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A. Pherecydes of Scyros, the master of Pythagoras.
Q. What difference is there between the ancient and modern tongues, in the order in which words are arranged in a sentence?
A. The ancients placed first in a sentence, that word which expressed the principal object of discourse; and afterwards the person or the thing that acted upon it. The moderns place first the person who speaks or acts; next, the action; and lastly, the object of the action.
Q. How are we to account for this?
A. In the early period of language, men would labour to make themselves understood, by pointing at the object desired, and expressly naming it, before the action to be done. asking for fruit, it would be natural to say; "Fruit give me.”
Q. Which arrangement is to be preferred? A. The Latin order is more animated; but the English is more clear and distinct, and answers better, therefore, the great end of speech.
Q. How may the present state of language be compared with the ancient?
A. It is more correct and accurate; but less striking and animated less favourable to poetry and oratory; but more to reason and philosophy.
RISE AND PROGRESS OF WRITING.
Q. What may be said of Writing?
A. That, next to speech, it is the most useful art of which men are possessed.
Q. How many sorts of written characters are there?
A. Two. Signs for things; as pictures, hieroglyphics, and symbols: and signs for words; as the alphabetical characters.
Q. What was the first essay towards writing?
A. The formation of Pictures.
Q. Were these perfect records ?
A. No. They could delineate external events, but could convey no idea of the dispositions or words of men.
Q. What arose, in process of time, to supply this defect?
A. Hieroglyphical Characters.
Q. How did these differ from Pictures?
A. Pictures delineated the resemblance of external visible objects. Hieroglyphics painted invisible objects by analogies taken from the invisible world. Ingratitude was denoted by a viper; imprudence, by a fly; wisdom, by an ant; victory, by a hawk; a dutiful child, by a stork.*
*Among the Mexicans, were found some traces of hieroglyphical characters, intermixed with their historical pictures. But Egypt was the country where this sort of writing was most studied, and brought into a
Q. What succeeded these?
A. Among some nations, as the Peruvians, small cords, with knots, as signs of their ideas; among others, as the Chinese, simple marks and characters.
Q. Have not the Chinese an Alphabet? A. No. They have a character for every thing or object.
Q. Must not these characters be immensely numerous ?
A. Yes. Above seventy thousand. To read and write them perfectly, is the study of a life. Q. Have we any thing of this kind?
A. Yes. Our arithmetical figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, each of which represents a distinct object; and can be understood by Italians, Spaniards, and French, though they know not our language.
Q. Who invented Letters ?
A. It is unknown. Plato attributes the invention to Theuth, an Egyptian.
Q. How did they pass into Europe?
A. Through Moses, who carried them into Canaan; where they were learned by Cadmus the Phoenician, who carried them into Greece. Q. How many letters did the Alphabet of Cadmus contain ?
Q. Can all Alphabets be traced to this?
regular art. In hieroglyphics was conveyed all the boasted wisdom of their priests.
Q. How were letters originally written? A. From the right hand towards the left. Q. What did writing, for a long time, continue to be ?
A. A kind of engraving, on pillars and temples of stone, and plates of lead.
Q. When was paper invented?
Q. On what were books written previous to this?
A. On the leaves and bark of certain trees; and on the skins of animals, polished into parchment.
Q. What are the comparative advantages of Writing and Speech?
A. Writing is a more permanent and extensive method of communication; but speech has a great superiority in point of energy and force for tones, looks, and gestures are natural interpreters of the sentiments of the human mind.
STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE.
Q. Are the essential parts of speech the same in all languages?
A. Yes. There must always be some words to denote the names of objects, their qualities, and what we affirm of them.
Q. What is the most simple and comprehensive division of the parts of speech?
A. Into substantives, attributives, and connectives.
Q. What are substantives ?
A. Words which express the names of objects.
Q. What are attributives?
A. Words which express any attribute, perty, or action of substantives.
Q. What are connectives?
A. Words expressive of the connexions, relations, and dependencies which take place among them.
Q. How were substantives formed?
A. In the most general manner, expressive of a very extensive genera or species of objects; as tree, man, house, river.
Q. What method was devised for specifying the individual object intended?
A. The introduction of the Article.
A. No. The Latin has none; the Greek has but one, the definite; but the English has two, A, and THE-the indefinite and definite. Q. How did the Latins supply the place of the Article?
A. By the introduction of pronouns; which, however, was a defect in their language, as Articles contribute much to clearness and precision.
Q. What affections belong to substantives?
Q. How does number distinguish them?