Abbildungen der Seite

improved by the mixture. Into the truth of the hypothesis from which they argue, I shall not now inquire. It sufficeth for my present purpose to observe, that the consequence is not logical, though the plea were just. A liquor produced by the mixture of two liquors of different qualities will often prove worse than either. The Greek is, doubtless, a language much superior in richness, harmony, and variety to the Latin; yet, by an affection in the Romans of Greek words and idioms (like the passion of the English for whatever is imported from France), as much, perhaps, as by anything, the Latin was not only vitiated, but lost almost entirely, in a few centuries, that beauty and majesty which we discover in the writings of the Augustan age. On the contrary, nothing contributed more to the preservation of the Greek tongue in its native purity for such an amazing number of centuries, unexampled in the history of any other language, than the contempt they had of this practice. It was in consequence of this contempt that they were the first who branded a foreign term in any of their writers with the odious name of barbarism.

But there are two considerations which ought especially to weigh with authors, and hinder them from wantonly admitting such extraneous productions into their performances. One is, if these foreigners be allowed to settle among us, they will infallibly supplant the old inhabitants. Whatever ground is given to the one, is so much taken from the other. Is it, then, prudent in a writer to foment a humour of innovation which tends to make the language of his country still more changeable, and, consequently, to render the style of his own writings the sooner obsolete? Nor let it be imagined that this is not a necessary consequence. Nothing can be juster than Johnson's manner of arguing on this subject, in regard to what Swift a little chimerically proposeth, that though new words be introduced, none should be permitted to become obsolete.* For what makes a word obsolete but a general, though tacit, agreement to forbear it? and what so readily produces this agreement as another term which hath gotten a vogue and currency, and is always at hand to supply its place? And if thus, for some time, a word is overlooked or neglected, how shall it be recalled when it hath once, by disuse, become unfamiliar, and, by unfamiliarity, unpleasing ?

The other consideration is, that if he should not be followed in the use of those foreign words which he hath endeavoured to usher into the language, if they meet not with a favourable reception from the public, they will ever appear as spots in his work. Such is the appearance which the terms opine, ignore, fraicheur, adroitness, opiniatry, and opiniatrety, have at present in the writings of some ingenious men.

* Preface to the Dictionary.

Whetner, therefore, he be or be not imitated, he will himself prove a loser at last. I might add to these, that as borrowing naturally exposeth to the suspicion of poverty, this pov erty will much more readily, and more justly too, be imputed to the writer than to the language.

Inventors in the arts and discoverers in science have an indisputable title to give names to their own inventions and discoveries. When foreign inventions and discoveries are imported into this island, it is both natural and reasonable that the name should accompany the thing. Nay, in regard even to evils of foreign growth, I should not object to the observance of the same rule. Were any one to insist that we have not in our language words precisely corresponding to the French galimatias, phebus, verbiagę, gasconade, rhodomontade, I should not contend with him about it; nor should I, perhaps, dislike that the very name served to show that these plants are natives of a ranker soil, and did not originally belong to us. But if the introduction of exotic words were never admitted except in such cases, or in order to supply an evident want among ourselves, we should not at present have one such term where we have fifty. The advice of the poet with regard to both the before-mentioned sorts of barbarism is extremely good.

“In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold
Alike fantastic if too new or old :
Be not the first by whom the new are tried,

Nor yet the last to lay the old aside."* Part III. By the Use of Good Words new-modelled. The third species of barbarism is that produced by new formations and compositions from primitives in present use. I acknowledge, that when the English analogy is observed in the derivation or composition, and when the new-coined word is wanted in the language, greater liberty ought to be given on this article than on the former. The reason of the difference will appear from what hath been said already. But still, this is a liberty which needs an excuse from necessity, and is in no case pardonable, unless the words be at least not disagreeable to the ear, and be so analogically formed that a reader, without the help of the context, may ea. sily discover the meaning.t

Now, if the plea of necessity be requisite, what quarter is due to such frivolous innovations as these : incumverment, I

* Pope's Essays on Criticism.

+ There are some words of recent introduction which come so much under this description, that it might be accounted too fastidious in the critic entirely to reject them. Such are continental, sentimental, originality, criminality, capability, to originate, to figure, to adduce, and, perhaps, a few others. | Bolingbroke.

portic,* martyrized, * eucharisty,* analyze,* connexity,* Sloician,* Platonician,* Peripatetician,* Pythagorician,* fictious,t majestatic, acception,g which were intended solely to express what had always been at least as well expressed by encumberance, portico, martyr'd, eucharist, analysis, connexion, Stoic, Platonist, Peripatetic, Pythagorean, fictitious, majestic, acceptation. And if any regard is due to the ear, what shall we say of–I cannot call it the composition, but-the collision of words which are naturally the most unfit for coalescing, like saintauthors, saintprotectrices, architectcapacity, commentatorcapacity, authorcharacter, and many others forged in the same taste, to be found in the pages of a late right-honourable author ?|| And, lastly, if the analogy of the language must be preserved in composition, to what kind of reception are the following en. titled, all fabricated in the same shop: selfend, selfpassion, selfaffections, selfpractice, homedialect, bellysense, mirrourwriting?

It may, indeed, be urged, that the pronoun self is used in composition with such latitude, that one can scarcely err in forming new words with its assistance. But this is a mistake. New words may be formed by it, but they must be formed analogically. And the analogy of these formations may be understood from observing that, when analyzed thus, they ought regularly to exhibit the same meaning. Make one's self, himself, herself, itself, or themselves, as the case requires, follow the last word in the compound, with the preposition intervening, with which the word, whether noun or participle, is usually construed. If the word be a substantive, the preposition is commonly of ; if the passive participle, by; and if the active participle, no preposition is requisite. Thus self-love is the love of one's self. In the same way are resolved self-hate, self-murder, self-preservation. When we say of a man that he is self-condemned, we mean that he is condemned by himself. A self-consuming fire is a fire consuming itself.

Now to apply this observation, what is the meaning of the end of one's self, the passion of one's self, the affections of one's self, and the practice of one's self? And if some meaning may be affixed to any of these expressions, it is easy to perceive that it is not the meaning of the author. Yet I can remember but two compounds that have obtained in English which are not formed according to the analogy above explained. The one is self-willed, signifying perverse, and now little used; the other is self-existence, a favourite word of some metaphysicians, which, if it signify anything more than what is properly and clearly expressed by independency and eternity, signifies I know not what. In new formations, however, the rule ought to be followed, and not the exceptions. But what shall be said of such monsters as selfpractice, bellysense, and * Bolingbroke.

+ Prior.

Spectator, No. 580. 0 Hammond

ll Shaftesbury.

mirrourwriting? These, indeed, might have been regarded as flowers of rhetoric in the days of Cromwell, when a jargon of this sort was much in vogue, but are extremely unsuitable to the chaster language of the present age.

Again : under this class may be ranked another modern refinement-I mean the alterations that have been made by some late writers on proper names and some other words of foreign extraction, and on their derivatives, on pretence of bringing them nearer, both in pronunciation and in spelling, to the original names, as they appear in the language from which those words were taken. In order to answer this important purpose, several terms which have maintained their place in our tongue for many centuries, and which are known to everybody, must be expelled, that room may be made for a set of uncouth and barbarous sounds with which our ears are unacquainted, and to some of which it is impossible for us to adapt our organs, accustomed only to English, as rightly to articulate them.

It has been the invariable custom of all nations, as far as I know-it was particularly the custom of the Grecians and the Romans, when they introduced a foreign name into their language, to make such alterations on it as would facilitate the pronunciation to their own people, and render it more analogous to the other words of their tongue. There is an evident convenience in this practice; but where the harm of it is, I am not able to discover. No more can I divine what good reason can be alleged for proscribing the name Zoroaster, till of late universally adopted by English uthors who had occasion to mention that Eastern sage, and the same, except in termination, that is used in Greek and Latin classics. Is Zerdusht, which those people would substitute in its place, a more musical word? or is it of any consequence to us that it is nearer the Persian original? Will this sound give us a deeper insight than the other into the character, the philosophy, and the history of the man? On the same principles, we are commanded by these refiners to banish Confucius for the sake of Con-fut-cee, and never again, on pain of the charge of gross ignorance, to mention Mahomet, Mahometan, Mahometism, since Mohammed, Mohammedan, Mohammedism, are ready to supply their room. Mussulman must give place to Moslem, Hegira to Hejra, and Alkoran to Koran. The dervis, too, is turned to dirvesh, and the bashaw is transformed into a pacha

But why do our modern reformers stop here? Ought not this reformation, if good for anything, to be rendered more extensively useful ? How much more edifying would Holy Writ prove to readers of every capacity, if, instead of those vulgar corruptions, Jacob, and Judah, and Moses, and Elijah, we had the satisfaction to find in our Bibles, as some assure




us that the words ought to be pronounced, Yagnhakob, and Yehuda, and Moschech, and Eliyahu ? Nay, since it seems to be agreed among our Oriental scholars that the Hebrew jod sounds like the English y before a vowel, and that their vau is the same with the German w, the word Jehovah ought also to be exploded, that we may henceforth speak of the Deity more reverently and intelligibly by the only authentic name Yehowah. A reform of this kind was, indeed, for the benefit of the learned, attempted abroad more than two centuries ago, by a kindred genius of those modern English critics, one Pagninus, a Dominican friar. In a translation which this man made of the Scriptures, into a sort of monkish gibberish that he called Latin, he hath, in order to satisfy the world of the vast importance and utility of his work, instead of Eve, written Chauva, and for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, given us Jesakiahu, Ir iahu, Jechezechel. But I know not how it hath happened that in this he hath had few imitators among men of letters. Probably, upon the trial, people have discovered that they were just as much edified by the old names as by the

Again! why this reformation should be confined almost entirely to proper names, for my part I can discover no good reason. Appellatives are doubtless entitled to a share. Critics of this stamp ought, for example, boldly to resolve, in spite of inveterate abuses and plebeian prejudices, never, while they breathe, either to write or to pronounce the words popë, popery, and popedom, but instead of them, pape, papery, and papedom ; since, whether we derive these words immediately from the French,* the Latin,f or the Greek, I still it appears that the o is but a base usurper of a place which rightfully belongs to the a. The reason assigned for saying Koran, and not Alcoran, is truly curious. Al, say they, is the Arabic article, and signifies the ; consequently, if we should say the Alcoran, we should fall into a gross perissology. It is just as if we said the the book. A plain, illiterate man would think it sufficient to reply, What though al signifies the in Arabic, it hath no signification in English, and is only here the first syllable of a name which use hath appropriated, no matter how, to a particular book. But if ye who are such deep scholars, and wonderful improvers of your mother-tongue, are determined to exclude this harmless syllable from Alcoran, act at least consistently, and dismiss it also from alchymy, alcove, ulembic, algebra, almanac, and all the other words in the language that are derived in the same way and from the same source. Indeed, it is not easy to say where ye will stop; for if ye attend to it, ye will find many words of Latin or French origin which stand equally in need of reformation. + Papa.

Η παππας. 0 Suppose one of these Aristarchs advancing in such ingenious refine

* Pape.

« ZurückWeiter »