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words. Here the present point of discussion ends, and with it I transcribe the language of Dr. Blair:
"Did men always think clearly," says this author, ❝and were they, at the same time, fully masters of the language in which they write, they would then, of course, acquire all those properties of precision, unity, and strength, which are so much recommended. For we may rest assured, that whenever we express ourselves ill, there is, besides the mismanagement of language, for the most part, some mistake in our manner of conceiving the subject. Embarrassed, obscure, and feeble sentences are generally, if not always, the result of embarrassed, obscure, and feeble thought. Thought and language act and re-act upon each other mutually. Logic and rhetoric have here, as in many other cases, a strict connexion; and he that has learning to arrange his sentences with accuracy and order, has learning at the same time, to think with accuracy and order."
Question respecting the origin of language-was it invented by man, or was it revealed to him by his Creator?-atheistical philosophy-remarks of Johnson-Selkirk-Juan Fernandez--the young man caught in the woods of Hanover-in France-arguments drawn from these circumstances, and from Genesis, chap.2-the knowledge and use of any language to be improved by an acquaintance with other languages-primitive language-the Scriptures afford the safest arguments respecting the transmission of it-writers on this subject not corresponding in their opinions-the claims of different nationsArabians-Syrians-Ethiopians-Armenians and the Jews-etymology of names considered-the name of Babel—and the names which are assigned by Moses to eastern countries, &c.-proved by Mr. Maurice to be the very names by which they were anciently known over all the east.
THERE are questions yet remaining, which seem to be justly related to the topics already discussed, and which are closely connected with an inquiry concerning the nature and philosophy of language. It is interesting to know, by what means, in the first ages of the world, did man learn to speak? Was language invented by man, or was it revealed to him by his Creator? Next to these questions, in point of interest, is that respecting the primitive language;-Has the primitive language been transmitted to the latter ages, or is it extinct? In pursuing these topics, we shall be naturally led to a consideration of those circumstances which caused the changes and the diversity of tongues.
Respecting the origin of language, there can be but two opinions: either language must have been invented by man, or it must have been revealed to him by his Creator.
The ancient and modern professors of atheistical philosophy represent the faculty of articulate speech, or
language, as the mere instinctive expression of the wants and desires of a herd of associated savages, gradually invented for mutual convenience of communication, and established by mutual consent.* But our great lexicographer justly remarks, that "language must have come by inspiration; a thousand, nay million of children, could not invent a language; while the organs are pliable, there is not understanding enough to form a language; and by the time there is understanding enough, the organs are grown stiff." This is confirmed by experience. "Alexander Selkirk, when cast away on the desert island of Juan Fernandez, after some years' residence, almost lost the use of his native tongue. The young savage, called Peter, caught in the woods of Hanover several years ago, though soon tamed and reconciled to society, never could be taught to speak. And lately, the young savage of Aveyron, in France, though put under the care of the celebrated Sicard, master of the deaf and dumb school, has never yet been observed to utter an articulate sound, not even to express his most urgent wants."-D'Oyly and Mant.
But that language was revealed to man by his Creator, may be proved from two circumstances: 1st. Because the Sacred History relates, that man exercised the faculty of speech in his solitary state: and 2dly. Because the same history mentions, that after Eve was brought to Adam, he said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh;" which passage signifies not only that the language of Adam was revealed to him, but that it must have been more copious and perfect than
what has been generally inferred. Now we know, from the instances of Selkirk, Peter the wild boy, and the young savage of France, the circumstances which have been recently named, that the solitary state is altogether unfavourable to language; indeed, as language is the medium of communication, we may safely conclude, that, in his solitary state, language is unnatural to man, and, therefore, must have been revealed to him: and as Adam from positive experience, that is, by "sensation and reflexion," could have known nothing of father and mother, although he spoke of them before the birth of Cain, and intimated that the ties of husband and wife would be greater than the affections of children and parents, it most unquestionably follows, that language was not only revealed to man by his Creator, but also, that, originally, it must have been more copious and perfect than is generally believed.
If this conclusion is accurate, it will, doubtless, be perceived, that it is productive of many interesting questions: all of which would require the superior abilities of the greatest metaphysicians of the day, to discuss and do ample justice to them. They do not, however, belong to the present inquiry; a circumstance exceedingly fortunate to the Writer of this Treatise.
That a more correct knowledge and use of any language, may, with greater facility, be accomplished by an acquaintance with other languages than without them, is a position invariably received by the grammarians of all enlightened nations: and the advantage which is to be derived in the study of English from an intimacy with the Greek and Latin in particular, would be more than equally obtained from an acquaintance with the primitive language of mankind, were it transmitted to us. But
respecting this transmission, the Scriptures, the only true sources whence information of this nature is to be derived, are altogether silent; and the opinions and conjectures of those who have directed their attention to the subject, do not, by any means, correspond with each other. A few remarks, therefore, in repetition of some of the popular arguments on this interesting topic, will assist in rendering the succeeding considerations more easily admissible, and altogether free from ambiguity.
The Arabians, the Syrians, the Ethiopians, the Armenians, and several other nations (as well as some Europeans) dispute, all in their turns, for their respective languages; but the Jews are the people who assert the antiquity and excellence of theirs, with the greatest warmth and vigour.* They maintain, that it was immediately invested by God; that he himself spoke it; for which reason it is called holy; that it is the only language understood by the angels, and wherein we can pray and be heard with effect; it is that wherein the blessed in heaven converse, and wherein every nation, at the general resurrection, shall speak. But waving these fabulous notions-some authors + have maintained, that the Hebrew tongue was the most ancient in the world, the very same which was spoken by Adam and Noah, and preserved in the family of Heber; who formed a society distinct from these, that had suffered in the confusion of Babel, and so transmitted it pure to their posterity. And for the confirmation of this, they produce the names and etymologies of certain persons and things, which have
* F. Simon's Critical History. Buxtorf de Ling. Hebr. Orig.— Stackhouse.
↑ Chrys. tom. 2, Homil. 30. Augustinus de Civit. Dei. Selden de Syned. lib. ii.