Abbildungen der Seite

were unacquainted with them: or that they have not read much more than all which you can produce upon the subject, or probably have ever seen?

H. I doubt it not in the least. But the health of the mind, as of the body, depends more upon the digestion than the swallow. Away then with authorities : and let us consider their reasons. They have given us but one; and that one, depending merely upon their own unfounded assertion, viz. That adjectives are not the names of things. Let us try that.

I think you will not deny that gold and brass and silk, is each of them the name of a thing, and denotes a substance. If then I say....A gold-ring, a brasstube, a silk-string; here are the substantives adjectivè posita, yet names of things, and denoting substances.

If again I say....a golden ring, a brazen tube, a silken string; Do gold and brass and silk, cease to be the names of things, and cease to denote substances; because, instead of coupling them with ring, tube and string by a hyphen thus . , I couple them to the same words, by adding the termination en to each of them? Do not the adjectives (which I have made such by the added termination) golden, brazen, silken, (uttered by themselves) convey to the hearer's mind and denote the same things as gold, brass, and silk ? Surely the termination en takes nothing away from the substantives gold, brass, and silk, to which it is united as a termination: and as surely it adds nothing to their signifi. eation, but this single circumstance, viz. That

[blocks in formation]

gold, brass, and silk are designated, by this termination en, to be joined to some other substantive. And we shall find hereafter that en and the equivalent adjective terminations ed and ig (our modern y) convey all three, by their own intrinsic meaning, that designation and nothing else ; for they mean give, add, join. And this single added circumstance of pertaining to,” is (as Wilkins truly tells us) the only difference between a substantive and an adjective; between gold and golden, &c.

So the adjectives wooden and woolen convey precisely the same ideas, are the names of the same things, denote the same substances; as the substantives wood and wool: and the terminating en only puts them in a condition to be joined to some other substantives; or rather, gives us notice to expect some other substantives to which they are to be joined. And this is the whole mystery

of simple adjectives. (We speak not here of compounds, ful, ous, ly, &c.)

An adjective is the name of a thing which is directed to be joined to some other name of a thing. :... And the substantive and adjective so joined, are frequently convertible, without the smallest change of meaning: As we may say....a perverse nature, or, a natural perversity.

F. Mr. Harris is short enough upon this subject; but you are shorter. He declares it “ no way diffi66 cultto understand the nature of a participle : and “easyto understand the nature of an adjective. But to get at them you must according to him, travel to them through the verb.

He says, (pag. 184.).....“ The nature of verbs

being understood, that of participles is no way “ difficult. Every complete verb is expressive of " an attribute ; of time; and of an assertion. Now “ if we take away the assertion, and thus destroy " the verb, there will remain the attribute, and the time, which make the essence of the participle, “ Thus take away the assertion from the verb Ipapel, " writeth, and there remains the participle Ipapan, " writing ; which (without the assertion) denotes “ the same attribute, and the same time."

Again, (pag. 186.)....“ The nature of verbs and

participles being understood, that of adjectives “ becomes easy. A verb implies both an attribute, “ and time, and an assertion. A participle implies

only an attribute and time. And an adjective only implies an attribute.

H. Harris's method of understanding easily the nature of participles and adjectives, resembles very much that of the wag who undertook to teach the sons of Crispin how to make a shoe and a slipper easily in a minute. But he was more successful than Harris : for he had something to cut away, the boot. Whereas Harris has absolutely nothing to be so served. For the verb does not denote

any time ; nor does it imply any assertion. No single word can.

Till one single thing can be found to be a couple, one single word cannot make an adsertion or an ad-firmation : for there is joining in that operation ; and there can be no junction of one thing

F. Is not the Latin ibo an assertion?

[ocr errors]

H. Yes indeed is it, and in three letters. But those three letters contain three words; two verbs and a pronoun.

All those common terminations, in any language, of which all nouns or verbs in that language equally partake (under the notion of declension or conjugation) are themselves separate words with distinct meanings : which are therefore added to the different nouns or verbs, because those additional meanings are intended to be added occasionally to all those nouns or verbs. These terminations are all explicable, and ought all to be explained ; or there will be no end of such fantastical writers as this Mr. Harris, who takes fustian for philosophy.

In the Greek verb l-EVQLI (from the antient Ew or the modern Esi:) In the Latin verb I-; and in the English verb to-hie, or to hi, (1. s. Higan ;) the infinitive terminations Evai and re make no more part of the Greek and Latin verbs, than the infinitive prefix to makes a part of the English verb hie or hi. The pure and simple verbs, without any suffix or prefix, are in the Greek I (or E. ;) in the Latin 1; and in the English hie or hi. These verbs, you see, are the same, with the same meaning, in the three languages; and differ only by our aspirate.

In the Greek βουλ-ομαι or (as anciently) βουλ-έω, or βουλω, βουλ only is the verb; and oμαι, or εω, is a common removeable suffix, with a separate meaning of its own. So in the Latin vol-o, vol is the verb; and o a common removeable suffix, with a separate meaning. And the meaning of Ew in the one, and o in the other, I take to be Eyw, Ego: for I perfectly concur with Dr. Gregory Sharpe and others, that the personal pronouns are contained in the Greek and Latin terminations of the three persons of their verbs. Our old English ich or ig (which we now pronounce I) is not far removed from

ego. Where we now use will, our old English verb was wol; which is the pure verb without prefix or suffix.

Thus then will this assertion ibo stand in the three languages: inverting only our common order of speech,.... Ich, wol, hie or hi, to suit that of the Greek and Latin ; English

Hi Wol Ich.

I Vol 0

I Βουλ They who have noticed that where we employ a w, the Latin employs a v; and where the Latin employs a v, the Greek uses a B (as Aaßid, B807 80 IAVOS, &c.); will see at once, that wol, vol, boul, are one and the same word. And the

progress to ibo is not very circuitous nor unnatural. It is iboul, ibou, ibo. The termination bo (for Bousa) may therefore well be applied to denote the future time of the Latin verbs; since its meaning is I woll (or will). So it is, amaboul, amabou, amabo, &c.(")


(n) When Varchi undertook to shew that the Italian language had more tenses than the Greek and Latin ; Castelvetro objected that the Italian had no future tense, as the Latin had..... Con“ ciossiacosachè la lingua nostra manchi d’un tempo principale, “cio è del futuro, nol potendo significare con una voce simplice:

ma contenendo che lo significhi con una composta ; cio è con

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »