Page images

syllabic become by composition, by derivation, by inflection, polysyllabic, and receive accent. Words thus change and increase in number as the wants of the community change and increase; they change in their meanings; they change in their forms. The literature of a people also changes; it changes in so far as the language changes; it changes, moreover, as the great objects which determine the permanent embodiments of its thought change; it changes especially and preeminently with the progress of the people in intelligence and culture. The regulative principles of the change in English literature, in these two ways, of its permanently embodied thought, drawn out in reference to the great ends of a nation's life and of its language, will be presented in order in the following chapters, as they are applied to the several elements of the language, and to the departments of the literature.



§ 12. THE literature of a people is the permanent embodiment of its thought in its language. The relation of a literature to a language corresponds exactly to that of the rhetorical discourse to the grammatical sentence. Literature is the collective of the discourse-forms, as language is the collective of the sentence-forms. The former is the subject-matter of Rhetoric, as the latter is the subjectmatter of Grammar. The proper distribution of the departments of English literature, including its language, is thus at once indicated. We have the two grand departments (1) of Literature Proper, taking into view the forms which English discourse has in its history assumed, and (2) of Language, taking into view the forms which the English sentence has in its history assumed.

Beginning with language, as the elements of the sentence are its respective alphabetic sounds and their written characters, their combinations into syllables, and the combinations of these into words, and then the construction of these into the sentence, in written as well as in spoken form, in poetry as well as in prose, we have at once given to us the several departments of, 1. ORTHOEPY; 2. ORTHOGRAPHY; 3. SYLLABICATION; 4. ACCENTUATION; 5. DERIVATION; 6. PUNCTUATION; and 7. PROSODY.

Then, as rhetorical discourse distributes itself into the three general forms of, (1) Oratory; (2) Representative Discourse, comprising the two departments of Historical and Scientific Literature; and (3) Esthetic Literature or

Belles Letters, comprising Fiction, Dramatic Literature, and Poetry, we have in addition as the departments of Literature Proper, 8. ORATORY; 9. HISTORY, comprising BIOGRAPHY and TRAVELS; 10. SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSE; 11. FICTION; 12. THE DRAMA; and 13. POETRY.

These elements of English literature, in respect to their character or more permanent forms, as embodied in written liscourse, will be treated successively in this order.



§ 13. ORTHOEPY is the doctrine of the alphabei, sounds of a language.

These sounds are of two kinds, distinguished in respect of the nature of the sound itself, according as it is properly vocal or not. They are, in other words, either (1) phthongal or vocalized; or (2) aphthongal or unvocalized.

They are also of two kinds in respect of the mode in which the articulating organs act in forming them, according as they occlude or not the sound as it passes from the larynx. They are, in other words, either (1) vowels, which do not require any occlusion of the vocal breath, that is. any necessary contact in the organs; or (2) consonants which do require such occlusion or contact of organs.

We have thus in language, 1. Vowels, phthongal and aphthongal; and 2. Consonants, phthongal and aphthongal.

When it is said that vowels do not require any occlusion of the breath, it is only meant that they can be formed without such occlusion, although in fact they are often formed with some degree of occlusion. This incidental occlusion, however, does not modify essentially their proper distinctive sound. If this effect of modifying the sound be produced, we have what may be called consonantized vowels; that is, vowels modified by a partial contact of the articulating organs. Thus the short i as heard in pit, becomes consonantized into the sound heard in alien by a partial contact of the organs; and the oo in pool becomes in a similar way the consonantized w in wain.

The alphabetic elements are further susceptible of being arranged for important purposes in the study of languages and literatures, in respect of the position of the organs concerned in forming them. In fact some are formed farther back, some farther forward in the mouth; in some the palate, in others the tongue, in others still the lips are more immediately concerned. We have accordingly, palatal, lingual, and labial elements. The vowels even, although independent of such organic occlusion of the breath as the consonants involve, seem at least to have their respective position as anterior or posterior in the mouth. For although the determination of the proper vowel sound is in all probability at the larynx, yet the length of the vocal vibration which is thus determined at the larynx, and probably by the widening or contracting of the opening of the glottis, can be sensibly measured forwards in the mouth. We can distinguish thus the different vowels by the sensible vibration of the breath along the cavity of the mouth. The vibration which gives the sound of the vowel o in bone is sensibly terminated far back in the mouth, while the vibration giving the vowel e in mete reaches far on towards the lips.

§ 14. The history of the rise of the vowel sounds can only be given conjecturally. It is altogether reasonable to suppose that the primitive vowel element would be that seemingly formed in the middle of the passage from the larynx to the lips, namely, the a as heard in father. Forward of this vowel the e in pen and i in pin, and back of it the o in pole and u in pull would soon come into use. These five vowels form a vowel system, in fact, very generally found in languages.

But each of these elements admits of being more or less protracted in utterance; giving rise to the distinctions of quantity as long or short; as in papa, Cubă; and this distinction may or may not in time come to be accompanied by a slightly different modification of the organs in forming them, as in pool, pull.

« PreviousContinue »