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but even objects, which have neither beauty nor gran. deur ; nay, soine which are terrible or deformed, give us pleasure in a secondary or represented view.
The pleasures of melody and harmony belong also to taste. There is no delightful sensation, we receive either from beauty or sublimity, which is not capable of being heightened by the power of musical sound. Hence the charm of poetical numbers ; and even of the concealed and looser measures of prose. Wit, humour and ridicule, open likewise a variety of pleasures to taste, altogether different from any that have yet been considered.
At present it is not necessary to pursue any farther the subject of the pleasures of taste.
We have opened some of the general principles; it is now time to apply them to our chief subjest. If it be asked to what class of those pleasures of taste which have been enumerated, that pleasure is to be referred, which we receive from poetry, eloquence, or fine writing ; the answer is, not to any one but to them all. liar advantage writing and discourse possess ; they encompass a large and fruitful field on all sides, and have power to exhibit in great perfection, not a single se: of objects only, but almost the whole of those which give pleasure to taste and imagination ; whether that pleasure arise from sublimity, from beauty in its vari. ous forms, from design and art, from moral sentiment, from novelty, from harmony, from wit, humour or ridicule. To which soever of these a person's taste is directed, from some writer or other he has it always in his power to receive the gratification of it.
It has been usual among critical writers to treat of discourse as the chief of all the imitative arts. They compare it with painting and with sculpture, and in many respects prefer it justly before them. But we must distinguish between imitation and description. Words have no natural resemblance of the ideas or objects which they signify ; but a statue or picture has a natural likeness for the original.
As far however as a poet or historian introduces into his work persons really speaking, and by words, which
he puts into their mouths, represents the conversation which they might be supposed to hold ; so far his art may be called imitative ; and this is the case in all dramatic composition. But in narrative or descriptive works it cannot with propriety be so called. Who, for example, would call Virgil's description of a tempest in the first Æneid an imitation of a storm? heard of the imitation of a battle, we might naturally think of some mock fight, or representation of a battle on the stage ; but should never imagine it meant one of Homer's descriptions in the Iliad. It must be al. lowed at the same time, that imitation and description agree in their principal effect, that of recalling by external signs the ideas of things which we do not see. But, though in this they coincide, yet it should be remembered, that the terms themselves are not synonimous ; that they import different means of producing the same end ; and consequently make different impressions on the mind.
ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF LANGUAGE.
To form an adequate idea of the origin of language, we must contemptate the circumstances of mankind in their earliest and rudest state. They were then a wandering scattered race ; no society among them ex. cept families; and family society also very imperfect, as their mode of living by hunting or pasturage must have separated them frequently from each other.
In such a condition, how could any one set of sounds or words be universally agreed on, as the signs of their ideas ? Supposing that a few, whom chance or necessity threw together, agreed by some means upon çer. tain signs; yet by what authority could these be so propagated among o her tribes or families, as to grow up into a language?. One would imagine that men must have been previously gathered together in considerable numbers, before language could be fixed and extended; and yet on the other hand there seems to
have been an absolute necessity of speech previous to the formation of society. For by what bond could a multitude of men be kept together, or be connected in prosecution of any common interest, before by the as. sistance of speech they could communicate their wants and intentions to each other ? So that, how society could subsist previously to language, and how words could rise into language before the formation of society, seem to be points attended with equal difficulty. When we consider farther that curious analogy which prevails in the construction of almost all languages, and that deep and subtle logic, on which they are founded ; difficulties increase so much upon us, on all sides, that there seems to be no small reason for referring the origin of all language to divine inspiration.
But supposing language to have a divine original, we cannot imagine that a perfect system of it was at once given to man. It is much more natural to suppose that God taught our first parents only such language as suited their present occasions ; leaving them as he did in other respects, to enlarge and improve it as their future necessities should require. Consequently, those rudiments of speech must have been poor and narrow ; and we are at liberty to inquire, in what manner, and by what steps, language advanced to the state in which we now find it.
Should we suppose a period existed before words were invented or known ; it is evident that men could have no other method of communicating their feelings, than by the cries of passion, accompanied by such motions and gestures as were farther expressive of emotion. These indeed are only signs which nature teaches all men, and which are understood by all. One, who saw another going into some place, where he himself had been frightened, or exposed to danger, and who wished to warn his neighbour of the danger, could contrive no other method of doing it than by uttering those cries, and making those gestures, which are the signs of fear, as two men at this day would endeavour to make themselves understood by each other, is thrown together on a desolate island, ignorant of each
other's language. Those exclamations, therefore, by grammarians called interjections, uttered in a strong and passionate manner, were undoubtedly the elements of speech.
When more enlarged communication became requisite, and names began to be applied to objects, how can we suppose men proceeded in this application of names, or invention of words ? Certainly by imitating, as much as they could, the nature of the object named by the sound of the name given to it. As a painter who would represent grass must employ a green colo our ; so in the infancy of language, one giving a name to any thing harsh or boisterous, would of course em. ploy a harsh or boisterous sound. He could not do otherwise if he desired to excite in the hearer the idea of that object which he wished to name. To imagine words invented, or names given to things, without any ground or reason, is to suppose an effect without a
There must always have been some motive which led to one name, rather than another; and we can suppose no motive, which would more generally operate upon men in their first efforts toward language, than a desire to paint by speech the object which they named in a manner more or less complete, according as it was in the power of the human voice to effect this imitation.
Wherever objects were to be named, in which sound, noise or motion was concerned, the imitation by words was sufficiently obvious. Nothing was more natural than to imitate by the sound of the voice the quality of the sound or noise which any external object produced, and to form its name accordingly. Thus in all languages we discover a multitude of words, which are evi. dently constructed on this principle. A certain bird is called the cuckoo, from the sound which it emits. When one sort of wind is said to whistle, another to roar ; when a serpent is said to his8, a fly to buzz, and falling timber to crash ; when a stream is said to flow, and hail to rattle ; the resemblance between the word and the thing signified is plainly discernible. But in the names of objects which address the sight only, where neither noise nor motion is concerned ; and still more in terms appropriated to moral ideas, this analo. gy appears to fail. Yet many learned men have imag: ined, that though in such cases it becomes more obscure, it is not altogether lost; and that in the radical words of all languages there may be traced some degree of correspondence with the objects signified.
This principle however, of a natural relation between words and objects, can be applied to language only in its most simple and early state. Though in every tongue some remains of it may be traced, it were utterly in vain to search for it through the whole construction of any modern language. As terms increase in every nation, and the vast fields of language are file led up, words by a thousand fanciful and irregular methods of derivation and composition deviate widely from the primitive character of their roots, and lose all resemblance in sound of the things signified. This is the present state of language. Words as we now use them, taken in general, may be considered as symbols, not imitations ; as arbitrary or instituted, not natural signs of ideas. But there can be no doubt, that language, the nearer we approach to its rise among men, will be found to partake more of a natural expression.
Interjections, it has been shown, or passionate exclamations, were the elements of speech. Men laboured to communicate their feelings to each other by those expressive cries and gestures which nature taught them. After words, or names of objects began to be invented, this mode of speaking by natural signs could not be all at once disused. For language in its infancy must have been extremely barren ; and there certainly was a period among all rude nations, when conversation was carried on by a very few words, intermixed with many exclamations and earnest gestures, The small stock of words which men then possessed, rendered those helps entirely necessary for explaining their conceptions, and rude uncultivated individuals, not having always ready even the few words which they know, would naturally labour to make themselves understood by varying their tones of voice, and by ac