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These three stages in the progress of science the author denominates the Empirical, the Classificatory, and the Theoretical. He adopts the following illustrations.

Botany (the Greek word botané means 'fodder') first busied itself about food for cattle. Geometry began with measuring a garden or a field. The term is derived from the Greek words gé land,' and metron a measure.' The first observations upon the stars were made by the sailor to aid him in navigation, and by the farmer to guide him in the successive labours of agriculBut the great variety of herbs and plants, the multitudinous forms and proportions in which land may be divided, the number of the stars and the changes to which they are subject, led to arrangement and classification, and ultimately to the third stage in the sciences of botany, of geometry, and of astronomy, in which are developed the laws of vegetable growth, the necessary properties of geometrical figures, and the principles by which the motion of the heavenly bodies is determined.

The Science of Language passes through the same phases. In the Empirical stage every one is a linguist. It is not possible to live a human life without speech, and it is equally impossible to speak without learning how. Besides, there are many who require to know more languages than one, in order to travel in foreign lands, or to carry on business with foreign merchants, or to read books in other tongues than their own. The study of languages is also by many considered as a necessary part of a good education. In all these cases the Science of Language is only in the Empirical stage. It is pursued on account of the profit which it yields.

Now and then, even in early times, a student of more than common reflectiveness examined the resemblances in the words of a language, or even noted down how far two or more languages had the same forms, and in what particulars they differed from one another. Such works as the 'Mithridates' of Vater and Adelung appeared at the beginning of this century, and at length the introduction of Sanskrit literature gave a strong impulse to the Science of Language in the second or Classificatory stage, and made it possible with safety and success to enter upon the third or Theoretical stage. Jacob Grimm's 'German Grammar' began to appear in 1819, and his 'History of 'the German Language' in 1848, both of which embrace the entire range of the Teutonic languages. Franz Bopp's 'Comparative 'Grammar' applied to the principal Indo-European languages, and August Friedrich Pott's 'Etymological Investigations' began to appear in 1833. Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt's work on the Kawi language was posthumously published in 1836. These

The Utility of Science.


have been followed by many other works of great value; and the Science of Language promises to offer at least a reasonable solution of some of the most difficult and important problems of human history. A science,' as Bacon says, should be a rich 'storehouse for the glory of God and the relief of man's estate.'

Every true science has a real utility, and that of Language does not lose its usefulness when it advances from the Empirical to the Theoretical stage. As long as the higher theories of a science are being established, those who are occupied about them are not unfrequently men who have but little care for the material advantages of life, and derive but little profit from their pursuits. Devotion to abstruse inquiries evinces, in the judgment of the many, a want of common sense. But a subsequent age profits by the theories which have thus been established. Mining operations are carried on more successfully in the light of geology, and the captain of a ship would not be thought better qualified for his post by ignorance of astronomy. Professor Max Müller has well observed that—

'No science and no art have long prospered and flourished among us unless they were in some way subservient to the practical interests of society. It is true that a Lyell collects and arranges, a Faraday weighs and analyzes, an Owen dissects and compares, a Herschell observes and calculates, without any thought of the immediate marketable results of their labours. But there is a general interest which supports and enlivens their researches, and that interest depends on the practical advantages which society at large derives from their scientific studies.'

The author claims a similar interest for the subject of these Lectures.

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'I felt,' he says, that the researches into the history of language and into the nature of human speech which have been carried on for the last fifty years, in England, France, and Germany, deserved a higher share of public sympathy than they have hitherto received; and it seemed to me, as far as I could judge, that the discoveries of this newly-opened mine of scientific inquiry were not inferior, whether in novelty and [or] importance, to the most brilliant discoveries of our age.'

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He therefore deemed the Science of Language 'worthy the attention of the philosopher, the historian, and the theologian, as a science which concerns them all, and which, though it pro'fesses to treat of words only, teaches us that there is more in 'words than is dreamt of in our philosophy.'

The subject is not so difficult for the general reader as may at first sight appear. It is not necessary to know all the languages of the world in order to understand the Science of Language. It is not even necessary to know more than one's own language in

order to gain some insight into the subject. There is a sufficient number of works now published in the English language out of which any student may select facts enough to enable him to comprehend and appreciate many of the most interesting phenomena of human speech.

But it has been objected that such studies must be unsatisfactory because language itself is an accidental thing. Words were created as they were wanted. As soon as gestures and cries were found insufficient, articulate sounds were adopted to suit the expression of the new feelings and thoughts which were acquired day by day. Language must therefore be the result of a mass of accidental impressions, varying with the ever-changing scenes of nature, and subject to the fitful impulses and arbitrary determination of individuals.

If language had come into existence in any such method, or rather want of method, as this, it would be impossible to treat it as a physical science. But what evidence is there of such being the case? Whenever did mankind thus add successively to the stock of their language? Where has an individual shaped a new impression in articulate sounds never heard before, and conveyed the ideas of his mind to others by words which the world hitherto had not known? It is not thus that language comes into being. A man of genius may give a national existence to a people before unknown, but he cannot give them a language. William the Conqueror might establish a new system of tenure, but he could not create a new word. Napoleon could give a new constitution to his country, but he had to do it in a language already known. Language is not the manufacture of man; it is the work of nature; it is the work of God. Like all the works of God, it presents unity in the midst of infinite variety, and a perfect concatenation of parts amidst seeming chance and confusion. Our author therefore treats this as a physical science and not as a historical science, because its subject-matter results from Divine action and not from human will.

Language is continually undergoing change; and in this it seems to resemble a historical science like that of government, rather than a physical science like that of astronomy. The Greek of Homer is very different from that of Aristophanes. The Romans who lived under the Emperors could not read the Latin which was written a few centuries before. What Englishman could take up the Anglo-Saxon poem of 'Beowulf,' and read it without studying it as a new language. The English poems of Chaucer, written but about five hundred years ago, would not be understood on a first reading by any but a scholar. Within half that period 388 words and meanings of words in the autho

Does Language belong to the Physical Sciences?


rized translation of the Bible have become obsolete, and this forms one-fifteenth of the whole. Such changes are going on day by day. A few years ago the Eternal City was called Roome, and our tea-cups were said to be chaney, and the most precious metal was goold; but now they have all given way to other sounds, and have severally changed to Rome, china, and gold. The old sounds may still linger in some out-of-the-way places, ' and some courteous gentlemen of the old school continue to be 'obleeged instead of being obliged,' just as a few still wear the cut of coat that was fashionable a hundred years ago. There is a fashion in words as in dress.

'Ut silvæ foliis pronos mutantur in annos,

Prima cadunt; ita verborum vetus interit ætas.'

Even in the forms of grammar a similar change is taking place. Thus s at the end of the third person singular of verbs has almost entirely supplanted th. The same is the case with the past tenses spoke, drove, and the past participle held, which are almost universally employed in place of spake, drave, holden. Some strong or old forms of the past tense have given place to weak or new ones in written language, though they still linger in provincial speech or in the usage of individuals. We still occasionally hear it snew,' it shew, for which 'it snowed,' 'it showed,' have been substituted.

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These changes, however, do not reduce language to a historical science. They do not make it like the science of legislation, whose principles are subject to the will of a conqueror or the votes of a parliament. The alterations of a language resemble those of a tree in which fresh shoots spring out and decaying branches fall of. They are changes of phenomena and not of laws. They are not subject to human will, but result from the operations of nature, and are therefore consistent with the claims of a physical as distinguished from a historical science.


Though there is a continuous change in language, it is not in the power of man either to produce or prevent it. We might as well think of changing the laws which control the circulation of our blood, or of adding an inch to our height, as of altering the laws of speech or inventing new words according to our pleasure. As man is the lord of nature only if he knows her laws and submits to them, [so] the poet and the philosopher become the lords of language only if they know its laws and obey them.'

In illustration of this view, our author relates the circumstance, that when the Emperor Tiberius made an error in grammar he was corrected by the grammarian Marcellus. Capito replied, that the Emperor's using the expression made it good Latin.

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To which Marcellus answered, 'Capito lies for, Cæsar, you can 'give the Roman citizenship to man but not to words.' On another occasion, when the Emperor Sigismund, presiding at the council of Constance, where John Huss was condemned, said, Videte Patres, ut eradicetis schismam [for schisma] Hussitarum-Fathers, see that you root out the schism of the 'Hussites.' A monk cried out, Serenissime Rex, schisma est 'generis neutrius'-Most illustrious King, schisma is of the 'neuter gender.' 'How do you know that?' was the reply. 'Alexander Gallus says so.' And who is Alexander Gallus?' 'A monk.' 'Well! and I am Emperor of Rome, and my word, 'I trust, will be as good as the word of any monk.' But schisma has continued to be of the neuter gender in spite of imperial authority; for nature, though less rudely than in the above colloquy, yet with omnipotent power, forbids even princes to interfere with her laws. The physical constitution of man is not less under his own control than the language which he speaks; and the changes which the latter undergoes form no valid objection to its being classed with the physical sciences.

In the second Lecture, two great modifications are noticed to which languages are continually subject: Phonetic Decay and Dialectic Regeneration. These are the agencies to which is owing the great variety of languages resulting from the same stock. Like the trees of the forest, which in summer are almost of a uniform colour, but in autumn are widely diversified by an infinite variety of tints, so languages which at first were alike have come to vary so much that their differences are more striking than their resemblances. This effect is produced by causes analogous to those which wither vegetation. The inner life of language dies, and the outer semblance decays; in some more rapidly, and in others more slowly; in one with marks of violence, and in another by a gentler process; but in all irresistibly, until they become fixed in a rigid form as 'dead 'languages.'

This process of Phonetic Decay will be seen in the word bears. He bears,' expresses an action, and ascribes it to a person. Both of these ideas were at first expressed by one word; that is, the pronoun 'he' was added at the end of the verb 'bear,' and made one with it. Possibly, the oldest form in which this was done was bharata, of which bhar means 'bear,' and to means 'he.' They occur with these meanings in a multitude of instances. The middle a seems to have served only to link the two parts together. The oldest form, however, in which this word has been preserved is the Sanskrit bharati, in which the last a has already lost some of its vigour, and droops in the

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