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would meet the eye of the beholder. To distinguish the trees by separate names would have been endless. Their common qualities, such as springing from a root, and bearing branches and leaves would suggest a general idea and a general name. The genus, a tree, would afterwards be subdivided into its several species of oak, elm, ash, &c. by experience and observation.”
“ Still, however, only general terms of speech were adopted. For the oak, the elm, and the ash, were names of whole classes of objects, each of which comprehended an immense number of undistinguished individuals. Thus when the terms, man, lion, or tree, were mentioned in conversation, it would not be known which man, lion, or tree was meant, among the multitude comprehended under one name. Hence arose a very
useful and curious contrivance for determining the individual object intended, by means of that part of speech called the article."
Although it is not immediately connected with our present purpose, to enter into the discussion of topics blended with etymology, yet I shall not withhold one or two remarks respecting the article and the pronominal adjective or demonstrative pronoun: and the more especially, as it will corroborate the general argument of the noun substantive's being the primitive part of speech.
An is evidently derived from ane or æne, the Saxon for one. Of all the anomalies in English pronunciation, the part of speech one, pronounced ooun, is nearly the greatest: but whether or not we regard the Saxon pronunciation of ene, ān, as the root of the article an, it is very clear, that we can derive this part of speech even from the corrupted ooun. Thus in vulgar phraseology, ,
a man is a good 'un or a bad ’un: his action is a good
’un or a bad’un:” here un is most certainly a contraction of odun. The possessives mine and thine, and also the vulgar hern and theirn, are unquestionably to be derived from the same source-u being afterwards syncopated. And though the a in an may have descended to us through the obsolete ane, (used in North Britain for one), still the pronunciation of an is as truly the identical articulation of the contracted un, as heard in each of the above phrases. Thus, we say un apple, pronounced as one word, viz. unapple, or un egg, unegg, and not an apple, nor an egg, though it is so written.
Accounting for the article an, and, at the same time, proving, that it was originally either a noun or an adjective, we can account for the article a, independently of the Saxon, upon the same principle as that which governs, in composition, the alteration or elision of the consonants in the Latin ad, ab, con, and in. Thus n before m became altered in the pronunciation to m; before b, to b; and so of the rest of the consonants : or rather the n in the article an before a consonant was identified with the consonant. Thus: instead of saying am man, ab ball, &c. that is, articulating the consonant twice, our ancestors adopted, possibly, the articulation of the Latins in their pronunciation of such words as immitto; here, though m and t are written twice, each letter is articulated but once. The same remarks apply to such English words as committee ; the consonants m and t are only articulated once; i. e. in articulating the letter m, the lips unite once only, and, in articulating t, the tongue connects itself once only with the gums. It is presumed that the root of a and an is clearly seen in the numeral one ; and this enables us to trace a and an to a noun or an adjective. They are called articles indefinite, because they point out the general signification of the substantive to which they are annexed. The article an is used before vowels, and before words beginning with h mute; the article a before consonants, and before the part of speech one, the letter u, when open, as in the words use, union, university, and before the aspirate ho unless the accent of the word be on the second syllable, as an heroic action, an historical account.
Our article the points out and determines how far the signification of the noun or substantive to which it is annexed extends, and is, therefore, called definite. This article closely resembles the demonstrative pronoun that : the principal differences in these two parts of speech appear to be these: the pronoun that has usually an accent, the article the has not: that, therefore, may be used without a noun or substantive, the cannot. Horne Tooke considers that as the past participle, and the as the imperative mood of the verb thean, to get, to take, to assume: but independently of etymological analysis, the and that may be reduced to adjectives by opposing them to a. " I said the hard ball, not a hard ball; I said that red ball, not a red ball.”
In the use of the article, the English is superior to the Roman language: which is exemplified in the following instances. “ The friend of a king—the friend of the king-a friend of the king." Each of these phrases, says Dr. Blair, has a separate meaning, too obvious to be misunderstood. In Latin, amicus regis, is entirely undetermined: it may bear any of the three senses which have been mentioned : and requires other words to ascertain its meaning.* The Greek, o, ng tò, corresponds power; it
* Dr. Blair's Lectures.
with our definite article; the absence of it in Greek, signifies, that a noun or substantive is to be of general application. In this respect, the English is superior to the Greek; but the Greek article, as a prefix to the infinitive mood, as a sign to signify its noun-state, is a refinement, which does not occur in our language.
The former five examples of primary sensations may now be altered and restricted thus:
That harsh sound offends greatly the ear. 6. The ear:" in this instance, the article has peculiarly a restrictive it means, I conceive, the or every ear which is perfectly susceptible; or it may mean the ear of the person speaking
The red ball strikes gently the green ball. .
This damask rose scatters agreeably the odour. Words are the transcripts of ideas: the more strictly these transcriptions adhere to the analogy of thought, the more adequately will the growth of idea be represented. But as the mind, that grand and noble spring of action, is capable of considerable advancement, she is desirous, through the medium of her powers over the body and its organs, to exercise her god-like functions of reason; she is not satisfied with the mere impressive sensation of single objects, with the mere utterance of individual propositions ; but, by a certain consciousness of sensation in her faculty, she is desirous of extending them to the use and comfort of her outward frame; and by affording balmy consolations of future emancipation, she suggests the necessity of a dignified deportment.
When we proceed to reason on the simple proposition, the analogous order of words is in some measure broken;
and supernumerary particles of speech are then adopted, to connect and unite words into another form of phraseology; in which, not only all the operations of the art of reasoning are brought into action; but, likewise, all the flowers and ornaments of mild and soft persuasion are employed, to delight and amuse the imagination. Though the meaning be complex, the unity of the sentence must be perfect. A simple or known object (after the sensation of it has been made upon the mind through the medium of the appropriate outward organ) has, for expression or communication, its one type or single figure in written characters, called a word: but a complex, strange, or undefined object, has its many types, figures, or words, drawn by the mind from likeness, from comparison, and example.
66 As in the works of nature, no man can properly call a river deep, or a mountain high, without the knowledge of many mountains and many rivers ; so in the productions of genius, nothing can be styled excellent, till it has been compared with other works of the same kind."
In communicating this form of idea, the English language is furnished with smaller particles of speech, which stand for relatives, auxiliaries, connectives, conjunctives, and disjunctives, with definers or markers ; these are gathered about the nouns, the verbs, and their attributes, to render them analogous to the perception, and easy and familiar to the understanding. It appears to be the general opinion, that almost all the derivations of Horne Tooke are established : with the following affirmation of his theory respecting pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions, I shall pass over the subject of etymology, recommending to those who are partial to philological study,