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very different matter. The extraordinary simplicity of alphabetic characters, and their still more extraordinary power, render it improbable that they should be the discovery of chance, or the invention of a barbarous people: while the impossibility of arriving at any great degree of civilization or scientific advancement without them, supposes that the discovery must have preceded. If reason and language are the gifts of God, it is not going too far to say, that both are imperfect and very limited in their operation without the use of a written language. In order to preserve and authenticate a Divine revelation, a fixed medium of that revelation seems absolutely necessary; and, perhaps, it would not be difficult to suggest reasons amounting to a high probability, that when the law was given to Moses, the first knowledge of alphabetic writing, and the first specimen of it. were then communicated. But this is not the place to pursue such an inquiry.

ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE.

The acknowledged priority of spoken to written. language, appears to us a very decisive argument. for the divine origin of the latter.

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Among those who hold that language is a mere human invention, there have been two opinions,maintaining that substantives, or the names of external objects would be the words first invented, and others holding that verbs or words expressive of the mutual relations of objects, must have existed anterior to these, as an individual would not think of naming an object, until he had

his own aphorism, that "every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of life;" and had he, by his usual train of reasoning, generalized this proposition, by applying to the whole community what may be said of every one of its members, we should in all probability never have heard of productive or unproductive labor.

Every one must admire the acuteness and talent displayed in this Essay. More than common discernment was necess essary to catch the author of the wealth of nations tripping; but still greater talent was required to detect the fallacy and expose the mistaken reasonings by which it was supported. A discovery, when made often, appears very simple and easy; but the mind which makes that discovery, and the process which leads to it, belong not to the common order, and may be far removed from vulgar apprehension.

Among his papers which were written about this time, are several fragments, on subjects of great importance; and while I feel deep regret that they are imperfect, I cannot throw aside even the fragments of such a mind. The first on Written Language, in which his object appears to have been to prove that it is of divine origin. This is a view of the subject not peculiar indeed to him, but still not usually adopted by philosophers, and philologists; though I confess it has long appeared to me the only tenable hypotheses. The employment of hieroglyphics, and the use of them to record facts of a certain kind, are easily accounted for; but the discovery of alphabetic writing is a

very different matter. The extraordinary simplicity of alphabetic characters, and their still more extraordinary power, render it improbable that they should be the discovery of chance, or the invention of a barbarous people: while the impossibility of arriving at any great degree of civilization or scientific advancement without them, supposes that the discovery must have preceded. If reason and language are the gifts of God, it is not going too far to say, that both are imperfect and very limited in their operation without the use of a written language. In order to preserve and authenticate a Divine revelation, a fixed medium of that revelation seems absolutely necessary; and, perhaps, it would not be difficult to suggest reasons amounting to a high probability, that when the law was given to Moses, the first knowledge of alphabetic writing, and the first specimen of it were then communicated. But this is not the place to pursue such an inquiry.

ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE.

The acknowledged priority of spoken to written. language, appears to us a very decisive argument. for the divine origin of the latter.

Among those who hold that language is a mere human invention, there have been two opinions,some maintaining that substantives, or the names of external objects would be the words first invented, and others holding that verbs or words expressive of the mutual relations of objects, must have existed anterior to these, as an individual would not think of naming an object, until he had

been in some way or other affected by its properties. On either of these hypotheses, it seems to us very obvious, that it would occur much more readily to the mind of a savage to represent his ideas by forms than by sounds. If he wished to particularize any object that was near, he would point to it; and if he wished to express the relation between any two objects, he would, in all probability, point first to the one, and then to the other; or, if the objects were moveable, he might express the same idea by bringing them into actual con

tact.

Were these objects removed from his view, so that he could no longer express his idea by pointing to them, the most natural resource that could occur to him, would be to produce, if possible, a resemblance to the objects, and now to point to these, as he had formerly done to the objects themselves.

As there are comparatively few objects that utter sound, and as the sounds cannot be distinctly imitated by human voice; and, as on the other hand, all external objects have a form which can in general be easily represented, it would probably occur to him, that to delineate the absent objects would be the best method of representing them. If he wished to express some relation existing between two objects, he would express the idea as before, by representing the symbols of two objects in a state of contact.

Thus, had man been the inventor of language, we should have expected that at first men would have expressed their ideas by written symbols, accompanied by gestures, and now and then perhaps by the utterance of such articulate sounds, as evidently resembled the idea they intended to

express. But quite the reverse of this is admitted by those who maintain that language is of human origin, and while they do not deny that a slight degree of civilization is necessary before men begin to express their ideas by symbols, which bear some resemblance to the objects they are intended to represent: these philologists are guilty of very gross inconsistency in attributing to the most barbarous savages, a discovery of a much higher order, even the discovery of spoken language, where ideas are represented by sounds almost entirely arbitrary.

On this subject, as on most others, men of different parties seem to have run into opposite extremes. Some of the advocates of revelation, thinking they perceived it clearly declared there, that language is of divine origin,-jealous of the least infringement on the authority of the sacred volume, have attempted to prove the unqualified proposition, that language is the gift of God. A hold has thus been given to their opponents, as it is evident from the very nature of the expressions, that many, if not most of the words in every language have been invented by man. The mere philologist again, in attempting to philosophize on language as a mere human invention, has landed himself in the absurdity of attributing the sublime discovery of the powers of speech, to an age confessedly too barbarous to make the much more simple discovery of symbolical language. Revelation and sound philosophy in this case, as in all others, are at one. Language was originally the gift of God, and no doubt, for a considerable time, the same language. It may have been a language of the simplest kind, and in all probability was so. And yet, although there had been no multiplying

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