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same principle, differing only to the eye and the ear, the elements, the cognate consonants, or commutable letters retain their peculiar power, however, they may change their relation or form. The letters formed by the same organs may be changed for one another: as B, F, M, P, V, and W-D, F, Th, and S-G, C, K, and Q, R, L, and D: that is, labials may be changed for labials, and dentals for dentals. To try the theory on the first word that occurs; the word have is written variously, habban in the Saxon, haben in the German, avoir in the French, avere in the Italian, haber in the Spanish, habeo in the Latin, and in Greek. The liqued sounds or vowels only assist in enunciation, producing melody, and are to be rejected in determining the power of a word : this done and it will be seen that v is the leading element in the examples given. The cognate letters run thus : hv in the English, vr in French, vr in Italian, hb in Latin, Saxon and Spanish, and x in Greek: the b and the x belonging to the same class with v, and therefore, possess the same power. And the power of the word have” must be deduced from the power of

If all the words into which v enters as a leading element are found to possess modifications of the same power, it will confirm the truth of the theory above noticed ; though whether it is as fanciful as it is beautiful when thoroughly tested, is left for the doctors to determine. That it possesses truth enough to give interest to such an investigation, not even the doctors themselves will doubt. It furnishes at least a kind of demonstration that language is not entirely that

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arbitrary thing that it is declared to be by some. True, it adapts itself to circumstances, it changes radically to the eye and ear, but its fundamental element remains the same. Like the sensible Universe, its varieties are always the same elements considered in new relations, its changes are only the changes of the spirit's robe, not changes of the essential soul. It serves to demonstrate that language, after the learned rubbish, which has been accumulating upon it for ages, is removed, becomes a natural study, allied to nature, and governed by innate laws, instead of the caprices of custom, or the edicts of doctors.

The dispute as to the Northern origin of the English language has been renewed of late with a good deal of zeal. Criticism has revealed defects in the argument in favor of its true Saxon birth, and ostensibly has overthrown it: but it has set up nothing whatever in its place. The logic employed works well with a subject that runs back “into the depths of antiquity,” and seems to prove that the Saxon language itself was derived from the Latin and Greek. But supposing we adopt an analogous proposition, referring to modern times, viz: the languages of the North American Indians have been written and printed by means of an alphabet derived from the English, therefore, they derived their language from the English, and will derive from them their literature, if they should ever have any. This proposition shows, at first sight, that it is necessary to look further for the origin of a language than its alphabet, and is all the answer that such an argument merits.

A truce with theories and metaphysical distinctions : we propose to trace the origin and progress of our language as it has come down in our literature, and shall go no farther into "the depths of antiquity” than is necessary to exhibit a clear and entire view of it. The elements of a single language are scattered far and wide : and are to be sought out from a great profusion and variety: it is not possible and would not be profitable to follow out every ramification, and seek the source of each word, and such a multitude of questions presses in upon us that it is necessary to confine our remarks to a simple view.

The progress of the language as it has come down to us since its formation, may be compared to that of a mighty stream. It rises from a single fountain, or gushes from the rocks in the deep forest, and winds its feeble course through mountainous obstructions on every side, which tower to the heavens, till at last, it gathers strength from tributaries, and gradually expanding itself, and deepening its channel, it flows from the mountains into the plain, where, from the richness imparted to the soil, the lilly and the rose soon smile upon its borders, and the productions of genius are reflected from its surface. In surveying the flood of English Literature, it is easy for us to imagine ourselves ascending a magnificent yet unexplored stream. Now its clear waters reflect the sunbeams of genius into gems, and changeful stars; and now mirror in their bosom the overhanging firmament with its suns and planets. The names that shine forth in the literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, are like

the stars that form the milky way; each one contributes to the stream of light, but is itself lost in the universal blaze. In the sixteenth century the language is yet unsettled, but a few great names appear conspicuous.

In the fifteenth, learning stagnated, and contains but little that is sparkling or permanently bright; but the genius of Chaucer shed a dim lustre upon the age that preceded it; he reduced the rude combinations of his native tongue to some order, and commenced the era of vernacular literature. As we pass from this age, we find the language in an unformed state. It reflects no beauty, it sheds no light. It is rather like the commingling of different streams falling from different mountains, and filled with sediment,—too disturbed to reflect even the beams of the noon-day sun.

Back in the ages of barbarism we find three different dialects contributing to the formation of the English language, viz: the Saxon, (a) the Danish and the Nor

(a) Hickes, in his Anglo Saxon Grammar, states that there are three dialects of the Saxon language distinguishable from the pure and regular language of which he has already treated, namely, thal found in the authors who flourished in the southern and western parts of Britain. These dialects he arranges according to certain periods of history, as follows: 1. The Britanno Saron, which, he says, was spoken by our ancestors from the original invasion of Britain till the entrance of the Dines, being about three hundred and thirty-seven years 2. The Dano-Saxon, which he says was used from the entrance of the Danes till the Noman invasion, being two hundred and seventy-four years, and more especially in the northern parts of England and the south of Scotland. 3. The Normanno-Dano-Saxon, spoken from the invasion by the Normans till the time of Henry II., which towards the end of that time, he says, might be termeil Semi-Saxon, Writers of considerable eminence appear to have considered this arrangement of the dialects as a complete history of the language, without adverting to the circumstance of Hickes' distinguishing them all from the pure and regular language which is the primary subject of the work. From this partial view, a notion has become current, that the Dano-Saxon dialect previ. ously to or during the reigns of the Canutes, became the general language of this country, and that our present language was formed by gradual alterations, superinduced upon the Dano-Saxon. This being taken for granted, it has appear. ed easy to decide upon the antiquity of some of the existing remains.

The land we are now on, in fancy, on whose soil and beneath whose sky began the formation of our English language, is Britain. Into her changeful climate, and romantic scenery, flowed three successive waves of immigration. From three various dialects was produced by degrees a language having soinething in common with each, but vastly superior to either. It was not the peaceful production of physical


Poems written in Dano-Saxon have been of course ascribed to the Dano-Saxon period; and Beowulf, and the poems of Caedmon, have been deprived of that high antiquity which a perusal of the writings themselves inclines us to attrib. ute to them, and referred to a comparatively modern era.

With all due respect for the learning of the author of Thesaurus, it may be said, that he has introduced an unnecessary degree of complexity on the subject of the dialects. His first dialect, the Britanno-Saxon, may be fairly laid out of the question. The only indisputable specimen of it, according to his account, is what he calls •a fragment of the true Caedmon' preserved in Alfred's version of Bede,- a poem which has nothing in language or style to distinguish it from the admitted productions of Alfred. Dismissing the supposed Britanno-Saxon as unworthy of consideration, the principal remains of the Saxon language may be arranged into two classes, viz: those which are written in pure Anglo-Saxon, and those which are written in Dano-Saxon. These, in fact, were the two great dia. Jects of the language. The former was used, as Hickes observes, in the southern and western parts of England; and the latter in the northern parts of England and the south of Scotland. It is entirely a gratuitous supposition to imagine that either of these dialects commenced at a much later period than the other. Each was probably as old as the beginning of the Heptarchy. We know, that, among the various nations which composed it, the Saxons became predominant in the southern and western parts, and the Angles in the northern. As these nations were distinct in their original seats on the continent, so they arrived at different times, and brought with them different dialects. This variety of speech continued till the Norman conquest, and even afterwards. It is not affirmed that the dialects were absolutely invariable. Each would be more or less changed by time, and by intercourse with foreigners. The mutual connex. ion, also, which subsisted between the different nations of the Heptarchy would necessarily lead to some intermixture. But we may with safety assert, that the two great dialects of the Saxon language continued substantially distinct as long as the language itself was in use,--that the Dano Saxon in short never superceded the Anglo-Saxon. In a formal desertation on this subject, citations might be made from the Saxon laws, from Ethelbert to Canute, from the Saxon Chronicle, from charters, and from works confessedly written after the Norman conquest, lo show that whatever changes took place in the dialects of the southern and western parts of Britain, it never lost its distinctive character or became what can with any propriety be termed Dano-Saxon. After the Norman conquest both the dialects were gradually corrupted, till they terminated in modern English.


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