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« he is not yet above twenty Years old) if his Mother, whose Darling he is, will venture him.
To the S B E C T A TOR.
The humble Petition of Benjamin Easie, Gent. Sheweth, "THAT it was your Petitioner's Misfortune to walk • 1 to Hackney Church last Sunday, where to his great • Amazement he met with a Soldier of your own training; "The furls a Fan, rècovers a Fan, and goes through tħe • whole Exercise of it to Admiration. This well-managed «"Officer of yours has, to my knowledge, been the Ruin • of above five young Gentlemen besides my self, and till • goes on laying waste wheresoever she comes, whereby o the whole Village is in great Danger. Our humble Re“quest is therefore, that this bold Amazon-be ordered
immediately to lay down her Arms, or that you would • issue forth an Order, that we who have been thus inrjured may meet at the Place of General Rendezvous, • and there be taught to manage our Snuff-Boxes in fuch • manner as we may be an equal March for her:
And your Petitioner Mall ever Pray, &c.
Saturday, August 4.
* Ef brevitate opus, ut currat Senientia - Hor. T Have somewhere read of an eminent Person, who used | in his private Offices of Devotion to give thanks to
Heaven that he was born a Frenchman : For my own Part, I look upon it as a peculiar Blessing that I was born an Englisman. Among many other Reasons, I think my self very happy in my Country, as the Language of it is wonderfully adapted to a Man who is sparing of his Words, and an Enemy to Loquacity.
· ASI have frequently reflected on my good Fortune in this Particular, i shall-communicate to the Publick my Speculations upon the English Tongue, not doubting but they will be acceptable to all my curious Readers,
THE English delight in Silence more than any other European Nation, if the Remarks which are made on us by Foreigners are true. Our Discourse is not kept up in Conversation, but falls into more Pauses and Intervals than in our Neighbouring Countries; as it is observed, that the matter of our Writings is thrown much closer together, and lies in a narrower Compass than is usual in the Works of Foreign Authors :. For, to favour our Natural Taciturnity, when we are obliged to utter our Thoughts, we do it in the shortest way we are able, and give as quick a Birth to our Conceptions as possible.
THIS Humour shews it self in several Remarks that we may make upon the English Language. As firf: of all by its abounding in Monolyllables, which gives us an Opportunity of delivering our Thoughts in few Sounds. This indeed takes off from the Elegance of our Tongue, but at the same time expresses our Ideas in the readiest manner, and consequently answers the first Design of Speech better than the Multitude of Syllables, which make the Words of other Languages more Tunable and Sonorous. The Sounds of our English Words are commonly like those of String Musick, short and transient, which rise and perish upon a single Touch; those of other Languages are like the Notes of Wind Instruments, sweet and swelling, and lengthen'd out into variety of Modulation. ; In the next place we may observe, that where the
Words are not Monosyllables, we often inake them so, 'as much as lies in our Power, by our Rapidity of Pronunciation; as it generally happens in most of our long Words which are derived from the Latin, where we contract the length of the Syllables that gives them a grave and roleinn Air in their own Language, to make them more proper for Dispatch, and more conformable to the Genius of our Tongue. This we may find in a Multitude of Words, as Liberty, Conspiracy, Theatre, Orator, &c. i
THE same natural Aversion to Loquacity has of late Years made a very considerable Alteration in our Language, by closing in onę Syllable the Termination of our
Præterperfect Tense, as in the Words drown'd, walk'd, arriv'd, for drowned, walked, arrived, which has very much disfigured the Tongue, and turned a tenth part of our smootheft Words into so many Clusters of Conso. nants. This is the more remarkable, because the want of Vowels in our Language has been the general Complaint of our politest Authors, who nevertheless are the Men that have made these Retrenchments, and conse. quently very much increased our former Scarcity.
THIS Refle&tion on the Words that end ined, I have heard in Conversation from one of the greateft Genius's this Age has produced. I think we may add to the foregoing Observation, the Change which has happened in our Language, by the Abbreviation of several Words that are terminated in eth, by substituting an s in the room of the Jast Syllable, as in drowns, walks, arrives, and inaume. rable other Words, which in the Pronunciation of our Fore-fathers were drowneth, walketh, arriveth. This has wonderfully multiplied a Letter which was before too tre. quentin the English Tongue, and added to that hising in our Language, which is taken to much Notice of by Foreigners; but at the same time humours our Taciturnity, and eases us of many superfluous Syllables.
I might here observe, that the same single Letter on many occasions does the Office of a whole Word, and re, presents the His and Her of our Fore-fathers. There is no doubt but the Ear of a Foreigner, which is the best Judge in this case, would very much disapprove of fuch Innovations, which indeed we do our selves in fome measure, by retaining the old Termination in Writing, and in all the Solemn Offices of our Religion.
A S in the Instances I have given we have epitomized many of our particular Words to the Detriment of our
Tongue, so on other Occasion's we have drawn two Words into one, which has likewise very much untuned our Language, and clogged it with Consonants, as mayn't, can't, ma'nt, wo'nt, and the like, for may not, can not, jhall not, will not, &c.
IT is perhaps this Humour of speaking no more than we needs must, which has so miserably curtailed some of our Words, that in familiar Writings and Conversations they often lose all but their first Syllables, as in mal, apo
pos, incog. and the like; and as all ridiculous Words make their first Entry into a Language by familiar Phrases, I dare not answer for thefe that they will not in time be looked upon as a part of our Tongue. We see some of our Poets have been so indiscreet as to imitate Hudibras's Doggrel Expressions in their serious Compositions, by throwing out the signs of our Substantives, which are essential to the English Language. Nay, this Humour of shortning our Language had once run so far, that some of our celebrated Authors, among whom we may reckon Sir Roger L'Estrange in particular, began to prune their Words of all superfluous Letters, as they ternied them, in order to adjust the Spelling to the Pronunciation; which would have confounded all our Etymologies, and have quite deftroyed our Tongue.
W E may here likewise observe that our proper Names, when familiarized in English, generally dwindle to Monoa syllables, whereas in other modern Languages they rę. ceive a softer Turn on this Occasion, by the Addition of a new Syllable. Nick in Italian is Nicolini, Jack in French Janot; and so of the rest.
THERE is another Particular in our Language which is a great Instance of c'ır Frugality of Words, and that is the suppressing of several Particles which must be produced in other Tongues to make a Sentence intelligible : This of ten perplexes the best Writers, when they find the Rela. tives whom, which, or they, at their Mercy whether they may have Admission or not; and will never be decided till we have something like an Academy, that by the best Authorities and Rules drawn from the Analogy of Languages shall settle all Controversies between Grammar and Idiom.
I have only considered our Language as it shews the Gee nius and natural Temper of the English, which is modest, thoughtful and sincere, and which perhaps may recommend the People, though it has spoiled the Tongue. We might perhaps carry the fame Thought into other Languages, and deduce a great part of what is peculiar to them from the Genius of the People who 1peak them. It is cere tain, the light talkative Humour of the French, has not a little infected their Tongue, which might be shewn by many Instances; as the Genius of the Italians, which is so
much addi&ted to Musick and Ceremony, has moulded all their Words and Phrases to those particular Úses. The Stateliness and Gravity of the Spaniards shews it self to Per,fection in the Solemnity of their Language, and the blunt honest Humour of the Germans founds better in the Roughness of the High Dutch, than it would in a Politer Tongue.
Monday, August 6.
- Hor. CCORDING to the Request of this strange Fellow, n I shall Print the following Letter.
Mr. SPECTATOR, i Shall, without any manner of Preface or Apology, ac, quaint you, that I am, and ever have been from my
Youih upward, one of the greatest Liars this isand has i produced. I have read all the Moralists upon the Sub•ject, but could never find any Effeet their Discourses had .. upon me, but to add to my Misfortune by new Thoughts .' and Ideas, and making ine more ready in my Language, • and capable of sometimes mixing seeming Truths with ó my Improbabilities. With this strong Passion towards ! Falfhood in this kind, there does not live an honester
Man, or a sincerer Friend; but my Imagination runs ! away with me, and whatever is started I have such a
Scene of Adventures appears in an Instant before me, " that I cannot help uttering them, tho'to my iminediate
Confusion, I cannot but know I am liable to be detecta ied by the first Man I meet.
OUPON Occasion of the mention of the Battel of Pula
towa, I could not forbear giving an Account of a Kint* man of mine, a young Merchant who was bred at Mofco,
that had too much Meral to attend Books of Entries and • Accounts, when there was so active a Scene in the Coun. try where he resided, and followed the Czar as a Volun• teer: This warm Youth, born at the Instant the thing was spoke of, was the Man who unhorsed the Swedish