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among every people, are those which are pointed at rival I was amused lately by a curious financial revelation countries. They expose some prevalent tolly, or allude to which I found in an opposition paper, where it appears that some disgrace which the natives have incurred. In France, • Ministers pretend to make their load of taxes more porthe Burgundians have a proverb Mieur vaut bon repas que table, by shitting the burden, or altering the pressure, withbel habit ; • Beiter a good dinner than a fine coat.' These out however, diminishing the weight; according to the good people are great gormardizers, but shabby dressers; Italian proverb, Accommodare le bisaccie nella strada, " To they are conimonly said to have · bowels of silk and velvet;' fit the load on the journey ;
-t is taken from a custom of that is, all their silk and velvet goes for their bowels! Thus the mule-drivers, who placing their packages at first but Picardy is famous forhol heads,' and the Norman for awkwardly on the backs of their poor beasts, and seeing son dit et son dedil, his saying and his unsaying! In Italy them ready to sink, cry out, “Never mind! we must fit the numerous rival ciues pelt one another with proverbs : them better on the road! I was gratified to discover, by Chi ha a fure con Tosco non convien esser losco, He who the present and some other modern instances, that the deals with a Tuscan must not have his eves shut.' A faste for proverbs was reviving, and that we were returnVenetin chi vi nasce, mal vi si pesce, · Whom Venice breeds, ing to those sober times, when the aptitude of a simple she poorly feeds.'-Among ourselves, hardly has a county proverb would be preferred to the verbosity of politicians, escaped from some popular quip; even neighbouring Tories, Whigs, or Radicals! towns have their sarcasms, usually pickled in some unlucky
There are domestic proverbs which originate in inci: rhyıne. The egotism of man eagerly geizes on whatever dents known only to the natives of their province. Italian
serves to deprociate or to ridicule his neighbour: nations literature is particularly rich in these stores. proverb each other; counties Hout counties; obscure proverbial taste of that vivacious people was transferred towns sharpen their wils on towns as obscure as them to their own authors; and when these allusions were obselves the same evil principle lurking in poor human na scured by time, learned Italians, in their zeal for their nature, if it cannot always assume predominance, will mean tional literature, and in their national love of story-telling, ly grauty itself by insult or contempt.
have written grave commentaries even on ludicrous, but There is another source of national characteristics, fre- popular tales, in which the proverbs are said to have ori
quently producing strange or whinsical combinations; a ginated. They resemble the old facetious conies, whose Sieme people, from a very natural circumstance, have drawn simplicity and humour still live in the pages of Boc
their proverbs from local objects, or from allusions 10 pe caccio, and are not forgotten in those of the Queen of culiar curioms. The influence of manners and customs
Per beato ch'elle non furon pesche!
Luckily they were not peaches !!
And to threaten to give a manhad constantly before them fogs and fans; and ihe fact
Una pesca in un occhio, appears that foys are frequent on thu coast of Japan; and
“A peach in the eye,' that from the age of five years both sexes of the Japanese means to give him a thrashing. This proverb, it is said, carry fans. The Spaniards have an odd proverb to de originated in the close of a certain droll adventure. The scribe those who teaze and ver a person before they do community of the Castle Poggibonsi, probably from some him the very benetil which they are about to confer-act- jocular tenure observed on Si Bernard's day, pay a triing kindly, but speaking roughly; Mostrar primero la hor
bute of peaches to the court of Tuscany, which are usuca que el lugar, . To show the gallows before they show
ally shared among the ladies in waiting, and the pages of
the court. the town;' a circumstance alluding to their small towns,
It happened one season, in a great scarcity of which have a gallows placed on an eminence so that the peaches, that the good people at Poggibonsi, finding them gallows breaks on the eye of the traveller before he gets a
rather dear, sent, instead of the customary tribute, a quanview of the town itself.
tity of fine juicy figs, which was so much dis approved of The Cheshire proverb on marriage, 'Better wed over by the pages, that as soon as they got hold of them, they the mixon than over the moor,' that is, at home or in its
began in rage to empty the baskets on the heads of the vicinity; mixon alludes to the dung, &c, in the farm-yard, ambassadors of the Poggibonsi, who, in attempting to Ay while the road from Chester to London is over the moor
as well as they could from the pulpy shower, half-blinded, land in Staffordshire ; this local proverb is a curious in and recollecting that peaches would have had stones in stance of provincial pride, perhaps of wisdom, to induce them, cried outthe gentry of that county to forin intermarriages ; to pro
Per beato ch'elle non furon pesche ! long their own ancient families, and perpetuate ancient
Luckily they were not peaches ! friendships between them.
Fure le scalée di Sant Ambrogio ; - To mount the stairs In the Isle of Man a proverbial expression forcibly in of Saint Ambrose,' a proverb allusive to the business of dicates the object constantly occupying the minds of the the school of scandal. Varchi explains it by a circuininhabılants. The two Deemsters or judges, when ap stance so common in provincial cities. On summer evepointed to the chair of judgment, declare they will render nings, for fresh air and gossip, the loungers met on the justice betworn man and man as equally as the herring steps and landing places of the church of St Ambrose; bone lies between the two sides :' an image which could whoever left the party, they read in his book,' as our not have occurred to any people unaccustomed to herring commentator expresses it; and not a leaf was passed over! fishery. Thero is a Cornish proverb, • Those who will All inked to join a party so well informed of one another's not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock' concerns, and every one tried to be the very last to quit it, the strands of Cornwall, so often covered with wrecks, not to leave his character behind! It became a prom couid not fail to impress on the imaginations of its inhabi verbial phrase with those who left a company, and were tants the two objecis from whence they drew this salutary 100 tender of their backs, to request they would not mount proverb, against obstinate wrong-heads.
the stairs of St Ambrose.' Jonson has well described
You are so truly fear'd, but not beloved
Upon him absent.
There are legends and histories which belong to proScruffel wuls lull well of that.'
verbs; and some of the most ancient refer to incidents These are two high hills, one in Scotland and one in
which have not always been commemorated.
Two England ; so near, that what happens to the one will not
Greek proverbs have accidentally been explained by Pau
sanias : .He is a man of Tenedos!' to describe a person be long ere it reach the orber. If a fog lodges on the one, it is sure to rain on the other; the mutual sympathies of
of unquestionable veracity; and • To cut with the Tene
dian axe;' to express an absolute and irrevocable refusal. the two countrirs were hence deduced in a copious dissertarion, by Oswald Duke, on what was called . The Union
The first originated in a king of Tenedos, who decreed proverb,' which local proverbs of our country, Fuller has
that there should always stand behind the judge a man
holding an axe, ready to execute justice on any one coninterspersed in his Worthics,' and Ray and Grose have collected separately.
victed of falsehood. The other arose from the same king, whose father having reached bis island, to supplıcate the
son's forgiveness for the injury inflicted on him by the arts trical situation, was considered as the best adapted for the of a step-mother, was preparing to land; already the ship seat of government, or from some other cause which I was fastened by its cable to a rock; when the son came have not discovered, this notion must have been prevadown and sternly cutting the cable with an axe, sent the lent to have entered into a proverb. The cue magistrito ship adrift to the mercy of the waves : hence, 'to cut of York is the only provincial one who is allowed the title with the Tenedian axe,' became proverbial to express an of Lord Mayor; a circumstance which seems connected absolute resusal. Business 10-morrow!' is another Greek with this proverb. proverb, applied to a person ruined by his own neglect. The Italian history of its own small principalities, whose The fate of an eminent person perpetuated the expression well-being so much depended on their prudruce and s. which he casually employed on the occasion. One of the gacity, affords many instances of the timely use of a proTheban polemarchs, in the midst of a convivial party, re verb. Many an intricate negotiation has been contracted ceived despatches relating a conspiracy: flushed with through a good-humoured proverb,--many a sarcastic ope wine, although pressed by the courier to open them imme has silenced an adversary; and sometimes they have been diately, he smiled, and in gaiety laying ihe letter under applied on more solemn, and even tragical occasions. the pillow of his couch, observed, · Business 10-morrow!' When Rinaldo degli Albizzi was banished by the niyo Plutarch records that he fell a victim to the twenty-four rous conduct of Cosmo de' Medici, Machiavel, tells us, hours he had lost, and became the author of a proverb the expelled man seni Cosmo a menace. in a proverb, la which was still circulated among the Greeks.
gallina covava! "The hen is brooding!' said of one mrThe philosophical antiquary may often discover how dilating vengeance. The undaunted Cosmo replied by many a proverb commemorates an event which has es. another, that • There was no brooding out of the nesi!" caped from the more solemn monuments of history, and give an example of peculiar interest; for it is perpeis often the solitary authority of its existence. A national tuated by Dante, and is connected with the character of event in Spanish history is preserved by a proverb. Milton. Y vengar quiniento sueldos; • And revenge five hundred When the families of the Amadei and the Uberti felt pounds! An odd expression to denote a person being a their bonour wounded in the affront the younger Boondelgentleman! But the proverb is historical. The Spa monte had put upon them, in breaking off his match with niards of Old Castile were compelled to pay an annual a young lady of their family, by marrying another, a tribute of five hundred maidens to their masters, the council was held, and the death of the young cavalies was Moors; after several bailles, the Spaniards succeeded proposed as the sole atonement for their injured huncut, in compromising the shameful tribute, by as many pieces But the consequences which they anticipated, and which of coin; at length the day arrived when they entirely afterwards proved so fatal to the Florentines, long suse emancipated themselves from this odious imposition. The pended their decision. Ai length Moscha Lamberti sud. heroic action was perforined by men of distinction, and denly rising, exclaimed, in two proverbs, That those who the event perpetuated in the recollections of the Spa considered every thing would never conclude on any thing" niards, by this singular expression, which alludes to the closing with an ancient proverbial saying—cosa futta capa dishonourable tribute, was applied to characterize all men ha! a deed done has an end! This proverb sealed the of high honour, and devoted lovers of their country. fatal determination, and was long held in mournful re
Pasquier, in his Recherches sur la France, reviewing the membrance by the Tuscans ; for, according to Villani, 1! periodical changes of ancient families in feudal times, was the cause and beginning of the accursed factions of observes, that a proverb among the common people con the Guelphs and the Ghibellins. Dante has thus immorveys the result of all his inquiries : for those noble houses, talized the energetic expression in a scene of the • lurwhich in a single age declined from nobility and wealih to
ferno.' poverty and meanness, gave rise to the proverb, Cent ans
Ed un ch 'avea l'unna e l'altra man mozza bannieres et cent ans civieres! • One hundred years a
Levando i moncherin per l'nura fosca ; banner, and one hundred years a barrow! The Italian
Siche sangue facra la faccia 2022a proverb, Con l'Evangilio si diventa heretico, • Witi, the
Grido-Ricorderaci ancor del Mosca gospel we become heretics,'-reflects the policy of the
Che disse, lasso capo a, cosa fatte ; court of Rome ; and must be dated at the time of the
Che su'l ma) seme, della gente Tosca.' Reformalion, when a translation of the Scriptures into
Then one the vulgar tongue encountered such an invincible opno Maim'd of each hand, uplifted in the gloom sition. The Scotch proverb, He that invented the maiden
The bleeding stumps, that they with gory spots first hanselled it; that is, got the first of it! The maiden
Sullied his face, and cried - Remember thee
or Mosca 10o-- who, alas! exclaim'u, is that well-known beheading engine, revived by the
“The deed once done, there is an end"- that proved French surgeon Guillotine. This proverb may be applied A seed of sorrow to the Tuscan race." to one who falls a victim to his own ingenuity; the arti
Cary's Danir. ficer of his own destruction! The inventor was James, This Italian proverb was adopted by Milton; for when Earl of Morton, who for some years governed Scotland, deeply engaged in writing the Desence of the Peop'r,' and afterwards, it is said, very unjustly suffered by his own invention. It is a striking coincidence, that the same
and warned that it might terminate in his blindness, herre fate was shared by the French reviver; both alike sad ex
solvedly concluded his work, exclaiming with great mag. amples of disturbed times! Among our own proverbs a
nanimity although the fatal prognosticalion had been acremarkable incident has b-en commemorated. Hand over
companied, cosa fatta capo ha! Did this proverb also in.
fluence his awful decision on that great national evetil, head, as men look the Covenant! This preserves the
when the most honest-minded fluctuated between doubts manner in which the Scotch covenant, so famous in our
and fears? history, was violently taken bv above sixty thousand
per or a person treacherously used, the Italian proverb says sons about Edinburgh, in 1638 ; a circumstance at ihat
that he has eaten of time novel in our own revolutionary history, and after. wards paralleled by the French in voting by acclama
Le frutle di fratre Alberigo. rinn.' 'An ancient English proverb preserves a curious
The fruit of brother Alberigo. fact concerning our coinage. Testers are gone to Orford, Landino, on the following passage of Dante, preserves the to stwly at Brazen-nose. When Henry the Eighih debated the silver coin, called testers, from their having a
tragic story: head stamped on each side; the brass, breaking out in
-Io son fratre Alberigo, red pimples on their silver faces, provoked the ill huinour
Io son quel dalle fruta del mal orto of the people to vent itsell in this punning proverb, which
Che qui reprendo, &c.
Canto xxxiil. has preserved for the historical antiquary, the popular feeling which lasted about fifty years, till Elizabeth re
The friar Alberigo,' nnewered he, formed the state of the coinage. A northern proverb
"Am I not from the ecil garden pluck'd
11« Cruitage, and am here repaid ebe date among us has preserved the remarkable idea which seems
* More iuscious for my nig.' to have once been prevalent; that the metropolis of
Carry's Dance. England was to be the cily of York: Lincoln was, Lon
This was Manfred, of Fuenza, who, after many crue' don is, York shall he! Whether at the time of the union
ties, turned friar. Reconciling himself to those whom of the crowns, under Jamaa the First, whrn England and
he had so ofien oppnerd, to celebrate the rerenal of their Scotland became Great Britain, this city, from its cen
friendship, he invited them to a magnificent «nlertainment,
t the end of the dinner the horn blew to announce the deed has often been written to demonstrate what a lover ssert-but it was the signal of this dissimulating con of proverbs could show had long been ascertained by a wrator and the fruits which that day were served 10 single one in his favourite collections, 19 guests were armed men, who, rushing in, immolated Ăn insurmountable difficulty which every paræmiograleir victims.
pher has encountered, is that of forming an apt, a ready, Among these historical proverbs none are more inter and a systematic classification : the inoral Linnæus of sung than those which perpetuate national events, con
such a systema naturæ, has not yet appeared. Each disected with those of another people. When a French covered his predecessor's mode imperfect, but each was ian would let us understand that he has settled wit bis
doomed to meet the same fate. The arrangement of proreditors, the proverb is, J'ai payé tous mes Anglois : 'I verbs has baffled the ingenuity of every one of their colkave paid all my English.' This proverb originaled when lectors, Our Ray, after long premeditation, has chosen Tobin, the French king, was taken prisoner by our Black
a system with the appearance of an alphabetical order; Prince. Levies of money were made for the king's ran
but, as it turns out, his system is no system, and his alphacom, and for many French lords; and the French people bet is no alphabet. After ten years' labour, the goud have thus perpetuated the military glory of our nation, man could only arrange his proverbs by common-places and their own idea of it, by making the English and their-by complete sentences by phrases or forms of speechcreditors synonymous terms. Another relates to the same by proverbial similes—and so on. All these are pursued eveni-Ore le Pape est_devenu François, et Jesu Christ
in alphabetical order, 'by the first letter of the most "maAnglais : “ Now the Pope is become French and Jesus terial word," or, if there be more words“ equally material," Christ English ;' a proverb which arose when the Pope, by that which usually stands foremost.' The most patient exiled from Röme, held his court at Avignon in France; examiner will usually find that he wants the sagacity of and the English prospered so well, that they possessed the collector to discover that word which is the most mamore than half the kingdom. The Spanish proverb con terial,' or 'the words equally material.' We have to cerning England is well known
search through all that multiplicity of divisions, or conjurCon todo el mondo guerra,
ing boxes, in which this juggler of proverbs pretends to y' paz con Inglaterra!
hide the ball. • War with the world,
A still more formidable objection against a collection of And peace with England!
proverbs, for the impatient reader, is their unreadable
Taking in succession a multitude of insulated Whether this proverb was one of the results of their me. morable armada, and was only coined after their conviction proverbs, their slippery nature resists all hope of retaining
one in a hundred; the study of proverbs must be a frequent of the splendid folly which they had committed, I cannot
recurrence to a gradual collection of favourite ones, which ascertain. England must always have been a desirable
we ourselves must form. The experience of life will ally to Spain against her potent rival and neighbour. The
throw a perpetual freshness over these short and simple Italians have a proverb, which formerly, at least, was
texts ; every day may furnish a new commentary ; and wo strongly indicative of the travelled Englishman in their
may grow old, and find novelty in proverbs by their percountry, Inglese Italianalo é un diavolo incarnato ; • The
petual application. Italianized Englishman is a devil incarnate.' Formerly
There are, perhaps, about twenty thousand proverbs there existed a closer intercourse between our country and Italy than with France. Before and during the reigns of
among the nations of Europe : many of these have spread Elizabeth and James the First, that land of the elegant ancients, chiefly the Greeks, who themselves largely took
in their common intercourse ; many are borrowed from the arts modelied our taste and manners; and more lialians
from the Easiern nations. Our own proverbs are too travelled into England, and were more constant residents, often deficient in that elegance and ingenuity whichi from conimercial concerns, than afterwards when France
are often found in the Spanish and the Italian. Proverbs assumed a higher rank in Europo by her political superi- frequently enliven conversation, or enter into the business ority. This cause will sufficiently account for the num of life in those countries, without any feeling of vulgarity ber of Italian proverbs relating to England, which show an
being associated with them; they are 100 numerous, too intimacy with our manners which could not else have oc
willy, and 100 wise, to cease to please by their poignancy curred. It was probably some sarcastic Italian, and,
and their aprinde. I have heard them fall from ihe lips perhaps, horologer, who, to describe the disagreement of
of men of letters and of statesmen, When recently the persons, proverbed our nation. They agree like the
disorderly state of the manufacturers of Manchester clocks of London! We were once belier famed for mer.
menaced an insurrection, a profound Italian politician obry Christmasses and their pies; and it must have been
served to me, that it was not of a nature to alarm a great Talians who had been domicilated with us who gave cur
nation ; for that the remedy was at hand, in the proverb of rency to the proverb Ha piu du fare che i forni di natale
the Lazzaroni of Naples, Meta consiglio, meta esempio, in Inghilterra ; "He has more business than English
meta denaro! Half advice, half example, half money! The ovens at Christmas.' Our pie-loving gentry were notori
result confirmed the truth of the proverb, which, had it ous, and Shakespeare's folio was usually laid open in the great halls of our nobility to entertain their attendants, fears of a great part of the nation.
been known at the time, might have quieted the honcst who devoured at once Shakespeare and their pastry. Some Proverbs have ceased to be studied, or eniployed in conof those volumes have come down to us, not only with the
versation, since the time we have derived our knowledge stains, but enclosing even the identical pie-crusts of the Elizabethan age.
from books; but in a philosophical age they appear to offer I have thus attempted to develop the art of reading pro
infinite subjects for speculative curiosity: originating in verbs; but have done little more ihan indicate the theory, of modes of thinking, for historical as well as for moral
various eras, these memorials of manners, of events, and and must leave the skilful student to the delicacy of the practice. I am anxious to rescue from prevailing prejudices collected knowledge of successive ages, and of different
purposes, still retain a strong hold on our attention. The these neglected stores of curious amusement, and of deep people, must always enter into some part of our own! insight into the ways of man, and to point out the bold and
Truth and nature can never be obsolete. concealed truths which are scattered in these collections.
Proverbs embrace the wide sphere of human existence, There seems to be no occurrence in huinan affairs 10 which
They take all the colours of life, they are often exquisite some proverb may not be applied. All knowledge was
strokes of genius, they delight by ibeir airy sarcasm or long aphoristical and traditional, pithily contracting the
their caustic satire, the luxuriance of their humour, the discoveries which were to be instantly comprehended, and easily retained. Whatever be the revolutionary state of playfulness of their turn, and even by the elegance of their man, similar principles and like occurrences are returning I give a deep insight into domestic life, and open sor us the
imagery, and the tenderness of their sentiment. They on us; and antiquity, whenever it is justly applicable to our heart of man, in all the various states which he may occutimes, loses its denomination, and becomes the truth of our own age. A proverb will often cut the knot which
py—a frequent review of proverbs should enter into our
readings : and although they are no longer the ornaments others in vain are attempting to unlie. Johnson, palled of conversation, they have not ceased io be the treasures with the redundant elegancies of modern composition, once
of Thought! kaid, 'I fancy mankind may come in time to write all aphoristically, except in warrative ; grow weary of preparation, and connection, and illustration, and all those • There is nothing more common,' says the lively Vol. arts by which a big book is made. Many a volumo in taire, than 10 read and to converse to no purpose. In
CONFUSION OF WORDS.
history, in morals, in law, in physic, and in divinity, beployed by Reid. The removal of a solitary word may careful of equivocal terms. One of the ancients wroie a cast a luminous ray over a whole body of philosophy: 'If book to prove that there was no word which did not con we had called the infinite the indefinite,' says Cundillac, in vey an ambiguous and uncertain meaning. If we pos- his Traité des Sensations, by this small change of a sessed this lost book, our ingenious dictionaries of i
sy word we should have avoided ihe error of imagining that nonyms' would not probably prove its uselessness. When we have a positive idea of infinity, from whence so many ever the same word is associated by the parties with dif- false reasonings have been carried on, not only by mela. ferent names, they may converse, or controverse, till the physicians, but even hy geometricians. The word reacrack of doom! This, with a little obstinacy and some son has been used with different, meanings by different agility in shifting his ground, makes the fortune of an op writers ; reasoning and reason have been often consound. ponent. While one party is worried in disentangling a ed; a man may have an endless capacity for reasoning, meaning, and the other is winding and unwinding about without being much influenced by reason, and to be rea. him with another, a word of the kind we have mentioned, sonable, perhaps differs from both! So Moliere tells us, carelessly or perversely slipped into an argument, may
Raisonner est l'emploi de toute maison ; prolong it for a century or two-as it has happened?
Et le raisonnement en bannit la raison ! Vaugelas, who passed his whole life in the study of words,
In this research on confusion of words,' might enter the would not allow that the sense was to determine the meaning of words; for, says he, it is the business of words to
voluminous history of the founders of sects, who have usuexplain the sense.
ally employed terms which had no meaning attached to Kant for a long while discovered in this way a facility of arguing without end, as at this mo
them, or were so ambiguous that their real notions have ment do our political economists. "I beseech you,' ex
never been comprehended; hence the most chimerica! claims a poetical critic, in the agony of a confusion of opinions have been imputed to founders of secte. We words,' not to ask whether I mean this or that! Our
may instance that of the Antinomians, whose remarkable critic, convinced that he has made himself understood, denomination explains their doctrine, expressing that they
were · against law! Their founder was John Agricola, a grows immortal by obscurity! for he shows
follower of Luther, who, while he lived, had kepl Agricosimple words, not intelligible, may admit of volumes of vindication. Throw out a word, capable of fifty senses,
la's follies from exploding, which they did when he as
serted that there was no such thing as sin, our salvation and you raise fifty parties! Should some friend of peace depending on faith, and not on works; and when he de. enable the fifty to repose on one sense, that innocent
claimed against the Law of God. To what lengths some word, no longer ringing the tocsin of a parly, would lie in forgetfulness in the Dictionary. Still more provoking when
of his seci pushed this verbal doctrine is known; but the an identity of meaning is only disguised by different modes
real notions of this Agricola probably never will be! Bavle of expression, and when the term has been closely sisted, confused his head by Paul's controversies with the Jews;
considered him as a harmless dreamer in theology, who had to their mutual astonishment, both parties discover the
but Mosheim, who bestows on this early reformer the episame thing lying under the bran and chaff after this heated operation. Plato and Aristotle probably agreed much
thets of ventosus and versipellis, windy and crafty! or, as better than the opposite parties they raised up imagined ; tion, and artifice,' tells us by the term “law,' Agricola only
bis translator has it, charges him with vanity, presumpa their difference was in the manner of expression, raiber than in the points discussed. The Nominalists ard the
meant the ten commandments of Moses, which he conRealists, who once filled the world with their brawis, and
sidered were abrogated by the Gospel, being designed for who from irregular words came to regular blows, could
the Jews and not for the Christians. Agricola then, by never comprehend their alternate nonsense; though the
the words the Law of God,' and that there was no such Nominalists only denied what no one in his senses would
thing as sin,' must have said one thing and meant another! affirm; and the Realists only contended for what no one
This appears to have been the case with most of the diin his senses would deny ; a hair's breadth might have plains of their want of precision and consistency in ex
vines of the sixteenth century; for even Mosheim comjoined what the spirit of party had sundered!
Do we flatter ourselves that the Logomachies of the pressing their sentiments, hence their real sentiments have Nominalists and the Realists terminated with these scold
been misunderstood.' There evidently prevailed a great ing schoolmen? Modern nonsense, weighed against the
confusion of words' among them! Tho grace suffisante, obsolete, may make the scales tremble for a while, but it
and the grace efficace of the Jansenists and the Jesults, will lose its agreeable quality of freshness, and subside dignified. Whether all men received from God sufficient
show the shifts and stratagems by which nonsense mar be into an equipoise. We find their spirit still lurking among our own metaphysicians. 'Lo! the Nominalists and the
grace for their conversion" was an inquiry some unhappy Realists again!' exclaimed my learned friend, Sharon metaphysical theologist set afloat: the Jesuits according Turner, alluding to our modern doctrines on abstract ideas,
to their worldly system of making men's consciences Park, on which there is still a doubt, whether they are any thing
affirmed it; but the Jansenists insisted, that this sufficient more than generalising terms.* Leibnitz confused his
grace would never be chicacious, unless accompanied by philosophy by the term sufficient reason: for every exist- efficacious, is a contradiction in terms, and worse, a herrsy!'
special grace. • Then the sufficient grace, which is not ence, for every event, and for every truth, there must be a sufficient reason. This vagueness of language produced saries. This confusion of words' thickened, till the Je
triumphantly cried the Jesuits, cxulting over their advera perpetual misconception, and Leibnitz was proud of his equivocal triumphs in always affording a new interpreta: pal bulls, royal edicts, and a regiment of dragoons! The
suits introduced in this logomachy with the Jansenists, pation! It is conjectured that he only employed his term of Jansenists, in despair, appealed 10 miracles and prodigies, sufficient reason, for the plain simple word of cause. Even Locke, who has himself so admirably noticed the abuse
which they got up for public representation ; but, above of words,' has been charged with using vague and indefi- all, to their Pascal, whose immortal satire the Jesuits renite ones; he has sometimes employed the words reflec-ally felt was at once sufficient and efficacious, though tion, mind, and spirit, in so indefinite a way, that they boast of inferior success to Pascal's. Former ages had,
the dragoons, in settling a confusion of words,' did not have confused his philosophy; thus by some ambiguous indeed, wilnessed even a more melancholy logomacht, in expressions, our great metaphysician has been made to
the Homoousion and the Homoiousion! establish doctrines fatal to the immutability of moral dis
An event which tinctions. Even the eagle-eve of the intellectual Newton
Boileau has immortalized by some fine verses, which, in grew dim in the obscurity of the language of Locke. We
his famous satire on L'Equivoque, for reasons best known are astonished to discover that two such intellects should
to the Sorbonne, were struck out of the text. not comprehend the same ideas; for Newton wrote to D'une syllabe impio un saint mot augmenté Locke, I beg your pardon for representing that you Remplit tous les espirits d'aigreuros, si meurtieres struck at the root of morality in a principle laid down in
Tu fis dans une guerre et si triste et si longue your book of Ideas--and that I took you for a Hobbist!'|
Perir lant de Chretiens, Martyrs d'une dipchongue The difference of opinion between Locke and Reid is in
Whether the Son was similar to the substance of the consequence of an ambiguity in the word principle, as em.
Father, or of the same substance, depended on the dipb* Turner's Hist of England, i, 514.
thong oi, which was alternately rejected and received. * We owe this curious unpublished letter to the zeal and
Had they earlier discovered what at length they agreed on, care of Professor Dugald Stewart, in his excellent Disserta
that the words denoted what was incomprehensible, it tions.
would have saved thousands, as a witness describes, from
earing one another to pieces.' The great controversy be who cannot affix any definite notions to them; they are tween Abelard and Saint Bernard, when the saint accused like those chinerical fictions in law, which declare the the scholastic of maintaining heretical notions of the Trini sovereign immortal; proclaim his ubiquity in various tv, long agiiated the world - yet, now that these confusers places ;' and irritate the feelings of the populace, by asof words can no longer inflame our passions, we wonder suming that the king can never do wrong! In the time how these parties could theinselves differ about words to of James II., “it is curious,' says Lord Russel, 'to read which we can atiach no meaning whatever. There have the conference between the Houses on the meaning of been few councils, or synods, where the omission or addi. the words “ deserted” and “abdicated," and the debates tion of a word or a phrase might not have terminated an in the Lords, whether or no there is an original contract interminable logomachy! at the council of Basle, for the between king and people.' convenience of the disputante, John de Secubia drew up a The people would necessarily decide that "kings der treause of unreclined worils, chiefly to determine the signi- rived their power from them; bút kings were once mainfication of the particles from, by, but, and ercept, which it tained by a' right divine,'—a confusion of words,' deseems were perpetually occasioning fresh disputes among
rived from two opposite theories! and both only relatively the Hussites and the Bobemans. Had Jerome of Prague true. When we listen so frequently to such abstract known, like our Shakspeare, the virtue of an if, or terms as the majesty of the people'—the sovereignty of agreed with Hobbes, that he should not have been so posi the people'—whence the inference that 'all power is detive in the use of the verb is-he might have been spared
rived from the people,' we can form no definite notions : from the flames. The philosopher of Malınsbury has de
it is 'a confusion of words,' contradicting all the political clared, that . Perhaps Julgment was nothing else but the experience which our studies or our observations furnish composition or joining of tuo numes of things, or modes, by sor sovereignty is established to rule, to conduct, and 10 ine verbis.' In modern times the popes have more skil
settle the vacillations and quick passions of the multitude. fully freed the church from this confusion of words.' His Public opinion expresses 100 often the ideas of one party holiness, on one occasion, standing in equal terror of the in place, and public interest those of another party out! court of France, who protected the Jesuits, and of the
Political axioms, from the circumstance of having the court of Spain, who maintained the cause of the Domini
notions attached to them unsettled, are applied to the most cars, cunisived a phrase, where a comma or a full stop
opposite ends! In the time of the French Directory,' placed at the beginning or the end purported that his holi
observes an Italian philosopher of profound views, in the ness tolerated the opinions which he condemned; and
revolution of Naples, the democraüc faction pronounced when the rival parties de patched deputations to the court
that“ Every act of a tyrannical government is in its origin of Rome to plead for the period, or advocate the comma;
illegal;" a proposition which at first sight seems self-evihis holiness, in this confusion of words,' flung an unpunc
deni, but which went to render all existing laws impractituated copy to the parties; nor was it his fault, but that of
cable. The doctrine of the illegality of the acts of a tythe spirit of party, if the rage of the one could not subside
rant was proclaimed by Brutus and Cicero, in the name into a comma, nor that of the other close by a full period !
of the Senate, against the populace, who had favoured In jurisprudence inuch confusion has occurred in the Cæsar's perpetual dictatorship; and the populace of uses of the ieri Rights; yet the social union and human
Paris availed themselves of it, against the National Ashanpiness are involved in the precision of the expression.
sembly.' When Montesquieu laid down as the active principle of a
This confusion of words,' in time-serving politics, has
107 ofien confounded right and wrong; and artful men, republic virtue, it seemed to infer that a republic was the best of goveruments, In the defence of this great work
driven into a corner, and intent only on its possession, he was obliged to define the term, and it seems that by vir
have found no difficulty in solving doubts, and reconciling lue, he only meant political virtue, the love of the country.
contradictions. Our own history, in revolutionary times, In politics, what evils have resulted from abstract terms
abounds with dangerous examples from all parties; of speto which no ideas are affixed! Such as · The Equality of
cious hypotheses for compliance with the government of the Man-the Sovereignty or the Majesty of the People day, or the passions of parliament. Here is an instance Lovaliy-Reform-pen Liberty herself!-Public opinion
in which the subtile confuser of words, pretended to sub-Public interexp-and other abstract notions, which have
stitute two consciences, by utterly depriving a man ofany! cxcited the hatred or the ridicule of the vulgar. Abstract
When the unhappy Charles the First pleaded, that to pass ideas, as sounds, have been used as watchwords; the com
the bill of attainder against the Earl of Strafford was balants will be usually found willing to fight for words to
against his conscience, that remarkable character of bolde which, perhaps, not one of them have attached any settled
ness and impirty, as Clarendon characterizes Williams, signification. This is admirably touched on by Locke, in
Archbishop of York, on this argument of conscience (a simhis chapter of · Abuse of Words.' "Wisdom, Glory, ple word enough,) demonstrated that there were two sorts Grace, &c., are words frequent enough in every man's of cosnrience, public and private ; that his public conscience
as a king might dispense with his private conscience as a mouth; but is a great many of those who use them should be asked what they mean by them, they would be at a
man! Such was the ignominious argument which decided stand, and know not what to answer-a plain proof that
the fate of that great victim of state! It was an impudent though they have learned those sounds, and have them
.confusion of words,' when Prynne (in order to quiet ihe ready at their tongue's end, vet there are no determined
consciences of those who were uneasy at warring with idens laid up in their minds which are to be expressed to
the king) observed, that the statute of 251h Edward III, others by them.'
ran in the singular number-If a man shall levy war When the American exclaimed that he was not repre
against the king,' and, therefore, could not be extended to Kented in the House of Commons, because he was not
the houses, who were many and public persons. Later, an plertor, he was told that a very small part of the people
we find Sherlock blest with the spirit of Williams, the of England were electors. As they could not call this an
Archbishop of York, whom we have just left. When actual representation, thev invented a new name for it, and
some did not know how to charge and discharge themcalled in a virtual one. Ju imposed on the English nation,
selves of the oaths to James the Second and to William who could not object that others should be taxed rather
the Third, this confounder of words discovered that there than themselves; but with the Americans it was a sophism!
were two rights, as the other had that there were iwo conAnd this virtual representation instead of an actual one,
sciences ; one was a providential right, and ihe other a ternunated in our separation; "which,' savs Mr Flood, legal right; one person might very righteously claim and at the time appeared to have swept away most of our
tahe a thing, and another as righteously hold and keep
it; but that whoever got the better had ihe providential glory and our territory : forty thousand lives, and one hundred millions of treasure!!
right by possession; and since all authority comes from That fatal expression wluch Rousseau had introduced, God, the people were obliged to transfer their allegiance L'Egalité des hommes, which onally involved the happi
to him as a king of God's making; so that he who had the ness of a whole prople; hau he lived. he had probably providential right necessarily had the legal one! a very shown how all his country had understood. He rould only simple discovery, which must, however, have cost him have referred in hi« mind to political equalitv, but not an
some pains ; for this confounder of words was himself,
confounded by twelve answers by non-jurors!
A French politician of this stam" ricently was suspen
ded from his lectureship, for asserting that the possession among every people. Liherty,' Equality,' and 'Rr. forin,' innocent worde' sadly ferment the brains of those
of the soil was a right; by which principle, any king