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positions, which, in modern languages, hold the place of the “ ancient cases, are of all others, the most general, and ab"stract, and metaphysical ; and, of consequence, would pro“bably be the last invented. Ask any man of common acute“ness, what relation is expressed by the preposition above? " He will readily answer, that of superiority. By the prepo“sition below ? 'He will as quickly reply, that of inferiority. “ But ask him what relation is expressed by the preposition " of? And, if he has not beforehand employed his thoughts a “good deal upon these subjects, you may safely allow him a 6 week to consider of his answer.

In reply to this observation, it may suffiee to remark, that the difficulty of explaining the theory of any of our intellectual operations, affords no proof of any difficulty in applying that operation to its proper practical purpose ; nor is the difficulty of tracing the metaphysical history of any of our notions, a proof that, in its first origin, it implied any extraordinary effort of intellectual capacity. How many metaphysical difficulties might be raised about the mathematical notions of a line and of a surface? What efforts of abstraction, it might be said,) are implied in the ideas of length without breadth, and of length and breadth without thickness; and yet we know, in point of fact, that these efforts are easily and successfully made by every peasant, when he speaks of the length, breadth, or height of his cottage, and when he mentions the number of acres or roods in his field. In like manner, although it may be difficult to give a satisfactory account of the origin and import of such words as of or by, it ought not to be concluded that the invention of them implied any metaphysical knowledge in the individual who first employed them. 'Their import, we see, is fully understood by children of three or four years of age.

This criticism on Mr. Smith, coincides with the following remark of Dr. Ferguson: “Parts of speech, which in speculation

cost the grammarian so much study, are, in practice, familiar " to the vulgar,--the rudest tribes, even the idiot and insane, " are possessed of them. They are soonest learned in child

hood, insomuch that we must suppose human nature, in its 6 lowest state, competent to the use of them; and without the 6 intervention of uncommon genius, mankind in a succession "of ages, qualified to accomplish in detail this amazing fabric 6 of language, which, when raised to its height, appears so

* For some additional observations on the problem concerning the Origin of Language, see the Dissertation quoted in the last note, Part Second, pp. 120, 121, et seq.

6 much above what could be ascribed to any simultaneous ef« fort of the most sublime and comprehensive abilities."*

The circumstance which induced Mr. Smith to lay so great stress on the difficulties attending the invention of adjectives and prepositions, was a desire of accounting for certain peculiarities in the genius of the ancient languages; particularly the variations in the terminations of the substantives, according to differences of gender and other circumstances; and the employment of cases, to express those varieties of relation, which in the modern tongues are denoted by prepositions. But although this part of his theory does not seem to me to be satisfactory, the fact to which it refers is a most important one, and strongly discriminates the Greek and Latin languages from those spoken in modern Europe. I shall afterwards take notice of the effects it has produced on the style of ancient and of modern composition.

* Prineiples of Moral and Political Seience, Vol. I. p. 43. Edinburgh, 1792.

I cannot help pointing out another part of Mr. Smith's theory, to which the foregoing criticism may be applied with still greater force. It relates to the metaphysical difficulties which, in his opinion, must have attended the invention of the personal pronouns,-particularly of the pronoun I. « The word I,” he observes, " is a word of a very particular species. Whatever speaks may denote " itself by this personal pronoun. The word I, therefore, is a general word, ca

pable of being predicated, as the logicians say, of an infinite variety of objects. " It differs, however, from all other general words in this respect; that the ob“jects of which it may be predicated, do not form any particular class of objects distinguished from all others. The word I, does not, like the word man, de

note a particular class of objects, separated from all others by peculiar qualities “ of their own. It is far from being the name of a species, but, on the contrary, “whenever it is made use of, it always denotes a precise individual, the particu"lar person who then speaks. It may be said to be at once, both what the logi“cians call a singular, and what they call a common term; and to join in its sig. “nification the seemingly opposite qualities of the most precise individuality, and “the most extensive generalization. This word, therefore, expressing so very "abstract and metaphysical an idea, would not easily or readily occur to the first “ formers of language. What are called the personal pronouns, it may be ob“served, are among the last words of which children learn to make use. А “child speaking of itself says, Billy walks, Billy sits, instead of I walk I sit.--Moral Sentiments, Vol. II. pp. 443, 444.

Notwithstanding this very refined and ingenious reasoning, I must own it ap. pears to me an unquestionable fact, that the import of the word 1, (to which may be added the still more metaphysical and complicated import of the word mine,) is one of the first which is fully comprehended by every infant; and that when a Billy walks,

Billy sits,he annexes the very same idea to the word Billy, which he afterwards does to the pronoun I. What other idea can he possibly annex to it, unless he makes use of the third person, as Cæsar does in his Commentaries, to avoid the imputation of egotism? Nothing, surely, can be more natural, than that he should apply to himself the same name by which he is always distinguished when spoken to by others. I knew a child (and a child of very quick parts,) who, in his first attempts at speech, invariably made use of the pronoun you, instead of I. In consequence of being always addressed by the for. mer sound, he probably considered it as his name ; and as the child mentioned by Mr. Smith substituted the word Billy instead of I, so he, from the very same cause, mistook the one personal pronoun for the other. Indeed, the mistake appears to me so nataral, that I am somewhat surprised to hear the case is so mincommon.

child says,

At present I shall only remark farther under this head, that the transition from substantives to adjectives, was probably not (as Mr. Smith supposes) a step taken all at once. It is by a process much more gradual and imperceptible, that all improvements in language are made. In order to qualify an object, the name of some other object would be added, in which that quality was remarkable. This mode of speaking is still common in many cases, particularly in that of colour; as when we speak of an orange colour, a clay colour, a lead colour; and in numberless other cases of the same description,-indeed, in every case in which a colour occurs to us, which has no appropriate or specific name.

Agreeably to this idea, Dr. Wallis long ago observed, “Ad*jectivum respectivum nihil aliud est quam ipsa vox substan“tiva adjective posita.”* Of this he gives the following examples in our language: a sea fish, a river fish, a wine vessel, a sea voyage, a gold ring, and various others.

The same view of the subject has been followed out much farther by Mr. Horne Tooke, according to whom, “ Adjectives, “ though convenient abbreviations, are not necessary to lan“guage.”+ They are not, therefore, ranked by this ingenious grammarian, but not very profound philosopher, among the parts of speech.

The want of an adjective distinction, however, to substantives when thus employed, is considered by Mr. Tooke as a defect in a language; which defect, he supposes, (I think with much probability,) “ was originally the case in the rude state of “ all languages.” In illustration of this, he quotes a very curious paper by Dr. Jonathan Edwards, containing observations on the language of the Muhhekaneew Indians, (or, as they are commonly called by the Anglo-Americans the Mohegans.) “ The Mohegans," (says Dr. Edwards,) “have no ad“ jectives in all their language. Although it may at first seem “ not only singular and curious, but impossible that a language

should exist without adjectives, yet it is an indubitable " fact."

* Grammatica Lingue Anglicane, Cap. V., De Adjectivis. † Vol. II. p. 458. | The high reputation which Dr. Edwards justly enjoys as an acute Metaphysician, and the opportunities which fell to his lot of acquiring a perfect knowledge of the language in question, give to his testimony on this subject a weight very different from that belonging to most of the authorities commonly quoted with respect to the languages of savage tribes.

“ When I was but six years of age," (says this yriter,)“ my father removed The observations, too, which Mr. Smith has, made on the origin of verbs appear to me liable to strong objections. “ Verbs” (he says) “ must necessarily have been coēval with " the very first attempts towards the formation of language;"> and “probably” (he adds) "existed first in an impersonal form."* But if all verbs were impersonal, how could a sub

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“ with his family to Stockbridge, which at that time was inhabited by Indians al" most solely. The Indians being the nearest neighbours, I constantly associated " with them; their boys were my daily schoolmasters and play-fellows. Out of

my father's house I seldom heard any language spoken beside the Indian. By " these means I acquired the knowledge of that language, and a great facility in " speaking it; it became more familiar to me than my mother tongue. I knew “the names of some things in Indian which I did not know in English ; even all

my thoughts run in Indian ; and though the pronunciation of the language is “ extremely difficult to all but themselves, they acknowledged that I had acquired " it perfectly, which, as they said, never had been acquired before by any Anglo* American.

“ The language which is now the subject of observation is that of the Muhhe" kaneew or Stockbridge Indians. They, as well as the tribe of New London,

are by the Anglo-Americans, called Mohegans. This language is spoken by all " the Indians throughout New England. Every tribe, as that of Stockbrigde, of "Farmington, of New London, &c. has a different dialect, but the language is ra« dically the same. Mr. Elliot's translation of the Bible is in a particular dialect " of this language. This language appears to be much more extensive than any “ other language in North America. The languages of the Delawares in Penn

sylvania, of the Penobscots, bordering on Nova Scotia ; of the Indians of St.

Francis in Canada ; of the Shawanese on the Ohio ; and of the Chippewaus at ** the westward of Lake Huron ; are all radically the same with the Mohegan. ** The same is said concerning the languages of the Ottawans, Nanticooks, Mun

sees, Menomonees, Messisaugas, Šaukies, Ottagaumies, Killistinoes, Nipe

gons, Algonkins, Winnebagoes, &c. That the languages of the several tribes h in New England, of the Delawares, and of Mr. Elliot's Bible, are radically the

same with the Mohegan, I assert from my own knowledge."

(Observations on the Language of the Muhhekaneew Indians, communicated to the Connecticut Society of Arts and Sciences, published at the request of the Society, and printed by Josiah Meigs, 1788.)

I am sorry to add, that of this paper of Dr. Edwards, which cannot fail to be peculiarly interesting, I know nothing but from Mr. Tooke's quotation, Vol. II.

The account given by Dr. Edwards of the language of the Mohegan Indians is strongly confirmed by what we are told by Lord Monboddo, on the authority of Gabriel Sagard, with respect to the Hurons, that there is no such thing in the language as a quality expressed without the particular substance in which it is inherent. For there is not in the whole language one adjective, that is, a word denoting a quality inherent in some undetermined subject; far less have they ab. stract nouns, as they are called, derived from adjectives, such as goodness, badness, and the like.

“ This Gabriel Sagard (says Lord Monboddo) was a religious of the order of “ St. Francis, who was on a mission to the country of the Hurons in the year ** 1626, and published his Travels at Paris in the year 1631, under the title of " Le Grand Voyage du Pays des Hurons; to which he has added a dictionary * of the Huron language.” The book, Monboddo, informs us, is so extremely rare, that he could only hear of one copy of it in the Royal Library at Paris, for the use of which he expresses his obligation to the librarian, M. Capperonnier. Origin and Progress of Language, Vol. I. pp. 471. 534.

* Theory of Moral Sentiments. 6th edit. Vol. II. pp. 434, 435.

P. 461.

stantive noun be introduced into a sentence? or, indeed, what could have been the use of substantives ? And yet, in the very first sentence of this dissertation, it is taken for granted that the invention of nouns substantive must have been the first step taken towards the formation of a language.*

It should seem, that the following may be laid down as a general rule with respect to the subject. Men were led to invent artificial signs from the defects of natural ones; and therefore it is probable that the first artificial signs would be employed to convey those ideas which it is most difficult to express by the language of nature. To judge by this rule, we must conclude, that substantives were prior to verbs; for an idea of individual objects would be conveyed with much greater difficulty than that of action or suffering in any parcular mode. In confirmation of this, we may remark, that what we call action in delivery is still chiefly connected with verbs ; a proof that the notions they convey are more easily expressible by natural signs than the import of any of the other parts of speech. Language, then, I apprehend, in its rudest state, would consist partly of natural and partly of artificial signs ; substantives being denoted by the latter, and verbs by the former. Mr. Smith says, “ a savage who saw a wolf or a bear

ap6 proaching, would announce the event by using the word 66 venit without a substantive.”+ To me it appears much more probable, that he would exclaim Lupus or Ursus, without a verb. Such an exclamation, accompanied with natural signs, would convey a complete idea of the event; and is, indeed, the very mode of expression which, on such an occasion, would probably be used, even in the present improved state of language ; whereas the word venit, with whatever natural signs we may conceive it to be connected, could never

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* A late very learned author has censured, with some severity, the whole of this Dissertation, and, in particular, has pronounced “ Mr. Smith's opinion con“ cerning the origin of substantive nouns as antecedent to that of adjectives or " names of qualities, to be altogether unsupported by facts in the history of lan“guage.” The same author asserts, with some confidence, that “the first words “ were monosyllabic verbs"_" this (he says) is discovered by analysis.”-History of European Language, &c. by the late Alexander Murray, D. D. Vol. II. p. 489. The ingenious critic, in my opinion, would have been nearer the truth had he blamed Mr. Smith for not keeping his original and fundamental proposition more steadily in view in the sequel of his theory.

As for Dr. Murray's assertion, that " the first words were monosyllabic verbs,” how is it to be reconciled with the fact, that, in most savage languages, the words are of so immoderate a length as to appear to our ears quite ludi. crous ?

† Theory of Moral Sentiments, Vol. II. p. 437.

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