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Sentences-the opinion that every sentence is a factitious word controverted-Burke-the unity essential to a thinking being is not requisite to the operations of a thinking being-ellipsis of the verb "to be"-sentences of childhood-opinion that the imperatives, go, hark, &c. are virtual sentences-this opinion controverted--order of words analogous to the operations of intellect-elucidations-and conclusion of the argument.
HERE we might proceed to discuss other subjects, and to reflect upon the changes and diversities of language; but, prior to this, it seems requisite to say a few words concerning the construction of sentences as connected with the progress of intellect.
In a work which is already before the public, I have adopted the analytical arrangement of the compact and loose sentences of Walker; from what has been advanced in this Treatise, it will be seen that I have not had occasion to alter the opinion. The conceptions, which my inquiries have led me to adopt respecting language, still continue to be precisely the same as those of Walker, and, consequently, different from the opinions of any writer, "whose views of the nature of language" have disposed him to regard every sentence as forming “a factitious WORD." In unison with this latter opinion, I have lately read, "that if language, in its progress towards perfection, could have proceeded on the pattern of nature, it must have invented a WORD for every sentiment that was to be expressed, which wORD would have been proper for that sentiment, and for none other." On another occasion, the same writer, I believe, maintains that "the words composing any sentence are on the footing of letters composing a word. The two cases
would indeed be exactly parallel," says the writer, “were every person allowed to follow his own fancy in the .spelling of words; but the rules of orthography are fixed, and they alone spell correctly, who spell in one particular way. But in the spelling of his thoughts by words, every person is allowed to follow his own method." This is fortunate: but if I might be permitted to propose a question, I should ask "whose method else could he follow?" Hortensius would tell us that few can examine into the nature of their thoughts; and that even in the use of instituted language, men frequently make use of words without any clear, correspondent ideas attached to them: disputation or confusion is the result. But it will be retorted, that "an apparatus that requires and implies so much art in the management, little accords, on many occasions, with the fervour and rapidity of our thoughts. If the passion is violent, we give it vent in short abrupt sentences, which, from constant use, suggest themselves as readily as the language of nature; still they are far from being adequate to our purpose, because they exhibit the circumstances by which we are influenced only by starts and fits; we want the ONE WORD that shall lay bare the mind in a moment; but it cannot be found, and we have only to avail ourselves of the best means in our power to supply its place." It is difficult to conceive, how, upon such a notion of language and thought as these extracts convey, a theory of elocution should have been formed: that such an attempt, however, has been made, will appear from the following compendium:-" A sentence, in point of expression, is but a single word, the parts of which it is composed being merely grammatical divisions, more or less closely connected in this respect, but not at all related to any
correspondent division in the thought, which, in their united capacity, they serve to express. As to pronunciation, therefore, we may expect that a sentence will be liable to the same affections as a single, independent word, and, making the necessary allowances of length, this will be found universally the case." Admitting, for one moment, the former theory to be sound, an application of it to the rules of pronunciation and delivery, is altogether out of the question. There is not, in my opinion, the slightest analogy whatever between the pronunciation or expression of an individual part of speech, and the various characters of the voice, its respirations, breaks, and pauses, in the utterance of a sentence: and the truth of this position more strongly appears, when we take into consideration the nature of some of the promi nent tropes and figures in rhetoric as blended with the oratorical delivery of a sentence. A discussion of these points, however, does not belong to the object of this Treatise; at present I shall merely confine myself to the former theory, promising to recur to the points connected with elocution at some future period.
The five elementary parts of speech clearly elucidate the essential principles of grammar. But these elements, placed in their analogous order, relate only to simple thoughts, and simple individual propositions. It has been shewn, that when we proceed to reason on the simple proposition, the order of words is, in some measure, broken; and supernumerary particles are then adopted, to connect and unite words into another form of phraseology of which parts of speech, the adjective, the substantive, and the verb, grammarians regulate and form into sentences, by the two general rules of concord and government. These, I have endeavoured to prove,
may, with the greatest propriety, be modelled on the prominent principles of the Eton Latin Grammar.
Each sort of sentence, strictly speaking, conveys only one thought: but the procedure of language in expressing thought is exceedingly varied. "A man seldom detects a pleasing error." We perceive, that the example, placed within the signs of quotation, conveys to the mind but one thought. If the example be altered thus: “A man never detects a pleasing error," the logical deduction of the proposition appears false or doubtful, and the qualifying clause, "till reflexion operates," is requisite to be added, that the thought may be rendered just and true. The following example conveys one thought only, but two efforts of the mind are requisite to complete it. "There is a vigilance of observation, and accuracy of distinction, which books and precepts cannot confer; and from this, almost all original and native excellence proceeds." The construction may be so altered, as shall enable one effort of the mind to comprehend and complete the whole sentence. "Almost all original and native excellence proceeds from a certain vigilance of observation and accuracy of distinction, which books and precepts cannot confer." These two or three examples prove how very various is the procedure of language in the communication of thought. "There are but few men," says the writer Hortensius,* "who are masters of the tongue they daily use, and fewer still who can give a rational account of their own thoughts: they cannot examine into the nature of their thoughts, for it is not in their power to unravel them. Hence the frequent use they make of words without any
* Deinology: or the Union of Reason and Elegance; by Hortensius; page 108: published 1789, by Robinson and Co.
clear, correspondent ideas attached to them; or if they have a clear idea of an object, they are at a loss for the true term that expresses it. Their meaning is guessed at and generally mistaken; disputation ensues, and the result is confusion." And yet another writer conceives, that our thoughts are of so determined a character, as that the natural expression of any individual thought is capable of being identified with the utterance of a single WORD. But strange as it may probably appear to an individual entertaining such a doctrine, the author of the Sublime and Beautiful was of opinion, "that we are often at a loss to know what ideas we have of things, or whether we have any ideas at all upon some subjects." It is nevertheless to be admitted, that every separate word, as it stands united with others in a sentence, does not of itself convey a definite meaning. Nor do the five elementary parts of speech, used collectively and in their analogous order, convey a definite signification: they require restrictive particles and relatives to limit the sum total of thought. This also was well understood by Burke: and he expressed himself in such a manner, that few could fail of interpreting his meaning:-" It is impossible," says he, "in the rapidity and quick succession of words in conversation, to have ideas both of the sound of the word, and of the thing represented; besides, some words, expressing real essences, are so mixed with others of a general and nominal import, that it is impracticable to jump from sense to thought, from particulars to generals, from things to words, in such a manner as to answer the purposes of life: nor is it necessary that we should." Part 5, sec. 5, SUBLIME and BEAUTIFUL. And yet, with great judgment, the same writer has áffirmed, "that it is hard to repeat certain words, though