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cied, will produce new words, or combinations of words. When the mind is unchained from necessity, it will range after convenience; when it is left at large in the fields of speculation, it will shift opinions. As any custom is disused, the words that expressed it must perish with it; as any opinion grows popular, it will innovate. speech in the same proportion as it alters prac
Ibid. p. 9.
It is incident to words, as to their authors, to degenerate from their ancestors, and to change their manners when they change their country.
Ibid. p. 3.
No nation can trace their language beyond the -second period; and even of that it does not often happen that many monuments remain.
Idler, vol, 2, p. 62.
Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language. They that have frequent intercourse with strangers, to whom they endeavour to accommodate themselves, must in time learn a mingled dialect, like the jargon which serves the traffickers on the Mediterranean and Indian coasts. This will not always be confined to the exchange, the warehouse, or the port, but will be communicated by degrees to other ranks of the people, and be at last incorporated with the current speech.
Preface to Johnson's Dictionary, p. 81.
Every language has its anomalies, which, though inconvenient, and in themselves once unnecessary, must be tolerated among the imperfections of human things, and which require
only to be registered, that they may not be increased; and ascertained, that they may not be confounded. Ibid. p. 66.
Language is the dress of thought; and as the noblest mien, or most graceful action, would be degraded and obscured by a garb appropriated to the gross employments of rustics or mechanics, so the most heroic sentiments will lose their efficacy, and the most splendid ideas drop their . magnificence, if they are conveyed by words used commonly upon low and trivial occasions, debased by vulgar mouths, and contaminated by inelegant applications.
Life of Cowley.
When languages are formed upon different principles, it is impossible that the same modes of expression should always be elegant in both. Life of Dryden.
Language proceeds, like every thing else, through improvement to degeneracy.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 60.
Every man is more speedily instructed by his own language than by any other.
Ibid. p. 218.
Orthography is vitiated among such as learn, first to speak, and then to write, by imperfect notions of the relations between letters and vocal utterance.
Western Islands, p. 382.,
There is not, perhaps, one of the liberal arts which may not be completely learned in the
Idler, vol. 2, p. 219.
In our language two negatives did not original ly affirm, but strengthen the negation. This mode of speech was in time changed; but as the change was made in opposition to long custom, it proceeded gradually, and uniformity was not obtained but through an intermediate confusion.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 4, p. 346.
To our language may be, with great justness, applied the observation of Quintilian," that speech was not formed by an analogy sent from heaven." It did not descend to us in a state of uniformity and perfection, but was produced by necessity, and enlarged by accident, and is therefore composed of dissimilar parts, thrown together by negligence, by affectation, by learning, or by ignorance.
Plan of an English Dictionary, p. 41. Such was the power of our language in the time of Queen Elizabeth, that a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of life, If the language of theology were extracted from Hooker, and the translation of the Bible; the terms of natural knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation, from Raleigh; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spencer and Sidney; and the diction of common life from Shakspeare, few ideas would be lost to mankind for want of English words in which they might be expressed.
Preface to Johnson's Dictionary, p. 74. The affluence and comprehension of our language is very illustriously displayed in our poetical translations of ancient writers; a work which the French seem to relinquish in despair, and which we were long unable to perform with dexterity.
Life of Dryden.
From the time of Gower and Chaucer, the English writers have studied elegance, and advanced their language, by successive improvements, to as much harmony as it can easily receive, and as much copiousness as human knowledge has hitherto required, till every man now endeavours to excel others in accuracy, or outshine them in splendour of style; and the danger is, lest care should too soon pass to affectation.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 63. ·
It is, perhaps, impossible to review the laws of any country, without discovering many defects, and many superfluities. Laws often continue when their reasons have ceased. Laws made for the first state of society, continue unabolished when the general form of life is changed. Parts of the judicial procedure, which were at first only accidental, become, in time, essential; and formalities are accumulated on each other, till the art of litigation requires more study than the discovery of right.
Memoirs of the King of Pruffia, p. 112.
To embarrass justice by multiplicity of laws, or to hazard it by confidence in judges, seem to be the opposite rocks on which all civil institutions have been wrecked, and between which, legislative wisdom has never yet found, an open
It is observed, that a corrupt society has many laws.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 186.
Laws are often occasional, often capricious, made always by a few, and sometimes by a single voice.
Ibid. vol. 1, p. 60.
The first laws have no laws to enforce themThe first authority is constituted by itself.
Falfe Alarm, p. 125
Laws that exact obedience, and yield no protection, contravene the first principles of the compact of authority.
Western Islands, p. 209.
A man accustomed to satisfy himself with the obvious and natural meaning of a sentence, does not easily shake off his habit; but a true-bred lawyer never contents himself with one sense, when there is another to be found.
Marmor Norfolciense, p. 48. ́,
Death is, as one of the ancients observes, "of dreadful things the most dreadful." An evil beyond which nothing can be threatened by sublunary power, or feared from human enmity or vengeance. This terror, therefore, should be reserved as the last resort of authority, as the strongest and most operative of prohibitory sanctions, and placed before the treasure of life to guard from invasion what cannot be restored. To equal robbery with murder, is to reduce murder to robbery, to confound in common minds the gradations of iniquity, and incite the commission of a greater crime, to prevent the detection of a less. If only murder was punished with death, very few robbers would stain their hands in blood; but when, by