Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

« The same caution is necessary against hunting, keeping many. • servants, equipages, furniture, buildings, and all other occa* fions of expence that luxury has invented. A taste for any of " these things foon degenerates into a kind of passion, of which " the waste of time is not the only bad consequence; prodiga

lity, ruin, and dishonour, are the usual effects of it: it belongs ( only to a man who cannot resolve to live and amuse himself • with his own company, to think continually of galleries, ' columns, and gildings, and to run all his life after statues, • antiques, and medals.—I am, however, far from carrying o the severity of these maxims so far, as to forbid a man, in6 vested with a public employment, from having any attention (to himself; and to deny him all kinds of amusement. I ( would have him indulge himself in moderate pleasures, and < take care of his fortune; provided that he does the one with

out diffipation, and the other without dishonour. It is one < of those advantages that attends a disposition not prone to expence, and fond of regularity, that he who is possessed of

it, if he lives long, finds himself insensibly in affluent cir< cumstances. To have made a fortune,-a phrase that has so < hateful a found, because when it is applied to a man of bussness, it commonly means nothing but injustice, oppression, • and cruelty; and when applied to a courtier, nothing but

mean tricks, despicable flattery, cringing servility, and even, • at sometimes, knaveries and treachery,-- is nothing more than

a natural consequence, and even an act of virtue, where all « see that the fortune is only the reward of labour, or an ho(nest recompence of good actions : that I may not be mista• ken, I will add, that this ought to appear so clearly, as to • force our greatest enemies to see it, and confess it.'

After this our Memorialist gives a long detail of his own conduct as a minister, and endeavours to thew how exactly it quadrates with the foregoing portrait: but for this comparifon, as well as for many other valuable maxims of state and policy, we must refer to the work at large, which seems to be the best picture of its Author.

[To be continued.]

The Account of the Abbé de Condillac's Elay on the Origin of

Human Knowlege, concluded. TN the Review for laft month, we attended the learned

Abbé whilft he brought the Human Mind itself in review before us.

We saw him proceed from one intellectual power

I

to another, from the inferior to the superior faculties, justly displaying the force of each, marking its connection with the others, and gradually exciting those faculties and powers to action, till, by their union and conjunct influence, the whole mind became animated, and awaked, in all its vigour of reason and understanding

We are now, in this second part, to observe what efforts the mind naturally makes to communicate its intentions, defires, or discoveries; and how it improves and brings to perfection, the methods it naturally falls upon. And here, as in the former account, we shall, for the sake of dispatch, generally make use of Mr. Nugent's language, tho' somewhat contracted.

Let us suppose, says the Abbé, that sometime after the deluge, two children, one male and the other female, wandered about in the defarts, before they understood the use of any sign. I am authorized to make this supposition, because children have been found in desarts; and who knows but some nation or other owes its original to an event of this kind? Let us then enquire in what manner this nation first invented language.

So long as the above mentioned children lived afunder, the operations of their mind would be confined to perception and consciousness, which never cease to act whilst we are awake; to attention, which must take place whenever any perception affeets one in a particular manner; to reminiscence, when by striking circumstances they recollected something else; and to a very limited exercise of the imagination.

But when they came to live together, they would have occafion to enlarge and improve those first operations; because their mutual correspondence would induce them to connect with the founds attending each pasion, the perceptions naturally intimated by them. These sounds would generally be accompanied with some motion, gesture, or action, whose expression would be of a yet more rousing nature. For example, were the female debarred of access to an object necessary to the supply of her wants, she would not confine herself to mere sounds whilst the object was in view; but would express her endeavour to obtain it, by moving her head, her arms, and other parts of her body. The male, ftruck with this fight, would fix his eye on the same object, and perceiving some inward emotions, which he was not yet able to account for, would suffer in seeing his companion suffer; and, feeling himself inclined to relieve her, would follow this impreslion to the utmost of his power. Thus by instinct alone

would

would they ask and yield each other assistance; I say by instinct alone, for as yet there could be no room for reflection.

And yet these same circumstances could not be frequently repeated, without accustoming them at length to connect with the voice of the paffions, and with those various emotions of body, the perceptions expressed by them in so lively a manner. The more they grew familiar with these signs, the more capable would they become of reviving them at pleasure. Thus would their memory acquire some sort of habit; themselves be able to command their own imagination; and insensibly learn to so by reflection, what they had hitherto done merely by ininct.

By these particulars we see in what manner that fort of utterance, which in all animals is the effect of passion, might contribute to enlarge the operations of the human mind, by giving a natural occasion to the mode of speaking by action; a language which, in its infancy, tho' probably consisting only in contortions and violent agitations, yet would be proportioned enough to the flender capacity of this young couple.

But when once they had acquired the habit of connecting some ideas with arbitrary signs, the natural sounds, accompanying the passions, would themselves ferve them for a pattern to frame a vocal language. They might articulate new founds, and by repeating them several times, and accompanying them with fome gesture which pointed out such objects as they wanted to be taken notice of, accustom themselves to give names to things. The progress of this language must be, however, very flow; for in them the organ of speech would at first, and for want of early use, be so inilexible, that it could not easily articulate any other than a few simple founds; and the obstacles which hindered them from pronouncing others, would prevent them even from suspecting that the voice was susceptible of any further variation, beyond the Imall number of words already devised.

But let us suppose this young couple to have a child, who pressed by wants which he could not without difficulty make known, put every part of his body into some sort of motion. His tongue being extremely pliant, would be capable of notions productive of found, in a manner that must appear extraordinary to the parents, and give rise to new expressions. As continued wants pressed the child, they would occasion a repetition of the fame efforts. He would again and again move his tongue, as at first, and frequently articulate the fame found. The surprized parents, having at length guefled bis meaning, would give him what he wanted, and try, as they

gave it him, to imitate the found. The difficulty with which they must pronounce it, Shews that they were not of themselves capable of inventing it.

For this very reason the new language could not much improve; for the child's organ of speech, for want of exercise, must quickly lose all its flexibility. His parents, sensible of their own deficiency in pronunciation, and practised in action, would teach him to communicate his thoughts by action. In this case, chance alone could give rise to some new words ; and it must doubtless have been a long time before their number, by so flow a method, could be considerably increased. The mode of speaking by action, at that time so natural, must be a very great obstacle to furmount; for how could they leave it to prefer another, whose advantages were yet unforeseen, and whose difficulties were so obvious ?

In proportion as the language of articulate sounds became more copious, the necessity of seizing early opportunities for improving the organ of speech, and preserving its first Alexibility, would more and more appear; till at last the mode of vocal expression would seem as convenient as that of speaking by action; and for a time both would be indiscriminately used, till at length articulate founds became so easy, that they abfolutely prevailed.

The mode of speaking by action was by the antients called by the name of Dance; which is the reason that David is said to have danced before the ark.

As taste improved, men gave a greater variety, grace, and expression, to this dance. They not only subjected the motions of the arms, and the attitudes of the body, to rules; but they likewise marked out the movements of the feet. Thus dancing was naturally divided into two subordinate arts ; one, if I may be permitted an expression conformable to the language of antiquity, was the dance of gestures, which they preserved to accompany and enforce the communication of their thoughts; the other was the dance of steps, employed in expressing particular emotions of the mind, chiefly of joy, and was therefore used on occasions of rejoicing, as its principal object was pleasure.

Speech succeeding the language of action, retained its character: yet these languages did not succeed each other abruptly. They were a long time intermixed, and it was not till very late that speech prevailed. This new method of communicating thought must of course imitate the first; and, in order to supply the place of violent contorsions, raise and depress the voice by very sensible intervals.

We

We might improperly give the name of music to this manner of pronouncing: I shall only say, then, it partook of the nature of music.

This prosody was so natural to mankind in the beginning, that to several it appeared easier to express different ideas by the same word pronounced in different tones, than to multiply the number of words in proportion to that of ideas. A language of this kind is still preserved among the Chinese. They have only 328 monofyllables: these they vary on five tones, which is equivalent to 1640 signs; and it has been observed, that our languages are not more copious.

The fame causes which determine the voice to vary by very distinct intervals, necessarily occasion it to make a difference between the times which it useth in the articulation of sounds. It was not, therefore, natural, that a people, whose prosody was in some measure musical, should observe equal stops in each fyllable. This method of pronouncing would not have sufficiently imitated the mode of speaking by action. Some founds, therefore, at the origin of languages, succeeded each other with greater velocity, and others very slowly. From hence arises what Grammarians call Quantity, or the sensible difference between long and short fyllables.

As the inflexion by sensible intervals introduced the use of musical declamation, so the distinct inequality of syllables, added a difference of time and measure to it. The declamatory speaking of the antients contained, therefore, those two things, characteristical of vocal melody, I mean Modulation and Movement.

If it be natural, as I have observed, for the voice to vary its inflexions in proportion to the greater variety of gestures ; it is, for the fame reason, natural for a people, who speak a language, the pronunciation of which borders very near upon muiic, to have a more varied gesture, and a manner of action expreflive enough to be measured.

When gestures were once reduced to an art, and determined by notes, it was found an ealy matter to subject them to the movement and measure of declamation. Nay, the Romans went farther; they divided the recitation and action in their Soliloquies, betwixt two players.

The custom of dividing the declamation, naturally led to the discovery of Pantomimes: there was only one fep more to take, namely, for the actor to render his gesture so exprelive, that the recitation hould appear useless; and this is what happened.

The

« AnteriorContinuar »