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have also been as quickly passing and perishing, as the lightning. u Words convey the mental treasures of one period to the genera. tions that follow; and, laden with this, their precious freight, they sail safely across gulfs of time in which empires have suffered shipwreck, and the languages of common life have sunk into oblivion.”
9. And, for all these reasons, far more and mightier in every way is a language than any one of the works which may have been composed in it for that work, great as it may be, is but the embodying of the mind of a single man; this,'18 of a nation. The Iliades is great; yet not so great in strength or power or beauty as the Greek language. Paradise Loste is a noble possession for a people to have inherited; but the English tongue is a nobler heritage yet.
10. Great, then, will be our gains, if, having these treasures of wisdom and knowledge lying round about us, we determino that we will make what portion of them we can our own; that we will ask the words we usel38 to give an account of themselves, to say whence they are, and whitherl03 they tend. Then shall we often rub off the dust and rust from what seemed but a common token, which we had taken and given a thousand times, esteeming it no better, but which now we shall perceive to be a precious coin, bearing the image and superscription" of the great king.
11. Then shall we discover that there is a reälity about words ; that they are not merely arbitrary signs, but living powers; not like the sands of the sea, innumerable disconnected atoms, but growing out of roots, clustering in families, connecting and intertwining themselves with all that men have been doing and thinking and feeling, from the beginning of the world till now. We should thus grow in our feeling of connection with the past, and of gratitude and reverence towardset it; we should estimate more truly, and therefore*8 more highly, what it has done for us, all that it has bequcathed to us, all that it has made ready to our hands.
12. It was something for the children of Israël," when they came into Canaan,to enter upon wells which they digged not, and vineyards which they had not planted, and houses which they had not built; but how much greater a boon, how much more glorious a prerogative, Et for any one generation to enter upon the inheritance of a language which other generations by their truth and toil have made already a receptacle of choicest treasures, a storehouse of so much unconscious wisdom, a fit organ for expressing the subtlest distinctions, the tenderest sentiments, the largest thoughts, and the loftiest imaginations, which at any time the heart of men can conceive!
XLV. — ON THE STUDY OF WORDS.
Part SECOND. 1. We are not to look for the poëtry, which a people may possess, only in its poems, or its poetical customs, traditions, I and beliefs. Many a single word also is itself a concen'trated poem, having stores of poetical thought and imagery laid up in it. Ex. amines it, and it will be found to rest on some deep analogy of things natural and things spiritual; bringing thosei2i to illustrate and to give an abiding form and body to these.
2. Let me illustrate that which I have been here saying somewhat more at length by the word “ tribulation.” We all know, in a general way, that this word, which occurs not seldom in ScriptureEt and in the Liturgy, 51 means affliction, sorrow, anguish ; but it is quite worth our while103 to know how it means this, and to question the word a little closer. It is derived from the Latin93 “ trib'ulum,” – which was the thrashing instrumentol or roller whereby the Roman husbandman separated the corn from the husks; and “ tribulatio,” in its primary significance, was the act of this separation.
3. But some Latin writer of the Christian church appropriated the word and image for the setting forth of a higher truth; and sorrow, distress, and adversity, being the appointed means for the separating in men of their chaff from their wheat, of whatever in them was light and trivial and poor from the solid and the true, therefore he called these sorrows and griefs « tribulations," thrashings, that is, of the inner spiritual man, without which there could be no fitting him for the heavenly30 garner.
4. How deep an insight into the failings of the human heart lies at the root of many words; and, if only we would attend to them, what valuable warnings many contain against subtlet temptations and sins! Thus, all of us have probably, more or less, felt the temptation of seeking to please others by an unmanly assenting to their view of some matter, even when our own independent convictions would lead us to a different. The existence of such a temptation, and the fact that too many yield to it, are both declared in a Latin El word for a flatterer, -"assentator,”that is, “an assenter ; ” one who has not courage to say No, when a Yes is expected from him.
5. What a mournful witness for the hard and uprighteous judgment we habitually form of one another lies in the word “ prejudice”! The word of itself mcans plainly no more than a “judgment formed beforehand,” without affirming anything as 10 whether that judgment be favorable or unfavorable to the person about whom it is formed. Yet so predominantly do we formi harsh, unfavorable judgments of others before knowledge and experience, that a “prejudice,” or judgment before knowledge and not grounded on evidence, is almost always taken to signify an unfavorable anticipation about one ; and “ prejudicial ” has actually acquired a secondary meaning of anything which is mischievous or injurious.
6. Full, too, of instruction and warning is our present employ. ment of the word “libertine.” It signified, according to its earliest use in French and English, a speculative free-thinker in matters of religion, and in the theory of morals, or, it might be, of government. But, as by a sure process free-thinking does and will end in free-acting, -as he who cast-off the one yoke will cast off the other, — 80 a “libertine" came, in two or three generations, to signify a profligate.
7. There is much, too, that we may learn from looking a little closely at the word “passion.” We sometimes think of the “passionate” man as a man of strong will, and of real though ungoverned energy. But this word declares to us most plainly the con'trary; for it, as a very solemn use of it declares, means properly “ suffering ;” and a passionate man is not a man doing something, but one suffering something to be done on him.
8. When, then, a man or child is “ in a passion,” this is no coming out in him of a strong will, of a real energy, but rather the proof that, for the time at least, he has no will, no energy ; he is suffering, not doing, — suffering his anger, or what other evil temper it may be, to lord over him without control. Let po one, then, think of passion as a sign of strength.
XLVI. — ON THE STUDY OF WORDS.
1. There are vast harvests of historic lore garnered often in single words; there are continually great facts of history which they at once declare and preserve. If you turn to a map of Spain, Et you will take note, at its southern point and running out into the Straits of Gibraltar, E1 of a prom'ontory, which from its position is admirably adapted for commanding the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, and watching the exitki and entrance of all ships.
2. A fortress stands upon this promontory, called now, as it was also called in the times of the Moorish domination in Spain, * Tari'fa ;” the name, indeed, is of Moorish origin. It was the custom of the Moors to watch froru this point all merchantships going into or coming out of the Midlands Sea ; and, issuing from this stronghold, to levy dutiesto according to a fixed scale on all merchandise passing in and out of the straits; and this was called, from the place where it was levied, “ tarifa," or “ tariff ;” and in this way we have acquired the word.
3. It is a signal evidence of the conservative powers of language, that we may oftentimes trace in speech the rec'ords of customs and states of society which have now passed so entirely away as to survive nowhere else but in these words alone. For example, a “stipulation," or agreement, is so called, as many are strong to affirm, from “ stip'ula," a straw, because it once was usual, when one person passed over landed property to another, that a straw from the land, as a pledge or representative of the property transferred, should be handed from the seller to the buyer, which afterward was commonly prescrved with or inserted in the title-deeds.
4. Whenever we speak of arithmeticEl as the science of “calculation,” we in fact allude to that rudimental period of the science of numbers when pebbles (calculi) were used, as now among sa vages they often are, to facilitate the practice of counting. In “ library” we preserve a record of the fact that books were once written on the bark (liber) of trees.
5. No one now believes in astrol’ogy ; yet we seem to affirm as much in language ; for we speak of a person as “jovial,” or “săt'urnine,” or “mercurial ; " " jovial," as being born under the planet Jupiterei or Jove; “saturnine,” as born under the planet Săt'urn;" and "mercurial,” that is, light-hearted, as those born under the planet Mer' cury I were accounted to be.
6. With how lively an interest shall we discover words to be of closest kin which we had never considered till now but as entire strangers to one another! What a real increase will it be in our acquaintance with and mastery of English, to become aware of such relationship! Thus “heaven "30 is only the perfect of “ to heave;" and is so called because it is “hea ved ” or “heaven” up, being properly the sky as it is raised aloft. The “smith” has his name from the sturdy blows that he “smites.” upon the anvil ; "wrong" is the perfect participle of “to wring," that which one has wrung or wrested from the right.
7. The “ brunt” of the battle is the “heat” of the battle, where it “burns " the most fiercely. “Haft,” as of a knife, is properly only the participle perfect of “to have,” that whereby you have" or told it. Or, take two or three nouns adjective: “strong" is the participle past of " to string ;” a “strong ” man means no more than one whose sinews are firmly “strung.' The “left” hand, as distinguished from the right, is the hand which we “ leave;" inasmuch as for twenty times we use the right hand, we do not once employ the left; and it obtains its name from being “left” unused so often. “Wild” is the participle past of “to will ;” a “wild ” horse is a “willed” or selfwilled horse, one that has never been tamed, or taught to submit its will to the will of another; and so with a man.
8. Do not suffer words to pass you by which at once provoke and promise to reward inquiry. Here is “conscience,'91 a solemn word, if there be such in the world. This word is from the Latin words “con," with, and “scirë,” to know. But what does that “con” intend ? “ Conscience” is not merely that which I know, but that which I know with some one else ; for this prefix® cannot, as I think, be esteemed superfluous, or taken to imply merely that which I know with or to myself. That other knower whom the word implies is God, - his law making itself known and felt in the heart.
9. What a lesson the word “diligence" contains! How prof. itable is it for every one of us to be reminded, — as we areng reminded when we make ourselves aware of its derivation from “ diligo,” to love, — that the only secret of true industry in our work is love of that work!
10. These illustrations are amply enough to justify what I have asserted of the existence of a moral element in words. Must we not own, then, that there is a wondrous and mysterious world, of which we may hitherto have taken too little account, around us and about us ; and may there not be a deeper meaning than hitherto we have attached to it lying in that solemn declaration, “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned ” 159
R, C. TRENCH.
XLVII. - THE STREAM THAT WAS MADE TO WORK.
1. That stream which runs through my garden gushes from the side of a furze-covered hill. For a long time it was a happy little stream ; it traversed meadows84 where all sorts of lovely wild-flowers bathed and mirrored themselves in its waters; then it entered my garden, and there I was ready to receive it. I had prepared green banks for it; on its edge and in its very bed I had planted those flowers which 138 all over the world love to bloom on the banks and in the bosom of pure streams.
2. It flowed through my garden, murmuring its plaintive song; shen, fragrants with my Howers, it left the garden, crossed