized in its new home ; and, 
to do so, it had to yield to laws and organic dispositions, which 
history, climate, and habit had in each country permanently es- 

The lingua rustica can, therefore, exist only to the extent of 
those not Latin terras or forms, which are common to the Ro- 
mance idioms. These are mainly such as were used freely by 
the people at large, without being admitted into classic writing, 
and existed long before the Latin itself began to decline. 
Rtissus and caballus, for ruber and equus, are well-known old 
terms ; and in Terence, Virgil, and Cicero, may be found ex- 
pressions like " fulgor ab auro fores a me satis hoc tern- 
pore dictum habes de Caesare idque se jam effectuni habere," 
<fcc. To these popular terms were afterwards added numerous 
German expressions, which are common to all these idioms, be- 


long to a very early period of their existence, and must care- 
fully be distinguished from that German admixture which each 
idiom, subsequently, acquired from individual contact with Ger- 
manic conquerors or immigrants. These two Teutonic addi- 
tions, not more different in time than in kind, are so important 
as to make every other foreign element the Arabic in Spanish 
alone excepted appear comparatively unimportant This ap- 
plies especially to the Celtic, which of late has been claimed as 
a great and universal benefactor of Romance idioms. To part 
Celtic and other elements in the latter would require first a 
thorough examination of what belongs to ancient Celtic, and 
what to its present dialects a process without which we would 
be liable to ascribe to the Celtic what it obtained itself from 
other languages, or what was contained already in the Latin of 
old, instead of ascertaining its own contributions to more recent 

These general remarks on the relation which the Romance 
languages bear in common to the Latin, will, to a great extent, 
enable us to dispense with a more minute account of each of 
these idioms separately, so that it will be sufficient to point out 
a few of the most important characteristics only. 

The Italian, connected with its ancestor by the strong bond 
of a common country, has, as might be expected, remained 
purest Latin, and has especially preserved the sounds of the 
latter more faithfully than any of her sisters. Not one-tenth, it 
is thought, of radical words are foreign. Part of this tenth, 
moreover, is Greek, and probably entered it through the Latin 
itself, either through the classic or the so-called vulgar Latin. 
Only in the case of the insular dialects, the Sicilian and Sar- 


dinian, which abound with. Greek forms and words, an imme- 
diate importation into the popular dialects may be admitted. 
An early attempt, supported by the poet-King Frederick II., 
who resided in Sicily, to raise the Sicilian to the dignity of a 
national language, failed, and the better founded claims of 
Dante's Florence prevailed, so that the Tuscan became the su- 
preme dialect. Thanks to its early formation, and to the readi- 
ness with which it was acknowledged as such all over Italy ; 
thanks also to its comparative simplicity and permanency of 
sound, the Italian has, since its first appearance in literature 
the second half of the twelfth century changed much less than 
the other Romance idioms. 

The characteristic faithfulness of the Italian appears already 
in the conscientious preservation of accented vowels. Long 
vowels have remained entirely unchanged ; the short, whose 
brevity endangered their clearness, have become diphthongs : e is 
ie, and o, ue. Latin i and u, when unaccented or final, become, 
mostly, e and o. The consonants, also, have suffered compara- 
tively little ; even the common change from tenuis to media is 
not without exceptions. The irresistible tendency, however, of 
the Italian to sacrifice every thing accents, quantity, and posi- 
tion to euphony, is strikingly shown in the constant assimila- 
tion of double, and the regular omission of final consonants, so 
that every Italian word, in its full form, terminates in a, e, i, or 
o. The change of I, when added to another consonant, into a 
vowel, is common to all the descendants of the Latin ; and the 
Italian has, almost regularly, limited it to cases of necessity, 
whilst the Spanish and French have extended it, by analogy, to 
many similar combinations. 


The Spanish, though geographically far removed from the 
Italian, and containing but about six-tenths of Latin, approach- 
es the former nearest in its laws of euphony. It has more of 
the Latin inflection than even the Italian, but in sounds and 
forms it has preserved much less. This arises, of course, raain- 
ly from the many and powerful foreign elements that have been 
added to the original Latin stock. The only western language 
containing a large admixture of eastern idioms, introduced by 
the direct agency of an eastern race, and naturalized during long 
centuries, the Spanish has, moreover, a strong Xorthern or 
Gothic element, and some striking Basque features, besides the 
usual proportion of foreign words from modern languages. As 
in Italy the Tuscan, so rules in Spain the Castilian ; especially 
the dialect of Toledo, after having conquered its most danger- 
ous rivals, the Galician, which resembles the Portuguese, the 
Valencian, and the Catalouian, which is "more nearly related to 
the Provencal. The Spanish differs, moreover, in this from the 
Italian, that, unlike the latter, the earliest forms of which may 
even now be read without difficulty, it has continued to develope 
itself after its first use in literature, about the middle of the 
twelfth century, so that the difference between old and modern 
Spanish is very great, and surpassed only, among Romance 
idioms, by that between old and modern French. 

Accented long vowels have been preserved in Spanish also, 
and short e and o become, as in Italian, diphthongs ie and ue. 
Less regular, though more frequent, is the change from i and u 
to e and i. 

With consonants, the change to the softer has become a law. 
Latin p, 6, c, t become almost uniformly 6, v, g, d. Initial /, 


long faithfully preserved, becomes in modern Spanish a mere 
aspirate ; c before e and i, is a lisped sibilant ; g in like cases a 
guttural aspirate, when it does not assume the form of the semi- 
vowel j. 

The tendency to change, for the sake of euphony, one of 
two or more consonants into a vowel, which the Italian knows 
only in the case of the liquid /, pervades the whole Spanish. 
It has, moreover, produced a larger number of guttural aspirates 
than other modern languages possess a class of sounds which 
is commonly but erroneously ascribed to the influence of the 
Arabic. It is not probable that the Arabs should have intro- 
duced this organic peculiarity so exclusively into the Spanish 
among all the languages of nations whom they conquered, that 
even its nearest neighbor, the Portuguese, is free from it. To 
this may be added, that the strong guttural aspirate of the 
Arabs is not represented in Spanish by this Spanish guttural, 
but, as in the other Romance languages, by the tenuis. 

The Spanish has lost but few of its final consonants ; it re- 
tains not only the liquids and the guttural j, but even s, z, and 
d ; the latter, however, not with full pronunciation, and easily 
passing into I, as from Madrid into Madrileno. 

The Latin accent is not as carefully observed in Spanish as 
iu Italian, especially not that on the antepenultima ; a loss 
which is most perceptible in the inflection of the verb. The 
infinitive of the third conjugation, for instance, has entirely 
disappeared ; even in old Spanish, no verb in ere can be found, 
with the accent on the radical syllable ; and one conjugation 
now contains all the verbs of the second and third of the Latin. 

The Portuguese, originally nothing more than a provincial 


dialect, has, on the whole, developed itself in a manner perfect- 
ly analogous to that of the Spanish. The resemblance would 
be still greater, and amount, in many parts, to perfect identity, 
were it not for a national antipathy of the Portuguese against 
certain sounds of their more powerful neighbors. The former will 
and can not pronounce diphthongs like ie and ue, nor any diph- 
thong in which the accent rests on the second vowel. He loves 
and knows as little the strong guttural aspirates of the Spanish, 
and substitutes for them that sibilant, which, on the other hand, is 
not found in Spanish. The Portuguese has preserved its earli- 
est form of the end of the twelfth century with great success, 
and ancient documents differ much less from modern writing 
than is the case in Spanish. It owes this consistent develop- 
ment in part to the fact that it was much less modified by the 
Arabic than the Spanish, and contains, therefore, fewer Arabic 
words and peculiarities. Its larger admixture of French was 
brought to Portugal by the very founder of the monarchy, 
Henry of Burgundy, and became thus a portion of the lan- 
guage before its progress could be interrupted, or its unity de- 
stroyed by the introduction of a foreign element 

The Portuguese loves elisions, and rejects with great free- 
dom certain sounds, which it seems to dislike, as the I after a 
consonant or between two vowels, the liquid n, and in many 
cases even d. The hiatus, which thus constantly arises, it rem- 
edies by a contraction of the vowels, and thus produces forms 
of a brevity, which is highly characteristic of the Portuguese, 
as ter, rir, crer, no, so, md, nu, and cor, from the Latin tenere, 
ridere, credere, nodus, solus, mala, nudus, and color. The n 
becomes at the end of words, and sometimes even between 


vowels, a nasal sound, which is occasionally written as m, and 
more frequently merely indicated by a til, as in mim, mai, 

The independence of the Portuguese from the Spanish is 
exhibited not only in these peculiar sounds, which the latter 
does not know, but also, among others, in the inflection of the 
verb. The past tenses, for instance, are formed by the short- 
ened, and hence very convenient auxiliary, tenere ; and the 
Latin pluperfect, lost in Spanish, is here preserved in form not 
only, but also in signification. The most remarkable feature of 
the Portuguese verb is, however, the faculty, not only to de- 
cline the infinitive, as in some other languages, but again to 
conjugate it, so as to add to its personal terminations. Thus 
para ser ditoso, to be happy, refers to the first and third per- 
son ; the second person singular becomes para seres ditoso, and 
then continues para sermes, para serdes, and para serem dito- 
sos. Giving, however, all these more or less essential points of 
difference their due weight, the Portuguese appears still as lit- 
tle more than an important and long independent dialect of the 
Spanish. Its relation to the latter is very nearly the same as 
that which exists between Swedish and Danish, or Dutch and 

The Provencal forms, as it were, a linguistic as well as a 
geographical transition from those idioms which have preserved 
most of the Latin, to the French, which is apparently farthest 
removed from it. In the Provencal are found the majority, if 
not all of those peculiarities, which afterwards became the ex- 
clusive property and characteristic feature of one or the other 
of the Romance languages. This circumstance would make 


the Provencal invaluable for the explication of these idioms, 
but for the sad fate by which the language of the Troubadours 
was lost before it had become a national tongue, reduced to a 
uniform mode of writing. As it is, the infinite variety of forms 
found in the carelessly copied MSS. of its rich and most attrac- 
tive literature, makes it impossible to establish any one form as 
a standard authority. The pronunciation also, which it had at 
the time of its highest development, remains to a great degree 
an as yet unsolved problem ; and every attempt to determine 
it beyond very general rules fails, because of the varied influ- 
ence which foreign idioms must necessarily have exercised over 
a language that was spoken in so many lands, and passed from 
sea to sea. It is well known that the Provencal was spoken not 
only in Southern France, but also beyond the Alps and the 
Pyrenees, in Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. In Italy, the whole 
district of Piedmont spoke more Provencal than Italian, and in 
Spain, Catalonian Provencal extended along the Mediterranean 
even beyond Alicante ; on the Balearic islands, also, it found a 
home. Hence it bore not only the name of Provencal (Pro- 
ensalesc), or Limousin (Lemozi), but more frequently still that 
of Romance, by eminence (Romans). Besides, if it was not, 
as Raynouard would make it, the mother-tongue of all Romance 
idioms, it deserves special attention, because it was heard in 
poetry, and had high literary value, at a time when the other 
languages of Europe were disregarded by poet and scho- 
lar, and can hardly be said to have as yet existed as na- 
tional tongues. The first continuous work, a poem of which 
now fragments only exist, shows already a well-formed and 
promising language, although it belongs only to the tenth cen- 


tury. Soon afterwards a large and valuable literature, the poet- 
ry of the Troubadours, brought it to a high degree of per- 
fection, first in France, then in Catalonia, and lastly, but most 
permanently, in Piedmont, where the dialect of the Waldenses 
still survives as the only venerable relic of a once rich and pow- 
erful tongue. It now lives in France only as a provincial dia- 
lect of the South, though, unlike all other idioms that have suf- 
fered a similar fate, it has never ceased to be used for poetical 
purposes. Even in the humble form of a mere dialect, it still 
surpasses the French in fulness and perfection of forms, whilst 
its euphony far excels that of the much praised Catalonian. 
Repeated attempts have been made of late to restore this dead 
and yet living language ; and even now Jasmund, the people's 
poet, prefers to sing in Provencal. 

The French rose, as is well known, upon the ruins of the 
Provencal, when during the wars of the Albigenses the last 
lays of the Troubadours had been drowned in blood. The 
same process of abbreviation, contraction and elision, which 
characterized the Langue d'oc, was continued in French and 
there carried to an extreme which has removed the latter far- 
thest from the Latin of old. To this characteristic feature must 
be added that already the oldest French shows much less 
sensibility of the musical beauty of pure vowels and full termi- 
nations than the other Romance idioms, and consequently it 
admits more freely final consonants than the sister-languages, 
and especially the Provenal. If the latter were really the 
mother of the French, such an organic difference would be 
without explanation as it is without example. The oldest 
French document, the Strasburg Oath of 842, in the form in 

FRENCH. 325 

which it has been handed down to us by Nithart, is not quite 
free yet of Latin sounds and Latin forms, but here already the 
before mentioned characteristics are distinctly visible. They 
appear more clearly still in the next oldest document, the song 
of St. Eulalia, where they seem to have ripened into fixed rules. 

The French has dropped almost all final vowels, and only 
occasionally substitutes for them an indistinct e, improperly 
called e mute. All the other vowels have lost their full, pure 
sound, changing sometimes through the diphthong #', with its 
German sound, into oi ; in other cases into ou, eu or (French) 
M. The corruption of vocal sounds was completed by the nasal 
sound of m and n, which is exclusively French, and affects not 
only these consonants but much more the preceding vowel, a 
and ie alone excepted. 

Among the many changes of consonants in French, none is 
probably more interesting and important than that by which 
the Latin guttural before a has become a hissing sound. This 
modification was, however, not immediate, but took place only 
after this a had almost throughout been changed into e, a letter 
before which in no Romance language a guttural sound has 
been preserved. Thus it was comparatively easy to proceed 
from Latin ca (caput) to ce and che (chef), from casa to chez ; 
whilst in others, like chambre, chose, <fcc., the vowel has been 
preserved in greater purity. The manner in which s loses its 
sound when final and almost before all other consonants, is 
perhaps not less characteristic of the French. It must have 
been adopted at a very early period of its history, although for 
centuries the s was still written, even when not pronounced. 
Subsequently it became almost impossible for French organs to 


sound it at all, and thus the occurrence of s in combinations 
with other consonants at present, is an irrefutable evidence of 
the recent importation of the word in which it is found. Both 
these peculiarities of the French are, however, difficult to trace 
and arbitrary in their extent, because French orthography is 
accustomed to retain, in writing, numerous letters which either 
never existed in the spoken language or have long since ceased 
to be sounded. The etymology of words could but rarely be 
secured and preserved even by such a contrivance ; the deriva- 
tion of eau (o), for instance, through iaue,ive,aiguefrom aqua, 
is in no way explained by that triphthong. Another difficulty 
arose from the extensive adoption of Latin words in compara- 
tively modern times, which often drove out older forms, and, in 
most cases, were naturalized without undergoing the same 
changes which the early Latin elements had undergone. Hence 
the great difference between Old French and Modern French, 
a contrast which makes the former now almost unintelligible, 
and far surpasses any similar change in other Romance idioms. 
Even now the French can hardly be said to develope itself regu- 
larly and successfully, as the old innate propensity to clip words 
and suppress sounds is in constant conflict with the modern 
tendency of French minds to be clear and precise. The French 
of the Court and of Paris, supported by the authority of the 
Academy, has, moreover, obtained such absolute supremacy as 
to prevent any further development of provincial dialects. The 
latter have, therefore, lost almost all importance and interest ; 
in the south it is only the Provengal which still survives 
among the people ; and in the north the Walloon, spoken in 
the Belgian provinces of Liege, Namur and Luxemburg, which 


in forms, sounds and inflection, has preserved an unusual num- 
ber of ancient peculiarities of Old French. The minor dialects 
are important only as they continue to exhibit the characteristic 
features of former races. Thus the Breton speaks, even now, a 
dialect strongly tinged with Celtic ; and the Norman idiom 
shows, in form and sound, traces of the Norse. Lanomedoc 

' ' O 

resounds with Provencal vowels and with Spanish and Moorish 
gutturals, Provence with the soft and harmonious vowels of 
Italy. The Gascon is still a Basque in his tongue, though a 
thorough Frenchman in every thing else, and the dialects of 
the whole North are deeply affected by Germanic influences, 
which here also tell most on pronunciation and less on syntax 
and vocabulary. 

These five idioms, which we have thus endeavored briefly 
to characterize, are the only descendants of the Latin that have 
succeeded in reproducing in modern form the great leading 
features of their family. They alone, of all the various shoots 
that sprung up from the decaying trunk of Classic Latin, have 
reached their full growth and become national tongues. There 
are, however, a few minor offsprings, which owe their existence 
not so much to innate vigor and a distinct character of their 
own, as to the influence of peculiar and not uninteresting his- 
torical or geographical circumstances. 

The Wallachian forms a linguistic island in the country 
around the Lower Danube, the provinces of Wallachia and 
Moldavia, among idioms which are in no way connected with 
the Latin. In the south and east it is bounded by the Dan- 
ube ; in the northeast by the Black Sea ; in the north by 
Paissia, and in the west by the Magyar. It is divided into 


two dialects, the Daco-Wallachian, north of the Danube, and 
the Macedono-Wallachian, south of the Danube, the former of 
which places the article after the noun. The descent of the 
race is indicated already by their own name, Romeni and Ro- 
menia, by which they have been known ever since the first days 
of their political existence. Their language, also, shows in 
every essential feature a convincing relation with the Latin. 
Their words, however, are to a great extent of foreign origin, a 
circumstance which is easily explained by their peculiar posi- 
tion, distant and entirely cut off as they are from Roman or 
Italian influence, and surrounded by idioms of another family 
of languages. The majority of words are, in fact, now Slavonic, 
Magyar, Turkish, Greek or German ; and the use of a Slavic 
alphabet has gradually introduced many phonetic peculiarities 
of Slavic origin. Still there is enough left of pure Latin in 
words, and much more in structure and inflection, to establish 
beyond all doubt the direct and immediate descent from the 

The Rhae to-Romanic owes its existence as a distinct and 
separate dialect, which claims a place among the Romance 
idioms of our day, to the political independence of the Canton 
Grisons. It is a much neglected and mixed dialect, originally 
as much Italian as Provencal, but now bearing an essentially 
German character, grafted upon its old Latin stock. Not culti- 
vated by the few, mostly unlettered inhabitants of Grisons, it has 
the more readily and completely succumbed to foreign influences, 
as it was early divided into a Romanish and a Ladin (Latin) 
dialect, the former spoken in that part of the Canton which 
belongs to the Rhine, and showing some resemblance with the 


Provencal, the other on the headwaters of the Inn, and more 
mixed with Italian. The dialect possesses but a small litera- 
ture; the oldest book dates back to 1551. 

Let tic- Slavic Group. It was for some time the custom 
to consider the two branches which form this group, the Lettic 
and the Slavic, one and the same language, an opinion strongly 
supported by the great resemblance which they bear to each 
other. Recent researches have, however, brought to light radi- 
cal differences which show distinctly their early separation and 
independent development The Lithuanian, for instance, has 
been found in some parts to be much older than the Slavic, 
having no neuter, hardly any inflection of the noun, and no 
distinction between the third person of the dual of the singular 
and those of the plural, whilst the Slavic has the same advan- 
tage over the Lithuanian in the inflection of the verb. To 
represent the Lettic idioms as the result of a mixture of Ger- 
manic and Slavic elements was another, formerly very popular 
impression. It is true that the Lettic is closely connected with 
the German by the exclusive community of numerous roots and 
certain peculiarities of inflection. But the Slavic, since it is 
better kqown, has been found to have at least as much in com- 
mon with the German, and such a resemblance could, at best, 
only prove an early community of descent, but in no way the 
derivation of one from the other or subsequent amalgamation. 



Lettic Lithuanian Prussian Lettic proper. 

(a.) Lettic. This branch is mainly known through that 
language which, on account of its antique and well-preserved 
structure, is commonly considered the oldest of this group not 
only, but the most ancient and most important of all now 
existing Indo-German Languages. This is 

The Lithuanian, in comparison with which the two cognate 
dialects, the Prussian and the Lettic proper, appear as much 
younger idioms. It has alone preserved the characteristic 
seven cases and the dual of Indo-German languages, and 
among the former some so well preserved that they are even 
now identically the same as those of the Sanscrit. On the 
other hand, it has kept entirely free from those remarkable 
modifications of sounds, which are a characteristic feature of 
the other languages of this group, and which arise especially 
from the peculiar influence which the letter i here exercises on 
the preceding consonant. 

The Lithuanian is of especial importance for the under- 
standing of the cognate idioms, especially the Slavic ; it is, as 
it were, the connecting link between these numerous younger 


idioms and the other Indo-European languages, and occupies 
the same position among Slavic tongues that the Gothic holds, 
as the oldest and least corrupted of Germanic languages in the 
German family. It is not a little remarkable that such an 
ancient language, so little changed and mixed, can be found at 
all among the now living idioms a circumstance which the 
political insignificance and the undisturbed isolation of the 
people of Lithuania alone can explain. The Icelandic is the 
only similar instance among the German tongues. 

The Lithuanian has, however, undergone such changes as 
every language suffers in the course of centuries. Thus it has 
lost all the oldest modes of expressing relation by reduplication, 
change of radical vowels and augment, besides many inflections 
of noun and verb, for which quite modem and peculiar substi- 
tutes have been introduced. It forms the passive by the aid 
of the auxiliary to be (esmi, essi, esti), and possesses a Medium 
by means of the addition of the pronoun of the third person, < 
or si to all persons of the verb. 

A literature cannot properly be said to exist in this remark- 
able idiom ; besides popular'songs which have been collected 
but recently and a longer poem on the seasons by Donaleitis, 
there exist only translations of religious writings. This, com- 
bined with historical revolutions in that part of Europe where 
the Lithuanian is spoken, threaten a speedy extinction of this 
noble language. It is now in use only among the common 
people of some portions of the province called Eastern Prussia, 
around the towns of Memel, Tilsit, Ragnit, Labiau, and Inster- 
burg. Here also a strong infusion of German race and tongue 
has been more or less fatal to the Lithuanian, which prevails 


pure and unmixed only on the eastern frontier of Prussia and 
in the neighborhood of Memel. The last division of Poland 
gave to Prussia some additional territory to the east of Old 
Prussia, in which the same idiom is spoken, so that it counts 
now, altogether, probably over 200,000 Lithuanian subjects. 
Schaffarik counts in Russia about 1,282,000 inhabitants of the 
same race, but in both countries their number diminishes and their 
language disappears more rapidly even than the Welsh of England. 

The Lithuanian is written with German or Latin letters, 
slightly modified after the manner of the Polish, so as to be 
able to express such sounds as were not originally represented 
in these alphabets. 

The Prussian has unfortunately suffered already the sad 
fate which now threatens the Lithuanian. It was originally 
spoken along the coast of the Baltic, beginning east of the 
Vistula and extending as far as Memel. It was, however, early 
and permanently injured, whilst under the iron rule of the 
Teutonic Order, whose masters destroyed their Prussian, then 
mostly Pagan, subjects with fierce cruelty. It is true that the 
last of the Masters of this Order, Albert of Brandenburg, treated 
them better and even caused the catechism to be translated into 
their language, thus bequeathing to posterity the only written 
document of this idiom which we now possess. The latter, 
however, did not long survive, and, towards the middle of the 
seventeenth century, it had already become extinct as a national 
tongue. As a language spoken by nearly two millions of men, 
it retains, at least, a certain historical interest ; the absence of 
literature impairs, of course, its linguistic value as one of the 
Lettic idioms. 

LETTIC. 333 

The Lettic proper is the popular language of Courland, the 
greater part of Livonia and the peninsula which separates the 
Curische Sea from the Baltic. It stands very nearly in the 
same relation to the Lithuanian as the Italian to the Latin. It 
has an article, which the older language did not require, weak- 
ened inflections, and a large admixture of sounds and forms 
derived from the Slaves that surround it on all sides. Still, it 
is not written with Slavic but with German letters, and even 
possesses the German sign h ; to represent the sounds which 
the Lettic alone possesses, diacritical marks are added to those 
German letters, whose sounds most resemble their own. The 
bulk of words is the same as that of the Lithuanian, the laws 
of euphony alone differ, and a moderate number of German and 
Russian words have been admitted. Its literature does not 
extend beyond translations of the Bible and religious writings, 
for which the purest of its many dialects has been employed. 
A few printed national and popular songs are uncommonly 
beautiful and interesting also by their mythological allusions. 
The Lettic is written with German letters, of which even the h 
has been admitted, and those sounds for which the German 
alphabet had no signs, are expressed by diacritical marks. 



Slavic. Prussian Bulgarian Illyrian Sorabian Croatian Slovensi. 

(b.) Slavic. The Slavonian race did not at first appeal- 
under that name in European history. Their German neigh- 
bors called them Wendes or Winds ; they hestowed upon them- 
selves the names of Servians, Serbs, or Sorabians. Both these 
names serve now, that the race is better known, to designate 
only minor subdivisions, all of which are collectively called 
Sclavonian or Slavic. Their language comprises dialects that 
extend over a larger territory than any other European idiom. 
From the banks of the Dwina in the east to the Erzgebirge in 
Wohemia in the west, and from the Northern Frozen Sea to 
the Black Sea, the Adriatic and the Archipelago, some branch 
or other of the Slavic is spoken. As the language of that race 
which rules almost exclusively in the north of Europe and Asia. 
it extends sporadically through Asia and even into America. 

The name Slave is, by themselves, derived from slavcn 
glory, a designation peculiarly gratifying to their national pride. 
The difference of the vowels a in slava and o in slovfik, their 
present name in most dialects, is irrelevant, as this interchange 
is very frequent in Slavic languages, and occurs, for instance, in 
the same way in the various names of the nightingale, which in 
Russian is solowey, in Bohemian slavik, and in Polish again 

SLAVIC. 335 

slowik. Another derivation is that from slovo, to speak, used 
in contrast with the name of dumb persons, nemec (German), 
which the Slaves are apt to give to those nations who do not 
speak a Slavic tongue. They follow in this the same principle 
which made the ancients look down upon all those who did 
not understand their language as barbarians, or dyAoxrcrot, as 
Pollux has it a notion graphically expressed by the Latin 
infans. By far the majority of Slavic nations form their name 
from this root slav or slov, as the Russian sfavjanin, Bohemian 
slovan, Polish slowianin ; slovan and slovak for the whole race 
and slovenec. 

The different Slavic idioms, with the exception of the much 
disfigured Bulgarian, are much more nearly related to each 
other than, for instance, the various languages of the German 
branch, the English, Scandinavian and German proper. There 
is, however, no general identity, and even near neighbors like 
the Polish and Bohemian differ considerably ; still, almost any 
one of these Slavic idioms is easily understood throughout their 
whole dominion. The Low-German of Holstein and the Ger- 
man of Switzerland differ, in fact, more from each other in 
essential features than the Bohemian, Polish and Lusatian. 
This close resemblance has much encouraged the popular plan 
to form a so-called Panslavism, by uniting all Slavic nations 
not only by one government, but also by the stronger tie of one 
language and one literature. 

The Slavic is now known only in a comparatively modern 
form, which has evidently undergone numerous and radical 
changes. There are no very ancient remains of this language 
now in existence, besides a few names of men, places and fes- 


tivals. Even the Slavic of the church, which is well known by 
means of MSS. written about the middle of the eleventh century, 
shows so little difference with the more recent forms of the 
Slavic idioms, as to prove that all essential modifications must 
have taken place already at an earlier period. This is the same 
peculiarity which we have noticed in the case of older and 
younger forms of the Greek. The principal changes, which 
we can still distinctly trace, are such as were the effect of the 
peculiar sound of certain vowels, especially of i and j, the lat- 
ter of which is peculiar to the Slavic and unpleasant to the ear 
of foreigners, upon the preceding consonants. This produced 
an unusually large number of sibilants, the favorite sounds of 
the language, which gives to all Slavic idioms their peculiar 
character. The popular prejudice, however, that the Slavic 
contains more harsh consonants and combinations of consonants 
than other languages, is unfounded ; the accumulation of such 
letters is merely softened by the fact that I and r have the value 
of vowels in all Slavic dialects, and by the abundance of full, 
pure vowels, amply compensates for the absence of all diphthongs 
and for certain unavoidable sounds, which are not pleasing to 
the ear of other races. The impression arose probably from 
the early acquaintance with the Polish, a dialect which has of 
all Slavic idioms the greatest number of hissing sounds, and 
often represents in writing, by two or more consonants what is, 
in speaking, a single and not necessarily harsh sound. 

In point of grammar, it may be said that the Slavic idioms 
are far superior to the Romance and the German languages ; 
they exhibit a living power of etymology in its most active 
state, and have a greater abundance of forms, and a higher, 

SLAVIC, 337 

more synthetic character. The pure Slavic knows neither 
article with nouns nor personal pronouns with verbs ; the great- 
er number of cases seven enables it to dispense with many 
prepositions, and the two forms for the definite or indefinite 
meaning of the adjective, as in German, give greater freedom 
and clearness to the construction. Augmentative and diminu- 
tive forms of nouns and adjectives abound in greater variety 
than even the southern languages possess, and even a dual form 
is found in some dialects. The most remarkable peculiarity of 
the verb in Slavic idioms, which adds greatly to their richness 
and power, is the distinction of a perfect and imperfect in all 
verbs which express momentary action, to which the great ma- 
jority of compound forms belong. They use instead of the 
missing present the future, and thus exhibit an exquisite delicacy 
of conception, which treats a momentary action properly as 
either already past or still belonging to the future. The younger 
idioms have preserved but few simple forms for the tenses, and 
form most by the aid of the participle ; they abound, on the 
other hand, in forms for nice distinctions, which other languages 
do not express at all, such as duration, decision, repetition, and 
all the different shades of time and mood. Characteristic is r 
also, the almost unbounded power of derivation ; every root 
can branch out into numerous ofishoots, each of which retains 
something of its original signification, and expresses often 
minutely subdivided relations. Even foreign words may be 
used as roots, from which new branches are raised by means of 
Russian elements. Compounds are not so easily formed and 
less frequent than in Greek or German ; all Slavic idioms are, 
also, extremely deficient in point of syntax, sentences and parts 


of a sentence being but very loosely and imperfectly connected 
with each other. 

Modern Slavic scholars divide the great bulk of those idioms 
into western and southeastern, others, like the learned Talvj of 
America, into eastern and western. Schafarik draws the line 
between these two divisions according to certain laws of sounds, 
which give each part a distinct and unmistakable character. It 
is, however, not so much in these well-defined laws as in the 
general nature and bearing of these idioms that we must seek 
for the means of distinguishing one from another. 

The southeastern (eastern) division contains the Russian, 
Bulgarian, and Illyrian. 

The western contains the Leckian or Polish, the Czeoeh, the 
Sorabian and Polabian (now extinct). 

A great difficulty for the union as well as for the compara- 
tive study of the Slavic idioms, is the great variety of alphabets 
with which they are written. Generally it may be said that 
the Slaves of the Greek Church use the Cyrillic alphabet, whilst 
those of the Latin Church and the Protestants write with vari- 
ous alphabets of their own, composed of Latin or German 
letters. The Cyrillic alphabet is based upon the Greek ; it is 
said to have been invented though it was probably not the 
first used among the Slavic nations by the great apostle Cyril. 
Some Greek letters are much changed, like the II and Z ; others 
were added from the Armenian and Coptic to denote Slavic 
sounds, for which the forms possessed no signs ; so that the 
whole consisted of forty-six letters. They had the advantage of 
having each but one well-defined sound ; though a few were 
either never pronounced at all, or used for so delicate shades of 

SLAVIC. 339 

pronunciation, that they have become quite superfluous. The 
Cyrillic letters are used still for the Church-Slavic and by the 
Kuihenians in Galicia. The Russian and Sorabian alphabet 
are the same as the Cyrillic, though slightly modified, so as to 
present rounder forms ; the Russians have diminished, the Sora- 
bians increased the number of original letters. The other Sla- 
vic nations have formed alphabets from the usual European let- 
ters, each according to the wants and peculiarities of its own 
dialect, so that there exists a deplorable variety of Polish, 
Bohemian, Lusatian, Croatian, Dlyrian and Carinthian alpha- 

Another alphabet, much used by the Cathoric Slaves of the 
south for the Church-Slavic, is the so-called Glagolitic, from 
glagol, a word or verb. Even Slavic authorities differ much as 
to its true age and first appearance ; some ascribe it to St. 
Jerome of Dalmatia, others affirm that it was nothing but a 
modified form of the Glagolitic. Dobrowsky placed its inven- 
tion in the thirteenth century and presented it in the light of a 
pious fraud, undertaken for the purpose of continuing the 
Cyrillic liturgy under such disguise, after the synod of Spala- 
tro, 1060, had prohibited the reading of mass in any other lan- 
guage but Greek or Latin. Kopitar maintained, on the other 
hand, that the Glagolitic alphabet was older than the Cyrillic, 
and supported this opinion by a MS., called Codex Clozianus, 
and discovered in the library of Count Cloz, in Tyrol, which 
appeared to him to bear ample evidence of belonging to the 
middle of the eleventh century. The controversy has, we be- 
lieve, never been settled ; nor does it affect the language itself. 
The Glagolitic letters are overloaded with unnecessary orna- 


ments, and a comparison with the Cyrillic and Greek alpha- 
bets would seem the more to strengthen Dobrowsky's views, as 
some signs certainly look strikingly like Cyrillic letters distorted 
or disguised so as to resemble, in a certain measure, Coptic 


The Russian extends over the immense territory of Euro- 
pean Russia, continues, at least sporadically, through the Rus- 
sian provinces of Northern Asia, and reaches in the south, in a 
compact mass, beyond her political limits through the whole of 
Eastern Galicia into Hungary. Russian colonies are frequently 
found among the Tatars and Finns of the Ural ; a narrow but 
compact band of Russian inhabitants follows the course of the 
Volga, between Tatars and Kalmucs down to the Caspian Sea, 
and up again in a line parallel to the Caucasus, until they meet 
once more the Russian population on the sea of Azoph. The 
boundaries of the Russian are north, east and south the sea or 
the Tatars ; in the south it meets, besides, with Wallachians and 
in the west with Magyars. From the Polish it is separated 
with tolerable accuracy by the political boundary line of Po- 
land. Schafarik's statement that it is spoken by thirty-eight 
millions is generally considered exaggerated. 

The Russian is one of the sweetest and most pleasant of all 
Slavic idioms ; it loves to soften harsh combinations of conso- 
nants by the insertion of vowels. It diners in this mainly from 
the cognate idioms, that it requires the addition of the personal 
pronouns to the verb, and thus approaches the analytic structure 


of older, decaying tongues. It is divided into three dialects, 
the Russian proper, the Malo-Russian of the south, and the 
white Russian in the west, of which each again contains nu- 
merous smaller dialects. These are, however, all united by a 
common written language, the dialect of Moscow, an inferior 
branch of the Russian, but spoken through all the central and 
northern part of European Russia. According to this dialect, 
the pronunciation is determined, which, in some cases, differs 
from the nature of the written form, a defect of which the Bo- 
hemian and Polish are free. The accent is, in Russian, not 
limited to one syllable, but free and almost arbitrary ; still the 
accent is far more carefully observed than quantity. The Rus- 
sian proper has been, since the days of Peter the Great, at the 
same time, the literary language of all Russia and the spoken 
language of a large part of the whole Empire ; even the unlet- 
tered use it frequently in all its original purity. Of lesser dia- 
lects that spoken in Novgorod and in the northwestern part of 
Russia, is of special importance. 

The Malo-Russian is spoken in the south, beginning with 
Galicia, and goes north of the Sea of Azoph, even beyond the- 
boundaries of the Russian proper. It shows many essential 
points of difference from the latter, not only in the sound ot 
certain letters but also . in numerous ancient forms of ex- 
pression which it seems to have retained from the old Slavic. 
Some peculiarities are ascribed to the influence of the Poles who 
ruled over these districts for nearly two hundred years. The 
Rusniaks or Ruthenians in Red Russia, the Bukovina, in Ga- 
licia, and the northeastern part of Hungary, speak a variety of 
the Malo-Russian. Detached populations, of this nation are 


found in the south of Poland and in various parts of Waliachia 
and Moldavia. The Kozaks, also, except the more Russian 
Kozaks of the Don, belong to the same race, which amounts in 
all to over thirteen millions. 

The White Russian occupies a much smaller extent of 
country ; it is spoken in Lithuania, a portion of White Russia 
and Volhynia, and extends even south of the river Pripek. It 
is the youngest of the Russian dialects, and was hardly formed 
before the union of Lithuania with Poland ; its peculiarities are 
mainly those of the Malo-Russian. What distinguishes it, now, 
most from the other dialects, is the very large admixture of 
Polish elements. Its literature is important, as it was not only 
used for the first Russian translation of the Bible, but also very 
extensively for general literary purposes in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. 

The Bulgarian is considered to have been spoken by the 
people of the great Bulgarian Empire, before the arrival of the 
Magyars, Plauzians and Petscheneges in Transylvania and 
Pannonia. It then extended over the states belonging to Bul- 
garia, even those now peopled by other races, as Hungary and 
Waliachia, up to the Carpathian Mountains and the headwaters 
of the Theiss. It was also used in the translation of the Bible 
and the ritual of the Slavic race, which circumstance has led 
some scholars to consider it the most genuine form of the old 
Slavic, as spoken by the people in the days of Cyril. Origi- 
nally the same as this language, the modern Bulgarian has 
suffered more by foreign influence and domestic revolutions 
than any other Slavic dialect. After all the country north of 
the Danube had been overrun by new races, the Bulgarian 


still survived in the districts to the south and east of the Dan- 
ube, where it is still spoken by the Slavic population. It is 
now limited in the north by the Danube, which it only crosses 
at its mouth to follow the western bank of the Pruth. A 
Greek population separates it in the south and east from the 
sea, and through its whole territory there are scattered about 
numerous Turkish colonies. The Bulgarian is very unlike most 
of the Slavic idioms ; it has an article affixed to the noun as 
among its neighbors the Wallachians and Albanians ; it has 
lost all but two of the seven Slavic cases and even the infinitive 
of its verbs. The only Slavic dialect that is corrupted like 
Western idioms, it is, moreover, largely mixed with foreign 
elements of all the surrounding languages. Its literature is 
inconsiderable and limited to elementary books ; a translation 
of the Bible and a few literary works were only recentlv pub- 
lished through the agency of foreign, principally American 

The Church-Slavic was formerly considered the mother of 
all living Slavic idioms, and this opinion prevails even now to 
some extent. It has, moreover, been proved beyond doubt that 
it does not bear such a relation to them, as the Latin does to 
the Romance languages, not having had a separate existence 
before the now spoken dialects were formed. It was nothing 
more than one of many Slavic dialects, distinguished only by 
the advantage of having been earlier developed and cultivated. 
Historical evidence shows, moreover, that the Church or old 
Slavic, the language of the great apostles, Cyril and Methodius, 
was the very Bulgarian just mentioned. This opinion is in- 
dorsed by no less an authority than that of Sehafarik, whose 


opinion has in this case the greater weight, as he formerly 
thought differently, and, only after careful investigation, came 
to the conclusion that Bulgaria was the home of the Ecclesias- 
tical Slavic. Kopitar, on the other hand, claims it as the lan- 
guage of the Slovenzi of Pannonia or the Carantanian Slaves, 
the Vindes of the present time. He is supported by a few 
Slavic scholars. The language itself can assist us in such in- 
quiries but little, because those idioms with which it must be 
compared, to test such an opinion, have undergone thorough 
changes in the course of so many centuries, whilst the difference 
between the Bulgarian and the Carantanian dialects was origi- 
nally very irrelevant, however different they may appear in 
their present form. 

The Church-Slavic, whatever it may have been once, is now 
no longer a national tongue, but it survives as the common 
literary language of all the Slavic nations, who belong to the 
Greek Church, Russians, Bulgarians, and Vindes. During 
the whole of the Middle Ages, it exercised a permanent influ- 
ence on the style of authors, and through them on the language 
of the whole race, and even now it speaks to them daily and 
hourly through all their books of ritual and the Bible. The 
oldest MSS. date from the eleventh century ; among them is, as 
some believe, that part of the recently recovered "texte du 
sacre" at Ilheims, used by the kings of France in swearing 
their coronation-oath, which is written in Cyrillic letters. 

As a language it excels all other Slavic dialects in richness 
of forms and antiquity of character. It is considered one of the 
best developed of all Modern Languages, equal to the Greek, 
and originally possessing an almost unlimited power of creating 


new forms for new ideas. Being, however, but artificially pre- 
served in books and prayers, it has necessarily lost much of its 
vitality and pliancy, a loss amply compensated for by its sur- 
passing dignity and solemnity, aided by the almost sacred 
character of a language employed only for the highest and 
holiest thoughts of man. 

The Illyrian comprises, as a collective name, the Servian, 
Croatian and Slovensi, all three cognate dialects, forming one 
language and occupying the western portion of the great 
Russian Empire. Magyars and Germans meet it in the north 
and west ; in the south it is bounded by the Adriatic, and in 
the east by a line connecting Widdin with Temesvar. It is, of 
course, in close proximity to some of the Romance districts 
already mentioned; Turkish and German colonies also are 
found in the north and in Turkey proper. 

The Servian is spoken by more than a million of Servians, 
dwelling in the country bounded by the rivers Timock, Drina, 
Save and Danube, and by the Balkan. It occupies thus by far 
the largest part of the territory in which the Illyrian branch 
reigns supremely. A large number of Servians live, moreover, 
in Hungary. There are three distinct dialects of the Servian, 
the Herzegowinian in the Herzegowina, Bosnia, Montenegro, or 
Albania, Dalmatia and Croatia, the Resawian on the rivers 
Resawa and Morawa, and the Syrmian in Syrmia and Slawonia, 
in the Banat of Temesvar and Central Hungary, and in Servia 
between the Save, Danube and Morawa. All these Servians 
belonging to the Greek Church were formerly called Razes, 
Raitzi or Rascians, from Rass, the ancient capital of that coun- 
try, which is now known as Xowy Pazar. . 


The Servian occupies undoubtedly the first rank among 
these dialects, in point of euphony as well as in richness, clear- 
ness and precision of forms; it is the most melodious of all, 
abounding in full, pure vowels, supported by the right propor- 
tion of accented sounds. But this pleasing distribution of 
vowels and consonants has been obtained in most cases at the 
expense of ancient forms ; consonants, like I, have been changed 
into vowels or entirely omitted. In point of grammar, how- 
ever, it is still on the same footing with the other dialects, and 
free from such corruptions as those of the Bulgarian ; a few 
Turkish words and modes of expression contribute to enrich 
without adulterating the language. 

The early history of the Servians being shrouded in a veil 
of almost impenetrable mystery, which has been but partially 
lifted even by the zealous and careful researches of our day, 
their literature also is but scanty and not of great antiquity. 
The oldest document dates probably only from the middle of 
the thirteenth century ; a hundred years later, however, im- 
portant historical writings were added. 

The Croatian, or more properly Chorvvatian, is spoken in 
the eastern portion of the linguistic territory occupied by the 
Illyrian. It is mainly found in the districts of Agram, Kreus, 
and Warasdin, and in part of the adjoining country, whilst a 
considerable number of Croats in Hungary and Turkey also 
have retained the same language. This idiom approaches 
closely to the Servian, which it connects, as it were, with the 
dialects of the western Slovenzi or Vindes. It is subdivided 
into two smaller dialects, spoken respectively in the so-called 
Military and in Provincial Croatia. The literature of this dia- 


lect has had a peculiar fate ; it was both rich and valuable in 
the sixteenth and part of the seventeenth century ; but since 
the conversion of the Croats to Romanism and their adoption 
of Latin letters, all books have been written, not in the ver- 
nacular, but in Latin. Even the Bible does not exist in Cro- 
atian, with the exception of the Gospels. 

The Slowenian or Yindish is spoken principally in the Aus- 
trian duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola, in the western 
part of Hungary along the rivers Muhr and Raab, and in parts 
of Illyria and Istria. The inhabitants of these districts, amount- 
ing to more than a million, call themselves Slovenzi. but are 
better known abroad as Vindes, a name that Mas formerly 
given by Germans to all Slavic nations. The Slovenian has, it 
is now thought, the long unknown distinction of having been re- 
duced to writing before any other Slavic dialect ; recent investi- 
gations speak of Vindish MSS. older than even the days of 
Cyril. Kopitar, as has been mentioned, even sees in the lan- 
guage of the Carinthian (and Pannonian) Slaves the true old 
Church Slavic. A literature, however, cannot be said to have 
existed before the Reformation, soon after which works on reli- 
gious subjects together with parts of the Bible were printed in 
Vindish. Great attention was subsequently bestowed upon the 
language itself, which thus enjoyed the rare and invaluable ad- 
vantage of being at once well and permanently organized. It 
was not less fortunate for the Vindish that it has engaged, in 
modern times, the attention of one of the most eminent Slavists 
of the age, Kopitar, whose great work on Vindish has been not 
less useful to that dialect, than to the Slavic literature at large. 



Polish Czekh Bohemian Slovak Sorabiaii Vindish Lusatian Polatian. 

THE Leckian or Polish was once one of the most extended 
branches of the great Slavic family ; it was spoken even by 
those tribes on both banks of the Oder, which are now almost 
entirely Germanized, in Pomerania, the Mark, and Silesia. At 
present it occupies, in two dialects, only those portions which 
are still inhabited by Poles. This includes, besides Poland 
proper, the adjoining part of western Russia, the duchy of Po- 
sen, Cracow, Galicia and Ludomiria ; a small portion of Silesia 
and an isolated colony in Pomerania, containing, together, 
about ten millions of inhabitants. 

The Leckian has its name from the Lekhes, a tribe of un- 
known origin, but kindred to the Crekhes; their name yielded 
in the tenth century to that of the most powerful fraction, the 
Poles. It shows most strikingly the influence of the sound i 
or the preceding consonant, the great characteristic of the Sla- 
vic language. Hence it possesses more sibilants than any other 
dialect, and these are carefully and accurately distinguished from 
each other ; a peculiarity which presents an almost insuperable 


difficulty to foreigners. The two nasal sounds, connected -with 
a and e, and the nice distinction between the guttural and the 
palatal I are exclusively Polish. The accent is permanent and 
always on the penultimate ; of a prosody of vowels there is no 
trace. The Polish can hardly be said to possess an ancient lite- 
rature ; a few fragments excepted, no document exists from a 
time before the sixteenth century. This is mainly owing to 
the fact, that foreigners, Germans and Italians, taught Chris- 
tianity, and long afterwards ruled the affairs of the country. 
The vernacular was, therefore, neglected, Latin being exclusively 
used, and the Polish exhibits now a large admixture of for- 
eign, principally German and Latin elements. Its grammatical 
structure is highly refined and artificial, entirely different from 
that of the Russian, which is characterized by great simplicity 
and perspicuity. Polish prose is modelled after the Latin, and 
as an imitation, in a modern language, almost perfect. 

The Kassubian, originally only a dialect of the Polish, is 
now spoken by an isolated tribe of Poles, the Kassubes, in the 
Prussian province of Pomerania, where they occupy a small 
territory on the coast of the Baltic. Their dialects are the 
Masurian, which has the peculiarity of changing all the full sibi- 
lants of the Polish, like sck, tsch into the thinner s and ts ; the 
Great Poh'sh and the Little Polish, and the Silesian, mainly 
spoken by the so-called "Water-Poles on the eastern bank of the 

The Czekh is the language of the Slavic inhabitants of 

Bohemia, Moravia and Northwestern Hungary; besides a 

number of isolated settlements throughout the latter country. 

The latter are commonly called Slovaks, and' all together amount 



to about six millions. In Bohemia the Czekh is not the only 
language spoken ; all around the frontier, and especially in the 
west, German prevails largely. The present Margravate of Mo- 
ravia, a province of Austria, is but a part of what it was when 
first settled by a Slavic race nearly related to the Czekhes of 
Bohemia. It extended then far into Hungary, and the ancient 
limits of the land of these so-called Pannonic Slaves are the 
same which at present mark the extent of the language. Hence 
there existed, also, some slight distinction between the two 
dialects, the Czekh and the Slovakian. A considerable num- 
ber of Slaves in the Russian province of Silesia are said to speak 
the same languages slightly modified. 

The Czekh proper, that is, the written language of Bohe- 
mia, seems to have but little changed from the time of its first 
introduction, if we may judge from the old names of towns, 
mountains and rivers, which still exist. It possesses, moreover, 
like most of the Slavic dialects now spoken, quite a number of 
old documents ; these are, however, only in part yet published. 
The oldest MSS., belonging still to the days of Paganism in 
Bohemia, are the Judgment of Libussa of the ninth century, 
the authenticity of which was at first doubted, and the so-called 
Koniginhof MS., containing epic and lyric poems of the thir- 
teenth century. The oldest monuments of the Christian age 
are the names of the days which are pure Slavic, and, perhaj's, 
the Lord's Prayer. By such means the different forms of the 
Czekh, at various periods, may be studied in continuous succes- 
sions from the ninth century to our day. Additional evidence 
has been found in these numerous documents belonging to the 
different dialects of this family, that the Church-Slavic is only 


one of many contemporary dialects, and not a common mother 
tongue. The Bohemian shows even now a well-preserved and 
still unusually perfect grammar and structure ; political reverses, 
however, and German influence seem to have arrested it in its 
course of development Many forms of nouns and adjectives, 
especially those in z, of which the Bohemian has a large num- 
ber, show a defective inflection ; the same is the case with the 
personal terminations of the verb. Here also the final t, the 
result of a contraction of vowels, is too frequent for euphony, 
and impedes inflection. The Czekh does not object to combi- 
nations of consonants, but it does not carry the modification of 
these letters into vowels to the same extent as the sister lan- 
guage, the Polish. The accent is always on the first syllable 
of a word ; but the language has the special merit of observing, 
with great regularity, short or long vowels. The two forms of 
lj peculiar to the Polish and other dialects, have been lost in 
the Bohemian. The literature of this remarkable dialect, the 
first of modern Slavic languages that was cultivated, is uncom- 
monly rich and valuable ; and the works it contains are of all 
Slavic tongues, alone of great importance to Protestants, because 
they have preserved the memory of Huss and of Jerome of 
Prague. The Bible, and its doctrines have been studied by the 
Bohemians with a zeal and a devotion which led unfortunately, 
at last to long contests for liberty of conscience and to their 
destruction as a nation. 

The Moravian has suffered less than the Bohemian, and 
presents thus, even now, the fuller and purer forms of olden 
times. It is divided into numerous dialects, as the population 
is divided into tribes or races which differ not only in language 


but also in costume and manners. Such dialects are the Ho- 
rakian, Hanakian, Moravian, Slovakian, and the Wallachian, 
spoken near the frontiers of Poland. 

The same division into dialects characterizes the Slovakian, 
the language of the Slovaks, who were conquered by the Ma- 
gyars and driven into the mountains, where they have success- 
fully preserved the race and the idiom of the original Slavic 
settlers of Europe. The language, however, is the only rem- 
nant of their national existence ; they are a subjugated race, 
and, in every other respect, a part of the Hungarian nation. 
This and the fact that they are surrounded by various other 
nations, accounts for the great diversity of dialects. As they 
approach the different idioms of their neighbors, they partake 
of their peculiarities ; but in all that is genuine and old, the 
full beauty of a noble ancient tongue may still be perceived. 
Unfortunately, the Bohemian has been adopted as their literary 
language, although their own tongue is far superior to the 
former in its abundance of full vowels and a number of ancient 
forms and expressions. 

The Sorabian or Venclish, which was formerly spoken 
through the whole land of the Polabic Sorabians an ancient 
name of the Slaves generally is now confined to parts of 
Lusatia from Loban in the south to Lubben in the north, and 
a small portion of Brandenburg. These Vindc-s are descendants 
of a Slavic race that settled early in the very heart of Germany 
under various names of their own, whilst the Germans called 
them all Vendes or Vincles. They are now represented by a 
small population, amounting to scarcely two hundred thousand, 
who speak the two dialects of Upper and Lower Lusatia. Both 


dialects are much subdivided, and contain a large admixture of 
German. They are very nearly related to the Bohemian, though 
the language of Lower Lusatia approaches the Polish more ; 
they have a considerable literature, principally consisting of 
Bible translations and religious writings. 

The Polabian is now spoken by so few, that it is frequently 
considered an extinct language. It was originally the idiom 
used by the numerous Slavic tribes that lived in the valley of 
the Elbe (po, upon ; Labe, Elbe). They extended in the north 
to the Baltic, including the islands on the coast of Pomerania ; 
in the east they were bounded by Poles and Czekhes ; the 
rivers Saale and Elbe were their limits westward, although they 
sent out branches far into Thuringia and to the river Main. 
They appear in history as Weteli or Wiltzi in Pomerania, as 
Obotrites in Mecklenburg, as Wagrians, Drewanians, <fcc. The 
dialect of the last-named tribe, alone, is now spoken by a few 
survivors of this ancient race. Protected by almost inaccessible 
marshes, and living in most sterile sand plains, they resisted 
long the effects of time and invasion ; a few dictionaries, pray- 
ers and popular songs, are, however, their whole literature. 




Low German. Scandinavian Icelandic Swedish Danish and Norwegian 
Anglo-Saxon English Frisian Low German proper Dutch Platt- 
' Deutsch. 

GERMANIC is used as a collective name, including all the de- 
scendants of the ancient nation, known to the Romans already 
as Goths, but under that name to distinguish them from the 
Celtic Gauls. Whether it is derived from the Latin germanus 
or from the German Erman, Hermann (Inninsul), has not yet 
been decided. The name includes, therefore, the English as a 
descendant of the Anglo-Saxon dialect of the German, the 
Scandinavian in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and northern 
islands, and the German proper. The latter is, in German, 
called Deutsch from the old form thinda (2$vos), and its deriva- 
tive thindisko, eSrt/cws ; meaning most probably the people, by 
excellence, like the Latin gens and gentiles. This has given 
rise to the English term Dutch, so constantly misapplied to 
German, but originally, and properly, only meant for the Dutch 
of Holland. Jacob Grimm, who is here, as in all philology, 
master and highest authority, mentions four characteristic fea- 
tures of this group, which distinguish it from the languages of 
other nations. The Ablaut, or radical change of vowels as it 

GERMAN*, 355 

occurs in the inflection of the strong verb ; the commutation of 
sounds according to fixed and permanent rules ; the weak noun 
and the weak verb. Of these the commutation of sounds is 
the most important principle, as its influence is seen already in 
those roots which the German idioms have in common with all 
Indo-European languages, and as it is that feature which gives 
to them now their peculiar Germanic character. The other 
three refer only to the mode of expressing certain relations in 
German proper. 

This commutation is the regular and consistent change of 
the mutes (p, t, k) ; for example, from the Greek to the Gothic, 
and acrain from the Gothic to old High German. These mutes 
retain their quality, as labials, dentals, &:c., but they change 
their quantity and pass from tenuis to media, from media to 
aspirate, and so on. The law which governs these changes, is 
this : The media of each of the three organs of speech passes 
into the corresponding tenuis, the tenuis into the aspirate, and 
the aspirate again into the media. The commutation has, 
therefore, reference to the three qualities, labial, dental, and 
guttural, and to the three quantities, tenuis, media, and aspirate. 
In its application three changes are observed ; the Sanscrit or 
its representatives, the Greek and Latin from the first class ; the 
Gothic and Low-German idioms the second, and the High- 
German the third. The effects of this law may be seen in the 
following table : 









(New) Hij 

;h English. 

1. IT 






2. <p 












4. T 






5. 5 





t , 

6. d- 

th (f) 





7. K 






8. 7 






9- X 








TroDj (?ro5or) 

, pes (pedis), 















> 7 iel, 






























fui (no), 
















TV, ffV, 



















oSovs (oSoWos), dens (dentis), 







si tan, 

























7. Kviav, 


8. "ytVor, 





(New) High 

























cor (cordis), 
















































Circumstances, foreign to the nature of this law, will, of 
course, occasionally prevent its being carried out in all cases, as 
in the Gothic, which has no labial or guttural aspirates, or in 
the High-German, which uses z instead of the dental aspirate. 
These anomalies, however, cannot impair the correctness and 
importance of this remarkable law. 

Whilst this law is common to all Germanic tongues, and, 
at the same time, a peculiarity exclusively their own, other 
tongues also have instances of the Ablaut. This means a 
regular change of vowels, mainly seen in the (strong) verb, but 
passing through the whole language. In the verb it represents 
the inflection by a change of the radical vowel as in nehme, 
nahm, genommen, and in most of the so-called irregular verbs of 
the English. This law is based upon the fact that in these 


languages a, i and u alone are original vowels, and the source 
of all others. From their combination arise, in a remarkable 
manner, all other vowels which occur in German, thus 

a la ua 
i ui ai 
u iu au 

This is carefully to be distinguished from the so-called 
umlaut, which plays so prominent a part in Germanic tongues, 
and is not an actual transition from vowel to vowel, like the 
Ablaut, but merely an intermediate vowel, produced mainly by 
the addition of e. The inflection of Germanic languages is 
characterized by its two distinct methods, the strong and the 
weak. The strong declension and conjugation exhibit the 
highest perfection of inflecting languages. They express the 
relation of time or number by a change of the radical vowel in 
noun or verb itself; the weak noun, on the other hand, is 
inflected by the aid of a pronoun, the weak verb by that of an 
auxiliary, though both pronoun and auxiliary are incorporated, 
as it were, into noun and verb. 

Equally characteristic of the Germanic idioms is their sub- 
jective character, reflecting the same peculiarity in the Germanic 
race, whilst the Pelasgic group presents objectivity as its most 
striking ethic element. In the latter we mark a systematic 
division of words into vowels and consonants, and a strict ob- 
servance of mechanical laws, determining the length of a syllable 
and the cadence of a verse. Not so in the Germanic languages. 
These words are accented and syllables lengthened according to 
their intrinsic value, as original roots or as bearers of a more 


or less important idea. The word, in fact, is respected only as 
the representative of an idea. No law of prescribed rhythm 
binds the poet ; the euphony of the word is determined by its 
mental music. German verses are, therefore, apt to be more 
profound in sense than melodious in sound. 

This group is divided into two great divisions, differing by 
the position which they occupy in the gradual commutation of 
sound, namely the Gothic and those idioms that stand upon the 
same"footing, and the High-German and those that are equally 

The Gothic is the most ancient of ah 1 written Germanic 
idioms, its oldest form being the so-called Moeso-Gothic, known 
to us from the translation of the Bible by the pious bishop 
Ulfilas, who died in 388. It is not a separate dialect of the 
Germanic family, but only the Low-German itself in its oldest 
forms, and hence of paramount importance for all the Germanic 
idioms of our day. 

In the Gothic are found all the roots and important laws of 
more recent German idioms ; the idiom itself, as a national or 
written tongue, has ceased to exist Subject to the same lin- 
guistic laws, and closely related to it in form and structure are 
two classes of idioms, those that first left Germany and were 
carried to Scandinavia, and those that remained in Germany, 
or, at least, only left it at a much later .period. 

The characteristic features of the Scandinavian tongues are 
the definite article, which is not a pronoun used before substan- 
tives, but added to the end of the noun, the neuter form of the 
adjective in t and the passive voice. The article is obtained 
from the demonstrative pronoun, hinn, Atn, hit; the passive, in 


like manner, originally by the addition of a reflective pronoun 
to the active verb, which gradually became part of the latter, 
and thus produced an apparent inflection. The same process, 
it is well known, led to the formation of a passive in Latin, 
whilst it produced, in other idioms, a medium or reflective voice 

In the gradual commutation of sounds, the Scandinavian 
stands still on the same point with the Gothic ; a peculiarity 
exclusively its own, is the constant transition from s to z. 

The old Scandinavian exhibits, in its grammatical form 
especially, high antiquity. Although most of the oldest literary 
monuments of this idiom were written at a later period, the 
thirteenth century, their contents belong evidently to the days 
of Paganism, and the Eddas shows us, beyond doubt, the very 
secrets of Scandinavian antiquity. The oldest forms were pre- 
served in the so-called Old Norse of Iceland, where, in a colony 
of independent Norwegians, the language has been preserved 
free from all admixture and change, thanks to the isolated 
position of the distant island and the strong affection borne by 
the people to this precious heirloom of their forefathers. Old 
Gothic forms are also preserved in the dialect of the Swedish 
province of Dalecarlia, where characteristic sounds, like the 
aspirated w and I, are still heard, which all the other dialects 
of this branch have lost long since. 

The Swedish and the Danish have suffered in proportion as 
they have come more frequently in contact, by war or com- 
merce, with the nations of the Continent. They have both 
preserved the affixed article and the passive voice, but they 
contain many foreign elements, and the Danish especially has 

ENGLISH. 30 i 

lost most of its original force 'and originality. The influence of 
the German is here distinctly visible, even in the analogous 
change of vowels, of which the Swedish has kept itself com- 
paratively free. Early and successful literary cultivation has 
enabled the Danish to make itself the literary language of 
Norway, to the fatal ruin of the nearly related but still some- 
what different Norwegian, which is now but slowly rising again 
from the condition of a provincial dialect. 

The language of the Ferroe isles, also, and that of the Shet- 
land and Orkney islands, belongs to the Scandinavian branch 
of languages. In the Hebrides and the Isle of Man, the Nor- 
wegian is largely mixed up with the prevailing Gaelic. 

The English, divided into numerous dialects, rules over the 
British islands, suffering only in Scotland, Wales, the Isle of 
Man, and Iceland, the Celtic to continue as a provincial dialect, 
and over extensive colonies in all parts of the globe. Faith- 
fully preserving in form and structure the Anglo-Saxon type, 
the English is now one of the poorest in terminations and most 
corrupt in roots even, of all Germanic tongues. Most of its 
radical words have been reduced to monosyllables at least in 
pronunciation. The latter has been throughout changed much 
from the original sound of the written form, a clear evidence 
of the many and essential changes the language has undergone 
in the course of time. In the shortening of sound and form it 
manifests most strikingly the predominant practical tendency 
of the English nation. It abounds in abbreviations, omissions 
of relational words and ellipses of all kinds. The Englishman, 
it is said, has applied to his language the great principle of 
mechanics : to produce with the smallest means the greatest 


effect. The English has thus become, by the aid of incredibly 
small technical means, one of the mightiest instruments of 
human thought, well adapted to all the various purposes of 
social and political life, and has produced a literature unsur- 
passed among the nations of Europe. 

The English, it is well known, presents probably a greater 
and more recent mixture of various elements than any other 
European language ; and although it retains, on the whole, its 
Germanic character, it has derived strength and beauty from 
each of its component parts. To separate, in its present form, 
what belongs to Celtic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Danish and 
Norman French, is difficult, because the different words may be 
easily enough distributed among the sister languages ; but the 
period at which they entered the English, and the mode of 
introduction, can now, in most cases, no longer be traced. 
Thousands of words came either directly from the Latin, or 
through the French ; other words came twice, but each time in 
a different form. Various statements exist as to the precise 
numerical proportion of Celtic, French or German elements ; 
the latter, Anglo-Saxon or German generally, amount probably 
to more than five-eighths of the whole bulk of radical words in 
English. The addition of genuine Latin words to the Norman 
French makes, however, their number nearly equal. Of much 
greater importance is the moral weight, as it were, of the Ger- 
man, which far exceeds that of the French part. English 
might, if needed, be spoken without Romance words ; it could 
not exist without German words. Science, of course, uses 
Latin and Latin-French terms by preference ; Poetry and the 
language of the family and daily intercourse speak Anglo- 


Saxon. Syntax and Laws of Euphony are German. A pecu- 
liar effect of this mixture is the uncommon richness of tho 
English which often possesses two words for the same idea, 
which it applies with a delicacy of distinction unknown to purer 
idioms. Smithy is a small, forge a large establishment for the 
same purpose ; blessing comes from God, benediction from man ; 
boughs grow only en trees, branches also elsewhere ; meal is 
general, four special. In like manner are distinguished limb 
and member, win and gain, wish and desire, buy and purchase, 
dread and terror, mild and gentle, luck and fortune, work and 
labor, feeling and sentiment, <kc. The Latin often furnishes the 
elegant, the Saxon the common expression, as in bad odor and 
stench, or perspiration and sweat, Queen's consort and husband, 
or love and amours. In other cases, the English uses different 
forms of the same word for different meanings ; and no language 
possesses so many of this kind, thanks to the tendency to elide, 
contract and abbreviate. Hence the two forms of other and or, 
evil and ill, also and as, thorough and through, naught and not, 
waggon and wain. The most important class of such words is 
formed by Latin and French terms, that were more than once 
introduced under different forms and meanings. Instances of 
this are ancestor and antecessor, balm and balsam, cadence and 
chance, caitiff and captive, costume and custom, corps and 
corpse, coy and quiet, coffin and coffre, debt and debit, employ 
and imply, engine and genius (ingenious), fact and feat, fashion 
and faction, fantasm and phantom, fragile and frail, gage and 
wage, gentle and genteel, guise and wise, guard and ward, 
history and story, jealous and zealous, legal and loyal, money 
and mint, penance and penitence, respite and respect, secure 
and sure, tract and treat, and many others. 


On the Continent the Anglo-Saxon has disappeared ; dis- 
tinct traces of its older forms may, however, still be found in 
the so-called Low-German dialects. 

The Frisian is probably most nearly related to the Scandi- 
navian and Anglo-Saxon ; it differs, like these, much from other 
Low-German dialects. It is especially by means of its older 
forms, well known through numerous literary documents of the 
age of the middle High-German, that we can judge of its great 
antiquity as a language. Under the name of Western, North- 
ern and Eastern Frisian, it was once spoken all over the vast 
territory along the northern coast of Germany, between the Rhine 
and the Elbe, and north of the mouth of the latter. Since these 
lands have become parts of Holland,. Germany or Denmark, 
the Frisian has ceased to be a national tongue and to be used 
for literary purposes. It lives still as a popular idiom in the 
above-mentioned countries, and has been preserved in greatest 
purity in Western Frisia.or Friesland. Eastern Frisia and the 
neighboring islands, Heligoland, as well as the parish of Sater- 
land in Westphalia, use it still almost exclusively ; but in 
Northern Frisia on the western coast of Slesvig and- the islands, 
it is rapidly disappearing before the encroaching German. The 
last-mentioned dialect alone had preserved the old forms of the 

The remaining idioms, which belong to the older or Gothic 
branch of Germanic tongues, may be designated as Low-German, 
originally the collective name of this whole branch, but now 
limited to the Dutch, in Holland called " nederduitsch " (Lower 
German), and to the Low-German proper, as far as it is not 
spoken in Holland and Belgium. 


The Dutch contains two principal dialects, the Dutch proper 
and the Flemish, the former occupying its part of the Nether- 
lands to the exclusion of all other idioms, the latter struggling 
with the increasing power of the French. Dutch and Flemish 
are, however, essentially the same language, the difference 
extending hardly beyond the manner of writing the two dia- 
lects. The Dutch as a spoken language is not soft and musical, 
but sonorous, dignified, and emphatic. For purposes of com- 
parative philology, its great power of composition is especially 
important Almost all technical terms, for which the English 
and even the German borrow words from exotic sources, are in 
Dutch composed from their own roots. The principal dialects, 
as well as the Dutch itself, have a literature only since a com- 
paratively late period of their existence ; the Dutch, however, 
far more numerous and valuable wri tings than is commonly 
known or appreciated. 

The popular language of the countries between the Rhine and 
Weser, and the Weser and Elbe, where it is not Dutch or Frisian, 
belongs to the old Saxon. Approaching closely the Dutch, the 
Platt-Deutsch differs essentially from the Anglo-Saxon. Old 
Saxon, Middle-Low-German and Low-German (Platt-Deutsch), 
are thus not so much contemporary varieties as different forms 
of the same idiom, belonging to successive periods. The Platt- 
Deutsch is more soft and flowing than the High-German ; it 
changes the sch of the latter into s ; the harsh sz or z into t, 
and delights in pure, full vowels. Possessing a moderate litera- 
ture of its own, it is spoken all along the northern coast of 
Germany, and extends even beyond into the provinces that were 
originally and are still in part at least Slavic, as far as the inte- 
rior of Courland and Livonia. 




ESSENTIALLY differing in forms and laws of euphony from these 
dialects is the High- German, a language which had already an 
independent existence and a high degree of perfection at a 
time when the Gothic was still a national tongue. Of those 
distant days and ancient forms it bears even now unmistakable 
marks, as, for instance, in the carefully-preserved Instrumentalis. 
Its most characteristic feature, the commutation of sounds, 
seems, however, not to have been observed before the eighth or 
ninth century. From the Low-German it differs especially in 
sounds, as, for instance, in the introduction of 2 and * for the t 
of the latter, not to speak of a thorough change of the simple 
vowels, which it exchanges for long vowels or diphthongs. 
Rich in literary documents from the very earliest times, and 
thoroughly known through the researches of eminent scholars, 
it is commonly divided into three principal dialects, the Suabian, 
Bavaro-Austrian, and the Prankish. This division is already 
observed in the old High-German, which was spoken and 
written from the seventh to the eleventh century, as well as in 
the middle High-German, which prevailed until the days of 
Luther. The Reformation and the Bible-translation of the groat 
Reformer gave the new High-German, the dialect of a single 

GERMAN. 367 

province, inhabited by Slaves, the supremacy over all rival 
dialects. The town of Meissen, the central place of that pro- 
vince, belonged then, as it partly does now, to the Sorabian 
district ; and Slavic writers point with pride to the fact that 
modern High-German owes its supremacy, as they believe, to 
the admirable pliancy of Slavic organs of speech applied to the 
pronunciation of a Germanic idiom. It is well known that in 
like manner the most highly-prized Italian is the Tuscan dialect 
spoken by Romans, lingua Toscana in bocca Romano,. The 
German has preserved much more of ancient grammar and in- 
flection than the English, Dutch or Danish ; still, it has lost 
many full and pure vowels, which it has a tendency to change 
into e, and is, in this respect especially, far inferior to the full- 
sounding, euphonious Swedish. The Low-German, as well as 
all former dialects of the nigh-German, still continue as provin- 
cial or local idioms, which occasionally appear, for specific pur- 
poses, even in literature, and serve as an inexhaustible mine of 
old and precious forms for the increase and development of 
the written language. It is fortunate that Germany, so fatally 
divided in a political point of view, and possessing so many 
radically different dialects, has at least succeeded, by the aid of 
a sacred cause and its noble standard bearer, to unite its nume- 
rous parts by the strong tie of a common language for all the 
higher purposes of life. The German has, moreover, since it 
has thus become the language of the Church, the learned and 
the press, increased in perfection as it has advanced in extent, 
' and is now one of the most cultivated and extensive of all Ger- 
manic dialects. It is not only spoken in Germany proper, but 
also in parts of Switzerland, Hungary, and Transylvania, in 


Slesvig and Southern Jutland, and to the east, mixed with Low- 
German, beyond the limits of Courland. The irrational ortho- 
graphy of the German and the continued use of certain peculi- 
arities, as, for instance, the employment of capital initials for all 
nouns, will, it is hoped, soon yield to the increasing reluctance 
to continue them merely because they have existed for ages, 
and the influence of examples set by such men as Grimm and 
his pupils. The latter object, for similar reasons, to the use of 
the peculiar letters of the German, which they qualify as merely 
corrupt and disfigured imitations of Latin letters, and instead of 
which theyemploy the usual Roman characters. 



Cymric Welsh Cornish Breton (Armorican) Gaelic Irish Manx Gaelic 


FOR a long time the Celtic was considered as a language that 
had no connection with the Indo-European family ; many saw 
in it a relic of the original inhabitants of Europe, and some 
even maintained its relationship with the Basque. It has since 
been established, and, thanks to the admirable works of Prichard, 
generally admitted, that the Celtic belongs to the same Indo- 
European family, of which we have mentioned the principal 
members, and that it has no connection whatever with the 

CELTIC. 369 

The Celtic is that branch of this great family which has 
penetrated tarthest west in Europe ; for the isolated case of a 
special transportation of Indo-European idioms to Iceland, and 
their still more recent introduction into the American continent, 
does not affect the original, ante-historical arrangement of great 
languages in Europe. The Celtic was, it is well known, once 
extensively spoken in various portions of Europe ; the Celts 
themselves, owing to their migratory instincts and habits, being 
one of the most widely-spread nations of the earth, and extend- 
ing their rule from the pillars of Hercules to Asia Minor, and 
from the banks of the Tiber to the Ultima Thule. Possessing 
a limited and now but imperfectly-known literature, endowed 
with insufficient means of resistance, they have been driven 
westward into the most remote corners of Europe, and it seems 
to be their fate slowly to become extinct under the tread of 
advancing civilization. 

The Celtic, which is now only spoken in single provinces or 
isolated colonies in the midst of other races, is no longer a 
national tongue. Ireland and Wales are its strongholds ; in 
Scotland and Cornwall it is said to be either extinct or rapidly 
disappearing. Besides these, Celtic is spoken on the Hebrides 
and some English islands, as well as by the inhabitants of the 
French province of Bretagne. Being, if not the first settler of 
Europe as was formerly believed, certainly the first immigrant 
from the south of Asia and of the stock of Japhetic idioms, it 
exhibits even in its much modified modern form marks of the 
highest antiquity and rudest originality. Striking peculiarities of 
these idioms are the want of inflection in nouns, which often have 
but one case, the dative, and still more' the manner in which 


initial consonants are made to harmonize with the last letter of 
a preceding word. The inflection of article and noun produces 
thus in Irish, forms like these : Colam, dove ; nom. an cholam, 
the dove ; gen., na colaime ; dat., don cholam ; gen. plur., na 
gcolam, &c. This remarkable feature, which is common to all 
Celtic dialects, and not yet satisfactorily explained, appears the 
more mysterious now, as in many instances the final letter, 
which produced such an effect, has been lost, whilst its power 
is still felt. JSTot less peculiar is the process of agglutinizing 
the personal pronouns to the end of the verb. Car, to love, 
makes car-wn, car-ych, car-ant, or love we, love you, love they, 
showing, as it were, the inflection of verbs in an early stage of 
formation, before the two elements have become truly one. 

The Celtic branch contains two distinct classes of idioms, 
the Gaelic and the Cymric. The Gaelic is the ancient language 
of Ireland, and, through the agency of Irish conquerors, of the 
northwestern part of Scotland. It is now spoken in greatest 
purity in Ireland, where, under the familiar name of Erse, it 
has preserved most of the ancient orthography and the primi- 
tive forms of the original Celtic. It is, therefore, said to be 
least corrupted when well written, but the changes it has under- 
gone are marked in the great difference between the written 
forms of the still existing dialects and their sound. That it is 
purer than the Welsh, it owes mainly to the fact that it broke 
from its English relatives long before the latter, which contains 
many Gothic elements, and that it is still spoken by an insular 
population of four millions. Of equal importance for its preser- 
vation has been, no doubt, the early adoption of the Roman 
alphabet and the high literary culture which it received at a 

CELTIC CrMRic. 371 

period when the other dialects were yet uncultivated, and which 
continued, subsequently, through many centuries. The oldest 
MS. dates as far back as the year 600, when the life of the 
great Irish apostle was written by his friend Fiech, and a life 
of St. Bridget, 625, is said to be preceded by even older MSS., 
which are, however, without authentic date. Another branch 
of the Gaelic is the Gaelic proper of the Highlands of Scotland, 
well known as the language of poems upon which McPherson 
built his Ossian. It is younger than the Irish, with which it is 
nearly related, as it probably came from Ireland, though some 
Celtic dialect was, no doubt, already spoken in Scotland, by 
Gaels, who had been driven northward by their English neigh- 
bors. In 1806, it was stated to be in daily use yet, with about 
300,000 inhabitants of the Scotch Highlands, but their number 
must have considerably diminished since that time. The 
purest Gaelic is spoken in St. Kilda, the most isolated of the 
Hebrides. The dialect of the Isle of Man is too mixed to be of 
linguistic importance. Still, it is not without interest to observe 
how much more purely the Mauks is spoken on the north side 
of the island than on the opposite coast, where the intercourse 
with England is more frequent. 

In the Orcades the people speak a genuine Scotch dialect, 
and only some of the older men Norwegian. The dialect of 
Walden, Essex county, England, is almost the same as that of 
the Gaelic colonists who first settled it The local dialects of 
Cornwall, Galloway, and Devonshire show, in like manner, a 
strong admixture of Gaelic. 

The Cymric is commonly considered a younger daughter of 
the Celtic family. It has its name from" the ancient Ki/i/3pos 


or Cimbri, and is believed to have been brought to Europe by 
a second emigration of Celts, who gradually displaced their 
predecessors in England or Armorica. The Cymric is not as 
pure Celtic as the Gaelic, being of later date, and for centuries 
exposed to the immediate influence of Latin, Anglo-Saxon, and 
Norman. Its orthography has unfortunately been changed 
with a view to adapt a written to a spoken language, and thus 
it differs in this also from the Erse, that it is least corrupted 
when spoken and most changed when written. 

It is now spoken in Wales, where three-fourths of the popu- 
lation still cling to it as to the last remnant of former posses- 
sions. It has been observed and supported by apparently 
irrefutable authority, as an anomaly in the history of languages, 
that the Cymric is spoken now by larger numbers than under 
Edward VI., and that, so far from receding before English or 
producing with it an Anglo-Welsh patois, it has actually 
encroached in some parts of Pembrokeshire and along the 
border upon its powerful neighbor. 

In Cornwall the Cymric has ceased to be spoken ; the last 
instance of its being used belongs to the latter part of the last 
century. Much more of it is left in Bretagne, the ancient 
Armorica. It is doubtful yet, whether the inhabitants of Little 
Britain, as it is often called, were indigenous or emigrants ; so 
much is certain, that they were Cymric Celts. The Armorican 
dialect is spoken by about a million of Bretons, and so nearly 
resembles the Welsh, that Bas-Breton bibles are introduced in 
large numbers into Wales. 

Perhaps no language spoken in Europe has led to more 
zealous inquiries and more absurd controversies than the Celtic. 


A perfect mania prevailed at one time to establish not only the 
now undoubted high antiquity of the Celtic, but also its position 
as a mother tongue, from which the English, the Spanish, or 
even the Latin had been derived ! The uncommon facility of 
composition, the frequent change of consonants, and the sur- 
prising analogy between certain Celtic words and corresponding 
forms in Latin, and even in German, misled frequently even 
acute observers. The same difficulty of discerning what words 
the Celtic may have contributed to other languages, and which 
it has, in its turn, received from them, and what portion of 
their common property belongs to each competitor exclusively, 
exists even now, and engages, in our day, the unwearied atten- 
tion of the most eminent scholars of England and Germany. 



List of Works of Reference. 

WE have thus endeavored to sketch rapidly and" to charac- 
terize in their outlines the principal languages of Europe, as 
far as they have developed themselves naturally and legitimately, 
according to the great laws of language. In their midst, how- 
ever, there exist certain dialects of artificial growth, parasites 
upon the great trunk of some one of these original languages, 
which draw their nourishment from various sources and follow 


no law but that of arbitrary or accidental arrangement; thev 
are, of course, in various stages of development, and are com- 
monly studied only from motives of curiosity or public interest. 
This refers especially to the slang, " flash," or technical language 
of thieves ; and as no other instance shows with equal clearness 
and precision, how little men can arbitrarily create a language 
or alter its organic nature, a few remarks on these peculiar 
idioms may be added. The principal purpose of those Avho 
form them, mostly men who live by breaking the laws of their 
country, is to obtain a particular dialect or jargon, which may 
differ sufficiently from the vernacular to secure those who use 
it against detection. Words of other dialects are chosen ; those 
of the vernacular mutilated, inverted, or used in an ancient 
form, and a meaning differing from the usual, and mostly in a 
metaphorical sense. New forms, also, are sometimes created, 
but the true essence of language, its grammar, has in no case 
been altered. All these artificial idioms follow, to the minutest 
detail, the grammar of the language with which they compete. 
Most of the larger portions of Europe have some such jargon, 
formed for the specific purpose of being unintelligible to the 
other inhabitants of the country. Germany has its Rosivalsch 
(Rothwelsch) or beggar's Welsh ; and England its thieves' Latin, 
in their own dialect called slang, and often quoted in the days 
of Elizabeth. The Slavic provinces have their Hantyrka or 
German words, and the works of Eugene Sue has made us 
familiar with the Argot of France. Italy knows a Geryo 
(jargon), and Spain the Germania. Besides some Gypsy words, 
almost all these artificial idioms contain a large proportion of 
Hebrew. Passing through the fiery furnace of the language of 


Jews of all nations, the original words are, of course, much 
changed ; they may, however, easily be recognized by the 
philologist. German Jews have, moreover, a mixed dialect of 
their own, used mainly for purposes of traffic and secrecy. The 
large number of so-called technical terms used by certain pro- 
fessions, as sportsmen, miners, <fcc., are, to a great extent, formed 
in a similar manner; and would, if more largely extended, 
result in the formation of similar dialects. In all instances, 
however, the lexicon alone has been altered; grammar and 
syntax remain invariably the same as those of the vernacular. 

As some of the languages of Europe, mentioned in the preceding 
sketch, are comparatively little known, we add a list of some 
recent and easily accessible works, which treat of them, omit- 
ting older works and such as are familiar to every student of the 
most important modern languages, as French or German. We 
give them in the order in which the languages themselves have 
been mentioned. 

CHINESE. Giitzlaff's well-known Grammar. 

Morrison. A Dictionary of the Chinese Language. Macao, 


De Guignes. Dictionnaire Chinois, <tc. Paris. To which belongs 

au indispensable Supplement, by J. Klaproth. Paris, 1813. 

Endlicher. Anfangsgrunde der Chinesischen Grammatik. Wien, 

Abel Remusat. Essai sur la Langue et la Litterature Chinoise. 

Meng Tseu, vel Mencium, edd. latina interpretatione. tc. St 

Julien. Paris, 1824. 
TATARIC LANGUAGES. Gyarmathi, affinitas linguae hungaricae cum 


linguis finnicae originis, grammatice demonstrate. 1799. 

Old, but excellent, and still very useful. 
Schott Versuch iiber die Tatarischen Spracheu. Berlin, 

Ueber das Altaische oder Finnish-Tatarische Spra- 

chengeschlecht Berlin, 1839. 
Mongolian. Schmidt. Grammatik der Mongolischen Sprache. 

Petersburg, 1831. 
Schmidt Mongolish-Deutech-Russisches Worterbuch. Peters- 

burg, 1835. 
Kovalevski. Grammaire abrcge de la langue savante des Mon- 

gholes. Kasan, 1835. 

Dictionnaire Mongol-Russe-Frangais. Kasan, 1834. 

Abel Remusat. Recherches sur les Langues Tateres. 
Turkish. Redhouse. Grammaire raisonnee de la langue ottomane. 

Paris, 1846. 
Mirza A. Kasem-beg. Allgemeine Grammatik der Tiirkish- 

Tatarischen Sprache. Leipzig, 1848. (Translated from the 


Kieffer et Bianchi. Dictionnaire Turc-Francais. Paris, 1837. 
Hindoglu. Dictionnaire Frangais-Turc. Vienna, 1831. 
Schott De lingua Tschuwaschorum. Berolini, 1841. 
Finnish. Vater's, Pallas', and Erman's Collections. 

Castren. Elementa grammatices Syrjaenae, <fcc. Helsingfors, 

Wiedemann. Versuch einer Grammatik der Syrjaeniachen 

Sprache. Reval, 1847. 
Von der Gabelentz. Grundziige der Syrjaenischen Sprache. 

Altenburg, 1841. 
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RenvalL Lexicon linguae Finnicae. Abo, 1826. 
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Bloch. Magyar Dictionary. Pesth, 1844. 
CAUCASIAN LANGUAGES. Rosen. Ueber die Sprachen der Laien. In 

the Memoirs of the Academy at Berlin, 1843. 
Rosen. Ueber das Mingrelische, Suanische, und Abschasische. 

Ibidem, 1845. 

Bopp. Ueber das Georgische. Berlin, 1847. 
Klaproth. Reise in den Eaukasns und nach Georgien. Berlin, 

BASQUE. W. Von Humboldt's famous work on the Basque. 

De Larramendi. El Imposible vencido. Salamanca, 1729. 
L'Ecluse. Manuel de la langne Basque. Toulouse et Bayonne, 

G. Waldo Erring. The Alphabet of the Primitive Language of 

Spain. Boston, 1829. 
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Eawi Language. 
Gesenius. Versuch uber die Maltesische Sprache. Leipzig, 


Indian. Bopp. Sanscrit Grammar. 

Bopp. Conjugations-System des Sanscrit, Latein, <fec. Frank- 
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Vergleichende Grammatik, Ac. Berlin. 

Pott Etymologische Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der Indo- 

Germanitchen Sprachen. Lemgo, 1836. 
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Aucher. English-Armenian Dictionary. Venice, 1821. 
Mekhitar. Armenian Dictionary. Venice, 1834. 
Pelasgic. Minas. Calliope, ou traite, sur la veritable prononcia- 

tion de la langue Grecque. Paris, 1825. 


Leake. Researches in Greece. London. 

David. Synoptic parallel between Modern and Ancient 

Greek. Paris, 1827. 

Theocliaropulos. Greek Grammar. Paris, 1830. 
English and Greek Dictionary. Munich, 


Russiadis. Greek Grammar. Vienna, 1834. 
Xylander. Die Sprache der Albanesen oder Schkipetaren. 

Frankfurt, 1838. 

Raynouard and Lewis, on the Romance Languages. 
Diez. Die Romanischen Sprachen. Berlin, 1835. 
Ticknor. History of Spanish Literature. 
Barboza. Gramatica philosophies da Ling. Portug. Lisbon, 


Cabrie. Le Troubadour Moderne. Paris, 1844. 
Fauriel. Histoire de la Poesie Provenfale. Paris, 1846. 
Ampere. Histoire de la Reformation de la Langue Fran^aise. 

Paris, 1841. 
Letlic-Slavic. Talvj. The Languages and Literature of the Slavic 

Nations. New- York, 1850. 
Mielcke. Anfangsgriinde einer Littanischen Sprachlehre. Ko- 

nigsberg, 1800. 

Nesselmann. Die Sprache der alien Preussen. Berlin, 1845. 
Stender. Lettische Grammatik. Mitau. 

SchafFarik. Geschichte der Slawischen Sprache, <fec. Ofen, 1826. 
Slowansky narodopis Slavic Antiquities. Prague, 1849. 
Heard. Practical Grammar of the Russian. Petersburg, 1827. 
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Dobi-ovsky. Institutiones linguae Slavicae dialect! veteris. 

Vienna, 1822. 

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BabukiscL Illyrische Grammatik. Wien, 1839. 
Miklosich. Radices Linguae Slovcnicae, <fec. Leipzig, 1845. 
Wuk Stephanowitsch. Kleine Serbische Grammatik. Trans- 
lated by J. Grimm. Vienna, 1824. 
Kristianowitsch. Croatian Grammar. 1837. 
Rukovina von Liebgradt. Kroatische Sprachformen. Triest, 



Murko. SUvenzi Grammar. Gratz, 1843. 

Mrongorins. Polish Grammar. Polish Dictionary. Konigs- 

berg, 1835, 1847. 

Poplinski. Polish Grammar. Lissa, 1840. 
Bandtkie. Polish Dictionary, reused by Dobrovsky. Breslau, 

Tzambczynski. Grammatique raisonnee de la langne Polonaise. 

"Waraaw, 1793. 

Dobrovsky. Bohemian Grammar (in German). Prague, 1821. 
Schaffarik. Elemente der AltBdhmischen Grammatik. Prague, 


Ziak. Bohmische Sprachlehre. Briinn, 1849. 
Jungmann. Bohemian-German Dictionary. 1839. 
Bernolak. Grammatica Slavica (Slovak). Ofen, 1814. 

Slovakian Dictionary. 

Rose. nnJwA-Gennan Dictionarv. Grimma, 1840. 

Jordan. Grammatik der Wendish-Serbischen Sprache, Prague, 

Hauptmann. Xieder Lausitzische (Lower Liuatian) Grammar. 

Lubben, 1761. 
Zwahr. Lower-Lusatian-Wendish-German Dictionary. Sprem- 

berg, 1847. 
Germanic. Jacob Grimm. Deuttche Grammatik. Gottingen, 


Gabelentz et Lobe. Ulfilas. 1846. 
Hahn. AusTrahl aus Ulfilas mit Worterbuch und Grammatik. 

Heidelberg, 1849. 
Rask. Icelandic Grammar, translated by Thorpe. Copenhagen , 


Marsh. Icelandic Grammar. U. S. 

Dasent. Old Norse Grammar (Rask's). Frankfurt, 1843. 
(English Grammars of the Swedish, Danish, <tc,, are familiarly 

known.) TTe add: 

Hanson. Tysk. Norsk Haand Ordbog. Christiania, 1840. 
Schram. Principes de la laiigue Danoise et Norvegienne. Co- 
penhagen, 1839. 
Rask. frisisk Sproglaere. Copenhagen, 1825. German; 

Freiburg, 1834. 

Richthofen. Alt-Friesisches Worterbuch. Gottinge'n, 1840. 
Bilderdjik. Dutch Grammar. (In Dutch.) 


Des Roches. Grammaire Francaise et Flamande. Antwerp, 


Heiderscheid. Vlaemsche Sprachkunst. Malines, 1 843. 
Vollbeding. Platt-Dcutsch Dictionary, (German). Zerbst, 

Celtic. Prichard. The Eastern Origin of the Celtic Nations. 

Oxford, 1831. 
Pictet. De 1'affinite des langues celtiques avec le Sanscrit. 

Paris, 1837. 

Bopp. Ueber die Celtischen Sprachen, &c. Berlin, 1839. 
Owen. A Welsh Grammar and Dictionary. London. 
O'Donovan. Grammar of the Irish Language. Dublin, 1845 
Kelly. A Grammar of the ancient Gaelic. Essex, 1806. 
Cregeen. A Dictionary of the Manks Language. Douglass, 


Stewart. Elements of the Gaelic Language. Edinburgh, 1812. 
Legonidec. Grammaire Celto Bretonne. Paris, 1837. 

' Dictionnaire Celto Bretonne, <fcc. Paris, 1839. 

Dictionarium /Scofo-Celticum, <fec. Edinburgh and London, 

Artificial Languages. Pott. Die Zigeuner in Europa, <fec. Halle, 


Grolman. "Worterbuch der Spitzbuben Sprache, (Thieves' Lan- 
guage). Giessen, 1822. 

Hidalgo. Diccionario de la Lengua Germania. Madrid, 1773. 
Langue des Escrocs (Argot). Paris, 16 . 
Dictionary of the Cant Language, an appendix to the life of 

"The English Rogue." London, 1680. 






THE history of written language, as far as its outward form is 
concerned, is not unlike that of spoken language : it proceeds, 
like the latter, from the most complicated to the most simple. 
Gigantic monuments, and the labor of millions, were once 
employed to convey what is now sent from continent to conti- 
nent with the rapidity of lightning, in a few insignificant lines. 

As long as the human family was one and dwelt together 
in the same happy place, the word alone was, of course, suffi- 
cient ; oral tradition, the poetic mother of history, perpetuated 
all that was necessary. But when death made man final in 
time, and the curse of Babel parted brother from brother, they 
became aware of the necessity of perpetuating the memory of 
great events for future generations, and new races, that were to 
come after them, as well as for the distant nations who, they 
wished, might hear of their glory and feel with and for them. 

It was then that whole nations undertook gigantic paint- 
ings on the rocks of the earth, or the erection of colossal 
monuments to leave a mark of their greatness behind them. 
Then, the Pillars of Hercules became an eloquent record, where 
Nature herself proclaimed her "ne plus ultra!" and the mys- 
terious architecture of the so-called Cyclops became in their 


surpassing grandeur expressive of the colossal, single and, 
therefore, so inimitably grand ideas of their race. The key to 
their language, we apprehend, is lost for ever. Italy and 
Spain, England and Scandinavia, even the new continents, 
teem with tumuli, rude altars, enormous heaps of stones, 
records of long forgotten ages, not yet deciphered by modem 
ingenuity. More advanced, or differently constituted nations, 
preferred to cover rocky walls with equally colossal though 
rude paintings. High in the snow-covered fields of Scandi- 
navia, the bold traveller meets with " hallristningar," enormous 
clefts in the granite masses of mountains, evidently the work of 
man, though of what age and to what purpose, our age cannot 
tell. Rough, but unmistakable pictures of the sun and stars, 
of ships and ocean waves, cover these icy walls to their greatest 
height ; and far off, on the sun-burnt plains of South America, 
in the wild gorges of the Andes, the same mysterious hand has 
written the same colossal characters. The Far West of North 
America, and the deserts of Arabia, are covered with records 
that all our wisdom and learning has as yet failed to decipher. 
In Egypt, where the researches of men of science have been 
most arduous and most successful, there are miles and miles of 
carved stones, gigantic pillars, and obelisks, gates of houses, 
and walls of temples, painted all over with exquisite skill and 
incredible labor, and telling the history of nations that rose, 
ruled, and vanished again, thousands of years before Christ, to 
the children of our own day. Even the rocks of savage 
Australia abound with carvings of men, animals, birds, fish, 
human feet, and boomerangs. Highland promontories are 
written orer with these strange and colossal devices, especially 


with the same footprints of man, considered sacred, as those in 
India, and the most celebrated in Ceylon. Even the famous 
Red Hand the " mano Colorado," of Yucatan is found in 
caves on the eastern coast of Australia, looked upon by the 
natives with awe and dread, and believed to have been made 
" before white fellow came." Every where, in fact, man's 
daring hand, moved by the anxious desire to be known to 
posterity, has tried to place his humble mark by the side of the 
great work of the Almighty, who made the earth and all that 
therein is. 

Humbler modes are devised, now as of old, to bequeathe to 
coming years or future ages an intimation of some event 
of importance. "What are monuments more than gigantic, 
time-defying letters, written upon the broad tablet of the earth, 
to be read by all that come after us. The Pyramids of Egypt 
are still a riddle to be solved ; but who would have suspected 
the bare poles which the Patagonians of St. Julien erected in 
the midst of some bushes, to have been intended as similar 
signs meant to represent the ships of Sir John Harborough, that 
had been seen from the distant shore? Where a grateful 
nation erects heaven-aspiring columns, the mournful peasant of 
Normandy burns the straw bed on which his friend has expired, 
before his hut, and the black round spot, as it contrasts with 
the green turf by its side, remains long an humble but eloquent 
epitaph of him that left no other record behind. Others plant 
funereal trees by the side of the graves of those they have loved ; 
from the South Sea, to the North of Europe grief finds the 
same simple but touching expression. Sometimes it is the 
weeping willow, with its long slender branches, waving mourn- 


fully in the sighing breeze or hanging weeping and dishevelled 
over the grave ; at other times it is the pine or the cypress, 
not uniting in sorrow with the earth, but lifting up the heart, 
and raising its hopes to heaven; rising to lofty heights, pointing 
its branches all upward, and exhaling its strange but pleasing 
aroma, whilst the wind gently rustles in its sombre but ever- 
green boughs. 



Emblematic Records Hieroglyphics Allegorical Writing Symbolical 
Writing Phonetic Signs. 

CENTURIES passed, no doubt, and the face of the earth had 
changed more than once before the colossal pictures on rock 
and pillar were used once more in the character of hiero- 
glyphics. Sacred writings they became, probably, only later 
when they had become the exclusive property of priests, who 
employed them for the dedication of religious monuments and 
the transmission of sacred texts, which they wished to keep 
from the eyes of the profane. It is not improbable that the 
very idea of interchanging thoughts by visible signs was first 
suggested by the various appearances of stars and constel- 
lations in heaven, footsteps of birds and beasts, veins on the 
backs of tortoises, and similar characteristic marks. Such 
were, at least, the signs most frequently and earliest employed. 


The hieroglyphics themselves, whether justly considered the 
first letters of man or not, were originally mere pictures, by 
means of which one important circumstance was used to convey 
an idea of the whole event or series of acts. Thus, in the 
inscriptions of Horapollo, one hand with a bow opposed by 
another hand with a buckler, designated two contending armies. 
It was a sign of a much higher grade of intellect when a real 
or metaphysical instrument was substituted for the thing itself ; 
and the picture thus appealed not only to the eye but to the 
mind, to understand, and to interpret An eye and a sceptre, 
now, meant a monarch ; the sword a cruel tyrant ; a ship with 
a pilot, the government of the world. Finally the system rose 
to allegorical representations, as when the serpent in a circle 
became the well-known symbol of the universe, or even things 
not actually existing, abstract ideas even, were thus repre- 
sented, the ant being used to designate industry, the fly to 
express impudence. It was in this form especially that the 
hieroglyphics became both secret and sacred, to satisfy the 
desire for an exclusive -writing, common to almost all nations. 
Thibet has a common, a magic, and a sacred alphabet; the 
Dacotah of the Far "West, his common and his sacred letters ; 
even the Christian is not entirely free from a mysterious awe 
with which he looks upon the A and li, as the Jew of old had 
his sacred half consonants./, A, and v, in his " Jehovah." 

The more exclusive the use of such signs became, the more 
liable they were, of course, to be misunderstood by the igno- 
rant, or misinterpreted, when sent to distant sovereigns, gov- 
ernors of provinces, or commanders of armies. Only the few signs 
which really represented and, at the same time, meant the thing 


itself, were universally intelligible to all who had the key to 
these emblems. Not so, however, with that strange multiplicity 
of signs, which soon became as numerous as the objects of na- 
ture, to which, arbitrarily and vaguely, a figurative meaning 
was attached. This uncertainty was considerably increased by 
the carelessness with which, gradually, the signs were merely 
sketched, not painted, and general outlines, a faint resemblance, 
replaced the correct and complete drawings of earlier ages. The 
desire for knowledge and easy communication soon produced 
a general longing for some firmly-established and universally- 
understood series of signs ; and this led, naturally, to a phone- 
tic mode of writing. It was no longer through the eye only 
that mind spoke to mind ; but these signs represented the radi- 
cal or syllabic sound, and conveyed an idea by the ear which 
would, by association, recall the word and not the object itself. 
Phonetic letters are, therefore, literally signs of signs : little 
marks which suggest a sound that again connects itself in 
memory with the picture of an object of which the mind, by 
his double process, becomes conscious. Thus has the Chinese, 
to the present day throughout, nothing but abridged or sym- 
bolic marks of original pictures, with a distinct sign for each 
idea, of which there are, at least, yet several hundred. The last 
step in the improvement of these signs is phonographic writing. 
Man became aware of the cumbersome multiplicity of pictures 
or symbols, and of the frequent repetition of the same elements 
in various articulations. To avoid these serious evils, he tried to 
simplify them in such a manner as to bring them in accord- 
ance with the human voice, which has, as is well known, only 
about forty distinct sounds ; and the result of these effort*, 


made in various parts of the globe, at different times and under 
different circumstances, are the alphabets of our day. It is not 
without higher interest that these letters, farthest removed from 
the pictures of Egypt, have still returned once more to the 
nature of Hieroglyphics. We read without the aid of the ear, 
without the mediation of sound ; and thus to all but unlettered 
people, who, from ignorance, and a few who from habit, read 
aloud, these letters have again become true signs or pictures of 



The Ancients Original Meaning of Letters Universal Alphabet Arrangement of 
Letters Number of Letters Names of Letters. 

THE invention of letters has, like all other useful and striking 
inventions, been ascribed to gods and demigods without num- 
ber. It is justly considered one of the most sublime results of 
the activity of the human mind. Some ascribe this triumph to 
Adam or Seth, others to Memnon, the ancients to Mercury or 

These speculations are as unproductive as the many vague 
methods by which most learned men have endeavored to ex- 
plain what they call the " original meaning " of letters. Sup- 
posing even that any substantial and permanent benefits could 
be obtained from such a knowledge, it- would now avail but 


little. It is probable that they were, originally already, used 
unconsciously or accidentally ; and if there was a correspond- 
ence between the sign and the idea, it was a very general and 
indefinite analogy only. The Greeks may have chosen, as 
Nodier thinks, the form of their from a saw, the noise of 
which it somewhat recalls ; the tj/ to imitate an arrow, whiz- 
zing away from its bow ; or the to represent to the eye the 
breast as its sound resembles that of a sucking child. The 
Latin B may have been meant to suggest the two lips, the O, 
a round, open mouth ; the T a hammer, and the S or Z a ser- 
pent, as the enunciation recalls the sound of a stroke or the hiss 
of a serpent The invention of letters belongs, like that of lan- 
guages, to ante-historical times; and whatever may have been 
the original motive for choosing such letters, and no others, to 
represent certain ideas, that meaning has long since been lost. 
We know not the original meaning of words in modern lan- 
guages ; the Spaniard says, " el alferes," with two articles ; the 
English speak of" quandary," and " kickshaw," for " qu'en dira," 
and " quelque-ehose," and the German forgets the sacred words, 
" Hoc est corpus (Christi)," in the slang term, " Hocus-pocus ; " 
how then can the original meaning of letters be distinctly and 
consciously remembered after the lapse of thousands of years ? 
As soon, finally, as these letters ceased to be either pictures or 
symbols, and were reduced to mere signs, their signification 
became also extinct; and to retrace it now might be diverting 
enough, and call into play all our ingenuity, but would hardly 
help the etymologist or the philologist to a better knowledge of 

Even the often-cherished plan of having one common alpha- 


bet for all the nations of the earth has not held out sufficient 
reward to engage the attention of more than one or two truly 
great men. Among these Leibnitz stands prominent. He 
ardently desired to obtain such a common series of letters, 
which, at least, the learned of all nations might understand. 
He felt himself, however, the force of the argument, that in 
writing, as in every art, variety is beauty, and, moreover, an 
evidence of truth as well as originality. Sensual objects may 
be capable of being always and every wliere represented by per- 
manent signs. The Chinese accomplishes this to a certain ex- 
tent ; but our signs for spiritual things must necessarily change 
as our mind progresses, and our views are enlarged or correct- 
ed. Such an alphabet, read all over the world, exists in part 
already, in the signs for numbers, planets, metals, and similar 
substances. But experience has, even here, shown the neces- 
sity of change ; and chemistry and mineralogy, for instance, 
have both introduced essential modifications in their letters or 
signs, as new views of the inner nature or outward relations of 
certain objects have required new expressions and new signs. 

If letters are considered a truly subliine invention of man, 
the alphabet, or the arrangement of these signs and these 
names, are an evidence of most shameful negligence. Perfec- 
tion can, of course, not be expected in a scheme which often, no 
doubt, owed its existence to accident, and has been subject to 
a thousand arbitrary and varied influences. The letters of the 
best developed language are still vague, equivocal, and insuffi- 
cient. And yet Leibnitz already said : " Give me a good al- 
phabet, and I will show you a good language ; give me a good 
language, and I will show you high civilization." Not that a 


large number of letters is desirable ; the number of letters, as 
little as that of corresponding sounds, is a sign of perfection, or 
even richness of language. On the contrary, here also perfec- 
tion consists in employing the least means for the greatest end. 
An idiom is almost invariably "rich in letters in proportion as it 
is barbarous. The mind of man has a tendency to master the 
outward element by which his thoughts are apt to be clogged 
and encumbered ; he tries to retrench the over-luxuriant 
growth of sounds, and conveys the loftiest thought in the brief- 
est word. 

For similar reasons it appears that the order in which 
letters are arranged among themselves, is arbitrary or acci- 
dental. Now and then, it is true, some principle may have 
been at work, indistinctly perhaps, but still perceptible even 
now. It is hardly probable that the curious but exact manner 
in which the five vowels are almost invariably distributed 
among the other letters should be the result of mere accident, 
whilst the letter A is found in all at the beginning, except the 
^Ethiopian where it occupies the middle, and in Thibetan where 
it is in the last place. The Greeks, it is well known, ascribed to 
their A a peculiar degree of perfection perhaps, however, only 
from the very fact that it stood first among the letters and 
called Beta all that was not of the best quality, as the famous 
librarian Eratosthenes, who first designated himself a<iA.o Xoyos 
and whom they laughed at as nothing better than a Beta. 

The names of letters were, in the first instance, probably 
genuine names, not merely the sound they represented as at 
present, and taken from the object or the figure, from which 
they derived their form. The Egyptian A was called achan, 


an eagle, their C, Ca, a goat, whilst the Phoenician had their 
^41eph from their word for an ox, the .fleth for horse, and 
(rimel for camel, because with them A, B, and G (our C) were 
at first rude pictures of these objects themselves, and from them 
obtained their name. It is surely a striking evidence of our 
own obligation to this primitive Oriental ingenuity, that 
wherever European languages are spoken on earth, there the 
Phoenician ox, and horse, and camel are found as a lasting 
memorial of most ancient times. 



Variety of sound and value Division into sentences Into words and syllables 
Accents Difference between written and spoken value Arrangement of 
lines in writing. 

BOTH the number and the character of letters of letters vary, 
necessarily, in different languages. The Thibetan has 150, and 
marks with a different sign every combination of a vowel with 
consonants; in Japanese the letters are signs of syllables, in 
Chinese of words ; the Oriental languages have marks for 
consonants only, those of the West for vowels also. This is the 
most important difference of alphabets. The East, moreover, 
has evidently the better part, for vowels are, in truth, inorganic 
and inarticulate. All nature produces vowels ; the wind sigh- 
ing in the branches of a forest, the so-called ^Eol's harp, our 


musical instruments, and almost all the cries of animals are 
vowels. Therefore it is that young and undeveloped languages 
abound in vowels ; the older an idiom is, the more consonants 
it has, or rather, the greater is the variety, the more delicate 
the difference between the vowel sounds. For nature makes, 
originally, no difference between consonant and vowel : to the 
ear vowel and consonant are one ; a con-sonant becomes such 
only by the aid of a vowel. Hence the clearer and more direct 
perception of Asiatic nations led them to consider vowels not as 
separate letters but as mere modifications of consonants. They 
say justly, that no vowel can be sounded alone ; the first begin- 
ning or the last breath are, necessarily, consonants. Hence the 
various so-called anomalies of languages which tried to avoid 
the necessity of pronouncing pure vowels ; the Greeks employed 
a liquid guttural or aspirate, \vhich we call " digamma;" the 
Cockney places an h wherever he can ; the American says 
"year" for "ear;" and the Spaniard changes the Latin "ovis" 
and " os " into " huevo " and " hueso." Most Oriental languages 
mark the vowels by dots and similar signs only, as the French 
by accents, and to receive a letter, in which the vowels are 
written, is considered an insulting insinuation of ignorance. 
The Bohemian and Bosnian have, like most Slavonic idioms, 
many words without written vowels, as " smrt " death, " hrb " 
hunch, "prst" finger, and "hrst" hollow of the hand. The 
Karaimen go even so far as to reject vowels entirely, and to 
consider those who use them heretics! Even in the modern 
languages of Europe a certain feeling begins to prevail that 
consonants give, as it were, the body to an idiom, its character 
and general expression ; they are employed, as the stouter, 


sturdier part of words, for all merely material functions. 
Vowels, on the other hand, lighter and more flexible, perform 
the more intellectual functions; thej are less permanent and 
fixed because they depend so much more on the inward mind 
with its constant changes ; they light up, as Grimm says, words, 
and give them a moral worth. Hence the absurd, though inces- 
sant complaint of English vowels and diphthongs, their very 
number and delicacy are so many evidences of the high 
development and intellectual character of that language. 

Few languages agree in the number and value of their 
letters, even though they come from the same parent stock. 
The English has preserved its th, alone of all Germanic tongues, 
who share the w only with Slavonic idioms ; the Digamma of 
the Greeks was so peculiar as to be yet a riddle to the most 
erudite scholars, and much diversity of opinion exists as to the 
true nature of the anusvara in Sanscrit and the final m in 
Latin, which seems always to have had a nasal sound, as it is 
so often omitted iu inscriptions. The Russian has various com- 
binations of sibillants, which few other nations can pronounce, 
whilst the Italian lacks the j, k, w, x, and y of other languages. 
This great variety is another proof that the number and sound 
of letters depend not on general and abstract rules, but on the 
individual character of their language and nation. It cannot 
be doubted that a clear intellect will show itself also in a happy 
use of sounds. The beauty arid perfection of any system of 
letters consists, therefore, in a careful distinction of sounds, 
complete combinations in which each one preserves its 
independence, a delicately marked gradation and regularity 
in their arrangement. These desirable features the Russian 
alphabet is said to possess in a higher degree than others. 


Written letters were at first not divided into words, but in 
ancient inscriptions whole sentences form one continuous series. 
It was at a much later period, than is commonly imagined, that 
dots or similiar marks were first employed to part sentences 
and words from each other ; to leave an open space between 
them, is a comparatively modern improvement. Marks of 
punctuation, also, remained unknown until the time of the 
Alexandrian Grammarians, and especially Aristophanes, of 
Byzanz, and the Masoretes in Hebrew writings. Even then, 
however, it was only used as an aid in books of instruction, and 
neither the Goth nor the Coptic, much less the Northern Runes, 
ever knew their use. Accents were probably first used in 
France, where Dubois (Sylvius), La Ratnee (Ramus), and others 
introduced them at the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

Originally every letter was sounded, and commonly, writing 
contained less than was sounded ; the absence of vowels, aspi- 
rates, and half consonants in many languages made this 
unavoidable. Then every sound, also, corresponded with its 
letters. In modern languages the reverse seems to take place : 
they write more than they pronounce, and the sound has 
changed whilst the letters have remained. In the French 
"viennent" or "Aout," the German "sicht," the English 
" pshaw," a number of letters are quite silent, and neither 
"foi" in the one nor "nation" in the other idiom are pro- 
nounced at all as they are written. Letters, therefore, give in 
modern languages an essentially correct image of the pronunci- 
ation of words as it was at the time that the latter were first 
generally used in writing. No alphabet was, of course, ever so 
perfect as to express all existing sounds ; still, at the time of its 

"WRITING. 397 

formation, it sufficed probably to render every sound that was 
used in its language. Shortly afterwards, however, variations 
in pronunciation and writing are observed, which, in the course 
of time, extended and increased. Writing was fixed at a cer- 
tain period and remained so, but the changes of sounds and 
their growth goes on continually, and thus the "spelling" of a 
language gives us the only true account of its first form and 
subsequent historic changes. This is the principal and all- 
powerful argument against phonography, and the reason why 
the French moralist called good spelling an infallible sign of 
good breeding; "for," said he, " spelling is the rationale of the 
written word, and only well educated and refined people know 

The order in which the lines of written letters are arranged, 
has varied considerably; among the ancients the direction 
from the right to the left prevailed generally ; modern writing 
follows the opposite direction. The Chinese and Japanese 
place their words, not side by side, but under each other, and 
arrange the perpendicular columns from the right to the left ; 
Greek, Eastern Indian, and Runic writing is horizontal, but begins 
also at the right. The oldest writing is " Boustrophedon," 
combining both directions, and so called from its resemblance 
to the movements of a plough. When the Greeks began to 
write em TO. Se'fia, they also turned all the letters, -writing 
E and P, 3 and <J : a similar peculiarity is observed in very 
ancient Roman Inscriptions. 





Pictures Ideographic Letters Phonetic Printing The Japanese Th 

THE Chinese possesses but slender claims to be considered the 
oldest of all existing modes of writing, but it has always been 
entirely different from all others, and is the more important, as 
it has never changed in itself, nor admitted any influence from 
without. Most studied by the French, less by the English, it 
has been most recently thoroughly investigated by the German 
missionary Gutzlaff. The very large number of signs there 
are said to be 50,000, though not all in use and the fact that 
Chinese writing is totally independent of the language, present 
peculiar difficulties. All Chinese characters were originally 
intended as so many pictures of visible objects, and bore a 
likeness to the thing represented. A copy of the sun, the 
moon, or a mouth, meant respectively, sun, moon, and mouth ; 
a single dash, and two combined, said one and two ; a point 
over a dash meant above, one under it^ below. To this mere 
picture-writing were afterwards added certain metaphoric or 
symbolic signs, as when a squinting eye, showing only the 
white, was used to represent the idea of whiteness, or two 


valves of a shell, to express the word friends. By a combina- 
tion of these two classes of signs, the present alphabet, used in 
China, contains mostly signs which consist of two, of a 
phonetic element representing the sound, and an ideographic 
element determining the idea which is to be expressed by that 
sound. Thus the word "tschen," written in three different 
ways, but always pronounced alike, may mean, water basin, 
wagon pole, or hunting arrow. This complication was neces- 
sary to avoid the confusion arising from the many meanings 
of each word, and now for every meaning which a syllable has, 
a separate sign is superadded. As every character representing 
an idea, may also represent its sound only, taken from the 
name of that idea, the Chinese are enabled to express foreign 
words by the elements of their own idiom, though with such 
modifications as to make the recognition not very easy. 
English is thus transformed into Eng-ki-li, Christian into Ki- 
ti-sse-lang, and Jesuit into Ya-su-hoci-sse. To obtain, in sound 
also, the necessary aid hi guessing what particular meaning a 
syllable of many significations may be meant to convey, the 
Chinese have a delicate and complicate system of intonation. 
Four so-called accents, but in reality musical notes, the even, 
the raised, the lessened, and the returning, may alter the 
meaning of almost all words. 

The most ancient Chinese writing is, by some, attributed to 
Fo-shee, the founder of the empire, at a time when the letters 
were still arranged with great variety, in circles, squares, and 
polygons; others call the "frog-writing" of Khoten the oldest, 
and believe it to have been invented 2950 years before Christ, 
by Fuhi. A different mode of writing, called "Tschuan," 


prevailed from 600 B.C. to 250 A. D., beginning before the days 
of Confucius and extending to the dynasty of Cham, under 
whose auspices the Li-writing and the present alphabet came 
in use, which, however, has been slightly modified by the -art 
of lithography. 

The Chinese possessed, of course, the art of printing, like every 
other art known to man, long before Europe. Stanislas Julien has 
established the claims of a Chinese iron-smith, Pi-sching, to 
have invented, four hundred years before Guttemberg, mov- 
able types of burnt clay. The invention was unfortunately not 
carried out. The first four books of the works of Confucius 
were the first books printed in Chinese. Klaproth says they 
appeared between 890 and 925, in the province of Szutschuen. 
Rashneddin's Persian history of the "Rulers of Khatai" 
(China) contained, 1310, a minute description of the technical 
manipulations of a Chinese printing-office. 

The Japanese, whose peaceful and uninterrupted isolation 
has but recently been for the first time seriously threatened, 
invented printing as well as the Chinese, and made exactly the 
same use of their discovery. The so-called Yeofa-writing is 
that used by the common people : it contains 47 letters, and is 
written in vertical columns from right to left. About 290 of 
our era, however, the Japanese adopted the Chinese writing, 
and every educated citizen is able to use both, as the occasion 
may demand. 

It is a peculiar and not generally known fact, that the 
Mantschu (originally Tunguses), who, in 1646-7, conquered 
China, and still rule over it, have retained their own language, 
an idiom not very distantly allied to the Finnish of Europe. It 


contains, like the latter, eighteen consonants and six vowels, 
but is written in vertical columns from left to right a straight 
perpendicular line having the letters and marks arranged 
mainly on its left side. 

Of all the Eastern modes of writing, the Sanscrit is, of 
course, the most important, because, like the idiom it represents, 
it presents to us the original form from which the Greek and 
Roman, the Germanic and Slavonic, are derived. It has, as 
usual, two distinct kinds of writing, the " Nagary," for common 
purposes, and the " Devanagari," a divine or sacred writing. 
Formerly written without vowels, and from the right to the 
left, it is now used in both respects, like European languages. 
Each sign has a frame in the shape of a gallows, on the left and 
open side of which the letter proper is found. It is an alpha- 
bet evidently quite original, and peculiar to the East Indies, 
having nothing in common with the Phoenician letters, if we 
except the remarkable, and as yet unexplained coincidence of 
numeral signs, which are in both nearly the same. 



Wedge-Inscriptions Himyaritic Inscriptions Their Interpretations. 

AMONG the large variety of Eastern writings, which have not 
become so familiar to all through their application to modern 
languages, is the Persian of southwestern Asia, of which even 
the Greeks have left us no information. It has only of late 
been rediscovered ; and even the subdivision of Zend, in ancient 
Media, Pelvi, on the Persian gulf, and Parsi, the language of 
the Persians of antiquity, is by no means generally adopted. 
Of these is the Zend most like Indo-Germanic, though very dif- 
ferent from Sanscrit, and written from right to left. Rask, 
Bopp, and, Burnouf have thrown much light upon this subject, 
which is as yet far from being fully known and appreciated. 

In the countries between the Euphrates and the eastern 
frontier of Persia are found traces of a mode of writing, at once 
the simplest, merely indented writing, and once used as exten- 
sively in the Orient as the Roman characters in the West. 
These letters, cuneiform or edge-shaped, sometimes called ar- 
row-headed if the two are not entirely distinct consisted ori- 
ginally of only two signs, representing a wedge and two lines 
meeting in a point. This extremely simple sign, placed in every 


variety of position, and frequently repeated, admitted of a large 
number of variations, and was, at the same time, admirably 
adapted for letters to be hewn in stone. On the frieze of the 
temple of Chelminar, in Persia, and in similar positions, it has 
very much the appearance of music-writing. Colonel Rawlin- 
son, and before him Grotefend and Burnouf, have employed as- 
tonishing ingenuity in deciphering and explaining these char- 
acters, which, shortly before, a renowned scholar had declared 
" far ever illegible." Lassen and Westergaard have, still more 
recently, added considerably to our as yet but partial know- 
ledge of this mysterious mode of writing. But even the not yet 
complete interpretation of these inscriptions, aided by the criti- 
cal inquiries of Hineks, Holtzmann, and Oppert, some of which 
are still going on, must be considered as one of the greatest 
triumphs of philological science, and a truly wonderful achieve- 
ment of human ingenuity. Some idea of the extreme difficulty 
of these investigations may be formed from the fact, that not 
only was the phonetic value of each separate combination or 
letter to be' determined, but the language itself which these 
characters were intended to represent a language which has 
been lost for perhaps more than 2000 years, had to be recov- 
ered. Nor was there here a Rosetta stone near to aid in deci- 
phering corresponding words, as with Champollion and Young 
in Egypt ; nor, as with the Himyaritic inscriptions in Southern 
Arabia, which are strikingly like the Ghyr or Ethiopic, a still 
extant dialect, like it, spoken by a living race. The material 
also was comparatively scanty, utterly unknown before, and 
unconnected even with any previous discovery. These wedge- 
inscriptions are found scattered over a vast surface, on rocks 


and bricks from the foundation of ancient buildings in Mesopo- 
tamia, Babylon, and Chaldea, and invariably connected with 
those that have the highest and most authentic claim to anti- 
quity. In Armenia and Persia, in Nineveh, and, in fact, from 
the Mediterranean to the Persian mountains, they are to be 
met with in detached places. They occur in three different 
modes of combination, conjectured, on good grounds, to corres- 
pond to as many distinct languages, and generally called the 
Persian, Median, and Assyrian. Colonel Rawlinson ascribes 
its invention to a primitive race settled in the plains of Shinar. 
Others believe them to have been invented first in Babylon, but 
much improved in ancient Persia by a northern or eastern 
branch of the Shemitic race. It is certain that they were used 
by Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and the Achaemenian kings 
of Persia, and spread all over the empire of the great Cyrus. 
Their importance is as yet little foreseen, although they have 
already thrown important light on profane history, as they 
were written in the court language of Susa and Persepolis, lost 
since the overthrow of the last Darius, and added a new confir- 
mation and evidence to the annals of Jewish monarchies, as re- 
corded in the Bible. 



Pictorial Symbolic Rosette Stone Their Interpretation. 

THE Egyptian mode of writing, as gathered from walls and 
coffins, pyramids and papyrus-rolls found by the side of mum- 
mies has already been described as a mere picture-writing. 
The ypa/i/iara Ipd of Herodotus (n. 36) belongs to a time 
when the so-called hieroglyphics had already ceased to be the 
language of Egypt and were known only to Hierophants. They 
were mere copies of outward objects, and showed most dis- 
tinctly the origin of language. His ypo/x/xara SrjfjurriKa. were 
already on the way to become phonetic, and represented not 
only words but sounds also, by pictures. The first light thrown 
upon this apparent mystery was due to two slight accidents, 
characteristic of the manner in which such investigations are 
often aided by apparently trifling circumstances. The so-called 
Rosetta Stone was found to contain a trilingual inscription in 
Greek, Coptic and hieroglyphics. Clemens Alexandrinus, more- 
over, in his SrpoyiaTo, srpaira STOUCOIS, lib. rv. ch. 4., gave, in quot- 
ing some inscriptions, fortunately a few proper names, dissected as 
it were into their elementary sounds. He knew already the dif- 
ference referred to before, and divides them into 


(Swx TU>V oTparwv orot/catW) viz., alphabetic and 
oweo-iv, figurative signs. 


The Ancients The Canaaniles and the Hebrew The Arabic. 

THE greatest progress in the art of writing was undoubtedly 
made when the Phoenicians, rejecting the unbounded number 
and the variety of signs, for each sign which characterized the 
Egyptian picture-writing limited each sound to one character. 
This gave at once a simple and determined mode of writing, 
easy in itself, and still applicable to all purposes. Tacitus (An- 
nal: XL, 14) states that they received it from Egypt; Lucan 
(in. 220), on the contrary, says that they invented it themselves. 
However that may be a decision is neither soon to be ex- 
pected nor very anxiously to be desired the Phoenician alpha- 
bet is the prototype of all alphabets of ancient and modern 
Europe. There is good reason to believe that it was the same 
as that of the Canaanites of the Old Testament ; and that it 
presents probably the form of letters in which part of our Sacred 
Scriptures (the Pentateuch) was originally written. Barth61e- 
my gave probably the first impulse to the study of these re- 
markable letters. Ulrich, Fr. Kopp and Hanacker, of Leyden, 
have since added largely to our stock of information. Used in 


Tyre and Sidon, it was written from right to left, originally 
without vowels, afterwards marking their place by dots. 

The Hebrew is presumed to have differed but little from 
Phoenician, as the Israelites lived so long in Egypt and were, 
as is well known, early acquainted with the art of writing. The 
earliest mention of writing on record is that of Moses, after the 
defeat of Amalek and before the laws of Mount Sinai, when he 
was commanded "to write this for a memorial in a book," 
whilst afterwards God is said to have written those laws Him- 
self. In Christian times, however, a new writing had super- 
seded the old, and in the third century the New Testament, 
according to Origenes, was written with these letters, except the 
name of Jehovah. This alphabet consists of 22 letters, without 
vowels but including a sign for a spiritus lenis, and is written 
from right to left. 

The Arabic has, through the powerful race by whom it is 
used, exercised a permanent and extensive influence on all the 
idioms and modes of writing of the East It has 28 letters 
with Syriac names but in different order ; the so-called Arabic 
numbers, used by all European nations, were derived from 
India, the ancient Arabic using its own letters, like the Greek, 
for that purpose. 




Older and later letters Variety of lines, &c. Roman writing Etruscan-Grtak 
Older and later forms Romance writing. 

NEAR the Phoenicians there arose a flourishing Greek colony, 
Ionia, which the Greeks called " Pelasgi," wanderers by sea, 
the Romans, " Etruscans," and the Hebrews " Canaanitea." These 
men settled in the JEgean Sea, improved the Phoenician 
letters and carried them into Greece. This most plausible 
explanation was, of course, not palatable to the Greeks, who 
were reluctant to acknowledge any such obligation, and, there- 
fore, Herodotus (v. 58), Plutarch (Symp. ix. 3), and after them 
Tacitus (xi. 14), ascribed the original invention to a Greek. 
Modern researches have exhibited the accounts of Cadmus, 
Palamedes, Simonides, and Epicharmus as fables. The olde 
Greek letters were known in Greece as Phoenician signs; 
Herodotus himself calls them distinctly ypdp.fw.Ta or cr^/icia 
^osviKiJia; they retained both Phoenician forms and names. 
At a later period they were"renamed and much modified, so 
that between the " classical" letters and even the latest Phoenician 
there is but a very faint resemblance. The original community, 
however, has been clearly established by a comparison of 
Phoenician letters with the oldest Greek inscriptions. It is 


probable, moreover, that the Greeks either borrowed a simpler 
alphabet of the Phoenicians or dropped some sounds not suit- 
able for their language or pleasant to their fastidious ear, 
Whilst the Shemitic alphabet counted 22 letters and no vowels, 
the oldest Greek of 16 letters has already vowels ; they must, 
therefore, have changed certain consonants into vowels and 
added to these the spiritus lenis of the Hebrew and Arabic, 
The last five letters of the Greek alphabet, alone, were original, 
but the exact period of their introduction is still obscure and 
uncertain. The series was complete at the time of the Persian 
war ; it seems to have been first used in Ionia, and in the year 
402 (Olymp. 94, archon Euclides) in Athens ; a few Shemitic 
signs remained, even then, as numbers, especially the so-called 
digamma, the Latin f, with the value of six, the "Koppa," 
between TT and p, like the Latin q (qo) and the " sampi " at 
the end of the alphabet, representing nine hundred. 

The Greeks wrote originally in a greater variety of 
ways than other nations; inscriptions are known, in which 
the words are arranged in columns, rairoutov or /icvotSov; 
others where they go from east to west, or from north to south, 
and back again, /Jovtnyxx^T/Sov ; sometimes they are circular, 
cr^KUfxwSov, and in a few instances cuneiform. Afterwards they 
preferred, like all Eastern nations, the direction from right to 
left, though it is said that there exist as old inscriptions, written 
from left to right, a form which was generally adopted since the 
Persian war. Even in the rudest and most ancient inscriptions, 
however, the vowels are already written. 

The conviction that the Romans, so far from owing every 
thing to the Greeks, were even their seniors, has gained no 


little additional weight from recent discoveries of most 
ancient Roman writings. Two circumstances, however, pre- 
vented the Romans from leaving behind them many such 
traces. For ages, their tendency and occupation were such 
that but little was written ; Livy (D. I., lib. vn. 2.) and Cicero 
(Att. 15) tell us both, that for many a generation a nail was 
driven into the gates of the sacred temple to mark the lapse of 
a year ! Besides, it is well known that the Romans were at 
first constantly in intercourse, if not united, with the Umbrians 
and Oscans, whose language and letters were closely allied to 
their own ; the Etruscans, also, were probably equally near, 
and this very relationship prevented, for a long time, the 
formation of one great, national tongue. This is the opinion of 
Niebuhr (1. 123). Muller and Lepsius think that Roman letters 
were not used before the year 300 a. urbis ; but there are older 
inscriptions existing as, e. g., those in the temple of Diana on the 
Aventinus, the Laws on the "stela "of Servius Tullius, which 
Dionysius Halicarnassus saw (vi. 26), the famous treaty between 
Spurius Cassius and the Latini, and the " Aes " tablets in the 
temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, with the first commercial treaty 
between Rome and Carthage, 275 a. urbis, seen by Polybius 
and written in an idiom which even contemporaries understood 
but in part. Most of these writings, it is true, are almost 
identic with the most ancient Greek characters, and still bear an 
equally striking resemblance to old Etruscan writing. 

The oldest forms of genuine Latin letters are probably found 
on the stones of Pesaro ; though they are not, in themselves, 
the oldest inscriptions ; these letters are all angular, and the 
later // ^ 1 for instance, still consists of five distinct signs IVV 


the E is simply |{, and F )'. The most ancient inscriptions in 
these letters are considered those on the tombs of Scipio Bar- 
batus and his sister, and of Paulla Cornelia, together with a 
few coins of doubtful antiquity, none of which show, as yet, 
the substitution of G for C, which still prevailed in 300 a. nrbis. 
Besides these truly Latin -writings, there exist inscriptions in 
Oscan and Umbrian, intelligible to our readers, of which the 
Oscan shows the greatest resemblance to Greek, the Umbrian 
to Roman. The Etruscan differed from both, and had, e. g., no 
media, no b, d, and g. No Latin MS. is known older than 
the first century after Christ. 

The opinion of Pliny that the Roman alphabet was im- 
ported into Latium by the Pelasgi, is not supported by history. 
The Romans had another legend which stated that the Arca- 
dian fugitive, Evander, who was of Pelasgic origin, brought 
letters to the Aborigines of Italy, and that his mother, 
Carmenta, who presided over the "sacred hymns," changed 
Greek into Latin letters. (Hygin. Tab. 277.) 

The origin of Roman writing must, therefore, be sought 
for in the Etruscan-Greek; some authors believing that the 
Etruscan letters were modified by the agency of Modem 
Greeks, who resided in Italy, and used a more recent form of 
Greek letters. Others are disposed, for good reasons, to con- 
sider the old Roman writing, Doric proper. Thus the Etruscan 
g had the power of k ; hence the Romans used c instead of 
both c and k, and wrote " macestratos, carthacinienses " 
(Gesenius, 73), and only as late as the sixth century, a slight 
modification of c was introduced, and gradually assumed the 
form and power of the modern g. The Romans knew also the 


digamma, which the Greeks had already lost, and thus fur- 
nished an additional proof that their mode of writing was of 
older date than the contemporary alphabet of the Greeks 
Subsequently the Roman letters underwent repeated and im- 
portant changes. Cicero (De Nat. Deor. 11. 37) and Quinc- 
tilian (I. O. 1. 4. 9.) both speak of their alphabet as containing 
only twenty-one letters, and ending with the letter ic, " ultima 
nostrarum ; " which Priscian calls " duplicem," and fancies to 
have been adopted from a later invention in Greece. Quite 
recent researches and discoveries of unknown inscriptions, led 
Morumsen to believe the alphabet, as at present known, to be 
identic with the very oldest. Its arrangement is ascribed to a 
freedman, Carvilius Ruga, of the year 523, who opened the 
first grammar-school properlyypa/x/iaToSiSaorKaXetov in Rome. 
The ancient Roman was written " dendrorsum," and con- 
sisted of simple straight lines, placed side by side, or at right 
angles to -each other. Afterwards certain changes took place 
in form and sound ; the angles were rounded off; but for 
centuries after Christ, none but capitals were employed, and 
without a division in words. Before the eighth century no 
punctuation appears, nor any abbreviation; both did not 
become general until the fourteenth century. The so-called 
Uncials were originally about an inch high, and afterwards 
nothing more than a reduced, rounded-off, Roman alphabet, 
used in MSS. for initials and the signature. Uncials of a 
smaller size were called minutae or minusculae, to distinguish 
them from the majusculae, and differed not so much in size, as in 
the fact that they were joined to each other, which was never the 
case with the former. It is this later Roman alphabet which has 



afterwards been transferred to the Romance languages, and is 
now used by all civilized nations, except the Greeks, Turks, and 
Russians. The Germanic races, also, employed it long, as they 
had learned it from their apostles. During the middle ages, 
there came into use an angular mode of writing, Black Letter, 
which is erroneously called Gothic ; it consisted of purposely 
sharp and angular minuscula, and was extensively used for the 
first printed books. Most beautiful in missals and public docu- 
ments, it is still used for ornamental, antique-looking works, 
but superseded in German tongues by the modern German 
letters, and in other idioms by the "cursive" writing, also 
called " Aldine," from its introduction through Aldus Manutius, 
of Venice, who first used it in 1501, in some beautiful publi- 
cations of valuable authors. 


Gothic Letters Ulfilag Albrecht Durer. 

THE Gothic letters, of vital importance to the first Christians of 
our race, owe their origin to the noble efforts of Bishop Ulfilas, 
who in the year 376, obtained permission from the emperor 
Valens, for the hard-pressed Visigoths to cross the Danube and 
to occupy Moesia. These Moesogoths became his "beloved 
children on earth;" to them he preached the "Gospel of his 


Lord," during a long life of suffering and resignation, and for 
their benefit he crowned his labors of love by inventing or 
forming a series of letters, adapted to their as yet unwritten 
language. A version of the Word of God, it is well known, was 
the glorious fruit of his rare ingenuity and unsurpassed energy ; 
the first translation into a Germanic tongue, and a touching 
relic of the early dark ages. Proceeding upon a bold and 
eclective principle of formation, the pious Bishop chose what 
seemed to be best adapted for his high purpose ; most of his 
letters were Greek, two or three Roman, and perhaps as many 
of Runic origin. The famous Codex Argenteus, the pride of 
the University Library, in Upsala, Sweden, exhibits these 
venerable letters in their original form. With the migrations 
of the Goths to Italy and Spain, their writing also passed 
among all Gothic nations, and was generally understood, if not 
used, until the ninth century. Charlemagne already caused it 
to be made more regular and systematic; still it remained little 
used until the fourteenth century, when the great Albrecht 
Durer gave it its pa^3nt form. Since then it has been exclu- 
sively employed in Germany, and, to a great extent, in Scandi- 
navia, where Sweden laid aside its Runes in the year 1001, an 
example which Iceland followed much later. Of the western 
nations, who had used it, the French returned first to Latin 
characters, whilst Spain was commanded to do so in 1091, by 
the famous Synod of Lyons. 



Ojrillns Various Alphabets. 

THE same relation that Ulfilas had to the Goths, is repeated 
in the case of Cyrillus and the Sclavonic races. When he 
preached the Gospel he had also to form a new alphabet 
adapted to the peculiar and exclusive sounds of Sclavonic 
idioms. He chose, therefore, for his translation and liturgy, 
besides the familiar Greek letters, twelve new signs, and thus 
formed the alphabet, called Cyrillizca, which is still in use 
among the Slaves of Greek faith, the Ruthenians, in Galicia, 
and, for church purposes, among all Slavic nations. A long 
and fierce dispute reigned between these and the admirers of 
another mode of writing, called Glagoritic. This was, by Slavic 
authors, said to have been older than the Cyrillizca a codex is 
even shown, written with these letters, and called Codex Clo- 
zianus, which is believed to be at least as old as the most 
ancient Cyrillic MS. Recent Slavic writers, and amongst them 
the deservedly renowned Dobrowsky, believe it to have been 
invented in the thirteenth century, by Hieronymus. Besides 
these two most widely spread modes of writing, there are 
various other alphabets used by other Slavic nations for their 


peculiar dialects, as for instance one, consisting mainly of Latin 
and German letters, for Protestant and (Roman) Catholic 
Slaves and the common Russian and Serbian, which is only a 
rounder form of the angular Cyrillizca. Its present outlines 
and the forms used for print, date from the time of Peter the 
Great ; it is an alphabet which some consider so admirable an 
improvement of the old Greek letters, as to deserve equal 
praise with the Sanscrit. Grotefend does not hesitate to call it 
the richest and most perfect of all now in use. 



Scandinavian Runes Anglo-Saxon Runes Remaining Traces Still in Use. 

Or all the various modes of writing once in use in Europe none 
is comparatively more important and less known than the 
Runes of the North. They are deficient in curved or rounded 
lines, and almost exclusively consist of such straight lines as best 
adapted them for the only purpose for which they were ori- 
ginally employed the engraving on stone or carving on wood. 
They consisted of sixteen letters, entirely different from Greek as 
from Shemitic writing, and showing but a very equivocal re- 
semblance with Roman letters. Most inscriptions in Runes run 
in a serpentine manner. Besides the original sixteen, Scandina- 
via had, however, some additional " stungnar-runa," or dotted 

Rcxic WRITING. 417 

runes, and four more recently invented characters, which are 
not found in ancient inscriptions, and are, therefore, either spu- 
rious or at least of comparatively recent date. The so-called 
" Loensteffar," finally, were used for incantations only, and 
were called " dark runes," from the difficulty of interpretation. 

The Anglo-Saxon nines are believed to be a different mode 
of writing. Roman authors make no mention of purely Ger- 
man letters. Tacitus (Germ, xrx.) leaves their existence at 
least quite uncertain. They were, however, familiar with other 
alphabets, for Tacitus (Ann. H. 63, 88) speaks of letters writ- 
ten by Marbod and Agandiste, and (Germ, in.) even of monu- 
ments and tumuli, with Greek inscriptions, on the Rhatian 
frontier. Caesar (De Bello Gall. i. 29) also mentions Greek 
writing among the Gauls, with whom the Germans were in 
constant intercourse. The Germans must, however, have had 
a writing peculiarly their own, and Runic, like that of the cog- 
nate Scandinavians, for many writers mention such ; and the 
Anglo-Saxons brought them, undoubtedly, from Germany to 
England. Among the former is Venantius Fortunatus, bishop 
of Poitiers, about 550, who writes to his friend Ermodius, and 
begs him " to use barbarous runes on a beech table,'' if he will 
not write Latin. Rhabanus Maurus has runes of the ninth 
century, of the Marcomanni or North Albingi, which he calls 
identic with those employed by the heathen Saxons on the 
north bank of the river Elbe. These Saxons are the Anglo- 
Saxons of England, and these runes bear a striking resem- 
blance to so-called Anglo-Saxon runes. Accident, however, 
could not produce such an analogy, and for imposture there is 
no motive. When the Anglo-Saxons reached England they 


knew only the sixteen letters of the Runic alphabet, and these 
resembled, even much later, closely the oldest German letters. 
Two of them were even afterwards adopted into the Roman al- 
phabet, and with the sanction of Christian priests, strongly and 
justly prejudiced against every remnant of former Paganism, be- 
cause they were found indispensable to express the th of the An- 
glo Saxon. The latter had, moreover, not Latin but Anglo-Sax- 
on names for these letters. They called them all Runes, from an 
old word, " run," or " runa," meaning a furrow or a line, besides 
other secondary significations ; and each sign was called " staef," 
either because runes were originally branchs or twigs, or from 
some sacred or mysterious meaning attached by them to a staff, 
as the ancients to the staff of Hermes and JEsculapius, or even 
by modern nations, to the divining " rod." The Latin " liber " 
also was with them " bee" (book), from the beech-wood, which 
was principally used for Runic writing. The learned Frisian, 
Halbertsina derives an additional argument for their common 
use among the Anglo-Saxons from the discovery of sepulchral 
stones bearing Runic inscriptions, like those at Hartlepool. 
(Gentleman's Mag., Sept. 1833.) 

These runes, however, which appear as a peculiar kind 
of writing on coins, seals, and inscriptions in England, until 
the fourteenth century, and in a few MSS., do not seem to have 
grown into common use, on account of their difficulty and in- 
convenience for ordinary purposes. Hence, probably, the small 
number of well-authenticated Runic remains. A few are occa- 
sionally found in Blekinge and in Norway, engraven on ob- 
jects belonging to priests and Pagan worship ; others occur 
in England, as the inscription on a stone found in Netting- 

Rcxic WRITING. 419 

hamshire, of which a copy was sent by Spelman, in 1618, to 
the author of tt Literature Runica," Olaus Wormius. It contains 
thirteen very legible. Anglo-Saxon runes, meaning " Rices 
dryhtnes," as read by William Grimm. Coins also are found 
with runes on them ; and frequent mention is made of them in 
Hick's Thesaurus, Gordon's Itinerarium, September, and Bishop 
Percy's writings. 

Augustine already introduced, with the new religion, the 
Roman alphabet also, to which he added the two runes repre- 
senting the hard and the soft th of the Anglo-Saxons. These 
still occur in MSS. of that period, written in a barbarous monk- 
ish corruption of Roman letters, and even later, when the same 
letters were imperfectly imitated in printing. The Xorman- 
French unfortunately rejected these two last remnants of Runic 
writing, because they could not pronounce them, and made but 
a very insufficient compensation for this serious injury by the in- 
troduction of the letters z, k and j into the English alpahbet 
The y, which had before been represented by e (Eorl for Scand. 
Jarl), became a semi-vowel, and ch took the place of ce, or 
other forms of the same import 

A last effect of the Runic writing was here and there per- 
ceptible in more recent English ; such is the frequent use of y, 
originally the Anglo-Saxon th, as an abbreviation for the double 
sign th, as ye for the, yt for that, <kc. The use of the word 
" stave," also, for a letter, a line, or a verse, reminds us of the 
" staff" or wand, upon which, originally, all runes were cut or 
engraved. In Sweden their memory is far more general, and 
their use more frequent The frequent "house-marks," used 
both on utensils and as signatures all over Sweden and Norway, 


is nothing more than a rune. Almanacs are sold, and extremely 
old ones preserved, which consist of long sticks full of Runic 
letters, representing days and months. Stones with Runic in- 
scriptions are often found, of the twelfth and even the thirteenth 
century. The laws of Skane, of the fourteenth century, were 
written in runes, on parchment ; and although King Olaf Shat- 
komeng prohibited their use early, and they were discontinued 
in all other parts of Sweden, they are still frequently employed 
in the remote portions of Dalecarlia. 


Leading Principle Ropes Rocks Metals Rock Inscriptions now Existing . 

No merely external circumstance has probably affected the art 
of writing so thoroughly and permanently as the material 
employed for that purpose. The leading principle in choosing 
the best was, in antiquity, that of durability only ; modern 
times pay almost equal attention to its facility for writing. The 
most imperfect writing, therefore, are the knotted ropes, in 
Mexico called quipos, which in America and in China were 
employed to convey the will of sovereigns to distant provinces, 
and to assist, generally, in social intercourse. In the East, and 
in Europe, the earliest step was " to give speech to rocks and 
metals." Stone was naturally the nearest and most eligible 


material for the earliest writing known to us. On tables of 
stone Moses received the law written by the finger of the Lord 
Himself. Smooth, rocky, mountain sides became gigantic ta- 
blets. The rocks of the Sahara are thus covered, as far as the 
Touarick authority extended, with Touarick letters, sometimes 
whole blocks being carved all over. J. Richardson, by the 
aid of an intelligent native, deciphered some of these as yet 
unknown letters, written both perpendicularly and horizontally, 
from right to left, and from left to right, and found them to 
bear an apparent, though only partial and indefinite, resem- 
blance to Shemitic characters. Sometimes the interior of caves 
is used for the same purpose, as in the case of the picture-writ- 
ing which Captain Gill celebrated by his exploration of cave- 
temples, discovered in the famous Ajunta caves. The extensive 
writings of the same kind, found all over the American Conti- 
nent, and even in Australia, have already been referred to. 
The runes of Scandinavia also were frequently carved on huge 
rocks. Inscriptions ou obelisks and pyramids in ancient times, 
and on marble tablets in our day, furnish abundant examples 
of the use made of this material. It was necessarily fitted only 
for short records, brief laws, or mere marks ; and in every in- 
stance had to contend with the dangers of wanton destruction, 
and the slow but sure effects of the weather. To this bricks 
and tiles were less exposed ; and thus we can now read on 
bricks and broken pots excavated at Babylon and Nineveh, the 
maker's name and the very contract by which he bound him- 
self to his employer. 





Bronze Copper Lead. Wood Wooden tablets Runes on staves Wax- 
covered tablets. 

METAL had still greater dangers to apprehend ; it is liable to 
rust, and the more precious, the more costly and liable to be 
stolen. Still various kinds of metal were used in antiquity ; 
the laws of the Cretans were engraven on bronze ; the laws of 
the Decemvirs, which had first been on wood, were afterwards 
engraven on brass, but melted by lightning which struck the 
Capitol at Rome. Copper being less liable to rust, was perhaps 
most frequently employed ; the Romans etched their public 
records on this metal, and the speech of Claudius, now in the 
town-hall of Lyons, was thus preserved to modern times; dis- 
charges of soldiers, also, on copper plates have been found, and 
even in Bengal a bill of feoffment has been dug up, etched on 
copper and dated a century before Christ ! Lead would appear 
to be the best of all metals for the preservation of records, 
arid has been largely used for writing. Job says : " Oh, that 
my words were graven with an iron pen and lead," and Pliny 
(Xat. Hist. i. 16) mentions the works of Hesiod "on white 
lead," and speaks of some writings on lead, " rolled up like a 
cylinder." Montfaucon, also, notices a very old book, consisting 


of eight leaden leaves, with rings on the back and thus fastened 
to a small leaden rod. 

Wood, which is more easily cut, bought, and sent abroad, 
is, on the other hand, so much more perishable than either 
stone or metal. Still its use was not only of old, very general, 
but is even now more extended than is commonly known. 
The laws of the Roman emperors, it is well known, were some- 
times cut into wooden tablets, for Horace speaks of "leges 
incidere ligno." In Hanover, Germany, twelve wooden boards 
are preserved, overlaid with beeswax, on which are written the 
names of owners of houses who lived shortly before 1423. In 
Iceland, also, where wood was then more abundant than now, 
runes were written on the walls of the housos, and Olof wrote, 
as the Saga tc41s us, his own history and that of more ancient 
times on the bulks and spars of his house, on his chair, and the 
very bed in which he slept. 

The wooden tablets a diminutive of taba, a shingle of 
the later Romans were distinct from the scheda, which Pliny 
(Xat. Hist. xin. 11) tells us, were simple wooden boards, and 
mostly called schedula. They were sometimes painted white, 
as we find in Theodosius (Cod. 11, 27), from whence the 
modern word " album," but more frequently covered with wax. 
The H.iva of the Greeks seems to have been the same tablet 
(Iliad Z. 169), although Solon's laws seem to have been writteL 
on cedar or cypress wood, and were called 61 amoves because 
they turned round a common axis, like the leaves of a modern 
book. Wax, being from its very nature incorruptible, was first 
used for the purpose of writing on it last wills, the better to 
preserve them, hence Juvenal speaks of " ceras implere capaces." 


Sometimes, different layers of wax were laid upon the same 
tablet, and known as "prima" and "secunda cera ;" for notes, 
red wax was used, as Cicero (ad Atticum 15, 4, 16, 19) tell us, 
and from the material used for coloring (minium) came our 
modern word "Miniature," whilst the use of a similar red 
(ruber) for titles and superscriptions explains the original mean- 
ing of " Rubric." These wax-covered tables were long in use. 
The twelve wooden boards, still preserved in Hanover, have 
been already mentioned ; as late as the fifteenth century 
wax tablets were used for sketches. Their great convenience 
for extemporaneous composition and the facility of rubbing out 
what was no longer required, caused them to be extensively 
used long after the introduction of papyrus. Authors used to 
have their works transcribed into parchment books for their 
own use, and then gave these tablets to " librarii" or scribes for 
publication. They must have often been very large and heavy, 
for in Plautus a schoolboy breaks his teacher's head with such 
a waxed tablet, and Quinctilian expresses his preference for 
them, because their size allows of large letters, and they are, 
therefore, not so trying to the eyes. Occasionally they were 
ornamented with gold borders, as we read in Properties, and 
Cicero mentions that for purposes of correction a piece of red 
wax was fixed by the side of faulty or obscure phrases. 



Baric "Liber" and il book v Palm-leaves now in use. Bone Ivory 

OF other woody materials we find that bark was early used 
for writing purposes. It was a * first, the bark of trees indis- 
criminately, which served, for instance, the herdsmen of Virgil 
(Eclog. v. 13) to record their sentimental effusions; afterwards, 
the thin peel between the outer bark and the wood was care- 
fully separattd, and it was this skin-like substance which was 
first called "liber" (Digest, 32, 52). In the same manner 
derive Germanic idioms their name for " book " from the earliest 
material, u beech," Anglo-Saxon boc. This bark was first used 
for letters, because it was so easily folded, and hence the still 
prevailing names of "folio," "leaves" of a book, <kc., though 
the leaves of trees, themselves, were also frequently used. 
Palm-leaves, especially, were cut fresh, written upon whilst pulpy 
and soft, and then dried and preserved. Pliny (Nat Hist xin. 
2) speaks repeatedly of this strange but convenient writing- 
material, and numerous documents of this kind are still in 
existence. Several copies of the Bible on palm-leaves are 
scattered over Europe, and a fragment of the Gospel of St. 
John exists, written on birch-bark. From Mexico, also, hiero- 
glyphic writings on bark have been brought to Europe, or are 


still deposited in the city ; they resemble strangely similar 
writings on leaves from the coast of Malabar. In the East 
Indies, leaves are even now extensively used, especially for 
sacred writings, which Buddhism forbids to be recorded on animal 
substances, like parchment, and letters are written on care- 
fully prepared pieces of bark, several yards long and richly 

Bone has but rarely been used as a writing material, and 
then mostly appears in the shape of ivory or horn. The 
Romans used the former for the edicts of the senate, which 
were marked with black color; they were called "libri ele- 
phantini," not from their size, but from their material. The 
" hornbook" of England and Germany, still extensively used 
among sailors, is a more modern application of bony substances. 
Chaucer says of one of his character, that 

" His fellow had a staffe tipped with home, 
A paire of tables all of iverie, 
And a pointell polished fetouslie; 
And wrote alwaies the names as he stood, 
Of all folke that gave him any good." 



Preparation Terras derived from its use. 

THE ancients employed papyrus most generally after metals 
Lad gone out of fashion. It was the Cyperus papyrus or Nile- 
cane, growing about twelve feet high, in a triangular stem of 
about a foot's thickness. This was cut into thin layers, watered, 
glued or sized, and then smoothed so as to form the so-called 
f3i(3Xo or pvftXos the modern " Bible." Pliny, however, 
informs us that the same cane was also found in Syria, on the 
banks of the Euphrates, and even near Syracuse in the stagnant 
waters of that vicinity. Most of this earliest kind of paper was 
made in the city of Alexandria, which grew extremely wealthy 
by this almost exclusive industry. In the East, it received also 
the name of " Charta," either from the Greek xaparra> and 
6 x L P Tr ? i or f |-om the Tyrian town Charta, which was once 
famous for the admirable papyrus it produced. Afterwards 
the raw material was prepared in Italy and, as Charta Romana, 
became famous all over the world, partly because of its greater 
cheapness, partly because it could be written upon on both 
sides, which was not the case with the Egyptian. Among the 
Romans it had various names ; sometimes it passed as " Charta 


Augusta," in honor of Caesar Augustus, at others as " Charta 
Liviana," after the empress, but most generally as " Charta 
Blanca," from its beautiful whiteness. Hence the English term 
"a blank," and the "carte blanche" of the French. Writings 
on this material were called codices (from caudex) and codicilli 
(modern codicil) when stitched together, and " volumina " when 
rolled around a rod or wooden pin a form which was common 
also to parchment writings. How admirable th's "papyrus" 
or " paper" served its purpose and bore moisture and dampness 
in vaults, with impunity, is proved by the recovery of papyrus- 
rolls in Thebes, which are at least fifteen hundred years old, 
and others in Pompeii and Herculaneum, showing that the frail 
inner skin of a reed could be as well preserved as the massive 
stones of gigantic temples. The oldest MS. extant, on papyrus, 
is a fragment of the Iliad, beautifully written in capitals, and 
dating probably from the times of the Ptolemies ; it was dis- 
covered in 1825 on the island of Elephantine in the Upper Nile, 
by a Frenchman who travelled for Sir Joseph Banks. Its 
astonishing durability caused its use to be long continued 
even after other materials were generally preferred, and 
in spite of its high cost since the conquest of Egypt by infidel 
Arabs, when papyrus could no longer be obtained. In Byzant, 
however, imperial edicts were written on this costly and rare 
material until far into the middle ages, and the popes also pre- 
ferred it long for their bulls. The last document on papyrus is 
believed to be an edict of Charlemagne. The American con- 
tinent seems to have had its own papyrus ; the Spaniards found at 
least in Mexico certain portions of the Agave Americana per- 
haps the leaves only prepared carefully and covered with an 
earthy matter to give it greater firmness and elasticity. 




Herodotus [liad in a nutshell Petrarch's vest of tanned skin Preparation of 
skins Parchmeut " Palimpscstoi," or ' rescripu." 

IT is well known how the ignorance of the earlier dark ages 
knew, for ages, of no substitute for the lost papyrus, and either 
covered over, crossed and recrossed ancient MSS. to the sad 
detriment of priceless works, or readily acquiesced in total 
abstinence from writing. It was not until the eighth century 
that a substitute was found in a material, used since time im- 
memorial, the skin of animals. Already in the days of David, 
the Israelites had books written on skins, and the high-priest 
Eleazar sent a superb copy of the Pentateuch, written on the same 
material, to Ptolemaeus Philadelphus (Josephus, Antiq. i. 2). 
Herodotus (v. 58) also informs his readers that the lonians, of 
old, wrote on the skin of sheep and goats, from which merely the 
hair had been scraped off How far from this rude form to the 
extreme delicacy of the parchment, containing the whole Hiad, 
which Cicero is said to have kept in a nut-shell, and how dif- 
ferent from the famous vest of tanned skin, on which Petrarch 
wrote his thoughts and verses a truly strange memorial of the 
sweet poet, which, covered with writing and erasures, was still 
shown in 1527 as a precious literary .curiosity ! The skin of 


various animals seems originally to have been employed as a 
writing material; the Iliad and Odyssey are said to have been 
first written on the skin of serpents ; but sheep and calves, 
goats, asses, and hogs have all furnished their tribute. The 
unprepared "pellis" was in Rome called "corium" after being 
tanned, and " membrana" when ready for writing. Pliny 
(xui. 11) tells us that the town of Pergamum in Anadoli, about 
the year 300, under Eumenes, improved and furnished large 
quantities of such skins ; hence their name of " Charta Perga- 
mena," and the modern forms of " parchment." The white 
parchment was rarely employed, because too easily soiled and 
too dazzling for the eyes ; it was more frequently stained with 
some mellow color, principally purple, as the renowned Codex 
Argenteus in Sweden, and numerous MSS. of the New Testa- 
ment. The better to preserve it, the ancients often rubbed in 
some cedar-oil or stained it with the exudation of cedar-trees, 
from which circumstance the word "cedar" itself was often 
substituted for the literary part, as when Persius speaks of " et 
cedro digna locutus." Smoother and handsomer than paper, and 
capable of assuming all hues and colors, and even of being made 
transparent, the parchment is liable to suffer much from damp- 
ness and to have the writing effaced by brimstone. This latter 
facility it offers, has been the cause of fatal injury done to 
literature. When parchment became rare and costly, old and 
often invaluable writings, the most highly prized works of classic 
authors of antiquity, were erased to make room for psalms 
and copies of later church-writers. These are the so-called 
TraAi/Ai/feoroi or " rescript! " from which our "rescript" the 
discovery of which has brought to light so precious treasures. 

PAPER. 431 

Already at the time of Augustus the same end was obtained 
by washing off the condemned writing with a sponge ; after- 
wards, unfortunately, pumice-stone (rasoriura) became an indis- 
pensable instrument of the copyist. The greatest ingenuity and 
considerable knowledge of chemistry are constantly employed 
to recover the older writing on such parchments and this 
persevering zeal has met with ample reward. 


Paper Of Cotton Of Linen or Hemp. 

THE use of cotton for the manufactory of paper, is of older date 
than is commonly supposed, although the first public documents 
on this material are a Bull of Pope Victor IT. of the year 1057, 
and a Diploma of Henry IV. of Germany, of 1074. The Arabs 
are believed to have become acquainted with its use as far back 
as 704, in the Buchary, and brought it in the eleventh century 
to Spain, where water-mills were already known, and the intro- 
duction of paper-mills soon placed paper within the reach of all. 
About the year 1300 it found its way into France, Germany, 
and Italy, and is still extensively used, although it is looser and 
more easily broken than linen paper, and scarcely equal to the 
material which the Chinese prepare of rice, bamboo, or silk 

There is good reason to believe Casiris' accidental assertion, 
(N. 7o7) that the Arabs had a MS. of aphorisms of Hippo- 

432 PAPER. 

crates, bearing the date of 1100, on linen, and were thus the 
first also who made paper of linen or hemp, at once the 
cheapest and the best material known for writing and printing. 
To have some kind of paper, of cotton, hemp, or linen, became 
an indispensable preparation at the time of the invention of the 
art of printing ; it affected, at the same time, permanently the 
mode of writing, by substituting free, easy, and connected 
letters, on a smooth, clear surface, for the deep, angular 
painting on parchments. The oldest document on linen paper 
is probably a copy of the Fueros of Valencia, granted in 1251, 
by John the Conqueror ; the paper was of Arabic manufac- 
ture. The material on which the Articles of Peace between 
Ildefonz II., of Aragon, and Alfonz IV., of Castile, were written, 
in 1178, at Barcelona, is doubtful. France has, in a letter of 
Joinville to St. Louis, a document on linen or hemp, as old as 
the year 1270, whilst in Germany an edict, issued by Frederick 
II., in 1243, is considered the oldest of the kind. 



Cords and Knots Chisels "Stilus" Reeds Pens Ink. 

THE instruments by which the writing was engraven, varied 
necessarily with the material on which they were used. The 
simplest are here also the cords and knots of the Chinese, 
Mexicans, and Peruvians, which, by a kind of ancient Mnemo- 
technics, designated words and phrases. For stone inscrip- 
tions the usual instruments, the yXu^etov of the Greeks, and the 
"celtes" of the Romans, sufficed in antiquity as now; for waxed 
tables of wood the "oruXos" or "stilus," was commonly used. 
Suetonius (Jul. Caes. 82) already tells us how these "stili' 
resembled iron bodkins, with a sharp end for writing " inci- 
dere," and a flat one for effacing. This explains the meaning 
of "stilum vertere," which Horace uses instead of "blotting' 
out " or " correcting." They became occasionally dangerous 
weapons ; schoolmasters were killed by these so-called " pugil- 
lares," in the hands of their own scholars, and Caesar himself, 
it is believed, fell by a " stilus." Afterwards the laws of Rome 
prohibited the use of iron styles, and they were made of the 
bones of birds or other animals. Some of these instruments 
existed as late as the year 1642, when Naude saw them in 
Italy, and their name survives in our " style." 

For writings on parchment a " KoAcyios," or "arundo," 


some reed or cane, was used. Pliny (xvi. 36) describes .them 
precisely as they are even now found in the East, cut to a 
point and split, so as easily - to lay ink or color on the softer 
material. Pens were probably not known, in their present 
application, before the seventh century, although Isidor (Orig. 
vi. 13.) speaks of them with a certain familiarity. Ink itself 
was not from the beginning black : it was first purple, and thus 
used at the court of the Byzantine Emperors. Both the color 
and the gold with which MSS. were commonly embellished, 
were burnt in, hence the names of " evKaCrpov" and " encaustic." 
The process was not unknown to the Romans, for Ovid (in 
Fastis) speaks of " tabulasque coloribus uris ; " the Codex Ar- 
genteus, also, is probably encaustic. The latter technical term 
has furnished respectively "inchiostro" to Italy, "encre" to 
France, and "ink" to England; the German "tinte" is com- 
monly derived from " tingere." 

TfiE END.