صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

smile that thrills the soul of the beholder; it makes the friv. olous, thoughtful, and the gay, grave. It illumines the countenance, but not with the light of the sun; a strange, fearful radiance; the soul-light from within, and the light of Eternity from without, are blended there. Do you know what smile I mean, reader?

In each of the various expressions, which I have just enu. merated, there is some tinge of passion, or some mingling of bitterness, or some element of human frailty; but that to which I now allude, is purer, holier; mort al yet, the magic dial has flung its last earthly shadow, and only stays its dissolution for a moment, to reflect, what glacial-cliff nor sil. ver lake has never caught—the light of endless day! That dial, reader, and that smile, are the countenance and the smile of THE DYING CHRISTIAN.

With this, I must close my notices of Natural Language. But when I review the preceding pages, I can scarcely recog. nize in the faint resemblance, the mental original, which sat for it. So dim in outline, so broken and confused in manner, it seems as if the interesting views and the valued thoughts, (interesting and valuable at least to me,) had been touched by the wizard's wand, as one by one they were transferred to the more during characters of legible language, and a heap of dry and withered leaves, alone remained, for the bright gold, of which I was the fancied possessor.

I am consoled, however, by the recollection of how slight a cause first awakened an interest upon this subject in my own mind, and how trifling the encouragement, which has

stimulated me to investigation and lured me on, step by step, in to the results of which this volume is only a tithe. Such re

membrances, allow me to hope that I have not written in vain; that you, too, may be interested, instructed, and what is more,



induced to examine this subject for yourself. I need not tell you of the materials which are strewn every where around you, with a lavish hand; of the varied and delightful contemplations of which language is a worthy and ennobling theme; of the intimate relation which it sustains to our whole being, interwoven, as it is, with every thing that can enlist the feelings or touch the heart; with all that is called thought, and all that bears the impress of mind,

I need not tell you, that consciousness will whisper approval from within; that the constant disclosure of new beauties and excellencies will proclaim success from without; that laden with the cares of a troublous life, you will, nevertheless, turn from time to time, to contemplate language, ever finding some field unexplored, some wide range untraversed; that thus it will be, till the last expiration shall sigh along the ethereal tube, of mind's noblest instrument, the Organs of Voice.

I need not particularize farther, for if you have put forth a single effort, for the acquisition of mental weaith; if you have advanced a single step into the great treasure-house of knowledge, you know that a new and more glorious creation sprang

into being at that effort, heaved into view at that step, at first partly visible, but ever expanding with the dilating pupil of the mental eye, to what limit, who can tell !




Man a mysteryHow an artificial language is formed-Excla

mations-Man a social being-Imitative language-SoundsScriptural account of the confusion of tongues-IllustrationsThe original language-The western Indians--Tributaries to the English language-Its present vast extent.

Man is emphatically a living, breathing mystery. Mys. tery is stamped upon his brow, written in every lineament of his countenance, elaborately traced in every delicate nerve and folded in every muscle. Mortal and immortal! This emanant from God; that springing from dust; this soaring to Him who gave it; that "earth to earth!” The perishable and imperishable are bound so intimately in his being, that, for what we know of the one, we are indebted to the other, and the crowning beauty of the former, is but the faint, feeble reflection of the latter. He is placed in this beautiful world, where every object, from the stars that illumine the nightly canopy, to the tiniest flower in the low vale, eloquently declares that the tenant and the dwelling are the creation of the same Almighty Hand.

Imagine this noble being, thus gloriously endowed, to be a man in stature, but an infant in mind, unacquainted with language, and a new comer upon earth. Let us suppose that no day has yet dawned upon him; that while he is attempting to discern through the gloom, the objects which surround him, he perceives a line of light streaking the eastern horizon, waxing brighter and brighter, till in a moment, that luminary, whose appearance now occasions no surprise, the glorious sun, rises in full splendor above the distant hill. Nature flinging off her dark mantle, is clothed in light and beauty at his coming; from wooded hill and verdant vale, swell the glad matins of creation. Suppose this, and how strange the sensations which would throng in at the eye and ear of the new resident, and how tumultuous the tide of emotions which would heave his bosom! And do you think that he would gaze silently upon the scene? By no means. A loud, wild, extatic cry would burst from his lips, expressive of commingled delight and wonder and fear. And when he wandered forth over the fair earth, and scenes beautiful as a God could make them, rivet. ed his gaze, and awakened his admiration, at every step-do you not think that the fast-peopling world within his heart, would find vent? That exclamations of wonder or terror or delight would not escape him, as one or another of these emotions was excited? These exclamations would be his only language-the unwritten language of the heart! The day has closed in, and the full-orb’d moon rides in majesty up

the the lofty pathway of Heaven, and the stars gleam forth one by one. These objects are strange and beautiful, and similar exclamations may express the feelings of his agitated and expanding mind. Thus day succeeds night, and night fol. lows day, and finds man ever wondering, ever learning. Time passes on; and now he stands by the cataract-the dash of the tumbling waters falls upon his ear, is communi. cated to his mind, and is remembered. The thunder of Nature's artillery shakes the cloudy vault; the bird whistles from the bough; the bee hums from flower to flower; the serpent hisses from the grass; the stream murmurs and flows; these, too, are heard and remembered. What then? Man is a socigl being; his eloquent eye, his speaking countenance, his expressive gesture, all proclaim him such. He meets a companion, Nature's pupil as he is; they have admired the same scenes, beheld the same objects and heard the same sounds. All may be gloom and silence, but the mind's eye still sees, and those sounds still ring in the mental ear. Memory, true to her trust, retains them all. The waterfall, is suggested to him, and a sound involuntarily escapes his lips; it may be dash or roar, but whatever it is, it is an imitation, and by the assistance of gesture, 'is understood by his companion; the image of the cascade glows anew upon his men. tal tablet, and thus mind communes with mind, and thought awakens thought. Soon, other objects attract his attention; perhaps the qualities, perhaps the movements of bodies. Is it agitation? sway, swing, swerve, sweep, express it. Is it a gentle descent? then slide, slip, sling, or other words of similar sound, escape his lips. Is the forest tree prostrated by the blast, or rived by the lightning-stroke? crash and flash may express them both. If it acts more dully, the more ob. tuse sounds crush, brush, gush, are natural imitations. The liquid L, flows like the objects to which it is applied. The guttural C, is hollow as the cave it designates, or the croak and the caw that it imitates. The sound st, is strong, stable, and stubborn, as the objects to which it is applied. Thus man continues learning and multiplying terms, until as now, in the language of Blair, “the invisible sentiments of the mind are described by comparisons, and the most abstract notions are rendered intelligible; all the ideas which science cau discover, or imagination create, are known by their proper names. Not only is it a medium whose employment, ne

« السابقةمتابعة »