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Symbols ; but it is easy to understand, that Laws of some kind or other would necessarily exist, which might afford a train of reasoning equally strong and convincing, as that, which is employed in the deductions of Mathematics.
Among the Etymologists, no idea of submitting a race of words to a general law had ever been adopted. One word was supposed to be derived from another single word; nor was there any attempt to discover an abstract or Universal Principle, to which these various separate instances might be referred, and by which they might all be connected with each other. The present state of Etymology I compared with the imperfect art of Arithmetic, which is conversant only with particular cases; and I imagined, that the new mode of generalizing the doctrine of Language, (if any such could be adopted,) might be compared with the science of Algebra. When I reflected on the recent discovery of this simple artifice, by which such wonders are performed; I received fresh confidence, that the Art of Etymology might be advanced by the application of a Principle equally knownplain and familiar; and I was taught to consider the discovery or adoption of a new System, which in these days might be attached to the Art of Etymology, equally probable and natural, as the invention of Algebra, which, within these few years, has been added to the art of Arithmetic. Without enquiring into the Algebraic artifices adopted by the ancients, or the cultivation of this science among the Arabs, and the discoveries of Tartalea, Vieta, Des Cartes, &c. we know, that Newton invented or advanced the Binomial Theorem; and we may well imagine the state of this science before the adoption of so important and extensive an operation. The doctrine of Fluxions is founded on another artifice, attached to the Algebraical notation ; and thus almost within the limits of the present age have arisen two Sciences, which have brought under our grasp the remotest objects in the system of the Universe.
But the simplicity of the first Principles, on which Algebra is founded, afforded likewise the hope and the prospect, that the adoption of Principles equally simple, applied to another subject, might produce consequences equally wonderful and extensive. The datum,
on which Algebra has been established, is simply this, that Equals added to-subtracted from—divided or multiplied by-equals, are still equal to each other. On this principle alone is the doctrine of Algebra founded : The rest is nothing but the adoption of a new and concise language expressing this fact; and in all the various changes and operations of the Equation, with which its wonders are performed, this principle and this only is applied. The ordinary Mathematician, who has confounded others and himself, by attaching to the calculations of Algebra the idea of something mysterious or profound, will be astonished perhaps to understand, that in the highest exertion of his faculties in the most perplexing moments of his deepest cogitation, it was his duty only to remember and apply this simple principle; and that all his Involutions—Evolutions—Substitutions, &c. &c. were employed for the sole purpose of profiting by this single maxim; and of bringing his various operations within the sphere of its action.
Having seen, that in the forming of any system it was necessary to adopt a known and acknowledged Principle-universally prevailing, I began to consider, ist, What great-general fact existed; and 2d, Whether it could be applied to any purposes in the adoption of a new theory. I sought for information in those words, which were most familiarly employed; as it is manifest, that if any Uniformity was observed in words so perpetually liable to change from frequent
I had the strongest evidence for concluding, that such an Uniformity was generally prevailing. Father, in English, I perceived to be Fæder in Saxon—Vater in German-Padre in Italian and SpanishFader in Islandic and Danish-VADER in Belgic-Pater in Latin and Pateer, (Ilarnp,) in Greek : in other cases of the Greek Pateer, we have Pater and PATR, (Ilatep-os—latp-os,) and if the changes of the word were to be represented, as it is sounded in different dialects of the kingdom, it might be written Feethir--Fauthir, and in various other ways. In Persian, Father is Pader; and in Sanscrit, Petree, as I find it represented by Mr. Wilkins in his Notes to the Heetopades, (Page 307.) A more striking Uniformity, we shall instantly acknowledge, cannot well be imagined than that, which is exhibited in the preceding terms. We here perceive, though the word Father has assumed these various forms, that the difference arises only from the change of the vowels themselves or of their place; but that the Same Consonants, or those which all Grammarians, at all times, have acknowledged to be Cognate, have still been preserved.
In our earliest stages of acquiring knowledge, we learn, thạt “ Inter se Cognatæ sunt, II, B, 0-K, T, X-T, A, 0,"-P, B, FK, G, Ch—T, D, Th; and that these letters are called Cognate, because they are changed into each other in the variations of the same word. Without embarrassing the Reader or myself in this place by defining the identity of a word, I shall appeal only to the ordinary conceptions, which every one has admitted on this subject. All would allow, that Father, Fæder, Vater, Padre, Fader, Vader, Pater, Pateer, Pater, Patr, Feethir, Fauthir, Petree, are the same words, or different forms of the same word. Now as Vowels, not the same, or not in the same place, are here adopted; the sameness, (if I may so express it,) of the word does not consist in the vowels, or rather, the Vowels have nothing to do in determining the sameness or identity of a word. We observe however, that the same idea is expressed by the same Consonants, or by those, which Grammarians have considered as Cognate or of the same kind. Now the words Pater and Father, &c. have various senses all related to each other,signifying 1st. The affinity of nature; 2d. The author or producer of any thing; 3d. The founder of a sect, &c. Thus we perceive, that in denominating words to be the same, we mean those words, which are represented by Consonants of the same kind, impregnated with the same train of ideas.
Here then we obtain at once a species of Uniformity, which leads us directly to the hopes of forming a regular System. Even this instance alone would be sufficiently impressive to convince us, that some controuling Principle predominated in Languages, by which they might readily be submitted to the Laws of a general Theory. Words, uttered by the passing breath, we have ever been accustomed to consider as the most fleeting-changeable--inconstant and capri
cious of all the objects, with which man is conversant: Yet we per-
Thus Mother becomes in Greek Meeteer, (Mntnp,)—in Latin
Cym. Brawd. Cim. Broder. D. Broder. B. Broeder. Sclav. Bratr."
Dohtor, Dohtur. Al. Dohter, Tohter; Thohter. Cim. Dotter. D.
Cognate Consonants are preserved; and we may understand from our word DAUGHTER, how the changes have arrived. In DAUGHTER we have a record of the G in Thugter or THUGATEER ; though in sound, the G has disappeared, and the word might have been represented by Dauhter, as in the Gothic Dauhtar, &c. Nothing can be more obvious than the cause of these different forms; which arise, we perceive, from the guttural sound of the G becoming faint and ob
In modern German this word is written Tochter, and in Persian, a Daughter is Dokht and Dokhter, as I find the words represented by Mr. Richardson. I shall not load my page with an accumulation of unnecessary examples, as the Reader may be well assured, that a similar fact will be found to exist in every instance, where the same Word (as it is universally called) passes through various Languages, or appears in different dialects and stages of the same Language.
Surely the contemplation of these Facts will impress on every mind a similar train of ideas; and the Reader has already anticipated my reasoning and my conclusion on this subject. He will be struck with the deepest astonishment, that Facts like these, perpetually passing before the eyes of the Etymologist, should never have suggested the Principles of a Theory, and the Laws of a System. Among objects liable to the influence of chance and change, it is not possible to conceive a species of Uniformity so full and impressive, as that model of regularity which is here exhibited : The varieties of mutation are bounded by limits of controul, almost incompatible with the vicissitudes of change; and nothing but a fact so striking and unequivocal would have persuaded us to believe, that such constancy could have existed in a case, where disorder and irregularity might be imagined alone to predominate. These words, after having passed through millions of mouths, in remote ages and distant regions of the world, under every variety of appearance and symbol, still continue, we perceive, to be represented by the same Consonants—not indeed by Consonants bearing the same name ; for that perpetually varies with the form of the symbol, but by those Consonants, which Grammarians have always considered to be of the same kind, and