Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Reason in our practice. For if Thou lovest, be singulars and You love, be plural, and if Thou loveft, fignifies but One; and You love, Many; is it not as proper to say, Thou lovest, to Ten men, as to say, You love, to One man? Or, why not I love, for We love, and We love, instead of I love? Doubtless it is the fame, though most improper, and in speech ridiculous.

f. III. Our next reason is; if it be improper or uncivil speech (as termed by this vain age) how comes it, that the Hebrew, Greek and Roman authors, used in schools and universities, have no other? Why should they not be a rule in that, as well as other things ? And why, I pray then, are we so ridiculous for being thus far grammatical? Is it reasonable that children should be whipt at school for putting You for Thou, as having made false Latin; and yet that we must be, though not whipt, reproached, and often abused, when we use the contrary propriety of speech?

§. IV. But in the third place, it is neither improper nor uncivil, but much otherwise; because it is used in all languages, speeches, and dialects, and that through. all ages. This is very plain : as for example, it was God's language when he first spake to Adam, viz. Hebrew: also it is the Aflyrian, Chaldean, Grecian, and Latin speech. And now amongst the Turks, Tartars, Muscovites, Indians, Persians, Italians, Spaniards, French, Dutch, Germans, Polonians, Swedes, Danes, Irish, Scottish, Welch, as well as English, there is a distinction preserved; and the word Thou, is not lost in the word which goes for You. And though some of the modern tongues have done as we do, yet upon the same error. But by this it is plain, that Thou is no upstart, nor yet improper ; but the only proper word to be used in all languages to a single person; because otherwise all sentences, speeches, and discourses may be very ambiguous, uncertain, and equivocal. If a jury pronounce a verdict, or a judge a sentence (Three being at the bar upon three occasions, very differently culpable) and should say, You are here guilty, and to die, or innocent, and discharged; who knows who is

guilty or innocent? May be but One, perhaps Two; or it may be all Three. Therefore our indictments run in the singular number, as Hold up Thy hand : Thou art indicted by the name of, &c. for that Thou, o not having the fear of God, &c.' and it holds the same in all conversation. Nor can this be avoided, but by inany unnecessary circumlocutions. And as the preventing of such length and obscurity was doubtless the first reason for the distinction, so cannot that be justly disused, till the reason be first removed; which can never be, whilst Two are in the world.

$. V. But this is not all : it was first ascribed in way of Aattery to proud popes and emperors; imitating the Heathens vain homage to their gods; thereby ascribing a plural honour to a single person; as if One Pope had been made up of Many Gods, and One Emperor of many Men. For which reason, You, only to be used to Many, became first spoken to One. It seems the word Thou looked like too lean and thin a respect; and therefore fome, bigger than they should be, would have a stile suitable to their own ambition: a ground we cannot build our practice on; for what begun it, only loves it still. But supposing You to be proper to a prince, it will not follow it is to a common person, For his edict runs, “ We will and require,” because perhaps in conjunction with his council; and therefore You to a private person, is an abuse of the word. But as pride first gave it birth, so hath she only promoted it. * Monsieur, lir, and madam, were, originally, names given to none but the king, his brother, and their wives, both in France and England; yet now the plowman in France is called Monsieur, and his wife, madam: and men of ordinary trades in England, sir, and their wives, dame ; (which is the legal title of a ļady) or else mistress, which is the same with madam in French. So prevalent hath pride and Aattery been in all ages, the one to give, and the other to receive şespect, as they term it.

h in France ared Monsieur, ancland, fir,

Howel's History of France.

$. VI. But .$. VI. But some will tell us, custom should rule us; and that is against us. But it is easily answered, and more truly, that though in things 'reasonable or indifferent, custom is obliging or harmless, yet in things unreasonable or unlawful, she has no authority. For custom can no more change numbers than genders, nor yoke One and You together, than make a man into a woman, or one a thousand. But if custom be to conclude us, it is for us : for as custom is nothing else but ancient usage, I appeal to the practice of mankind, from the beginning of the world, through all nations, against the novelty of this confusion, viz. You to one person. Let custom, which is ancient practice and fact, issue this question. Miitake me not: I know words are nothing, but as men give them a value or force by use: but then, if you will discharge Thou, and that You must succeed in its place, let us have a distinguishing word in the room of You, to be used in speech to Many. But to use the same word for One and Many, when there are two, and that only to please a proud and haughty humour in man, is not reasonable in our sense ; which, we hope, is Christian, though not modish.

S. VII. But if Thou to a single person be improper or uncivil, God himself, all the holy fathers and prophets, Christ Jesus and his apostles, the primitive saints, all languages throughout the world, and our own law. proceedings are guilty; which, with submission, were great presumption to imagine. Besides, we all know, it is familiar with the most of authors, to preface their discourses to the reader in the same language of Thee and Thou: as, Reader Thou art desired, &c. or, Reader this is writ to inform Thee, of the occasion, &c. And it cannot be denied, that the most famous poems, dedicated to love or majesty, are writ in this stile. Read of each in Chaucer, Spencer, Waller, Cowley, Dryden, &c. why then should it be so homely, ill-bred, and insufferable in us? This, I conceive, can never be answered.

$. VIII. I doubt not at all, but that something altogether as singular attended the speech of Christ and his disciples : for I remember it was urged upon Peter in the high priest's palace, as a proof of his belonging to Jesus, when he denied his Lord : ' Surely (faid they)

Thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth < Theef: they had guessed by his looks, but just before, that he had been with Jesus; but when they discoursed him, his language put them all out of doubt: surely then he was one of them, and he had been with Jesus. Something it was he had learned in his company, that was odd and observable; to be sure, not of the world's behaviour. Without question, the garb, gait, and speech of his followers differed, as well as his doctrine, from the world; for it was a part of his doctrine it should be fo. It is easy to believe, they were more plain, grave, and precise; which is more credible, from the way which poor, confident, fearful Peter took, to disguise the business ; for he fell to cursing and swearing. A sad shift ! but he thought that the likeliest way to remove the fufpicion, that was most unlike Christ. And the policy took; for it silenced their objections; and Peter was as orthodox as they. But though they found him not out, the cock's-crow did; which made Peter remember his dear suffering Lord's word, and he went forth and wept bitterly: that he had denied his Master, who was then delivered up to die for him.

$. IX. But our last reason is of most weight with me; and, because argumentum ad hominem, it is most heavy upon our despisers; which is this: It should not therefore be urged upon us, because it is a most extravagant piece of pride in a mortal man, to require or expect from his fellow-creature a more civil speech, or grateful language, than he is wont to give the immortal God, and his Creator, in all his worship to him. Art thou, O man, greater than he that made thee? Canst thou approach the God of thy breath, and great judge of thy life, with Thou and Thee, and when thou risest off thy knees, scorn a Christian for giving to thee (poor

? Mat. xxvi. 71, 73, 74.

mushroom

mushroom of the earth) no better language than thou. haft given to God but just before? An arrogancy not to be easily equalled ! But again, it is either too much or too little respect; if too much, do not reproach and be angry, but gravely and humbly refuse it: if too little, why dost thou show to God no more? O whither is man gone! to what a pitch does he foar? he would be used more civilly by us, than he uses God; which is to have us inake more than a god of him: but he shall want worshippers of us, as well as he wants the divinity in himself that deserves to be worshipped. Certain we are, that the Spirit of God seeks not these respects, much less pleads for them, or would be wroth with any that conscientiously refuse to give them. But that this vain generation is guilty of using them, to gratify a vain mind, is too palpable. What capping, what cringing, what scraping, what vain unmeant words, most hyperbolical expressions, compliments, gross flatteries, and plain lyes, under the name of civilities, are men and wonen guilty of in conversation! Ah, my friends! whence fetch you these examples ? What part of all the writings of the holy men of God warrants these things? But to come near to your own professions: Is Christ your example herein, whose name you pretend to bear? or those saints of old, that lived in desolate places, of whom the world was not worthys? Or do you think you follow the practice of those Christians, that, in obedience to their Master's life and doctrine, forsook the respect of persons, and relinquished the fashions, honour and glory of this transitory world : whose qualifications lay not in external gestures, respects, and compliments, but in a meek and quiet spirit, adorned with temperance, virtue, modesty, gravity, patience, and brotherly-kindness, which were the tokens of true honour, and only badges of respect and nobility in those Christian times? O no! But is it not to expose. ourselves both to your contempt and fury, that we imitate them, and not you ? And tell us, pray, are not

gesture

nce, via meek

[merged small][ocr errors]

romances,

« AnteriorContinuar »