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then possessed, rendered those helps entirely necessary for explaining their conceptions; and rude, uncultivated individuals, not having always teady even the few words, which they knew, would naturally labour to make themselves understood by varying their tones of voice, and by accompanying their tones with the most expressive gesticulations.
To this mode of speaking, necessity gave rise. But we must observe that, after this necessity had in a great degree ceased, by language becoming in process of time more extensive and copious, the ancient manner of speech still subsisted among many nations; and, wbat had arisen from: necessity, continued to be used for ornament. In the Greek and Roman languages, a musical and gesticulating pronunciation was retained in a very bigh degree. Without attending to this, we shall be at a loss in understanding several passages of the classics, which relate to the public speaking and theatrical entertainments of the ancients. Our modern pronunciation would have seemed to them a lifeless monotony. The declamation of their orators and the pronunciation of their actors upon the stage approached to the nature of recitative in music ; was capable, of being marked by notes, and supported by instruments; as several learned men have proved.
With regard to gesture the case was parallel; for strong tones and animated gestures always go together. The action both of orators and players in Greece and Rome was far more vehement than that to which we are accustomed. Roscius would appear a madman. Gesture was of such consequence on the ancient stage, that
there is reason for believing that on some occasions the speaking and the acting were divided ; which, according to our ideas, would form a strange exhibition. One player spoke the words in the proper tones, while another expressed the corresponding motions and gestures. Cicero tells us, it was a contest between him and Roscius, whether he could express a sentiment in a greater variety of phrases, or Roscius in a greater variety of intelligible significant gestures. At last, gesture engrossed the stage entirely; for under the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, the favourite entertainment of the public was the pan. tomime, which was carried on by gesticulation only. The people were moved, and wept at it as much as at tragedies; and the passion for it became so violent, that laws were made for restraining the senators from studying the pantomime' art. Now, though in declamations and theatrical exhibitions, both. tone and gesture were carried much farther than in common discourse; yet public speaking of any kind must in every country bear some proportion to the manner which is used in conversation; and such public entertainments could never be relished by a nation whose tones and gestures in discourse were as languid as ours.
The early language of men, being entirely composed of words descriptive of sensible objects, became of necessity extremely metaphorical. For, to signify any desire or passion, or any act or feeling of the mind, they had no fixed expression which was appropriated to that purpose ; but were obliged to paint the emotion or passion, which they felt, by alluding to those sensible objects, which had most connexion with it,and wbich could render it in some degree visible to others.
But it was not necessity alone, that gave rise to this pictured style. In the infancy of all societies, fear and surprise, wonder and astonishment, are the most frequent passions of men. Their language will necessarily be affected by this character of their minds. They will be disposed to paint every thing in the strongest colours. Even the manner, in which the first tribes of men uttered their words, had considerable influencé on their style. Wherever strong exclamations, tones and gestures, are connected with conversation, the imagination is always more exercised; a greater effort of fancy and passion is excited. Thus the fancy, being kept awake and rendered more sprightly by this mode of utterance, operates upon style, and gives it additional life and spirit.
As one proof among many which might be produced of the truth of these observations, we shall transcribe a speech from Colden's History of the Five Indian Nations, which was delivered by their chiefs, when entering on a treaty of peace with us, in the following language. “We are happy in having buried under ground the red axe, that has so often been died in the blood of our brethren. Now in this fort we inter the axe, and plant the tree of peace. We plant a tree, whose top will reach the sun ; and its branches spread abroad so that it shall be seen afar off. May its growth never be stifled and choked; but may it shade both your country and ours with its leaves! Let us make fast its roots, and extend them to the utmost of your colonies. If the
French should come, to shake this tree, we should know it by the motion of its roots reaching into our country. May the Great Spirit allow us to rest in tranquillity upon our mats, and never again dig up the axe, to cut down the tree of peace! Let the earth be trodden hard over it, where it lies buried. Let a strong stream run under the pit, to wash the evil away out of our sight and remembrance. The fire, that had long burned in Albany, is extinguished. The bloody bed is washed clean, and the tears are wiped from our eyes. We now renew the covenant chain of friendship. Let it be kept bright and clean as silver, and not suffered to contract any rust. Let not any one pull away his arm from it.”
As language in its progress grew more copious, it gradually lost that figurative style, which was its early character. The vehement manner of speaking by tones and gestures became less common. Instead of poets, philosophers became the instructers of men; and in their reasoning on all subjects introduced that plainer and more simple style of composition which we now call prose. Thus the ancient metaphorical and poetical dress of language was at length laid aside in the intercourse of men, and reserved for those occasions only, on which ornament was professedly studied.
RISE AND PROGRESS OF LANGUAGE AND OF
WHEN we examine the order in which words are arranged in a sentence, we find a very remarkable difference between ancient and mod
ern tongues. The consideration of this will serve to unfold farther the genius of language, and to shew the causes of those alterations, it has undergone in the progress of society.
To conceive distinctly the nature of this alteration, we must go back, as before, to the earliest period of language. Let us figure to ourselves a savage beholding some fruit, which he earnestly desires, and requests another to give him. Suppose him upacquainted with words, he would strive to make himself understood by pointing eagerly at the object desired, and uttering at the same time a passionate cry. Supposing him to have acquired words, the first word which he would utter would be the name of that object. He would not express himself according to our order of construction, “Give me fruit;' but according to the Latin order, "Fruit give me," - Fructum da mihi,” for this plain reason, that his attention was wholly directed toward fruit, the object desired. Hence we might conclude a priori, that this was the order in which words were most commonly arranged in the infancy of language; and accordingly we find in reality that in this order words are arranged in most of the ancient tongues, as in the Greek and Latin ; and it is said likewise in the Russian, Sclavonic, Gaelic, and several American tongues.
The modern languages of Europe have adopted a different arrangement from the ancient. In their prose compositions very little variety is admitted in the collocation of words ; they are chiefly fixed to one order, which may be called the order of the understanding. They place first in the sentence the person or thing, which