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fometimes distracted in labyrinths, and diffipated by different intentions.

A large work is difficult because it is large, even though all its parts might fingly be performed with facility; where there are many things to be done, each must be allowed its share of time and labour, in the proportion only which it bears to the whole; nor can it be expected, that the stones which forin the dome of a temple, thould be squared and polished like the diamond of a ring.

Of the event of this work, for which, having laboured it with so much application, I cannot but have some degree of parental fondness, it is natural to form conjectures. Those who have been perfuaded to think well of my design, will require that it should fix our language, and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto been suffered to make in it without opposition. With this confequence I will confess that I flattered miyleif for a while; but now begin to fear that I have indulged expectation which neither reason nor experience can justify. When we fee men grow old and die at a certain tiine one after another, froin century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preferved their words and phrases from mutabilitr, tall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his laoruace, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and afectairon.

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With this hope, however, academies have been insticuted, to guard the avenues of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; founds are too volatile and subtile for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its strength. The French language has visibly changed under the inspection of the academy; the style of Amelot's translation of father Paul is observed by Le Courayer to be un peu pallé; and no Italian will maintain, that the diction of any modern writer is not perceptibly different from that of Boccace, Machiavel, or Caro.

Total and sudden transformations of a language feldom happen; conquests and migrations are now very rare : but there are other causes of change, which, though now in their operation, and invisible in their progress, are perhaps as much superior to human resistance, as the revolutions of the sky, or intumescence of the tide. Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language; they that have frequent intercourse with strangers, to whom they endeavour to accommodate themselves, must in time learn a mingled dialect, like the jargon which serves the traffickers on the Mediterranean and Indian coasts. This will not always be confined to the exchange, the warehouse, or the port, but will be communicated by degrees to other ranks of the people, and be at last incorporated with the current speech.

There are likewise internal causes equally forcible. The language most likely to continue long without

alteration, alteration, would be that of a nation raised a little, and but a little, above barbarity, secluded from strangers, and totally employed in procuring the conveniencies of life; either without books, or, like some of the Mahometan countries, with very few: men thus busied and unlearned, having only such words as common use requires, would perhaps long continue to express the same notions by the same figns. But no such constancy can be expected in a people polished by arts, and classed by subordination, where one part of the community is sulCained and accommodated by the labour of the other. Those who have much leisure to think, will always be enlarging the stock of ideas; and every increase of knowledge, whether real or fancied, will produce new words, or combinations of words. When the mind is unchained from necessity, it will range after convenience; when it is left at large in the fields of {peculation, it will thift opinions; as any custom is disured, the words that expressed it must perish with it; as any opinion grows popular, it will innovate fpeech in the same proportion as it alters practice.

As by the cultivation of various sciences, a language is uplified, it will be more furniihed with words deflected from their original sense; the geonietrician will talk of a courtier's zenith, or the eccentrick virtue of a wild hero, and the physician of fanguine expectations and phlegmatick delays. Copiousnets of speech will give opportunities to capucious choice, by which some words will be preferred, and others degraded ; vicissitudes of fashion will enforce the use of new, or extend the singnification of known terms. The tropes of poetry will

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make hourly encroachments, and the metaphorical will become the current sense : pronunciation will be varied by levity or ignorance, and the pen must at length comply with the tongue; illiterate writers will, at one time or other, by publick infatuation, rise into renown, who, not knowing the original import of words, will use them with colloquial licentiousness, confound distinction, and forget propriety. As politeness increases, fome expreffions will be considered as too gross and vulgar for the delicate, others as too forinal and ceremonious for the gay and airy; new phrases are therefore adopred, which must, for the same reasons, be in time dismissed. Swift, in his petty treatise on the English language, allows that new words must sometimes be introduced, but proposes that none should be suffered to become obsolete. But what makes a word obsolete, more than general agreement to forbear it? and how shall it be continued, when it conveys an offensive idea, or recalled again into the mouths of mankind, when it has once become unfamiliar by disuse, and unpleasing by unfami. liarity?

There is another cause of alteration more prevalent than any other, which yet in the present state of the world cannot be obviated. A mixture of two languages will produce a third distinct from both, and they will always be mixed, where the chief parts of education, and the most conspicuous accomplishment, is skill in ancient or in foreign tongues. He that has long cultivated another language, will find its words and combinations crowd upon his memory; and haste and negligence, refineVOL, IX.

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ment and affectation, will obtrude borrowed terms and exotick expressions.

The great pest of speech is frequency of translation. No book was ever turned from one language into another, without imparting something of its native idiom; this is the most mischievous and comprehensive innovation; single words may enter by thousands, and the fabrick of the tongue continue the same; but new phraseology changes much at once; it alters not the single stones of the building, but the order of the columns. If an academy should be eftablished for the cultivation of our style, which I, who can never wish to see dependence multiplied, hope the spirit of English li berty will hinder or destroy, let them, instead of compiling grammars and dictionaries, endeavour, with all their influence, to stop the licence of translators, whose idleness and ignorance, if it be suffered to proceed, will reduce us to babble a dialect of France.

If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, what remains but to acquiesce with silence, as in the other insurmountable distresses of humanity? It remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that Pe palliate what we cannot cure, Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimarely defeated : tonguns, like governments, have z natural tendency to degeneration; we have long preserved our constitution, let us make some struggles for our language.

In hope of giving longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted this book, the labour of years, to the honour of iny

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