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FRASER'S

M A G A ZINE

FOR JANUARY, 1860,

WILL CONTAIN, WITH OTHER PAPERS,

Wheat and Tares: a Tale. Part I.

Concerning Disappointment and Success.

By A. K. H. B.

Conversations with Prince Metternich.

By Major NOEL

Richardson, Miss Austen,

British Novelists

Scott.

Essay towards a Solution of the Gold Question.

By Professor J. E. CAIRNES. Second Paper. The Literary Suburb of the Eighteenth

Century. No. I.

Memoirs of Shelley.

By T. L. PEACOCK. Second Paper.

Holmby House.

By G. J. WHYTE MELVILLE. Part XIII,

FRASER'S MAGAZINE.

JULY, 1859.

To

THE IRRATIONALE OF SPEECH.*

BY A MINUTE PHILOSOPHER. the minute philosopher, who voice, like Mr. Hunt's (of which

holds that things are strange in more hereafter), and reads there proportion to their commonness; how one vowel is produced by a that the fit attitude for the human certain position of the lips, and an. mind is that of habitual wonder; other consonant by another position and that true science, so far from of the tongue, and so forth ; and he explaining phenomena, only shows is interested and instructed, but that they are inexplicable, or likely gets no light whatsoever thrown on to be so, not merely as to their final his hourly puzzle of Why and How? but as to their proximate causes ;- Why does little Tommy imitate ! to him, I say, few things seem more What puts it into his small brains ? miraculous than human speech. He And how does he imitate? By conhas not time to ascend to the higher scious reflection, by experiment, by question of the metaphysics of lan- what? guage;

not even to that first ques. Desperate, he determines to betion - How did the human race ever gin at the beginning, and goes to make tire surprising discovery that see the Talking Fish. There, at objects might be denoted by sym- least, he will find articulation in its bols, by names ?-and how did they most rudimentary, and perhaps uncommunicate that discovery to each conscious state. And on the whole other? Puzzling as that question he is not disappointed. He seesis, he is stopt short of it in wonder what is always worth seeing-an by a puzzle equally great—by the animal new to him; a seal ten feet mere physical fact of articulation, long, beautiful and graceful; he which man has in common with the submits to its ancient and fish-like parrot and the daw. He watches smell, having submitted to that of in mute astonishment his own baby's its English cousins many a time. first attempts at speech; and asking He learns that its generic name is wise men the cause thereof, is told Stenorynchus, and accepts the same that it is done by the faculty of as denoting the narrow oblong nosimitation.' Butthough quite enough tril, wherein at the first glance it is of a Lockite to believe that the child seen to differ from the common can pronounce no words but what it seal. He sees without surprise that hears, he is aware that to state a it is most docile, affectionate, and fact is not to explain it; and that playful; and recollects as he watches man possesses the faculty of imita. it, pleasant days on a certain milltion,' leads him no farther forward head, when • Peter' used to come to than 'man can copy,' unless three the whistle, surging along like a long Latin words contain by their great black swan, with head erect, ovu nature more wisdom than two cooing and grunting to be carEnglish ones. He turns to books ried, like a great bolster, under hi which treat of the philosophy of master's arm down to the clear

The Unspeakable ; 01, The Life and Adventures of a Stammerer. London: Longman and Co.

À Manual of the Philosophy of Voice and Speech. By James Hunt, Ph. D. London : Longman and Co.

VOL. LX. NO. CCCLV.

mill pool, there to shoot about in nurse they had made their dear the transparent chalk-water after little tongues too large for their the hapless club, with the grace of mouths, he doubts much. a very Naiad.

But all this helps him not_one Then he begins to examine into step toward the question, How the question of its articulating does my child get beyond ma-ma, powers; and soon wishes that able

and pa-pa? How does he learn editors and correspondents possessed to form those endless combinations a little more of that minute philoso- of lips, teeth, and tongue, which phy which consists in using their produce the various consonants ? own eyes and ears accurately and How to modulate the chords and patiently for five minutes. He hears pipe of that most wonderful of all the beast, when told to say mamma, instruments, the human throat (in give a double bark, which sounds which all instrumerts which have very like that word; and when told been made by clumsy man are at to say papa, give exactly the same once combined and excelled), 80 as bark. Whereon, being corrected, to produce the endless variety of he repeats it, beginning, as was to tones by which lie expresses each be expected, with that mother of all and every passing emotion ? He consonants, which may be, accord- reads the admirable chapters in ing as the imagination chooses to Mr. Hunt's book, r., vi., and vii. lead the ear, m, b, p, or v. He re- He reads all other books which one marks also that the seal, when ex- can find; and confesses with David, cited, begins to repeat the same *I am fearfully and wonderfully bark on his own account, and is made, oh Lord; and that my soul silenced by a rap on the head, and a knoweth right well.' That-but :* Don't talk, sir !' from his showman, beyond that, nothing. Is the child who of course has a natural dislike conscious of the different motions that the public should fancy the of his lips, and does he make them talking to be a product of nature deliberately, as causes intended to and not of education. After which produce certain effects ? Impossible. he departs, having gained at least I am not conscious of them in myone fact—that the primary conso- self. Only very slowly, and by nant, in mammals at least, is pro- careful self-inspection, do I become duced by suddenly opening the just aware of the motions of my mouth closed lips, and driving the breath in forming some few of the simpler out forcibly ; easy and natural to a consonants. As for the compound seal, whose lips are very thick, and ones—str, for instance-full con. can join very tightly, io keep out sciousness about them is impossible. the water. But whether the con- It would take hours of careful sonant be b or m, he can tell no labour before a looking-glass to demore than in the case of the sheep, termine the respective motions who says ma-a and ba—a alter- which produce p, b, and m. When nately and accidentally; or of the has the child bad either time or indog, who says bow if he begins his tellect to perform such a process for bark with lips closed, and wow if himself? He is not like the pianist, with the lips open in the centre. in whom from long practice the After which deep cogitations he be- conscious use of the fingers has past gins to more clearly why into unconsciousness. He is a mamma, papa, and baba, are the musician playing the most diificult first words which all children pro- of all music at sight-and on an innounce ; and to consign to the strument, strange to say, which he kingdom of Galimatias Herodotus' has never seen. For that he learns, story of the goat.fed children, who as some deaf and dumb people do, astonished the king of Egypt by watching the motion of his (searcher for the primæval lan- parents' lips, I can hardly believe. guage), by crying 'Beccos,' which He watches their eyes, and not in Syrian means bread.' That they their mouths; and if he did watch, began with a .b,' he doubts not; all that he could see would be the that they proceeded to a 'k,' and vowels and the labials; dentals and finished with an 's,' unless by orer- linguals would be hidden from him. much sucking of their poor goat- Add to this the curious fact (known

see

1859.]

Why Children Stammer.

3

man

ages ago to the cunning old Brah. culation, why all the world does not mins), that most of the consonants stammer, sooner or later, more or can be (and are by most people) less; and confesses that Nature takes formed in two different ways at dif- better care of us than we can of ferent times—viz., sometimes on the ourselves, and that lips, and sometimes on the teeth. Add again the fact that very few

There's a Divinity doth shape our

words,' people except the most highly bred women or practised public speakers,

Rough-hew them as we will. use their lips freely, fully, and cor- For the child, when speaking (if rectly; and the hypothesis of a we will consider), is like a man walkconscious imitation, by successive ing along the right road; but in the acts of will, becomes impossible; dark. Or like, again, a and one is forced to confess the managing a delicate machine, of whole process of speech to be utterly whose construction he knows no. transcendental and inexplicable, thing, save that, to keep it going, lying in that region below conscious- he must move a certain handle. ness-in which, after all, lie all the But let the man get out of his road, noblest and most precious powers even by a single yard, he can pro. of our humanity.

bably never find it again; and all And so the minute philosopher his wanderings to and fro lead him leaves the whole question, with fresh only, further from the right path. respect for the little boy who once Or let the machine get out of order posed a certain lord mayor.

in the least, the man who works it For the lord mayor having asked by rote becomes helpless. The more him from his throne of office, ‘My he turns his handle, the greater tňe boy, are you aware of the nature of disturbance becomes ; and if lie atan oath and the little boy having tempts ignorantly to set the machianswered, Is that anything good nery right, he breaks or confuses it to eat P' his lordship thought proper utterly. to examine him in his knowledge of Even so, let the child's vocal organs the principles of religion ; and first, once lose the habit of pronouncing of course, in his notions concerning certain syllables, and they are utterly that flaming Tartarus which is held at sea' thenceforth. They have by some to be the first principle of been doing right they knew not how, religion, limiting and conditioning and the child knew not; and they all others, even to our conceptions have no more knowledge of how to of Deity itself.

do right again than the man in the So the lord mayor asked, with a dark has of getting back into the path. solemn and even pious countenance, They must struggle and try, they • My little boy, do you know where know not what methods, in aimless bad people go when they die ?' agitation and contortion. The child's

To which that little boy answered will and reflection cannot help them, with a knowing wink (whether by for he simply knows nothing about special instigation of the devil or of the matter. They used to imitate another spirit)

others of their own accord, and now “No, I don't know; nor you don't they have forgotten--what he never know. Nobody don't know that.' remembered. Nay, his will and re

After which the lord mayor said flection, when he tries consciously no more.

to pronounce the t or b, which has That little boy's answer I have become suddenly impossible, only occasion to give to most matters, make the matter worse ; for as he bethe more I consider them; and es. comes agitated and terrified with the pecially to this present one of how sudden sense of impotence, bis own Master Tommy speaks.

horror (for he does feel a real and Now, if there be, as far as the most painful horror) confuses alike child's consciousness is concerned, mind and body, and he is as in. no rationale of speech, there may capable of commanding his thoughts be all the more easily an irrationale or actions, as a drunkard or a mad. thereof—in plain Englislı, a stammer; man. He has lost the road which he so easily, indeed, that one wonders, never knew. Poor wretch, how shall after examining the process of arti- be find it again ?

by it.

And how does he lose it?

A clever little book, called The A puzzling question, when we Unspeakable ; or, the Adventures of know that in three cases out of four, a Stammerer (a book, by the bye, stammering may be traced to imi- which should be in the hands of tation, conscious or unconscious. every parent who has a stammering That the children and brothers of child), sets forth a normal case of stammerers are more liable than this kind. other people, is well known; and A lonely, motherless, excitable many a sad case may be traced to boy is thrown into circumstances, intentional mimicry. I knew of a which excite and terrify him, and young man who used, for his little then packed off to school in combrothers and sisters' amusement, to pany with a man whom he has every act some stammering relation. One reason to fear and hate, and whose day he found that his acting had face and manner have been in the become grim earnest. He had set last four days painfully impressed up a bad habit, and he was enslaved on his imagination. This man is a

He was utterly terrified; frightful stammerer. On the journey he looked on his sudden stammers he insults and strikes the poor boy, (by a not absurd moral sequence) as who revenges himself by mimicking a judgment from God for mocking his contortions. Arrived at school, an afflicted person; and suffered he suddenly finds himself unable to great misery of mind, till he was pronounce his own name, and begins cured by a friend of mine, to whom I to be a stammerer. The schoolshall have occasion to refer here- master, a brutal man, who has been after.

prejudiced against him, accuses him Often, again, the imitation is quite of doing it on purpose. If you unconscious, and the child learns to hesitate, sir,' says he, with such a stammer as he does to speak. If it pun as that stamp of man loves, 'I be asked why the example of the shall not;' and the poor boy is half thousand (or rather 2500, for that cut in two with a cane on the spot. is about the average in England) The habit is irremediably confirmed who speak plain does not counteract thenceforth. that of the one who does not, the. And here I say boldly, that the answer is, that it does counteract it, stupidity and cruelty with which except in those very rare cases stammering children are too often where there is some occult pre- treated, is enough to rouse one's disposition. One of the most indignation. They are told 'you frightful stammers I ever knew can help it if you like. As if they began at seven years old, and could knew how to help it—as if the very only be traced to the child's having people who speak thus could tell watched the contortions of a stam- them how to help it. They are mering lawyer in a court of justice. asked, “why cannot you speak like But the child had a brain at once other people ?' As if it were not excited and weakened by a brain torture enough to them already to fever, and was of a painfully nervous see other people speaking as they temperament. And yet-and here cannot; to see the rest of the world is another puzzle-that fact did not walking smoothly along a road which make it necessary, or eren probable, they cannot find, and are laughed that he should stammer. One may at for not finding; while those who see every day persons who by all walk so proudly along it cannot tell rules ought to stammer, with weak them how they keep on it. They jaws, upper teeth lapping over the are even told you do it on purpose.” under, flaccid diaphragms, the habit As if any one was dumb on purpose. of talking with closed teeth, of You think it fine. As if they pouring out their words rapidly, of were not writhing with shame every breathing irregularly, speaking with time they open their months. All empty lung, even (what seemingly this begets in the stammerer a habit would make a stammer certain) of of secresy, of feeling himself cut off speaking during inspiration as well from his kindred; of brooding over as during expiration, who do not his own thoughts, of fancying himself even hesitate. Verily, Nature is underamysterious curse, which somckind.

times (as I have known it do) tempts

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