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In the firft chapter the Author exposes, in a very lively manner, the great mistakes into which grammarians and philosophers have fallen, in their several attempts to enumerate che distinct parts of speech. Some have allowed thirty; and none have acknowledged less than eight. But the errors of grammarians have arilen from suppoling all words to be immediately, either the signs of Things, or the signs of ideas; whereas, in fact, many words are merely abbreviations employed for dispatch, and are the signs of OTHER WORDS. • These are the artificial wings of Mercury (ETEZ 77epzoula), by means of which the Argus.eyes of pbilosopby have been cheated.'
The ingenious Author proceeds to strip Mercury of his wings: for they do not make a part of his body. It is only to loose the ftrings from his feet and take off his cap; and we Thall then see wbat sort of a figure he will make without them.
The first aim of language was to communicate our thoughts ; the second, to do it with dispatch. The difficulties and disputes concerning language have arisen almost entirely from negle&ting the consideration of the latter purpose of speech ; which, though subordinate to the former, is almost as necessary in the com. merce of mankind, and has a much greater thare in accounting for the different sorts of words. Abbreviations are employed in language three ways:
1. In terms.
3. In construction. Mr. Locke's Elay is acknowledged by our Author to be the beft guide to the firft; but it is the second only that he under. takes to illustrate and unfold in the present work, because hitherto it bath escaped the proper notice of all who have written on the subject of grammar,
In the second chapter. Mr. Tooke briefly confiders fome pofia tions of Mr. Locke; and though he professes a veneration for his character, yet he hesitates not to say, that in the Effay on Human Understanding, the great writer never did advance one step beyond the origin of ideas and the composition of terms.
Mr. Locke was not sufficiently aware of the inseparable con nedion between words and knowledge, if he had, it is prefumed that he would not have talked of the composition of ideas; but would have perceived that it was merely a contrivance of language, and that the only composicion was in the terms, and consequently that it was as improper to talk of a complex idea, as it would be so call a confellation a complex far. In fact, they are not ideas, but merely terms, which are general and abftra&t.
Mr. Locke's reasoning againft innase ideas is equally cogent againft the composition of ideas. The former no more involve an
absurdity absurdiey than the latter. Both are impossible on the principles of Mt. Locke's theory, and on a physical confideration of the fenses and of the mind.
The chapter that treats of particles in the Effay on Human Understanding, is very unsatisfactory. The subject is treated in a loose, uncertain manner, as if the Author had not settled his opinion concerning the manner of signification of words.
Mr. Locke fupposed, with Aristotle, Scaliger, and Meff. de Port Royal, that affirming and denying were operations of the mind; and referred all the other words to the same source ; • though (lays Mr. Tooke), if the different sorts of words had been (as he was willing to believe) to be accounted for, by the different operations of the mind, it was almost impossible they should have escaped the penetrating eye of Mr. Locke."
The reader ought by no means to lose fight of Mr Tooke's pofition-for it is the leading principle of his whole work-viz, that particles or indeclinable words (as they have been called), such as conjunctions, prepofitions, and adverbs, are the signs of OTHER WORDS : they are merely abbreviations contrived for the dispatch of language: and the source of all the errors into which grammarians have been led, ariseth from confidering them fimply as the signs of ideas, or the fians of things. ' Into what blunders might nor the art of short.hand (practised almost exclufively by the English) lead foreign philosophers, who, not knowing that we had any other alphabet, thould suppose each part to be the sign of a single sound ?' In language there are not only signs of sounds, but again, for the fake of abbreviation, Signs of those signs, one under another, in continued progression.
In the third chapter the Author confiders the parts of speech; and endeavours to establish this position, viz.
That in English, and in all languages, there are only two forts of words, which are necisary for the communication of our thoughts :
1. NOUN, and
2. VERE.' But if parts of speech are unnecessarily encreased, there is no number to which they can be limited. In the strict sense of the term, no doubt but the necessary words and the abbreviations are all of them.parts of speech; because they are all usefui in language, and each has a different manner of signification. Buc it is of great consequence boih to knowledge and to language, to keep the words employed for the different purposes of speech as diltinct as possible. - The Author, therefore, is inclined to allow the denomination of parts of speech only to the necessary words; and to include all the others (which are not neceffary to speech, but merely substitutes of the first fort) under the title of abbrevige rions. Those substitutes are commodious, but not absolutely essential, to the primary end of language. ! A fledge (says he) cannot
be drawn along as smoothly, and easily, and swiftly, as a car riage with wheels; but it may be dragged.' He therefore maintains, that without using any other sort of word whatever, and merely by the means of the noun and the verb alone, we can communicate or relate any thing that we can relate or communicate with the help of all the others.' Though, indeed, he acknowledges, that without abbreviations language can get on but lamely; and therefore they have been introduced, in differ, cat plenty, and more or less happily, in all languages.
Upon those two points, abbreviation of terms, and abbreviation in the manner of fignification of words, depends the excel, lence of every language.
In the farther progress of this ingenious work, the Author's position is fairly put to the trial. It is examined with the most rigid exactness. Obje&ions are proposed in their fullest strength, and answered clearly, minutely, and satisfactorily. Every as, fertion is supported by reason and illustrated by example. The ground is cleared by the Author as he advances : and the confidence which he hath in the truth and firmness of his system, leads bim to invite criticism, and even to seek out objections. He disguises nothing : he pasles over nothing in haste; and his sole with seems to be, to get fairly at the truth, and as fairly to communicate it to others.
The fourth chapter creats of nouns; and a noun is defined to be, the fimple or complex, the particular or general sign or name of one or more ideas.
In this chapter Mr. Tooke very successfully overthrows Mr. ) Harris's position relative to genders; and says, that all his reasoning respecting the genders of the fun and moon is fallacious; for in the northern languages fun is feminine, and moon is masculine ; indeed so feminine is the sun, that our northern mythology makes her the wife of Tuisco. Chap. V. Of the article and interjeclion.
The Author takes the part of the article against those grammarians who degrade it (like the Abbé Girard) to the humble Aation of avant-coureurs merely to announce the approach or en trance of a noun. Scaliger bestowed on it more opprobrious language Iti!l. He called it otiofum loquafiffimæ gentis inftrumentum. Mr. Tooke endeavours to reitore the article to its primitive honour; but in vindicating its rights, be falls foul on the interjection, and loads it with more abusive and contemptu. ous epithets, than Scaliger applied to the article. • The brutih, inarticulate interjection (says he), which has nothing to do withi speech, and is only the miserable refuge of the speechless, has been permitted, because beautiful and gaudy, to usurp a place among words, and to exclude the article from its well.earned dignity. ..... The neighing of a horse, the lowing of a cow,
the barking of a dog, sneezing, coughing, groaning, shrieking, and every other involuntary convulfion with oral round, bave almoft as good a title to be called parts of speech as interjections have. ... And, indeed, where will you look for the interjee tion? will you find it amongst law, or in books of civil institutions, in hiftory, or in any treatise of useful arts or sciences ? No. You may seek for it in rhetoric and poetry, in novels, plays, and romances.'
Though Mr. Locke hath not once mentioned the article, yet he hath sufficiently proved its neceffity, by his observations on the use and importance of general terms. Our Author establishes the necessity of the article on the ground of Mt. Locke's reasonings, and observes, that it is the bufiness of the article to reduce the generality of terms, and, upon occasion, to enable us to employ general terms for particulars. If, in combination with a general term, it is a fubfitute, yet it is a necessary substitute, which is more than can be raid of abbreviations that have been advanced into diftin&t parts of speech: for they are not effential to the communication of our thoughts.
The fubftance of what is advanced in the four following chapters hath already been communicated to the Public in a loca ter addressed by the Author to Mr. Dunning in the year 1778*.
His reflections on the fate of his prosecution + for a libel against the state, are partly serious and partly ludicrous. We will not repeat them, because they have little concern with phie lology; though he declares, that it is probable that his papers (drawn up above twenty years ago) would have been finally configned with himself to oblivion, if he had not been made the miserable victim ofatwo prepositions and a conjunction.
The conjunction that was made one of the tatal inftruments of Mr. Horne Tooke's civil extinclion (for such hath actually been the consequence of his prosecution), is largely treated of in the fixth chapter ; and is no other than
The word THAT. It is enquired if the conjunction that has any, the smalleft, correspondence or similarity of fignification with that the article or pronoun
• In my opinion' (says our Author), the 'word that (call it what you please, either article, or pronoun,
or conjunction) recains álways one and the same fignification. He is fo confident of this, that he wilhes to have the rule tried by every other language ; and bath no doubt of its being found universally true.
See Rev. vol. lix. p. 161. + Our Author, as is well known, was profecuted by the Attorney General for an advertisement which was construed into a libel. He was found guilty, and sentenced to be imprisoned for one year.
He examines it by some instances, in which the same fignification of the word is preserved, after the confruction of the fentence is resolved.
EXAMPLE. • I wish you to believe that I would not wilfully hurt a fly.
RESOLUTION, I would not wilfully hurt a fly; I wish you to believe THÁT affertion.)
EXAMPLE. . She knowing THAT Crooke had been indicted for forgery,
did lo and fo.
RESOLUTION. • Crooke had been indiced for forgery; Me, knowing THAT, did lo and fo.
After the fame manner our Author prefumes, that all sentences may be resolved in all languages, where the conjunction that, or its equivalent, is employed ; and by such resolution it will ale ? ways be discovered to have merely the fame force and fignification, and to be in fact nothing else but the very fame word -which, in other places, is called an article or a pronoun.
In a note the Author observes, that it is not extraordinary ·
Aa Example and a Refolation are produced.
Or, in English tbus :
In the seventh and eighth chapters the Author treats of conjunctions in general, and of the etymology of English conjunctions in particular,
The fate of conjunctions hath been various. Mr. Harris says, that they appear in grammar, like zoophytes in nature, a kind of middle beings of amphibious character; which, by sharing the attributes of the higher and the lower, conduce to link the whole together.'
Mr. Tooke makes himself very merry with this definition, and asserts, that it is impossible to convey a nothing in a more ingenious manner.' And Lord Monboddo comes in for a share of the ridicule thrown on Mr. Harris's • zoopbytes ;' for they have made fo wonderful an impression on his Lordship’s fancy, that B 4