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After telling us how men lived in the woods and mountains, without the use of fire, he adds:

“Nec commune bonum poterant spectare, nec ullis
Moribus inter se scibant, nec legibus uti.
Quod cuique obtulerat prædæ fortuna, ferebat,
Sponte sua, sibi quisque valere et vivere doctus."

After which, he proceeds to relate how men associated together, which he ascribes chiefly to the fear of wild beasts, and how they built huts, discovered the use of fire, and reared families. Even this, however, would not have sufficed to the ultimate preservation of the race:

At varios linguæ sonitus Natura subegit
Mittere, et Utilitas expressit nomina rerum.”

So that, according to Lucretius, language was invented by men, after they had associated together, and made some progress towards civilization.

This system appears to have been very popular at Rome, during the brightest period of her literature and philosophy. Horace, one of the best of her poets, and reputed a philosopher of no ordinary character, and belonging to the same school with Lucretius, has these remarkable lines:

"Cum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
Mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
Unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ità porro
Pugnabant armis, que post fabricaverat usus ;
Donec verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent,
Nominaque invenêre : dehinc absistere bello,
Oppida ceperunt munire, et ponere leges,
Ne quis fur esset, neu latro, neu quis adulter."

Sat. 3, lib. i.

And Cicero (De Inventione Rhetorica, lib. i. c. 2) asserts the same doctrine: “Nam fuit quoddam tempus, cum in agris homines passim bestiarum modo vagabantur, et sibi victu ferino vitam propagabant; nec ratione animi quidquam, sed pleraque viribus corporis administrabant. Nondum divinæ religionis, non humani officii ratio colebatur: nemo nuptias viderat legitimas: non certos quisquam inspexerat liberos: non jus æquabile quid utilitatis haberet, acceperat.” Again, (De Legibus, lib. 2, cap. 14,) speaking of the Eleusinian mysteries, he says: “Nam mihi cùm multa eximia divinaque videntur Athenæ tuæ peperisse, atque in vita hominum attulisse, tum nihil melius illis mysteriis, quibus ex agresti immanique vita exculti ad humanitatem, et mitigati sumus.” Thus, also, Juvenal:

“ Mundi
Principio indulsit communis conditor illis
Tantum animas, nobis animum quoque; mutuus ut nos
Affectus petere auxilium, et præstare juberet,
Dispersos trahere in populum, migrare vetusto
De nemore, et proavis habitatas linquere sylvas
Ædificare domos, laribus conjungere nostris
Tectum aliud, tutos vicino limine somnos
Ut collata daret fiducia; protegere armis
Lapsum, aut ingenti nutantem vulnere civem:
Communi dare signa tubå defendier isdem
Turribus, atque una portarum clave teneri.'

Sat. 15, v. 147, etc. Nor is his account of the golden age much more flattering. (See Satire 6, at the beginning, etc.)


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Credo pudicitiam Saturno rege moratam
In terris, visamque diu; cùm frigida parvas
Præberet spelunca domos, ignemque, Laremque,
Et pecus, et dominos communi clauderet umbrâ:

Sylvestrem montana torum cùm sterneret uxor
Frondibus et culmo, vicinarumque ferarum
Pellibus : haud similis tibi, Cynthia, nec tibi, cujus
Turbavit nitidos extinctus passer ocellos :
Sed potanda ferens infantibus ubera magnis,
Et sæpè horridior glandem ructante marito."

It is unnecessary to quote many authorities on this subject. The truth is, that a similar train of sentiment seems to pervade the philosophy and the mythology of the classic ages. We meet with it in the theology of the early Christian fathers. And among modern writers, whether Christian or infidel, it would be difficult to enumerate all who have professedly or incidentally advocated or countenanced the same system. “The greater part of modern philosophers (says one of them) have declared for the original savageism of men."


* As specimens of the several classes of authors who have, in their various works, insinuated or assumed or distinctly enunciated the same doctrine, the following names may be cited, viz., Hobbes, Rousseau, Hume, Condorcet, Buffon, Kaimes, White, Robertson, Gillies, Shaftesbury, Russell, Voltaire, Raynal, Millot, Astle, Darwin, Condillac, Adam Smith, Gibbon, Maupertuis, Michaelis, Volney, Tytler, Priestley, Mallet, Heeren, Klaproth, Ferguson. See, more especially, Goguet's "Origin of Laws, Arts and Sciences, and their Progress among the most Ancient Nations ;" Gebelin's Monde Primitif, analysé et comparé avec Le Monde Moderne;" and that most ingenious of all philological romances, the "History of the European Languages,” by the late Alexander Murray, D.D., Professor of Hebrew, etc. in the University of Edinburgh. The whole current of our periodical literature is in a similar vein. Thus, in the first volume of the Classical Journal, (page 41,) the late Professor R. Scott, of Aberdeen, treating "Of the Origin and Progress of Language and Writing," commences a paragraph as follows: “As language must at first have been the invention of rude and unenlightened men, very little raised above the state of barbarism, it may appear to some of my readers very difficult to the cause;


Passing, therefore, a multitude of names, we proceed to pay our respects to its most distinguished champion among the philosophers of the last century. In that very learned, elaborate, and, in many respects, ingenious treatise, on “The Origin and Progress of Language,” by the late celebrated James Burnett, afterwards Lord Monboddo, of Scotland, we have a complete development of the old Epicurean theory, in all its most repulsive feat

The learned author intended no caricature, but a beautiful and finished picture. He was an enthusiast in

but yet cool, collected, and persevering in his investigations of all the stores of ancient and modern learning, and of all the facts with which he could become acquainted. It is true, that, like most other honest, candid, unprejudiced inquirers after truth, he set out upon his researches, or voyage of discovery, with his mind made up-with his system already formed; — and, of course, he readily enough met with materials adapted to his purpose, quite sufficient to eke out a very plausible case; and, in his own view at least, to operate perfect conviction upon all the ethereal spirits capable of comprehending him. But; let the philosopher speak for himself: “I cannot doubt (says he) but that I shall convince every one who will think it worth his while to read what follows, that articulation is altogether the work of art, at least of a habit acquired by custom and exercise, and that we are truly by nature the mutum pecus, the mute herd, that Horace makes us to be. This, I think, I am able to prove, both from theory and facts.” (Vol. i. p. 185.)

comprehend how such men should have been capable of exercising that degree of abstraction, which the formation of its mere elements implies."

We shall not accompany him through his curious details of facts, derived from ancient historians and from modern voyagers and travellers; the fish-eaters, the woodeaters, the insensibles of Diodorus Siculus; the Troglodytes of Herodotus; the. Bornians of Leo Africanus; and the thousands of brutish hordes of savages and cannibals, reported to have existed or as still existing in America, in Africa, in New Holland, and in the islands of the great Pacific Ocean: all of which the author carefully marshals and arrays in support of his theory. He avails himself too, with great skill, of the opinions of eminent writers, ancient and modern, whenever they seemed to favour his own. We say seemed; for he sometimes appears to have decided rather hastily, or he could never have dragged Plato and Warburton into his ranks ;men who, though they did not entertain, what we deem, orthodox sentiments on this subject, yet differed widely from his Lordship in the main features of his scheme.

After thus citing a host of facts and authorities, to prove that men are allied to the Simian tribes — that man and the monkey belong to the same species—and are no otherwise to be distinguished from each other than by circumstances, which can be accounted for by the different physical and moral agencies to which they have been exposed, he very modestly adds: “This opinion, therefore, of mine may be false; but it is not new

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