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ment of the English language, however, even in its simple phrases, is too arbitrary to be comprehended under any fixed Rule. It refuses restraint; and, provided the meaning of the sentence be preserved, the words may follow one another in any order that is most agreeable to the writer.
The great advantages of spoken over written language are the accompaniments of tone and gesture:-advantages that are but poorly supplied by means of points and accents. The early alphabets of nations had only one set of characters; and the manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries are written in large letters, similar to those on medals and inscriptions, without points, aspirates, or accents; and even without any division between the words. The latter circumstance would appear, to us, to have rendered the writings almost unintelligible. To be sure, speech itself proceeds in an uninterrupted flow; but then the speaker, by the modulation of his voice, produces that variety of accent which is still more observable by the ear, than the separation of the words is distinguishable by the eye. In the early days of Greece, (and, indeed, of most nations,) every composition was chaunted, or sung. Rhythm was the soul of their language; and their letters and words, though linked toge
ther in appearance, would have been, in some degree, divided: in the same manner as should be able to distinguish the versification of Milton, although printed in succession without separating the lines. Even now (and we may say the same of every Alphabetical tongue) the words of the Greek language are yet in many cases conjoined; for its compounds are extremely numerous.
The English seems, for a century past, to have been retrograding in this respect, seeing that we have now many compounds which were formerly separate words: such as himself, for him self; cannot for can not; farewell for fare well; nevertheless for ne ever the less, &c. The process is easy, and the manufacture is still going on. For example, the words well and bred, which signify 'properly educated,' were found to occur very frequently together; especially after their meaning was limited to that sort of education which teaches the common courtesies of social life, and hence became equally applicable to a gentleman, a lady, or a lap dog. This frequent occurrence was observed by the printer. These words had become a sort of compound adjective; and he, at first, ventured to conjoin them by a hyphen, (well-bred,) and, after a time, the hyphen was withdrawn. Such compounds are, generally,
still separable, and, in that case, present shades of distinction. He was bred well' alludes to the mode of training; He was wellbred' signifies that he behaved properly at some past period. Almost all the compounds of old English monosyllables may be so separated, but this is not the place for that sort of investigation.
In the seventh century, when small letters were first introduced, the transcribers of manuscripts no longer employed the uncial, or large letters, except in an ornamental form: in Titles and at the Heads, or chief divisions of works. It was hence that they received the name of CAPITALS, from the Latin caput, the head. Our present practice is to put a small capital at the beginning of every sentence, and also of every proper name, whether of persons or of things, in contradistinction to general denominations. Thus we write, the man,' 'the city,'' the river,' 'the mountain,' &c. with a small letter; but John,' 'London,'' the Thames,' the Appenines,' &c. require an initial capital. Adjectives, derived from proper names, are included in the same rule, as Johnsonian, Oxonian,' 'Pyrenean,'
English,' &c. The pronoun I, the interjection O, (or Oh), and the first letter of every line in verse, are also written in Capitals; and we may
add to these, the initial of any word which we chuse particularly to distinguish.
The usage of Capitals, as above mentioned, is but of modern date; for many of our early printed works have not a single Capital except at the beginning of a new subject. At the close of the sixteenth century, when the Old English, or Black Letter, was superseded by the Roman Character, the capitals were employed almost exactly as they are now; but, before the middle of the seventeenth century, almost every noun, whether substantive or adjective, received this initial mark of distinction. The following from "Holder's Elements of Speech," printed in 1669, will serve as an example.
Language is a Connexion of Audible signes, the most apt and excellent in whole nature for Communication of our Thoughts and Notions by Speaking. Written Language is a description of the said Audible Signes, by Signes Visible The Elements of Language are Letters, viz. Simple discriminations of Breath or Voice, Articulated by the Organs of Speech."
This confused intermixture of Capitals and Italics was meant, at that period, to suggest the emphasis, or energy, with which the words should be spoken; but the plan proved abortive,