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the number of equivocal inflections is considerably greater than in Greek ; and wherein there are no articles, which are of unspeakable advantage, as for several other purposes, so in particular for ascertaining the construction. But whilst the latter, though in this respect inferior, are, when skilfully managed, by no means ill adapted for perspicuous expression, they are, in respect of vivacity, elegance, animation, and variety of harmony, incomparably superior. I shall at present consider their advantage principally in point of vivacity, which in a great measure, when the subject is of such a nature as to excite passion, secures animation also.
In the first place, the brevity that is attainable in these languages, gives them an immense superiority. Some testimonies in confirmation of this remark may be obtained by comparing the Latin examples of antithesis quoted in the notes of the third section of the preceding chapter, with any English translation that can be made of these passages. And I suspect, if a version were attempted into any other European tongue, the success would not be much better. It is remarkable, that in any inscription in which it is intended to convey something striking or emphatical, we can scarcely endure a modern language. Latin is almost invariably employed for this purpose in all the nations of Europe. Nor is this the effect of caprice or pedantry, as some perhaps will be apt to imagine. Neither does it proceed merely, as others will suppose, from the opinion that that language is more universally understood; for I suspect that this is a prerogative which will be warmly contested by the French; but it proceeds from the general conviction there is, of its superiority in point of vivacity. That we may be satisfied of this, let us make the trial, by translating any of the best Latin inscriptions or mottoes which we remember, and we shall quickly perceive, that what charms us, expressed in their idiom, is scarcely supportable when rendered into our own.* The luggage of particles, such as pronouns, prepositions,
* Let us make the experiment on the inscriptions of some of the best devices or emblems that are extant. I shall give a few examples for illustration's sake, from the sixth of Bouhours' Entretiens d'Ariste et d'Eugene, called Les Devises. The first shall be, that of a starry sky without the moon, as representing an assembly of the fair, in which the lover finds not the object of his passion. The motto is, “Non mille quod absens." In English we must say, “ A thousand cannot equal one that is absent." Another instance shall be that of a rock in the midst of a tenipestuous sea, to denote a hero who with facility baf. fles all the assaults of his enemies. The motto, “ Conantia frangere frangit.” In English, “I break the things which attempt to break me.” In this example, we are obliged to change the person of the verb, that the words may be equal. ly applicable, both in the literal sense and in the figurative, an essential point in this exercise of ingenuity. The personal pronoun in our language must always be expressed before the verb. Now, the neuter it will not apply to the hero, nor the masculine he to the rock; whereas the first person applies equally to both. The third instance shall be that of the ass eating thistles, as an emblem of a parasite who serves as a butt to the company that entertain him. The motto, “ Pungant dum saturent.” In English, “Let them sting me, provided they fill my belly.” In all these, how nervous is the expression in the original; how spiritless in the translation! Nor is this recourse to a multitude of words peculiar to us. All European languages labour, though not equally, under the same inconvenience. For the French, take Bouhours' version of the preceding mottoes. The first is, “ Mille ne valent pas ce que vaut une ab
and auxiliary verbs, from which it is impossible for us entirely to disencumber ourselves, clogs the expression, and enervates the sentiment.
But it is not in respect of brevity only that the ancient tongues above mentioned are capable of a more vivid diction than the modern. For when, in the declensions and conjugations, the inflection, as is frequently the case, is attended with an increase of the number of syllables, the expression on the whole cannot always be denominated briefer, even when it consists of fewer words. However, as was observed before, when the construction is chiefly determined by inflection, there is much ampler scope for choice in the arrangement, and consequently the speaker hath it much more in his power to give the sentence that turn which will serve most to enliven it.
But even this is not all the advantage they derive from this particularity in their structure. The various terminations of the same word, whether verb or noun, are always conceived to be more intimately united with the term which they serve to lengthen, than the additional, detached, and in themselves insignificant, syllables or particles, which we are obliged to employ as connectives to our significant words. Our method gives almost the same exposure to the one as to the other, making the insignificant parts and the significant equally conspicuous; theirs much oftener sinks, as it were, the former into the latter, at once preserving their lise and hiding their weakness. Our inodern languages may, in this respect, be compared to the art of carpentry in its rudest state, when the union of the materials employed by the artisan could be effected only by the help of those external and coarse implements, pins, nails, and cramps. The ancient languages resemble the same art in its most improved state, after the invention of dovetail joints, grooves, and mortices, when thus all the principal junctions are effected by formning properly the extremities or terminations of the pieces to be joined. For by means of these the union of the parts is rendered closer, whilst that by which their union is produced is scarcely perceivable.
Addison, if I remember right, somewhere compares an epic poem, (and the same holds, though in a lower degree, of every other literary production,) written in Greek or in Latin, to a magnificent edifice, built of marble, porphyry, or granite, and contrasts with it such a poem of performance in one of our modern languages, which he likens to such a building executed in freestone, or any of those coarser kinds of stone which abound in some northern climates. The latter may be made to answer all the essential purposes of accommodation as well as the former, but as the materials of which it
sente." The second, “ Il brise ce qui fait effort pour le briser.” This version is not perfectly adequate. The Latin implies a number of enemies, which is implied here. "Better thus, “Il brise les choses qui font effort pour le briser." The third is, “Qu'ils me piquent, pourvu qu'ils me saouillent.” These are in no respect superior to the English. The Italian and the Spanish answer here a little better. Bouhours himself, who is extremely unwilling, even in the smallest matters, to acknowledge any thing like a defect or imperfection in the French tongie, is, nevertheless, constrained to admit, that it is not well adapted for furnishing such mottoes and inscriptions.
is constructed are not capable of receiving the same polish, and consequently cannot admit some of the finer decorations, it will not only be inferior in beauty, but its imitative ornaments will be much less lively and expressive. It may, nevertheless, be equal to the other both in grandeur and in utility. If the representations that have been given of the Chinese language are genuine, if all their words are monosyllabic and indeclinable, if every relation and circumstance, even time and number, must be expressed by separate particles, I should think a performance in their tongue might be justly compared to a building in brick, which may be both neat and convenient, but which hardly admits the highly ornamental finishing of any order of architecture, or indeed any other species of beauty than that resulting from the perception of fitness. But this only by the way.
If I might be indulged one other similitude, I should remark, that the difference between the ancient Greek and Latin, and the modern European languages, is extremely analogous to the difference there is between their garb and ours. The latter will perhaps be admitted to be equally commodious, possibly for some purposes more so; but with its trumpery of buttons and button-holes, ligatures and plaits formerly opposed to one another, it is stiff and unnatural in its appearance ; whereas the easy flow and continually varied foldings of ihe former, are at once more graceful, and better adapted for exhibiting nature in shape, attitude, and motion, to advantage. The human figure is, I may say, burlesqued in the one habit, and adorned by the other. Custom, which can conciliate us to any thing, prevents us from seeing this in ourselves and in one another ; but we quickly perceive the difference in pictures and statues. Nor is there a painter or a statuary of eminence who is not perfectly sensible of the odds, and who would not think his art degraded in being employed to exhibit the reigning mode. Nay, in regard to the trifling changes, for they are but trifling, which fashion is daily making on our garments, how soon are we ourselves brought to think ridiculous, what we accounted proper, not to say elegant, but two or three years ago; whereas no difference in the fashions of the times and of the country can ever bring a man of taste to consider the drapery of the toga or of the pallium as any way ludicrous or offensive.
Perhaps I have carried the comparison farther than was at first intended. What hath been said, however, more regards the form or structure, than the matter of the languages compared. Notwithstanding the preference given above in point of form to the ancient tongues, the modern may, in point of matter, (or the words of which the language is composed, be superior to them. I am inclined to think that this is actually the case of some of the present European tongues. The materials which constitute the riches of a language will always bear a proportion to the acquisitions in knowledge made by the people. For this reason, I should not hesitate to pronounce that English is considerably richer than Latin, and in the main fitter for all the subtile disquisitions both of philosophy and of criticism. If I am more doubtful in regard to the preference, when our tongue is compared with Greek, notwithstanding the superiority of our knowledge in arts and sciences, the reason of my doubt is, the amazing ductility of that language, by which it was adapted to express easily in derivations and compositions, new indeed but quite analogical, and therefore quite intelligible, any discoveries in the sciences, or invention in the arts, that might at any time be made in their own, or imported from foreign countries. Nay, it would seem to be a general conviction of this distinguishing excellence, that hath made Europeans almost universally recur to Greek, for a supply of names to those things which are of modern invention, and with which the Grecians themselves never were acquainted ; such as microscope, telescope, barometer, thermometer, and a thousand others.
OF THE CONNECTIVES EMPLOYED IN COMBINING THE SENTENCES
IN A DISCOURSE.
In the preceding chapter I have discussed what I had to offer on the manner of connecting the words, the clauses, and the members of a sentence. I intend in the present chapter to consider the various manners of connecting the sentences in a discourse, and to make some remarks on this subject, for the assistance of the composer, which are humbly submitted to the judgement of the reader.
THE NECESSITY OF CONNECTIVES FOR THIS PURPOSE.
It will scarcely be doubted by any person of discernment, that as there should always be a natural connexion in the sentiments of a discourse, there should generally be corresponding to this an artifi. cial connexion in the signs. Without such a connexion the whole will appear a sort of patchwork, and not a uniform piece. To such a style we might justly apply the censure which the emperor Cali. gula gave of Seneca's, that it is " sand without lime,"* the parts having no cohesion. As to the connexion of periods and other sentences, it is formed, like that of words, clauses, and members, mostly by conjunctions, frequently by pronouns, the demonstrative especial. Jy,t and sometimes by other methods, of which I shall soon have occasion to take notice.
When facts are related in continuation, or when one argument, remark, or illustration, is with the same view produced after another, the conjunction is a copulative. I If the sentiment in the second sentence is in any way opposed to that which immediately precedes, an adversalive is employed to conjoin them. If it is produced as an exception, there are also exceptive conjunctions for the purpose. || Both the last-mentioned orders are comprehended under the general name disjunctive. If the latter sentence include the reason of what had been affirmed in the preceding, the causal is used. I If, on the
* Arena sine calce.
This, that, such. 1 And, now, also, too, likewise, again, besides, further, morcover, yea, nay, nor. f But, or, however, whereas | Yet, nevertheless.