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Monboddo, James. Of the Origin and Progress of Language. Vol. I – T01

Of the
Origin and Progress


As the use of speech is supported to
be what which chiefly distinguishes
us from the brute creation;
and is truly so, if by speech we
understand, not only the mere words or
sounds of a language, but the conceptions
of the mind that are signified by those
sounds; it is a matter of curious inquiry,
from whence we have derived this distinguishing
prerogative of our nature; how
it first began; and by what degrees it arrived
to that state of perfection to which it
has been brought, if not among us, at
least in other ages and nations of the
world. This inquiry becomes the more
1interesting, as well as of greater curiosity,
when we consider, that it leads us back to
what may be called the origin of the human
; since without the use of reason and
speech we have no pretensions to humanity,
nor can with any propriety be called men;
but must be contented to rank with the other
animals here below, over whom we assume
so much superiority, and exercise dominion
chiefly by means of the advantages
that the use of language gives us. From this
birth of human nature, as it may be called,
we will endeavour to trace its progress
to its state of maturity. This progress, in
the individual, is very well known; but
we propose here to exhibit the species itself
in its infancy, — first mute; then lisping
and stammering; next by flow degrees
learning to speak, very lamely and
imperfectly at first; but at last, from
such rude essays, forming an art the most
curious, as well as most useful among
men. The subject is, so far as I know,
entirely new; no author, antient or modern,
that has fallen into my hands, having
professedly treated of it. And though
I have met with hints concerning it in the
course of my reading, they are such as
2have rather excited than satisfied my curiosity.

These reasons have induced me to set
down, and give to the public, my
thoughts upon this subject, which are the
fruit of much study and inquiry, continued
with some interruptions for several
years, and of many materials collected during
that time. But if, notwithstanding, in
this undiscovered country, where I am
guided by no light or track, I have lost my
way, I hope to be forgiven by every reader
of sense and candour, who will allow at
least this merit to my work, that I have opened
a new field of speculation, in which
even my errors may be of use, by serving
as beacons to direct into the right course
men of greater learning and abilities.

The work will be divided into three
parts. The first will treat of the origin of
language, and of the nature of the first
languages; or, as they may be more properly
called, rude essays towards language,
which were practiced before the art was
invented. —The second will explain the
nature of the art, thewing in what it
chiefly consists, and how it differs from
those first untaught attempts to speak. In
3this part of my work, I will give an account
of those parts of language which
appear to me the most artificial, and of
most difficult invention. I will also treat
of style, or composition in words, as belonging
to the art of language; and I
think it will not appear foreign to my subject
to say something likewise of poetry
and rhetoric, being arts of which language
furnishes the materials. — The subject
of the third and last part will be the corruption
of language; of which I shall endeavour
to assign the causes, and trace the progress. —
The first part will be chiefly philosophical,
mixed however with a good deal
of history, and facts, by which I shall endeavour
to support my theories, and philosophical
speculations. The two last parts
will be grammatical and critical. The style
will be plain and didactic, such as is suitable
to a subject that is to be treated as a
matter of science. It will not therefore have
that mixture of the rhetorical and poetical,
that is so common in the fashionable writings
of this age, upon whatever subject,
and which pleases the vulgar so much:
for as I do not write for the vulgar, I will
not adapt my style, any more than my
matter, to their taste.4

Part I.

Book I.

Chapter I.
Definition of the subject. — Whether language
be from nature, or acquired habit.

By language I mean the expression of
the conceptions of the mind by articulate
. These conceptions are either of
particulars, i. e. individual things, or of generals.
No language ever existed, or can
be conceived, consisting only of the expression
of individuals, or what is commonly
called proper names: and the truth
is, that these make but a very inconsiderable
part of every language. What therefore
constitutes the essential part of language,
and makes it truly deserve that
name, is the expression of generals, or ideas,
according to the language of the philosophy
that I have learned. For as to the
name of general ideas, by which they are
5commonly, known, it supposes, that the
conceptions of individuals, that is, the
perceptions of sense, are likewise ideas;
from which it is necessary to distinguish
the conceptions of generals by the name
of general ideas. But I cannot approve of
introducing into philosophy a language
which confounds under one name two
things so different in their natures, as the
operations of sense and of intellect; a confusion
which, in my apprehension, has given
rise to very great errors in philosophy,
and to some extravagant paradoxes, that
have been advanced of late years, as repugnant
to the common sense of mankind
as to sound philosophy. The definition so
understood I hold to be what is properly
called language. For though we say, the
language of looks
, and of gestures, or signs,
such as our dumb persons use; also the
language of inarticulate cries
, by which the
brutes signify their appetites and desires;
yet in all those senses the word is used
metaphorically, and not as it ought to be
used in the style of science. And thus
much may suffice at present for the definition
of our subject. We shall endeavour,
in the sequel, to make it fuller; and particularly
6we shall explain in what way
language expresses, whether by signs natural
or artificial *1.7

From this definition it appears, that
language consists of two things; namely,
sounds, and the conceptions of the mind
signified by those sounds. The first is, in
the truly philosophical language of my
worthy and learned friend Mr Harris *2,
called the material part of language, and
the other the formal part; a manner of
speaking taken from the antient philosophy;
according to which, every corporeal
8substance is composed of matter and
form. The matter is supposed to be common
to all bodies; but the form is peculiar
to each, making it that which it is, in
contradistinction to every thing else: as
in this case, the human voice, which makes
the material part of language, is a matter
common to other things, as, e.g. to music,
and to inarticulate cries of different
kinds; whereas the formal part, that is,
the significancy of ideas, is peculiar to
language, constituting what we call a
word; which, though it had the matter,
that is, the voice, and modified too by
articulation, yet if it signified nothing,
would not deserve that name. Of these
two parts of language, it is evident, that
the formal is by far the more excellent,
by how much the thing signified is more
excellent than the sign, and the mind than
the body: for this part of language belongs
altogether to the mind; whereas the
other is no more than the operation of
certain organs of the body.

The first thing to be considered in this
matter is, whether language be at all a
work of art, or acquired habit? or whether,
according to the opinion of some,
9we do not speak by nature, without use or
instruction, in the same manner as we perform
many functions of the animal nature?
If this last be the case, it is in vain
to inquire concerning the origin of language,
which, according to this hypothesis,
must be coeval with the animal. This,
therefore, is a preliminary question that
must be decided before we go farther; but
in order to decide it, we must fairly state

And, in the first place, those who hold
this opinion, will not, I suppose, carry it
so far as to maintain, that men, without
use or custom, without imitation or instruction,
would speak a formed regular
language, such as is spoken by civilized
nations; and which, it is well known to
every one that has the least knowledge of
grammar, is an art, and a very great art
too. But their opinion, when fairly stated,
is, as I conceive, this, That men do
naturally use articulate sounds to express
the conceptions of their mind; very rudely
and imperfectly, no doubt, at first,
till by art they are improved, and acquire
the form of a regular language.10

But even such a language, they certainly
do not maintain, that men speak, from
the time of their birth, in the slime manner
that they perform the natural operations
of breathing, digesting, or the action
of sucking, by which an infant takes
in the nourishment that is necessary to it.
But they will say, that a man, when he
comes to be of perfect age, will use articulate
sounds to express his conceptions,
without art or institution, and as naturally
as he will perform many other actions,
for the preservation of the individual,
or the propagation of the kind.
And some, perhaps, of those who hold
this opinion, may require further, in order
to produce a language, some society
and mutual intercourse, not conceiving
how a solitary savage should invent a method
of communication for which he has
no use. And this last, I find, is the opinion
of a late French writer upon the mechanism
of language *3, and who pretends
to have considered the subject philosophically;
11for he requires, that men should
have lived some time together: but he is
persuaded, that a parcel of children living
so, would, by the time they came to be
of age, have formed some kind of language.
On the other hand, I maintain,
that the faculty of speech is not the gift
of nature to man, hut, like many others,
is acquired by him; that not only there
must have been society before language
was invented, but that it must have subsisted
a considerable time, and other arts
have been invented, before this most difficult
one was found out; which appears
to me of so difficult invention, that it is
not easy to account how it could at all
have been invented.

Chap. II.
Of capacities, — Powers, — Habits, — and
Faculties in general.

The question stated in the preceding
chapter never has been fully considered,
so far as I know, though it appears
to me curious and interesting. I
12will therefore endeavour to examine it to
the bottom; and as it concerns powers and
faculties, before I come to speak of the
faculty of speech in particular, I think it
will be necessary, for the better understanding
the argument, to premise some
observations concerning powers and faculties
in general.

With respect to which, there are four
things that deserve to be distinctly considered:
1st, The energies, or operations of
such faculties. With these I begin; because
they are first in the order of our
conceptions, being perceived by the sense;
whereas powers and faculties are latent
things, and an object of intellect, not of
sense. 2dly, There is the faculty which is
the immediate cause of those energies, and
without which we cannot conceive them
to be produced. 3dly, The habit *4 or disposition
which is productive of the faculty;
for every faculty is the result of a previous
habit or disposition, without which it cannot
13exist. And, lastly, The mere power, or
capacity of acquiring such habit. These
two last are both, in the language of antient
philosophy, called by the name of
power *5: but the distinction is made betwixt
that power which immediately produces
the act, and that which is remoter,
and may be said to be only the power of
6. And I would chuse to distinguish
them by different names, calling the
one faculty, and the other capacity. And as
faculty and habit, though in their natures
distinct, are so necessarily conjoined, that
the one can never exist without the other,
however necessary it may he in other arguments
14to distinguish them, I do not
think it is so in this; and therefore I shall,
for the greater part, speak of them indiscriminately,
under the name of either faculty
or habit as it happens. But as there
is no such necessary connection betwixt
the faculty and the energy, or betwixt the
capacity and the faculty, (for the faculty may
not operate, nor the capacity be carried the
length of faculty), these two must be considered
and treated of as distinct from energy,
and from one another.

It will be necessary, for the sake of those
who are unacquainted with the antient
philosophy, to illustrate my meaning by
some examples, both from nature and from
art. Every animal, and vegetable too, when
it is first produced, has no more than the
mere capacity of generating, or producing
its like; but in process of time, this capacity
grows into habit, and the consequential
faculty; and when opportunity offers,
the faculty is exercised, and produces acts
and energies
. And with respect to art, a
man when he, is born, has, from nature,
the capacity of being a musician, e.g.; afterwards
he forms the habit, and acquires
the faculty; and then he actually performs
15when he thinks it proper. These examples
will be sufficient to shew what I mean by
the terms I have used; and these differences
may be observed betwixt art and nature
in this matter. In the 1st place, capacity
merely is all from nature; for even
in matters of art, the capacity that
any man has to become an artist, or that
any subject has to be operated upon by
art, is from nature singly. 2dly, Habit
or faculty is, in matters of art, acquired
by use, imitation, or instruction; whereas
in natural things, it is the production
of nature singly, without any preceding
life, exercise, or instruction. And, lastly,
The energies in natural things proceed either
from certain laws of nature, which
is the case with respect to inanimate things,
or from a certain inward principle, commonly
known by the name of instinct, as
in the case of brute animals: but in matters
of art, they proceed from that impulse,
moving the rational mind to action,
which we call will *7.16

Chap. III.
Of the Powers and Faculties of Human Nature.

Thus far of powers and faculties in general.
But before we come to speak
of the faculty of speech in particular, it
17may not be improper, first, to take a general
view of the powers of human nature,
beginning with those that are from nature
, and next considering such
18as are acquired. The first operate without
any previous use, exercise, or instruction:
the other are the fruit of our own industry;
and before they can be exercised,
19the habit must be first formed, by art, experience,
or custom. Of the first kind,
most certainly, are those with which we
20born; and with them therefore we
shall begin.

They are but few in number: one of
the most remarkable of them is the power
of motion, and that natural impulse above
mentioned, well known by the name of
instinct, which directs an infant to apply
that power of motion to the drawing its
nourishment from the breast of the mother
by the action of sucking. Besides
this, we have that habit of body which
makes us susceptible of nourishment, of
growth, and all the vital functions. Whether
we have distinct perceptions of sense,
such as of seeing and hearing, I think
may justly be doubted; and I will endeavour
to shew, in the following part of
this book, that we have them not in any
the least degree of perfection, till in process
of time the organs have acquired
a certain degree of firmness, and we by
experience have learned the proper use of

These seem to be all the faculties which
we are actually in possession of when we
first come into the world. The rest of our
nature at that time is made up of capacities
, or, to use the fashionable word,
21which I think not improper, of capabilities:
for it is with us, as with other animals,
at the time of our birth, almost all the
powers of our nature lie concealed, and,
as it were, folded up, till time and opportunity
display them, and bring them
into exertion: and indeed in that state, I
cannot discover, that with respect. to actual
powers, either of mind or body, there
is any difference betwixt us and those other
animals; or if there be any, the advantage
seems to be on the side of the brute;
for his body then is commonly more vigorous,
and his instincts stronger and
more active.

But with respect to latent powers and
capabilities, there appears to be a wonderful
difference, insomuch that it is difficult
to say, even at this day, after so much
observation and experience, what the capabilities
of a nature so various and so excellent
as ours are. Only this we know
certainly, that men have actually exerted
wonderful powers both of body and mind;
nor is it possible to determine how much
farther they might have been carried by
constant exercise and instruction, carried
on through the course of a long life. It
22is even difficult to determine, how far the
natural capacities of the brutes might go
with proper culture; but man, we know,
may, by education and culture continued
for many years, be transformed almost
into an animal of another species. Thus,
with respect to his body, though he is
undoubtedly by nature a terrestrial animal,
yet he may be so accustomed to the
water, as to become as perfectly amphibious
as a seal or an otter. — And with respect
to the mind, it is impossible to say
what, science and philosophy may bring it
to. The Stoics pretended, in that way,
to make a god of a man; and there is no
doubt but the human nature may, by such
culture, be so exalted, as to come near to
what we conceive of superior natures, and
perhaps even to possess the rank of such as
are immediately above us in the chain of

The next thing to be considered is, what
natural powers we are possessed of when we
have attained to perfect age. And these I
think may be reduced to the following
heads; 1st, The perfect use of all the five
senses; 2dly, Greater, strength of body,
and power of bodily motion; 3dly, The
23faculty, of, propagating the kind; and,
lastly with respect to the mind. Instinct,
at that time of life, is more perfect, and
less liable to error, directing us not only
to the preservation of the individual, but
to the continuation of the species. This
instinct still remains; and also another.
which makes us abhor destruction, and fly
from danger and pain: but I am persuaded,
that before we were so much under
the guidance of reason, or rather that bastard
kind of reason commonly called opinion,
we had many more instincts, directing
us to the means of preserving and providing
for both the individual and the offspring;
for I cannot suppose that nature
left us unprovided in this respect, more
than other animals; especially if it be true,
as I shall endeavour to shew, that instinct
was as needful to us at first as to other animals,
as we had not then the exercise of
reason, but only in process of time; but
after we had formed opinions concerning
what was good or ill, profitable or otherwise,
in human life, and forsaking the
guidance of nature and instinct, had resigned
ourselves(to the government of those
opinions, and become the artificial creatures
24we now are, we lost those instincts
by degrees, and nature yielded to artificial

These are the natural powers belonging
to our species at present; and we are next
to speak of the acquired or adventitious
powers, which we have added to our natures
by our own industry and sagacity.
Of this kind are all the sciences, all the
arts liberal and mechanic, all the commodities
and pleasures of life, even civil society
itself, and almost every thing belonging
to it: and if we rightly consider the
matter, we shall find, that our nature is
chiefly constituted of acquired habits, and
that we are much more creatures of custom
and art than of nature. It is a common
saying, that habit (meaning custom) is a
second nature. I add, that it is more
powerful than the first, and in a great
measure destroys and absorbs the original
nature: for it is the capital and distinguishing
characteristic of our species, that
we can make ourselves, as it were, over again,
so that the original nature in us can
hardly be seen; and it is with the greatest
difficulty that we can distinguish it from,
the acquired.25

What chiefly makes this difficulty, is
the facility with which we perform the operations
that proceed from those acquired
habits, and which makes us think them
natural. Then many of them are acquired
by such insensible degrees, and in our
earliest years, that we do not perceive the
progress that has been from capacity to habit;
and finding ourselves possessed, of
them, without knowing how, we rashly
conclude them to be the gift of nature.

Before, I come to apply this observation
to language, I will give some other instances
of our mistaking acquired habits for
natural; and for the same reason, namely,
the facility of their operations. The
perceptions of sense are undoubtedly natural,
but from these we learn by observation
and experience, to draw conclusions
of reasoning so readily and easily, that we
mistake them for the original perceptions
of sense; e.g. by the sense of seeing, we
perceive nothing but the colour, figure,
magnitude, and motion of the object *8.
26These are all that are painted upon the retina
of the eye; and it is only through the
medium of the pictures there that we perceive
any thing by this sense *9: yet the
vulgar all believe, and even such philosophers
as have not studied optics, that by
this sense we also perceive distances; and
it is common language to say, that we see
a thing at such or such a distance: but the
truth is, that we see all objects at the same
distance, that is, very near, and almost
in contact with the eye; and it is only by
observation and experience that we learn
to judge of the different distances of objects,
either from their magnitude, as
painted upon the retina of the eye, from
the clearness and distinctness of the picture
27there, or from its dimness and obscurity,
from the intervening objects betwixt
us and the object we look at, or
from certain other causes that have been
observed by opticians. So that whatever
we know of distance, is not from sense,
but an inference of reason from the premisses
just now mentioned. Thus, e.g.
if I have been accustomed to see any
known object at different distances, and
consequently of different magnitudes, upon
the retina of my eye, if the picture there
is small, I from thence infer, that the object
is at a distance; and I make the same,
inference if the picture of it in my eye be,
dim and obscure, as the picture of objects
at a great distance must be; or if I see betwixt
it and me intervening objects, of
the size of which, and the space they occupy,
I have some motion.

Of the magnitude of objects, we have
no doubt a perception by the sense of
sight; but it is so various and undetermined,
that without the judgement of the
mind, it would be impossible to say positively
what the magnitude of any object
is: for the perception of the sense depends
entirely upon the angle of vision, that is,
28the angle under which, we see the object;
and that is greater when the object is near
and less when it is at a distance: so that
the same object appears ten times bigger
when seen at the distance of a yard than
at the distance of ten yards; and jet we
think a man no bigger at the distance of
one yard than at the distance of ten. And
even when I see a man, or any other known
object, through a telescope, which magnifies,
perhaps twenty times beyond the appearance
to the naked eye, he does not seem bigger,
but only nearer. How is it then that we
fix and ascertain the magnitude of objects,
which otherwise would be so various, and
uncertain, and in that way make a sense
of so great use, which would else be of
very little? My answer is, That it is, 1st,
by the use of another sense, viz. that of
touch, by which we learn to know the
true dimensions of things; and, 2dly, by
two acquired habits of judging: the
first, the habit of judging of distances above
mentioned; the second, another habit
of judging founded upon this, by
which we correct the perception of sense,
and, notwithstanding the greater image
the retina, exclude, the object not
29to be greater, or perhaps less, and vice

That this last judgement is founded upon
the first, is evident from this, that
though the object be a known object, yet
if I have not been accustomed to see it at
different distances, or, what is the same
thing, at different perceptible distances, as,
e.g. the sun, moon, or stars, it appears to
me according to the natural perception I
have of magnitude by the image upon the
retina: and if it be seen through a telescope,
it appears so much bigger, not so
much nearer, as in the former case; because
not having seen it at greater or lesser
distances, I can from thence infer nothing
to contradict the appearance in my eye;
which cannot here, as in other cases, be
only a sign of the distance, but must be,
as it truly is by nature, an indication of
the magnitude.

Another proof of this is what happens
when we are deceived with respect to the
distance, as when we see things through a
fog: for from the dimness of the image
upon the retina, we infer, that the object
is, at a considerable distance; and from this
30supposed distance, compared with the greatness
of the image upon the retina, we conclude,
that the object is much greater than
it truly is. And in this way, a dog seen
through a mist appears as big as a horse,
and an ordinary man looks like a giant.
And thus we have here likewise two judgements,
of the mind; one a false judgement
concerning the distance, the other a true
judgement founded upon the first: which
is truly an error of the understanding, not
a fallacy of the sense, as is commonly believed,;
for the sense does not deceive us,
but truly represents the object to us as by
the laws of nature it ought to appear, being
seen through so thick a medium. But
it is we that deceive ourselves, by not attending
to the uncommon state of the air,
which would have accounted to us for the
distant appearance of the object; and that
illusion being at an end, and the object
being acknowledged to be near, the greatness
of the image on the eye could no
longer deceive us.

There are other fallacies of this sense,
as they are commonly called, that I shall
but just mention; such as. a stick seeming
crooked in the water, and a square tower
31appearing round at a distance. These are
true representations of the sense, but apt
to mislead the mind in judging of the real
figure of such objects, if we are not learned
enough to know the causes of such appearances,
or have not been taught by experience
not to regard them. But there are,
if I am not mistaken, other appearances
of this sense, which we have learned to
correct so early, that we have lost all knowledge
and memory of them; and the true
appearances, which we learn by the sense
of touch, are substituted in place of the
false. What I mean is, 1st, The double
picture of every object, one in each eye;
from which I think it must necessarily follow
by the laws of vision, that we see every
object double; but, by constant experience
from our infancy having learned
that the object is truly single, we acquire
the habit of seeing it only in that manner.
2dly, The inverted picture upon the retina;
from which I infer, that at first we truly
see objects inverted: for as we undoubtedly
perceive the colour, figure, and magnitude
of the objects by the picture in the
eye, I do not see how we can otherwise perceive
their position. But this representation
32of the sense we have learned also, by
the most early experience, to correct, and
to set the object upon its right end. And
we have been so long in the constant custom
of seeing them in that way, and the
habit thereby, is so formed, that we see
them no longer any other way. I know
there are learned opticians who differ from
me in both these particulars: but there is
one thing in which I think there can be
no difference of opinion, though I do not
know that it ever was before observed;
and it is this, that at first we see things
only, of the magnitude of the picture upon
the retina of our eye: for the angle
which that picture subtends, is demonstratively
equal to the angle of vision, that is,
the angle which the object subtends; according
to the size of which, as we have
already find, we see things of a greater or
less magnitude: And the object appearing
close, to the eye, which it does according
to the natural perception of the sense, and
consequently at the same, or nearly the
same, distance from the angle at the centre
of the eye, with the picture upon the retina,
it is evident, that the object and the picture,
subtending equal angles at the same
33distance, must be equal. And the only
way we can account for things appearing
to us so very much bigger is, that by experience
and observation, arising from the
evidence of our other senses, and particularly
of our sense of touch, which makes
a truer report, both of figure and magnitude,
than our sight, we learn to see things
in their true dimensions; after which, we
judge of their magnitude, not absolutely by
the size of the picture in the eye, but relatively;
so that what forms the greatest
picture there, appears to us cæteris paribus
the greatest object. And this acquired habit
of judging, becomes so familiar to us
by constant practice, that we overlook entirely,
as in the instances just now mentioned,
the original perception, and imagine
we really see things of the magnitude
we only judge them to be of.

But enough, and perhaps, too much,
has been said, to shew, that with respect
to this sense of seeing, we mistake habits
of judging, acquired by experience and
observation, for the natural perceptions of
sense; and that we have formed the habit
so early, and by such insensible degrees,
and perform the energies of it with
34so much readiness and ease, that it requires
all the attention and accuracy of a
philosopher to distinguish those energies
from the operations of nature; and this
was all that I intended by the example.

I will only say further upon the subject
of our senses, that if some others of them,
such as that of hearing and feeling, were
to be as accurately analysed and examined
as the sense of seeing has been, I believe it
might be found, that we learn to hear, and
feel as well as to see, and that a great part
of our infancy is spent in acquiring habits
of sensation *1035

I will give one instance more of our confounding
the natural perceptions of sense
with the judgements of the mind: and it
is a remarkable instance, for this reason,
36that it is the error, not of the vulgar, as
in the cases above mentioned, but of a
philosopher, I mean Mr Locke. According
to his division of ideas, the idea, as
he calls it, of any particular man, or other
animal, is an idea of sensation, that is,
a perception of the sense: whereas the fact
truly is, however paradoxical it may seem,
that no person sees (that is, perceives by
the sense) either man or horse; for the
sense of sight perceives no more than what
is pictured in the bottom of the eye, viz.
the figure, colour, and size of a certain
mass of matter. But before the mind can
pronounce that mass to be a man, it must
have performed no less than two operations
of the intellect; one previous to the
perception of sense, the other subsequent.
The first is that by which we form the idea
of that species of animal we call man;
and whoever sees a man must have that
idea ready formed in his mind: by the
37second, we compare with that idea the object
which the sense presents; and from
that comparison conclude, that the object
is man or horse, or belonging to any other
species of things. That this last operation
is truly a discursus mentis, and a conclusion
of reason, as I call it, not a perception of
sense, is evident from this, that we often
make an erroneous conclusion, and mistake
one thing for another, as when we
see things at a great distance, or through
a fog, as in the instance above mentioned.
In such cases, every man must acknowledge,
that there is a judgement of the
mind: but in other instances, when there
is no error, the process of reasoning is so
very short, and the conclusion so instantaneous,
that a vulgar man may be forgiven
to overlook it, and ascribe all to the
sense; but I can hardly have the same indulgence
for the philosopher, especially
one who pretended, like Mr Locke, to be
so attentive an observer of what passed in
his own mind, and has written a whole
book upon the subject *11.38

Having thus considered in general the
natural and acquired faculties of man, and
shewn, that in some instances they are apt
to be confounded, we are now to inquire
39to which of them the faculty of speech belongs;
and whether in this, as in other
cases, we may not fall into error, by not
distinguishing sufficiently what we have by
nature from what is of our own acquisition,
The facility with which we perform the
operations in this case, as well as in the
other above mentioned, is apt to make a
man believe, who has not thought much
upon the subject, that we do it naturally;
and that though it costs us a good deal of
pains and trouble in our infancy to learn
the language that we speak, yet without
that trouble, as soon as we came to riper
years, we should have spoken some kind
of language, that is, we should have expressed
the conceptions of our mind by articulate
sounds of one kind or another.
On the other hand, I maintain, that this
faculty is one of the many acquired faculties
40belonging to our nature; that though
the capacity is no doubt given us by nature,
the habit was very long of being
formed. But as we now perform it with
so much, facility, we overlook the steps
and the progress that were necessary to
form the habit, as in the instances above
mentioned, and rashly conclude that to be
the work of nature, which is the result of
long experience and observation, and perhaps
the greatest effort of human sagacity.

The reader, I am persuaded, will be
the more inclined to adopt this hypothesis,
as from what is said above, it is evident,
that even the perception by sight,
which one should think is as much the gift
of nature as any thing belonging to us,
is truly, for the greater part, the effect of
acquired habit, insomuch that without
such habit it would be of little or no use
to us. The same, I am persuaded, may
be said of all the rest of our senses: and I
have no doubt, but that when we first
come into the world, we hear, smell,
touch, and taste, as imperfectly as we see.
The reason of which I take to be, partly
the weakness of the organs of sense, that
41have not yet acquired the proper tone, and
partly the infirmity of the mind itself, unaccustomed
to such impressions from external
objects, and therefore not knowing
what to make of them; and the memory,
or retentive faculty, being at that
time of life as weak as the sensitive, the
impressions are not retained by it, but are
immediately effaced, like traces in water.
So that it is highly probable, that by nature,
merely, and setting aside all use and
experience, we can hardly be said, at the
time of our birth, to have sensations, or
even to deserve the name of animal. If
therefore we have not the use of our senses
from nature, but from acquired habit, it
would be really extraordinary, if the faculty
of speech was the gift of nature, and
not of our own acquisition.42

Chap. IV.
That Man does not by Nature form Ideas. —
Division of the conceptions of the Mind. —
Nature of Ideas.

But in order to get at the bottom of this
question, we must return to the division
that I have made of language into the
material and formal part, and consider each
of these by itself; beginning with that
which is most excellent, namely, the formal
part. This part, as we have shewn, consists
principally, and indeed it may be said
only, of ideas; for as we have just now
seen, even individuals are known only by
ideas. Now, if I can shew, that even the
ideas are not from nature, but from acquired
habit, there will be an end of the question,
though I should not make out that
the formation of articulate sounds is likewise
by acquired faculty; which, however,
I trust I shall be able to do.

To begin then with ideas, the nature
and origin of which must be explained before
43we can truly judge whether they are
the work of nature, or of habit acquired:
The best division that I think ever was
made of the conceptions, of the human
mind, is that which Plato has given us in
the Theætetus *12, into those which the mind
forms with the assistance of the senses, and
those which it forms by itself without such
assistance. This division I prefer to all others;
because it makes the proper distinction
betwixt body and mind, which never
ought to be out of the view of a philosopher
who treats of such a compound as
man;— a compound that never can be
properly analysed, without making that
distinction with the greatest accuracy. Of
the first kind are the perceptions of sense;
which undoubtedly are the act of the
mind as well as the other; for it is not the
sense that perceives, but the mind through
the medium of sense 13. The other are
what I call ideas 14: and these I subdivide
44into two kinds; the first such as are directly
and immediately formed from the
perceptions of sense. Of this kind are our
ideas of all natural and artificial substances
and their qualities, and in short of every
thing without us. The other are ideas
which we form from the operations
of our own mind. In this way we come
by the ideas of thinking, believing, doubting,
in short, of every operation of the mind,
and of mind itself. The first class of ideas
is produced from materials furnished by
the sense: the second arises from the operations
of the mind upon those materials:
for I do not deny, that in this our present
state of existence, all our ideas, and all
our knowledge, are ultimately to be derived
from sense and matter. But with
45these, the ideas of the first class are more
nearly connected; whereas those of the other
kind are more congenial to mind, and
may be said to be of its own growth, being
produced from materials which itself furnishes.
They may therefore be called natural-borne
subjects of the state, naturalized
, as the others are; but the sensations
are altogether foreigners *15.

The faculty by which the mind operates
in conjunction with the body, is very well
known by the name of sense; the
by which it operates singly, and without
46participation of the body, I call intellect *16.
In the perceptions by sense, the mind is
to be considered as merely passive, receiving
like wax the impressions of external
objects: but in the other way of operating,
it exerts that active and self-moving
powers which I hold to be the distinguishing
characteristic of mind, and the specific
difference betwixt it and body 17. When
therefore; the mind operates in this last
way, it asserts its native power, and acts
in a manner more worthy of its divine original;
whereas when it acts in the other
way, it is to be considered as degraded
and debased by its necessary connection
with flesh and blood. Whether it was always
obliged to act so, and to receive its
ideas from sense and matter, or whether
there was not a former period of its existence,
when it derived its ideas from a
nobler source, to the recollection of which
ideas it is now only excited, and as it
were roused, by the impulse of sense, so
that all our knowledge is no more than
47reminiscence, is a speculation not belonging
to our present subject.

Chap. V.
Of Mr Locke's division of ideas into those of
Sensation and Reflection.

As this division of Mr Locke is that
which is commonly received among
us, it is proper to consider how far it differs
from, or coincides with, the division
I have given. And, in the first place, It
is obvious, that what Mr Locke calls ideas
of sensation, comprehends the first member
of Plato's division, namely, the conceptions
which the mind forms by the assistance
of the body, or, in other words,
the perceptions of sense. But further, it
likewise comprehends the first class of those
conceptions which the mind forms by itself,
viz. the ideas that arise immediately
from the perceptions of sense: for as his
division was intended to be general, and
to comprehend all the conceptions in the
human mind of whatever kind, and as it
is evident they are not ideas of reflection,
48it follows of consequence, that they are
what he calls ideas of sensation. And further
still, as Mr Locke tells us, he means
to include in his division every thing that
passes in the human mind, I doubt we
must class under the first member of it,
the inward feelings of pleasure and pain,
as well as the perceptions of external objects;
and in common language, such
feelings are called by the name of sensation.
As to those ideas which he calls, not improperly,
ideas of reflection, being produced
by a reflex act of the mind upon itself,
they coincide perfectly with what I call
the second class of ideas, viz. those formed
by the mind from its own operations.

But what apology can the admirers of
Mr Locke make for his not only giving
the same general name of ideas to things
of so different a nature as the perceptions
of sense, and the ideas from thence formed,
but making them to be of the same species
of ideas? Is it not plainly confounding
the materials with what is made out of
those materials, as if we should express by
one word, the brass, and the statue that
is made of it? Does not such a confusion
of language naturally lead to confusion of
49thought? Will a man who has only
learned the philosophy of Mr Locke, readily
make the distinction that Plato has
made, betwixt the conceptions of the mind
produced by the assistance of the body,
and those which it forms by itself without
the intervention of the body? And
will he not, on the contrary, be disposed
to believe, that the mind is entirely dependent
upon the body, and that it cannot
act at all without impulses from the body?
What consequences this opinion leads to,
I shall afterwards consider; but, in the
mean time, I must observe, that I cannot
carry my censure of Mr Locke so far as a
late ingenious author, whom I mentioned before,
Dr Reid, does; who, in the conclusion
of his work, charges Mr Locke's division of
ideas with the greatest fault that any division
can have: for his accusation comes to
this, that it is no division at all; because,
says he, ideas of reflection comprehend ideas
of sensation; for it is only by reflecting
upon what passes in our own
mind that we come by the idea of sensation,
as well as of doubting or believing;
where, it is manifest, the Doctor confounds
the abstract idea of sensation, with the idea
50of the external object which that sensation
presents to the mind. The first is
most certainly an idea of reflection, being
produced by the mind's reflecting upon
what passes within itself; but the last is
as certainly, in the language of Mr Locke,
an idea of sensation. If it be true what
the Doctor adds, that a certain later writer,
whom he mentions, has made this
hypothesis the foundation of his system of
scepticism, it is not the Doctor only that
has fallen into this error. And I must
own, Mr Locke has talked so confusedly
upon the subject, and has been at so little
pains to explain this grand division of his,
upon which he has built his whole system,
that I do not much wonder that. Dr Reid
and others have fallen into this error.
For as Mr Locke has expressed himself, it
may be doubted, whether, by ideas of
sensation, he means all, or only one or other,
of the following things: 1st, Perceptions
of particular objects of sense; 2dly,
Abstract ideas of those objects; 3dly, Abstract
ideas of the perceptions or sensations
themselves, such as we form of the
sensation of seeing or hearing; 4thly. Particular
sensations of pleasure or pain; and,
51lastly, Abstract ideas of those sensations.
The not distinguishing betwixt such different
significations of the. same term, has
thrown a very great obscurity over his
whole work, though I know it is admired by
many as a perfect pattern of perspicuity.

It may be said in defence of Mr Locke,
though I do not know that it has been said,
that his division of ideas does not respect
their nature, or what they are simply considered
in themselves, but only their source
or origin: so that his meaning is no
more, than that all our ideas are either
from sensation or reflection. But, in the
first place, this is not a meaning to be gathered
from his words, but rather the contrary;
for he every where speaks of ideas
of sensation as the immediate perceptions
of sense, not derived from it only; though
he ought not to have left it even ambiguous
in what respect this division was,
which he has made the foundation of
his whole system. And, secondly, If this
was his meaning, there should have been
no division at first, but he should have
laid it down simply, that all ideas are
from sense; and then he should have
distinguished betwixt those that were directly
52and immediately from the sense,
and those that were mediately by the
intervention of the reflex act of the mind
upon its own operations. If he had done
this, he would not only have proceeded
methodically and distinctly, but I think
it is highly probable, he would have avoided
the capital error which he has fallen
into, of confounding the perceptions
of sense, which are the source of our ideas,
with the ideas themselves *18.53

Chap. VI.
Of the Formation of Ideas.

The nature of ideas cannot be understood,
without knowing accurately
the manner in which they are formed;
54and from the account I am to give of their
formation, I hope it will be evident, that
they are, as I have said, the production
of mind, genuine and pure, without any
55mixture of body, and its operations. In
this way the origin of our ideas will appear;
without the knowledge-of which,
it is impossible to give any philosophical
account, such as we propose to give, of
the origin of language. After we have
done this, we hope it will not be difficult
to solve the question now in hand, and to
shew, that ideas, being the workmanship
of mind, are not a natural production, but
that there is a progress here, as in other
things belonging to mind, from capacity
to habit; and that the faculty of forming
ideas is, like other faculties of the mind,
acquired by use and exercise.

Much has been said, and excellently
well said, by Mr Harris *19 upon this subject
of the formation of ideas. I do not
differ from him materially in any thing
he has said on the subject; but as the nature
and design of my work requires that
some things relating to ideas should be
56more fully, and a little differently explained,
I hope I shall be excused by the
public, as I am sure I shall be by Mr Harris,
for coming over again a subject that
has been already so well handled by so eminent
an author.

I will begin with my first class of ideas,
those which arise immediately and directly
from the perceptions of sense. If we
account well for the origin of them, the
formation of those of the other class, arising
from the minds own operations, will
be easily explained.

The materials of the ideas which we
form from the perceptions of sense, are all
furnished by sensation; with which therefore
we must begin in our account of those
ideas. A certain impulse made by external
objects upon the body, or certain parts
of the body, known by the name of the organs
of sense
, if propagated to the mind (for
that does not always happen) by a conveyance
which we cannot explain, produces
what we call a sensation, or perception of the
sense; which is different according to the
difference of the senses; but they all agree
in the description I have now given. To analyse
or describe more particularly this operation
57of external objects upon the mind,
is not necessary for the purpose of this
work; and besides, it is done to my hand in
the ingenious work I quoted before, I mean
Dr Reid's treatise upon the Human Mind.

According to this account of sensation,
it is by its nature fleeting and transitory;
and if there were no way of preserving those
impressions upon the mind, but if they
should vanish, and disappear like traces in
water, there would be no comprehension
or knowledge of any kind: but nature,
has contrived a way of giving a permanency
and stability to those fleeting impressions
by the means of what we call memory; in
which the perceptions of sense are fixed in
such a manner as to become the objects of

If we could suppose but one object of
sense thus recorded in the memory, there
could be no idea, nor any kind of knowledge,
such as we have at present: for, as
was said above, it is by the kind or species
that in this state of our existence we
know any thing. Now, to what
or class of things could this single perception
be referred?

Next, let us suppose the most simple
58case that the same object presents itself again
to the sense; then will the trace of
the former perception be renewed; or, to
speak without a metaphor, we shall have
another perception of the same object,
knowing it to be the same. And here for
the first time the mind begins to act by
itself, and to exert a little of its intellectual
powers: for it is clear, that this
knowledge of the identity of the object
goes beyond the power of sense; which
can do no more than give another perception of
the object, but cannot, by comparing,
the object with itself, determine
that it is the same.

And thus far the brute goes alongst with
us: for he has sense and memory as well
as we, and, like us, he can distinguish
the same from a different object; for who
will deny that a dog knows his master,
or a horse his keeper?

The next case we shall suppose is, that
not the same individual object, but one of
the same species, presents itself to the sense:
I say, the mind there, too, exerts its intellectual
faculty, and discovers that there is
a likeness betwixt the two, though they
are no the same.59

Hitherto likewise, but no farther, the
brutes accompany us: for it is manifest,
that these animals have some notion of
likeness as well as of sameness; for a dog
will distinguish a man, or any other animal,
from one of his own species; and
when a creature of an uncommon species,
that he never saw before, is presented to
him, we see manifest tokens of surprise in

The next step, one should imagine, after
distinguishing the species in the individual
was to form the idea of the species,
and so to perceive the one in the many, as
Plato has expressed it. But before we
come so far, there is another step necessary,
though I think it has not been observed;
for before we can see the one in the
, we must see the one by itself. For
understanding this, it is necessary to observe,
that our senses present to us the objects
as they exist in nature, that is, mixed
and compounded; for in that way, every
thing in the material world appears to the
sense: so that in perceiving even a single
object, the sense perceives only so many
different qualities united in some matter or
substratum) of which the sense has no perception.
60Thus, when we perceive a man,
or any other animal, the sense takes in at
the same time the figure, the colour, the
size, and other sensible qualities; and the
combination of these qualities in one common
subject, is the first rude notion, and,
as it were, confused sketch, which not
only we, but also the brutes, as I have observed, have
of the species. But in order
to form the idea, a separation or discrimination
is necessary of these qualities one from
another: and this kind of abstraction I hold
to be the first act of human intellect, and
that it is here the road parts betwixt us
and the brute; for the brute perceives the
thing, and preserves the perception in his
memory, just as the object is presented by
nature, that is, with all its several sensible
qualities united; whereas the human intellect
separates and discriminates, and
considers by itself, the colour, e.g. without
the figure, and the size without either *20.61

The next step after this, is undoubtedly
the idea, or the general: for perceiving that
this one, which by our intellectual faculty
we have separated from the natural mass,
exists, not only in the individual object
from which we have abstracted it, but in
many others; then, and not till then, we
have the idea of a quality or property of
any substance; and as soon as we perceive
a certain combination of them united
together in one common subject, then
62we have the idea of substance; for the intellect
first separates, and then unites. Nor
indeed can we conceive several things united,
without first conceiving them separated;
for as to the joint perception of several
things presented to us by the sense, it
is plainly the operation of the sense alone,
and has nothing to do with intellect; and
accordingly the brute perceives in that
way as well as we.

And, thus it appears, that by the mind's
abstracting from any individual, one or
more sensible qualities, and perceiving
these to exist in other individuals, the idea
is formed, and the one is made out of the
many. And what makes this one, is that
we thing
which is common to the many; for
that gives them an union, and, as it were,
a band or tie, which bundles them up together.
When the idea is perfectly formed,
the several subjects in which this one
common thing exists, are entirely laid out
of the view of the mind, and the one commong
is only considered; that is to say,
in other words, the likeness, or, to speak more
accurately, that in which they are like, is
only considered, not the things that are
like; the commonness, if I may so speak,
63that is, the thing which is in common, not
the things which have it in common *21.

The process I have described above, will
be easily understood when explained by an
example. I have the perception by my
senses of any individual animal, as, e.g.
man; and this perception consists of the
perception of several particular qualities,
such as figure, colour, size, &c.; which
being all perceived by the sense as united
together in one subject, make up the general
, so I may call it, of a man.

But this union is entirely the operation
of sense, not of mind; for the mind does
no more than receive the united impression
from sense. And accordingly the
brute has this perception as well as we.
64And further, when this united impression
is again made upon the sense, he
knows it to be the same. so far there is
neither abstraction nor generalization. But
if I shall go further, and consider in the
individual man, either presented to me
by the sense, or preserved in my memory,
any one particular quality, such as the figure,
separated from the rest, then I perform
that operation of intellect which I
call abstraction. Again, if I go farther
still, and comparing together the several
perceptions presented to the sense, or retained
in the memory, of individuals of
the same species, I find that this figure is
common to them all; then, and not till
then, I have the general idea of this figure,
which, either by itself, or joined
with other qualities abstracted in the same
manner, (according as my idea is more or
less complete), forms the idea of man;
which is plainly made up of one or more
qualities, first abstracted from one individual,
and then recognised as common to

From this account of the matter, it is
evident, that ideas are formed by the
mind's reviewing and comparing together
65the several perceptions of sense, and perceiving
what they have in common with
one another. And this faculty of companion
appears to constitute the very essence
of intellect. We are not, however, to imagine,
that the brute wants it entirely,
for a dog certainly compares, when he finds
out that a man is or is not his master.
But the difference appears to me to consist
in these two things: 1st, That the
brute, not having made the discrimination
above mentioned of the several particulars,
does not make the comparison so
exactly, but only compares things together
in the lump. 2dly, The brutes make
the comparison only when the sense is excited
by the presence of the object, with
which they compare another perception of
sense preserved in the memory. Thus a
dog, when he knows his master, compares
the immediate perception which he
has of him with the past, which he retains
in his memory or imagination *22, And I
am persuaded, that in our very early years,
66we compare in no other way: but in pro-
cess of time, we attain the faculty of comparing
together the perceptions of sense,
even when the objects are not present;
and from that comparison, forming notions
of their likeness or unlikeness.

Of the generals thus formed by comparison,
logicians distinguish two sets or
classes. The first consists of those of the
lowest species; so called, because below
them there is nothing but individuals.
These being formed in the manner above
described, and recorded in the memory,
as the perceptions of sense were before,
the mind again exerts its power of comparison
upon them; and discovering among
them likewise resemblances. forms of those
resemblances another set of generals above
the first; with respect to which they are,
in the language of logic, said to be the
genus. And thus we arise from general to
general, till we come up to those of the
highest order, which are distinguished from
those of inferior order by the name of universals.
These, in the antient philosophy,
have, by an amazing exertion of the human
genius, been reduced to ten classes,
and called by the name of categories; such
67as substance, quality, quantity, &c. *23 And
here we may observe in passing, the very
great impropriety of Mr Locke's philosophical
language; for these universals, or
68whatever we can suppose farther removed
from sense and matter, must all be ranked
under his ideas of sensation.
From this account of the human mind,
69and its progress, compared with that of
the brutes, it appears, that the essential
difference betwixt them and us consists in
this, that the brute still continues as
70much immersed in matter as we are in the
first stage of life: so that his mind never
acts but by impulse from material objects,
either external or internal; by which last
I mean the natural calls of appetite, produced
by certain alterations of the body
and its organs: whereas our mind acquires
the habit of acting by itself, without
any such impulse from matter, and so
of exerting that self-moving power, which,
as I observed before, is the chief characteristic
of mind, and which is denied to the
brutes, at least in the state in which we
see them.71

This observation will explain several
phenomena of the brute nature; from
which some have rashly concluded, that
they have the use of intellect and reason as
well as we. Thus a horse, by travelling
the same road twice or thrice, learns to
knew it often better than his rider; from
whence one might conclude, that he had
some idea of a road. But the fact truly
is, that although, no doubt, the perception
of this particular road is impressed on
his memory or imagination, and retained
there, yet he has no idea of a road; because,
not having that active self-moving
power above mentioned, his remembrance
is only excited by the object being presented
again to his sense. At any other
time, so far as we can discover, he never
thinks of that road, nor is conscious that
he has any such perception in his memory:
and therefore it is impossible that ever
he can form the idea of a road, according
to the process above described.
Again, a horse or a dog remembers his
home, or the place where he is fed, and
protected from the weather; but, so far
as we know, never thinks of that place,
except when he is prompted by hunger,
72cold, love of society, or any other natural
appetite. And it is the same with respect
to the operations of the mind of the brute,
as with respect to his perceptions of external
objects: for not having that self-moving
power which we have, he cannot review
his own operations, of which he is
not conscious; and therefore it is evident
that he cannot form ideas of reflection.

From what is here said, the difference
betwixt perceptions of sense and ideas must
appear manifold. In the first place, Those
perceptions are only the materials from
which ideas are formed; and therefore, are
as distinct from ideas as the matter of any
thing is from its form. 2do, Perceptions
of sense arise only from objects present;
whereas ideas may be formed, and are
commonly formed, from past sensations,
preserved in the memory or imagination.
3tio, The perceptions of sense preserved
in the memory or imagination, are no
more than the images of objects, such as
they were presented to the mind by the
senses: but neither sense, memory, nor
imagination, makes that comparison which
we have shewn to be absolutely necessary
in order to form ideas. And hence it is,
734to, that the perceptions of sense, though
retained in the memory, are all of individual
things; whereas ideas are all of generals,
being of things common to-many individuals.
And, lastly, In the formation
of ideas the mind is altogether active;
whereas in the perceptions of sense it is
merely passive. What confusion, therefore,
must it not have produced in philosophy,
the not distinguishing things so different
in their nature, and the operations
of faculties so different as sense and intellect?
— And so much for the ideas that
are formed immediately from the perceptions
of sense.

As to the ideas which arise from the operations
of the mind, and which I shall
call with Mr Locke ideas of reflection, they
are formed in the same manner: for the
mind preserving the memory of its own operations,
as well as of external objects,
and reviewing and comparing together the
individual operations thus preserved in the
memory, and discovering something common
to several of them, of that one common
it forms the idea; and in that way
we come by the ideas of doubting, deliberating,
affirming, and of thinking in general.
74This, I believe, is agreeable to Mr Locke'
notion of such ideas; and, as he has observed,
under the operations of the mind
we ought to include the passion as well as
the action of the mind: so that the ideas
of pleasure and pain, (not the actual feeling,
for that is mere sensation *24), and of
all their various modifications in the different
passions, are all ideas which we get
from reflection. But we should carefully
distinguish two things that he has not distinguished,
viz. the particular operations
of the mind, and the idea or general notion
75thence formed; which he has confounded,
in the same manner as he has confounded
the particular perceptions of sense with the
ideas formed from them.

From this account of the formation of
our ideas, it is evident, that the mind
forms them without any assistance from
the senses. With respect to the ideas of
reflection, there cannot be the least doubt,
as the senses do not so much as furnish
the materials out of which they are formed:
and with respect to the ideas arising
from sensation, it is evident, that the
sense furnishes only the materials, upon
which the mind works by itself, and forms
the ideas: for those ideas, as we have
shewn, arise from the mind's comparing
together the perceptions of sense,
and discovering betwixt them certain resemblances
and similitudes. Now, it is
impossible that the sense can compare or
perceive relations of any kind; and therefore
this comparing faculty is the peculiar
property of the rational, or, as the Greeks
call it, the logical mind: for the Greek
word λόγος, which the Latins render by
the term ratio, properly signifies a relation.
And accordingly Euclid, who must be
76supposed to speak with the greatest propriety,
so defines the word applied to
magnitude *25.

If any man, notwithstanding what is
said, can have the least doubt of these ideas
formed from the perceptions of sense
being the act of the mind singly, as well
as ideas of reflection, let him consider that
77class of them which are called ideas of relation,
such as likeness, diversity, double,
half, and the like. These ideas are certainly
formed from sensible objects, as
much as the idea of a man or a horse; yet
no body, I think, will say, that the senses
have any concern in the formation of
them; and the reason is plain, namely,
because they are comparisons which the
mind makes of two or more things. Now
the other ideas derived from the same
source, though they are not actual comparisons
made by the mind at the time we
speak or think of them, and therefore are
not ideas of relation; yet they are the result
of comparisons formerly made; from
which we collect that common nature which
makes the idea of any object of sense.

And thus it appears, that the division
of the conceptions of the mind made by
Plato is well founded; and that there are
truly conceptions, which are the act of
the mind operating by itself, without any
assistance from the senses. And thus I
would fain hope, that I have distinguished
the perceptions of sense from ideas in such
a manner, that they will not again be confounded,
and that we shall hear no more
78so strange a language in philosophy, as
that which speaks of visible and tangible

Chap VII.
Of Abstract Ideas. — That there are Ideas
which are not abstract. — Of the three ways
in which Ideas exist.

In the language of our modern philosophy,
general ideas, and abstract ideas, are
understood to be synonymous terms, and
every notion of the mind that is abstracted
is understood to be general, and, vice versa,
every general notion is conceived to be
abstracted. But this I hold to be a mistake:
for, in the first place, I think I have shewn,
that we not only may have a conception of a
particular quality of any substance, abstracted
from its other qualities, without conceiving
such quality to belong to any other
substance; but that we must have had such
an abstract conception before we could
79have any general conception. And we
may go further, and say, that such abstracted
conception of the individual quality
may never be generalized. Thus,
e.g. if I believe that there is no other sun
in the universe than ours, and if I consider
his rays, or any other quality peculiar
to him, separately from his other, qualities,
I have an abstracted notion of his
rays, but no general notion or idea of

Thus it appears, that there may be abstraction
without generalization. But can
there be generalization without abstraction?
Or are there no other ideas but abstract ideas?
That all those in the human mind
are such, is admitted. But are there no
other in the universe? Does every intelligence
think in the manner we do? If
so, matter must be the eldest of things; and
even mind and intelligence are to be derived
from it: for that must be the consequence,
if there be no ideas but such as arise from
matter; because it is impossible to conceive
intelligence without ideas. And yet to this
consequence Mr Locke's philosophy naturally
leads; which makes mind so dependent
upon body, as not to operate without
80it, and knows nothing beyond sensation,
and its ideas, as he calls them. I am persuaded,
that Mr Locke did not mean to
draw such consequences from his philosophy;
but it is certain, that such consequences
have been drawn from it, and
that the most extravagant systems of scepticism
have been founded on it.

The philosophy I have learned is of a
very, different kind: it teaches me, that
mind is the most antient of things *27; and
that, as it alone has activity, and the
principle of motion in itself, it is the efficient
cause of every thing: that therefore there
are ideas of a much higher order than
those which we abstract from matter, being
the models or archtypes of all material
: that of such ideas the intellectual
is composed; of which the material
is no more than a copy: that there are
other intelligences in the universe besides
ours, and infinitely superior to ours; and
one highest of all, in whose intellect resides
that intellectual world, and who is not
only the efficient cause of all things, but
81virtually comprehend, in himself every
thing existing.

These ideas of highest order and dignity
are, in the language of antient philosophy,
said to be before the many *28; that is,
anterior to all individual and particular
forms; which being infinite in number
are said to be many, in contradistinction to
the one idea that is the pattern of them.
Again, if they are considered as existing,
in the particulars or individuals, of which
they constitute the nature and essence, they
are said to be in the many 29. And in this
way exists the whole visible world which
is nothing but the intellectual world made
perceptible to the sense. And last of all
come the ideas of our minds abstracted
from the many; that is, from the material
world: for such is our condition in
this period of our existence, that we must
necessarily draw all our ideas from that
source; and this sort of ideas is said to be
after the many 30.82

To this triple order of forms, as Mr
Harris elegantly calls them, belong three
several·sciences. To the first and highest
order belongs that science which, from
Aristotle's method of treating it, has got
the name of Metaphysis; but I think is
better denominated the first philosophy: the
subject of which are the intellectual forms;
previous to the material, of which they are
the pattern, and eternal and unchangeable
as not partaking of the corruption
or contagion of matter; and therefore having
a fixed and permanent existence: for
those forms that are united with matter are
in a constant change and flux, as well as
the matter itself *31. Of these intellectual
83forms, this science explains the nature; and
in those of them that are most general, such
as the categories above mentioned, contemplates
the first principles and elements of
: for all things existing, are nothing
else, but those universals unfolded, as it
were, and developed. From the intellectual
world, it naturally ascends to the
contemplation of that universal mind, in
84which this intellectual world is contained:
and that makes the highest part of this philosophy,
called by the antients Theology.
With respect to the ideas united with matter,
that is, material forms, they are the subject
of that science called Natural Philosophy.
And as to ideas abstracted from matter, the
science conversant about them is what we
call Mathematics *32; the subject of which
are, length, breadth, thickness, and in general
magnitude, likewife number, and its
affections, ratios, proportions, &c.: which are
all ideas abstracted by our minds from material
forms; and not considered as existing
in those forms, for then they become
the subject of natural philosophy or mixed
; nor as previous to those forms,
for, in that view they would be the subject
of the first philosophy.

If this account that I have given of these
three orders of ideas be just, any philosophy
of ideas which does not distinguish
them must appear very defective. The first
are the fountain and source of the other
two, if it be true that this world is the
85production of mind and intelligence, not
of blind chance; for if so, there must be
an intellectual world previous to the material.
To deny, therefore, the existence of
such ideas, is to deny, that the universe
is the work of mind. This is an impiety
which I am far from imputing Mr
Locke: but thus much I may be allowed
to say, that by not carrying his philosophy
of ideas beyond sense and matter, he
has given at least the appearance of materialism
to his system.

Chap. VIII.
Of perfect and imperfect Ideas. — Of the Ideas
of Plato. — Of science and Opinion; and
the difference betwixt these two.

In describing the progress, of the human
mind in the formation of ideas, I have
said, that the idea may be more or less
perfect; from which it follows, that there
may be a general notion or conception of
the thing, but such as is not what we
emphatically, and properly enough in
English, call the idea of the thing. This
86requires explanation; without which our
philosophy of ideas, and consequently of
language of which ideas make so essential
a part, would be imperfect.

From the account we have given of the
formation of ideas, it is plain it must be
a work of difficulty if rightly performed,
requiring attention and accuracy. It is
therefore impossible that it can be equally,
well performed by all, or by any at first.
The brute, as we have seen, has some
confused notion of the species in the individual.
Our children at first, I am persuaded,
have no more distinct idea of it;
and I believe they have this further resemblance
to the brute, that the idea,
such as it is, is excited only by the presence
of the object, or by some bodily impulse
of one kind or another; their minds
not having yet acquired that self-moving
power, by which the mind, without such
excitement, reviews and compares together
the perceptions of sense lodged in the
memory or imagination., They learn, no
doubt by conversation with grown persons,
to form, pretty early, more distinct
conceptions of the different species of substances:
but as to qualities, and particularly
87general qualities, such as, good, bad
fair, handsome, just, and injust, thought
they have those words frequently in their
mouths, the ideas they annex to them are
so very confused and indistinct, as hardly
to deserve the name. Not have they any
clear conception of any term they use denoting
any general quality, except it be of
such as denotes a sensation, as sweet, bitter,
painful, pleasant; of which they have as
clear ideas as many philosophers. The
vulgar may be said to continue children
in this respect all their lives, at least in
some degree; for though their notions
are, no doubt, more distinct than those
of children, and such as they can better
explain, yet they are far from being those
perfect ideas which we are now to describe.

This idea is no other than the idea of
the man of science, or philosopher; which
is very different from that of the vulgar.
For, in the first place, it is entirely separated
and abstracted from, every thing material,
all the several particular objects
from which it is collected being laid out
of the view of the mind and that only
which they have in common being considered;
88whereas the vulgar never perfectly
make this separation, but still continue to
see the one only in the many: so that among
them, man, e.g. is no more than
one name given to Peter, James, and John,
and other individuals of the species; and
when they want to explain their idea of
any thing, they cannot do it without an
example; that is, without shewing to the
person with whom they converse, the material
image of the thing in their own
minds. 2dly, It is such an idea as constitutes
the nature and essence of the thing
unmixt with any thing else.

How difficult this last requisite is to be
attained, we shall be convinced, if we
consider, that every thing in nature is mixed
with every thing
, according to the saying
of the antient philosopher, I think it was Anaxagoras.
Thus length, breadth, and thickness,
figure, situation, and qualities without
number, are all joined together in the
same subject, and in that way presented
to the senses. Now it is the business of
intellect to discriminate these, and setting
them each apart by itself, in that way to
form the idea of it. If this is rightly
done, then is the idea that perfect idea
89we seek for, such as is expressed in the definitions
of the terms of science. But it
may be defective in several respects. In
the first place, It may only contain qualities,
such as are accidental, and not distinguishing
or characteristical of the species
as if I were to form my idea of a man
from the colour or size, or any property
belonging to the individuals I may
have seen, but not common to the species.
Secondly, The qualities that form my general
idea may be common to the species
but not peculiar; as if I should make my
idea of a man to be that of a creature
walking on two legs, of a horse that of
a creature with four legs. Thirdly, The
quality may be common to all the species,
and also peculiar, but may no contain its
nature and essence. Thus if I define a man
by his risible faculty, or a horse by his
neighing, these qualities, though both
common, and peculiar to each of these species,
yet as they do not constitute their
nature and essence, they are not the idea
of the philosopher. Fourthly, The qualities
of which I form my idea of the species,
I may not have a clear and distinct
conception of
; as, e.g. if I define man to
90be a rational animal, capable of intellect
and science, unless I know what rationality
is, and what intellect and science are, I cannot
have a perfect idea of a man. And,
lastly, My idea may contain the qualities
that are common and peculiar to the species,
and also such as constitute its nature and
essence: but if it contains, besides these,
other qualities that are accidental, or idiomatical,
that is, peculiar to the individual,
or that are common to other species; in
short, if it contains any thing else but
those very qualities which constitute the
nature and essence of the thing, from
which all its properties are derived; nay,
if it should contain any even of those properties
which are by demonstration deductible
from its nature, as, e.g. if, in my
definition of a triangle, I should include
the quality of its having its three angles
equal to two right ones; it would not be
the perfect idea of the philosopher, which
must contain nothing, as I have said, but
the very essence of the thing.

But-if it have not this superfluity, and
have all the requisites above mentioned,
then is it the idea of Plato, so much talked
of, and so little understood, being a sense
91of the word different from that in which
it is used in modern philosophy. For it is
not the meaning that I have given to it,
which comprehends every general notion,
however inadequate to the nature of the
thing, and far less is it the idea of Mr
Locke, which comprehends even perceptions
of sense, though it was no doubt
from the philosophy of Plato that he borrowed
the use of the word. This idea is
the real thing existing *33, of which Plato
speaks so often in a language that appears
mysterious, but which may be understood
from what I have said: for he tells us, “It is
that which makes one of the many; which
preserving the unity and integrity of its
own nature, runs through and mixes
with things infinite in number; and yet
however multiform it may appear, is always
the same: so that by it we find
out and discriminate the thing, whatever
different shapes it may assume, and under
whatever disguise it may Proteus-like,
hide itself 34”. Now, though
description alludes to a peculiar notion of
92his concerning ideas, which I shall afterwards
explain, and which Plato never has
out of his view, it may be understood of
the idea, such as I have described if, by
which we discriminate a thing from all others,
and find it out mixed with many
other things in various forms and substances.

This perfect idea is, in many cases,
very difficult to be apprehended, especially
if it be a very general idea; for such
ideas are the principles of things, and
therefore the most simple and uncompounded:
but for that very reason they
are the most difficult to be by us apprehended:
first, because we are accustomed
to perceive only what is mixed and compounded;
and, secondly, because those general
principles are joined, and incoporated
as it were, with so many various
forms and substances, that it is very difficult
to evolve them, and shew them by
themselves: It is therefore true what Aristote
says, that those principles, by how
much they are great in power and efficacy,
by so much they are the more difficult
to be distinctly apprehended.

Of this kind of ideas are the ideal of
93justice, goodness, and beauty; which are
so general, and therefore of so difficult
definition, that they furnished ample matter
for the Sophists of old to shew their
art, and to puzzle and perplex those with
whom they conversed. Plato has written
no less than ten books *35, in order to
explain what justice is; and he has given us
a definition of it, taken from the school of
Pythagoras 36, and which is very different
from the common notion of it. He
has also, in the same books, spoken much
of the good, or τὸ ἀγαθόν, but he as not
definited it. He tell us, in the way of similitude,
that what the sun is in the visible
world, the τὸ ἀγαθόν is in the intellectual.
And he further says, that to
know it is the perfection of all knowledge
as it is the governing principle in nature,
and ought to be so in all human actions
and pursuits 37. Whether Plato himself
knew any more of the matter than what
94he has told, the reader in these books,
may perhaps be doubted, though I should
incline to think he did; and therefore I
hold this to be one of the mysteries of his
philosophy, which he did not communicate except to
a very few: and accordingly
it is so treated by his later followers,
Plotinus, Iamblichus, and Proclus, who
have made the doctrine of the τὸ ἀγαθόν a
great part of the mystical theology of Plato.

As to the third of those general ideas,
the beautiful,or τὸ καλόν, he has spoken
much of it in the Symposium: and as what
he says there shews, that he understood
ideas were formed in the way I have described,
(though by the mysterious manner
in which he speaks of them one should
think otherwise), I will here give the substance
of it. “The first objects,” says he,
“in which we discern the beautiful, are
corporeal forms: and we begin with loving
one beauty of that kind; from
thence we proceed to contemplate other
beauties of the same kind, till we discover
that in which they all resemble
one another; and then abating of our
love for the individual, we come to be lovers
of this species of beauty, and general
95admirers of all fine forms. From body
we next proceed to mind, and discover
the beautiful in characters, manners,
and institutions; and finding here, too,
the same resemblance in all these, we
become general admirers of this species
of beauty likewise, esteeming but very
little the former in comparison with it.
The next step is to the beautiful in science:
and here, in like manner, we are not to
attach ourselves to the beauty of a single
science, but in general to contemplate
that species of beauty; and by this
course of study, we come at last to discover
the general idea of beauty, comprehending
all the species above mentioned,
viz. the beautiful in forms, in
manners, and in science. A most wonderful
beauty indeed, says our author, and
for the sake of which only all other beauties
are to be studied. It is eternal and
incorruptible, having neither beginning
nor end, increase nor diminution: it is
not beautiful in one respect and ugly in
another; it is not beautiful at one time,
or in one place, and ugly at another
time, or in another place; nor can it be
conceived by the imagination, like a
96fine face, or a fine hand, or any other
corporeal form; nor must we represent
to ourselves this universal beauty as existing
in any particular thing, such as
an animal, or even the earth and heavens;
but we must consider it singly by
itself, and detached from every thing
else; and all things else we must consider
as beautiful, only by participation of
this universal beauty, which always remains
the same, without suffering the
least impair or diminution by the destruction
of those other things in which
it exists. This, says Diotima, (the
prophetess, in whose mouth Socrates
puts this discourse), is the perfect science
of beauty, and will make you, Socrates,
(to whom she is introduced as speaking)
a perfect lover, if you are capable of being
initiated into such mysteries.”

In this manner has Plato mixed with the
merriment of a feast, and even the riot of
a debauch, for in that way it ends at last,
his sublime philosophy of ideas and intellectual
forms, which he has hardly ever
out of his view in any of his dialogues;
whether he is serious or pleasant *38.97

From what is said, it will be further evident,
how difficult it is to give a precise
98definition of ideas of such high abstraction.
Plato, we see, has not attempted
to define the beautiful in this passage,
nor in another dialogue which he has written
wholly upon the subject; I mean, the
Hippias Major; where he shews indeed
very clearly, that Hippias did not understand
what it was, but he makes us nothing
the wiser for that. The good, as I
have said, he explains by a similitude, in
the same manner as he does the nature of
the soul in the Phaedrus; where he tells us,
that to have the idea of the soul (that is,
in his language, the perfect idea above
mentioned) is divine knowledge, and of
most difficult attainment: but to know
what it is like, is human, and of less difficulty *39.

This distinction betwixt perfect and imperfect
, which I have so much insisted
upon, will explain a thing that is but
little understood, the difference betwixt
science and opinion. The subject of science
is perfect ideas, such as I have described
99them; the subject of opinion is imperfect
. For if the idea wants any of the requisites
above mentioned; if it is not common
to all the individuals of the species;
or, though common, if it be not peculiar;
or, though both common and peculiar,
if it be not essential, or, with all these three
requisites, if we have not a clear and distinct
of it; or, lastly, if, besides
the essential qualities, we throw into
our idea of the thing others not essential; in
short, if it be not the idea of the thing;
then is it the subject of opinion, about which
we see men wrangle and dispute without
end; because they do not argue about the
thing itself, but about an imperfect notion
of it. It was not therefore without
reason that Plato said, that the subject of
opinion was neither the τὸ ὄν, or the thing
nor was it the τὸ μὴ ὄν or nothing; but
something betwixt these two. This may
appear at first sight a little mysterious, and
difficult to be understood; but, like other
things of that kind in Plato, when examined
to the bottom, it has a very clear
meaning, and explains the nature of opinion
very well: for, as he says, every man
that opines must opine something. The subject
of opinion, therefore, is not nothing;
100at the same time, it is not the thing itself,
but something betwixt the two.

There is a difference also betwixt science
and opinion in the discursus mentis, or the
combination and comparison of ideas, as
well as with respect to the simple ideas.
But to treat of this would carry me too
far from my present purpose *40.101

Chap. IX.
Of Plato's peculiar notion concerning the existence
of ideas. — The opinion of some modern
philosophers upon that subject.

The doctrine of ideas, as I have delivered
it, is taken from the Peripatetic
school. I have shewn at the same time,
that, with respect to the formation of
them by the human mind, Plato does not
differ from Aristotle. But I mentioned a
peculiar opinion of Plato concerning ideas,
which it is possible the curious reader,
if he does not already know, may desire
to know, and which therefore, as belonging
to the subject we are now treating,
I will endeavour to explain.

Plato's opinion then is, that his ideas,
though the human mind comes to the
knowledge of them in the way I have described,
have a real existence by themselves
out of our minds, and out of the mind of
other intelligence, being incorporeal
, not accidents or qualities, of any
102other substance; that they are by their
nature eternal and unchangeable; and it
is by participation of them that every
thing is denominated to be what it is. An
individual man, e.g. by the participation
of the idea of man, is that animal, and no
other, and is called by that name *41. What
the nature of this participation is, or how
it is to be conceived that one simple indivisible
idea (for such they all are according
to Plato), existing as a substance by itself,
should mix and incorporate with
so many different masses of matter, and
yet still preserve the unity and indivisibility
of its nature, is one of the mysteries
of the Platonic philosophy, which neither
he, nor any of his followers, so far as I
know, have ever explained.

This opinion appears so extraordinary,
that I have known some learned men, very
much conversant in the writings of Plato,
who could not believe that this was really
his opinion. But that he did truly hold
such opinion, is to me evident: 1st, From
103his own writings; particularly, the Philebus,
which I quoted above, the Sophista,
and the Parmenides; in which last he treats
professedly of ideas, and of the one, and
states several different opinions concerning
them. And indeed, as I said before,
this doctrine of ideas runs through his
whole philosophy, and is hardly ever out
of his view: so that it is not from a single
passage that we collect this opinion, but
from the whole strain of his writings.

2dly, If there were any doubt as to Plato's
meaning, or if we could suppose that
it was not his own opinion, but only put
into the mouth of the interlocutors in his
dialogues, and maintained, by way of argument,
as he maintains several things
which he certainly did not believe himself,
we have the testimony of his scholar
Aristotle; who has told us, in the most
express terms, that his opinion was such
as I have stated it; and not only so, but
he has bestowed the greatest pains, and
employed all the acuteness of his genius,
and all the subtlety of his logic, in refuting
it; and this not in one place only,
but in many passages both of his Metaphysics
and Physics, and even in his Ethics;
104where he makes an apology for differing
from a man for whom he had so great a
regard *42. In short, it appears from the
writings of Aristotle, that this was the
chief ground of that difference of opinion,
which, it is well known, was betwixt him
and his master. I know there are some
who think, that Aristotle has often misrepresented
the opinions of other philosophers,
that he might have the pleasure
of refuting them, and exposing their
absurdity; and, among others, his commentator
Philoponus is of that opinion 43.
But whatever freedom he might
have used with the opinions of more
antient philosophers, we can hardly believe
that he would have ventured to misrepresent
the opinion of his own master
105Plato, which must have been well known
to many others. But besides, he has not
only told us, that this was the opinion of
Plato, but he has also given us a probable
enough account how he came to form it.
He had learned, says he, when he was
very young, from some disciples of Heraclitus
with whom he conversed, that all
material things were in a perpetual flux;
and therefore that there could be no
science or distinct comprehension of them:
and this always continued to be his opinion.
Afterwards he became the scholar
of Socrates, whose philosophy was entirely
confined to morals, but who first attempted,
says our author, to define and
investigate generals. This Plato learned
from him; but perceiving that there could
be neither definition nor science of the objects
of sense, for the reason just now
mentioned, and thinking it was necessary
that the subjects of science should be something
fixed and permanent, he therefore
introduced ideas, which he conceived to
be eternal and unchangeable, and to have
an existence by themselves, independent
of all material things *44.106

But, 3dly, suppose that we should reject
the authority of Aristotle altogether
in this matter, the same Philoponus, who
has accused this philosopher of misrepresenting
the opinions of antient philosophers,
has himself stated the opinion of
Plato to be such as Aristotle has represented
it. For in his commentary upon the
second book of Aristotle's Physics, speaking
of ideas, or forms separated from all
matter *45, he says, they are either, according
to Plato, substances, having a separate
existence by themselves 46, or they are
forms existing only in the mind of the
creator 47; which was the opinion of Aristotle.

Lastly, This opinion concerning ideas,
was also the opinion of the Pythagoreans,
107from whom Plato took almost his whole
philosophy, and particularly, as it appears,
his doctrine of ideas: for in that
genuine piece of Pythagorean philosophy
yet preserved to us, I mean the treatise of
Timaeus the Locrian, De anima mundi, ideas
are mentioned as one of the three
principles of things *48; and, as I had occasion
to observe before, it was from the
school of Pythagoras that Plato borrowed
the term idea, which is now become so
common a word in the English language.
Further, there is a remarkable passage in
Simplicius's commentary upon the first
book of Aristotle's Physics, which shows,
that the doctrine of ideas made an essential
part of the Theology of the Pythagoreans;
for they not only maintained, that they
existed separately by themselves, but they
made them to be a part of the divine nature;
which they understood to be threefold,
consisting of so many ones or persons,
as we may call them. “The first one was
108of transcendent excellency, above all
entity and substance. The second was ideas,
that is, intelligible things, which have
a real and true existence. The third
was animal life, or spirit, as we may call
it, participating of the first one and of
ideas.” If Simplicius delivered this upon
his own authority only, we might justly
doubt of it; but he quotes for it one
Moderatus, a philosopher who appears to
have given the best account of the doctrines
of Pythagoras, and who for that reason is
frequently quoted by Porphyry in his life
of Pythagoras. Simplicius gives us the
very words of this philosopher, which I
have transcribed below *49.109

I have dwelt the longer upon this difference
betwixt Plato and his scholar, that
many authors, both antient and modern,
have laboured much to prove, that there
was really no difference betwixt them:
but however successful they may have
been in reconciling them upon other points,
they are, I think, clearly irreconcileable
with respect to ideas.

The very reverse of this opinion of Plato
is the notion of certain philosophers of
our own time concerning ideas. For as
Plato maintains, that ideas are substances,
which have a separate existence by themselves
out of any mind, these philosophers,
on the other hand, assert, that
they have no existence at all, not even in
the mind; that all our conceptions are perceptions
of sense, being nothing else but
110impressions made upon the mind by external
objects, through the medium of the
organs of sense. These impressions being
preserved in the memory, are what we
call ideas; which therefore are nothing
but fainter perceptions of sense. This
doctrine was first advanced by Dr Berkeley,
Bishop of Cloyne, and afterwards supported,
and much enlarged upon, by a
later philosopher, in a work intitled, A
treatise of Human Nature
; to which, as he
has not put his name, nor ever publicly
acknowledged it, so far as I know, I think
he is intitled not to be named. That this
late writer, who professes the sceptical
philosophy, and whose intention appears
to be, to overturn all science and evidence
of every kind, should be fond of a doctrine
that suits so well with his purpose,
is no wonder at all: but I do wonder that
Dr Berkeley, whose intentions were certainly
good, however erroneous his philosophy
may be, should have advanced it;
more especially as it does not appear to me
to have any connection with his favourite
doctrine of the nonexistence of matter, which
he maintained with the pious design of
striking at the very root of Atheism, then
111entirely founded upon the doctrine of
materialism. For he thought, that if he
could shew, that matter did not exist, it
would follow of necessary confluence,
that there was nothing in the universe but
wind; not foreseeing, that a philosopher
was to arise, who should deny the existence
of mind as well as body.

The consequence of the opinion of these
gentlemen concerning ideas certainly is,
that there is no science, demonstration,
not general truth of any kind; nay, there
cannot be so much as a general proposition,
nor indeed any proposition, as one
term at least of a proposition must be a
general term, expressing some general notion.
If, therefore, these gentlemen are in the
right, there is an end of all belief in religion,
morals, philosophy, or science of
any kind. 2dly, There is no such faculty
of the human mind as intellect; the business
of which, as we have shewn, is, to
abstract, and to consider separately, what
is joined in nature, and in that way is
presented to the senses. For if we have
no perception of things in any other way,
it is evident, that we have no intellect, nor
any tiling besides sense, memory, and imagination.
112These are all the powers of human
nature, according to those philosophers;
and these the brutes possess as well as we.
So that this philosophy, at the same time
that it destroys all science and certainly of
every kind, degrades us to a level with
the brute, by stripping us of that intellect
which, by the antient philosophers, was
thought to be the distinguishing characteristic
of human nature.

At this philosophy leads to such alarming
consequences, and is entirely subversive
of the theory which I have endeavoured
to establish, that the mind operates by
itself, without the assistance of sense, and
consequently destroys altogether the distinction
that I have been at so much pains
to establish betwixt perceptions of sense and
ideas, I must stop to consider it a little
particularly. And, first, I would
ask these gentlemen, whether their proposition
be general, that no such ideas as I
suppose, exist at all in any mind or intelligence?
or do they only maintain, that
they exist not in the human mind? The
first of these propositions, I am persuaded
Dr Berkeley at least did not mean to assert,
though he has expressed himself in much
113too general terms: for he certainly believed
that there exists a supreme mind; and if
so, he could not believe that this mind
perceived by organs of sense, and had no
other perceptions.

But without entering into such high metaphysical
disquisitions, let us confine ourselves
to man, and inquire, whether in his
mind there are any such ideas. Now this
appears to me to be truly a question of fact,
Whether does man actually divide, abstract,
and generalise, in the manner I
have described? or does he consider things
in no other way than as they are presented
to him by the senses? If therefore it
be a question of fact, every man's consciousness
of what passes in his own mind
must determine it. Now I ask any man
of science, (for I admit it is only such that
form an idea perfectly), Whether he cannot
separate and abstract any particular property
of any subject from its other properties, and
make that property the object
of the mind's contemplation, by itself?
whether he cannot conceive that quality as
existing in many other subjects? and,
lastly, whether he cannot consider that
which those several subjects have in common,
114laying aside the consideration of
what may belong to each of them in particular?
I ask a geometer, e.g. Whether
he cannot separate that property of a figure
of being bounded by three lines, from any other
property belonging to the figure,
and consider that property by itself? whether
he cannot perceive that such a property belongs
to many other figures? and
whether he cannot consider this common
property itself, without taking into his
consideration the particular properties of
each figure? whether he cannot reason upon
this common nature of a triangle,
without considering any other qualify
which may belong to it? and whether it
would not be the greatest defect in a geometer,
and such as would render him utterly
incapable ever to attain to any the
least degree of excellence in the science, if
he could not conceive and argue about a
triangle in general, without imbarrassing
his thoughts, by considering whether it
was of wood .or of metal, whether it was
white or black, whether isosceles or scalenum.
Or without appealing to a man of
science, I ask any common man, Whether
he cannot observe, speak, and reason, about
115the length of the room where he sits,
without taking into his consideration its
breadth or height, or what the finishing
is, whether wainscot or plaister? whether
he cannot observe the size or figure of any
animal or vegetable, without considering
its other qualities? If these, and such like
questions, must be answered in the affirmative,
as I think they must be, then it
is decided by common observation and experience,
that the human mind must at
least have the faculty of abstraction, and
that it is not so much under the dominion
of sense, that it must necessarily contemplate
every object as presented to it by the
sense, but can exert a power superior to
sense, by separating and dividing those
things which sense presents only in the

The latter writer I have mentioned, admits
the fact to be as I have stated it; and
acknowledges, that the mind, in contemplating
any individual object of sense,
can lay aside the consideration of the qualities
peculiar to that object, and consider
only those which it has in common with
others of the same kind: and to these,
common qualities so-considered by the
116mind, we affix, says he, a name, which
he admits to be a general term for all
things of that kind, and to stand for them,
in speaking and writing; as, e.g. I see a
three-sided figure upon the paper, and this
is an object which I perceive by my sense
of sight. Now, says he, I can lay aside
the consideration of the white paper, the
black lines, and I can also throw out of
my view, whether it be a great or small
figures; right-angled, acute or obtuse
angled, and can consider only its quality
of being a plain figure, bounded by three
straight lines, to which I give the name of
triangle; and this is a general term, applicable
to all plain figures bounded, by
three right lines, without any other additional

Now I should desire to know, whether
the idea described by this writer is not precisely
what other philosophers call an abstract
idea? 2dly, I would ask this gentleman,
by what faculty of the mind this
discrimination of the qualities of a triangle
is performed, so that some of them are
made the objects of the mind's contemplation,
while others of them are set out of
its sight? He will not surely say it is
117sense; because sense discriminated nothing
but without distinction perceives every
quality of an object that is presented to it,
not considering whether it be common to
the kind, or peculiar to the individual.
Neither is it imagination; which is nothing
else but a weaker sensation. It is evident,
therefore, that it must be some faculty different
from either of these two, and this
faculty is what I call intellect; unless it
could be shewn, that there is any faculty
of the human mind by which it perceives
or knows any thing, other than sense, imagination,
and intellect.

It is said by this writer, that the triangle
upon the paper is truly the triangle which
is perceived by the mind, but it is considered
as representing all other triangles.
But this appears to me to be playing with
words, and speaking in figure and metaphor,
not with philosophical propriety
and exactness. For what is meant by the
word representing? If it signifies, that the
triangle upon the paper stands for a sign of
the idea of triangle, in the same manner
that the word triangle does in speaking, it
is admitted. If, on the other hand, it is
meant, that the triangle upon the paper
118is the exact image of the triangle in the
mind, it is denied. For how can a triangle,
that must of necessity be either right-angled,
acute or obtuse angled, represent
in that sense a triangle which this
writer allows to be considered by the mind
without any of those qualities?

The diagrams, however, used by geometers
in demonstrating their propositions,
may possibly have led those gentlemen into
so gross an error. But they ought to have
considered, that such diagrams are no other
than signs of ideas, and that it is the
weakness of our intellect which obliges us
to take that assistance from sense. And accordingly
we see, that men who are far
advanced in the science, can go through
long demonstrations without such assistance;
and though we do not possess, we
may at least conceive such a degree of intellect,
as to have no need of such material
signs or symbols, but to be able to converse
with the pure intellectual forms
themselves. But even in our present state,
to argue, that because we use signs of ideas,
therefore we have no ideas, is the
same thing as if one should argue, that because
we use another sort of signs, namely
119sounds, therefore we have no conceptions
but of sounds. Now the fact is so far otherwise,
that when we hear or read any
thing attentively, we do not at all attend
to the sounds, letters, or words, but only
to the things signified by them.

The arguments they use, tend chiefly to
prove, that ideas have no real existence, and
that they cannot be apprehended either by
sense or imagination: for who can perceive,
by the sense or figure in his imagination,
a triangle, e.g. that is neither equilateral,
isosceles, nor scalenum? But
this is arguing against the ideas of Plato,
not those of Aristotle. And in this way
the antient philosophers, and particularly
Sextus Empiricus *50, the great defender
120of the Sceptic philosophy, has argued, against
abstract ideas, not denying their existence
in the human mind, but maintaining,
that it was impossible they could
really exist in nature. And indeed, if those
philosophers had entered a little more into
that antient controversy, and known perfectly
the difference betwixt those two
kinds of ideas, they never would have
supposed, that the ideas of Aristotle, which
are the operation of mind alone, could exist
any where else but in the mind, or be
perceived by the sense, or figured by the
imagination, any more than mind itself.
And so much for this strange opinion concerning
ideas, which appears to me to be
entirely new, and unsupported by any
authority, antient or modern, and as repugnant
to found philosophy as to common
understanding. I will only add, that
the philosophy of Mr Locke appears to me
to have led into this as well as into other
errors: for from the way in which he talks
121of abstract ideas, it would seem he did not
believe that they existed even in the mind.
He says of the abstract idea of a triangle,
“That in effect it is somewhat imperfect
that cannot exist, an idea wherein some
parts of several different and inconsistent
ideas are put together *51.” And accordingly
Bishop Berkeley avails himself,of
this authority from Mr Locke, in arguing
against abstract ideas 52. Indeed it
is no wonder that a philosopher, such as
Mr Locke, who derives every thing from
sense and matter; and seems to know nothing
beyond these, should not believe in
the existence of ideas that are altogether
the work of mind; operating by itself,
without the assistance of body.

Betwixt those two opinions, so opposite,
lies the opinion of the Peripatetic
school, which, it may be thought, I have
explained at too great length; and, instead
of a treatise upon language, have written
a system of the philosophy of mind. But
it should be considered, that I have undertaken
122to give a philosophical account of the
Origin and Progress of Language, which
it would have been impossible for me to
give, if I had not entered into the philosophy
of mind and ideas; without the
knowledge of which, the study of language
is the most barren of all studies,
being that of sound merely, and therefore
unworthy of a philosopher or man of
science. But further, I hope this inquiry
into the nature and origin of our ideas
will facilitate the decision of the question
which I am to treat of in the next chapter,
namely, Whether ideas be the natural
growth of the mind, or the fruit of acquired

Chap. X.
That Ideas are formed by the Mind, not naturally
but in consequence of acquired habit.
— General reflections upon the subject.

I know that the argument I am now to
maintain, will appear to many a very
ungracious argument. Are we then no
better originally, they will say, than the
brute beasts? and is there then no natural
difference betwixt us and the brute? To
which I answer, That no man is more
convinced than I, of the superior dignity
and excellence of human nature, and the
difference betwixt us and the brutes in the
state we see them in: and accordingly I
have been at great pains to shew this difference,
in the account that I have given
of the operations of the human mind, and
to mark the boundaries, as well as I could,
betwixt the brute and us; and I have very
much blamed certain philosophers for
stripping us of that prime faculty which
makes the chief distinction betwixt them
124and us, I mean intellect. But it is no degradation
to human nature to maintain,
that this faculty is acquired, as well as many
others, which set us so much above
the brute, confessedly are: on the contrary,
it seems to be our praise, that we owe
to our own industry and sagacity, not to
nature, our chief excellence, while they
have added little or nothing to the faculties
which nature has bestowed upon them.
It is enough, I think, for the honour of
our species, that our capacity is allowed to
be greater, and that we have from nature
a greater facility in forming habits and acquiring
faculties that are not born with us.
Further than this I cannot, though I
should give offence, carry the superiority
of our nature above the brute, in the present
state in which both they and we are;
(for as to any future or past state of either,
it is beyond the bounds of this work to
inquire): nor can I exactly determine how
far the brute might be carried by culture
and education. Only thus much I think I
may say, that his progress would be much
flower, for the reason just now mentioned;
and I think it is likely, that with any culture
125he would not go so far. — But to
proceed in our argument:

From the sketch I have given of the ideal
world, it appears to be entirely different
from the natural. For, in the first place,
In the ideal world, there is nothing but
shadowy forms, as those would call them,
who believe that nothing really exists except
what is material; whereas the natural
consists of substances, compounded of matter
and form
. Secondly, The natural world
is a composition of infinite variety; of
which it is true, in some sense, what the
antient philosopher said that I quoted above,
that all things are mixed with all;
not as in the chaos of the poets, without
order or regularity,

Frigida ubi pugnant calidis, humentia siccis
Mollia cum duris, sine pondere habentia pondus;

but with the most perfect order and regularity,
though with such a mixture in the
composition, that almost every thing participates
of every thing, and the most distant
extremes run into one another. In
the ideal world it is just the reverse: for
every thing there is separated and discriminated
126from every thing; and it is the
great business of human intelligence, to untwist,
as it were, this great web of nature,
and show every thread by itself.
Thirdly, As the objects in this world are
different from those in the natural, so are
the faculties by which we recognise those
objects: the natural world we perceive by
our senses, the ideal by our intellect; two
faculties altogether different in their nature, and
manner of operation.

The last difference I shall observe is, that
the natural world opens upon us at our
birth, at least in some degree, and our infancy
and younger years are wholly employed
in making discoveries in it; whereas
it is evident, that the ideal world is not
disclosed to us till a considerable time after
our birth; for at first we are entirely immersed
in matter, and it is only through
the medium of sense and matter, as I have
shewn, that we enter into this world of
ideas *53.127

When I say this, I would not have it
believed to be my opinion, that, however
we are connected with matter at the time
of our birth, there is any thing material,
128or congenial to matter, in the nature of our
mind: for the reader, I hope, by what
he has already seen of this work, will not
believe that I am addicted to that mad philosophy *54
which excludes mind from the system
of nature, and supposes that nothing
exists but matter and motion, governed by
blind chance. Far from holding that opinion,
I do most firmly believe, that
there is a governing mind in the universe,
immaterial, eternal, and unchangeable; that
our minds are of a nature congenial to this
supreme mind; and that there is in us,
even at the time our birth, a portion of
those celestial seeds, of which the Latin
poet, quitting poetical fiction, and assuming
the philosopher, divinely sings,

Igneus est ollis vigor et coelestis origo
seminibus, —

But he very properly adds this exception,
— quantum non noxia corpora tardant,
Terrenique hebetant artus, moribundaque membra.

Now these incumbrances are so great when
we first come into the world, and the
particle of the divinity within us, as the antients
chose to call it, is then so immersed
in matter, and imbruted, if I may so
speak, that it cannot exert that power of
self-motion which is peculiar to its nature,
but is altogether passive to material impulses,
either from external objects, or
from its own habitation of clay; I mean,
from appetites and feelings arising from
the body.

This is the natural state of man when
he first appears upon this stage: and the
question is, How he undergoes so great a
change, as to become, of a creature merely
passive and sensitive, active and intelligent?
By what means does he enter into
this intellectual world, so different from
the natural, and become, as it were, a new
creature? Is it by nature merely that this
metamorphosis is brought about, as the
worm is changed into a butterfly? or is it
by habit which he acquires? Do not we
at first learn to think as we afterwards acquire
arts and sciences? and does not the
mind, by flow degrees, and very feeble
attempts in the beginning, at last disengage
130itself from the intanglements of matter,
and learn to exert its native power of

Before we proceed further in reasoning
upon this subject, let us try what is to be
learned from fact and experience, beginning
with the infants of our own species.
That they have at first no ideas, and but
very imperfect sensations, is a matter of
fact that cannot be denied; and it is as
certain that they acquire their ideas, not
by nature, as they do their bodily faculties,
but by instruction, and by conversing
with elderly persons. Now suppose
them deprived of this method of communication,
how long may we suppose that
their infancy of mind would last? I have
been informed of an instance of a child,
who was come to be betwixt eight and
nine years of age, and had learned, not
only to speak, but to read, and by consequence
must have had ideas, however
imperfect, when he lost his hearing by the
small pox, .and continued deaf all his life
after. At the age of five and twenty he
was put under the care of a master, who
professes a most curious art, of which I
shall have occasion to make frequent mention
131afterwards, I mean the art of teachin,
the deaf to speak. This master told,
me, that as he had been much neglected
after the loss of his hearing, without the
pains being bestowed upon him that are
commonly bestowed upon deaf persons, he
found him, even at that advanced age,
almost totally void of ideas, and was obliged
to teach him to think as well as to
speak. Yet this young man had been supplied
with all the necessaries of life. But
let us suppose that he had had all those
necessaries to furnish for himself, can we
believe, that if he had been so employed,
he ever would have learned to think, or
have become a rational creature, even supposing
that he had lived in company with
such as himself?

In order to form a right judgement of
this matter, let us consider the state of savage
and barbarous nations. Those who,
have studied the history of man, not of particular
nations only, that is, have studied
history in the liberal and extensive view
of discovering the nature of man, from
fact and experience, know very well, that
all nations, even the most polished and civilized,
of which we read in history, were
132originally barbarians; and as all the vegetables,
such as the vine and olive, which
are now cultivated and improved by art,
and in like manner the brute animals, that
are tamed, were at first wild; so likewise
man himself was originally a wild savage
animal, till he was tamed, and, as I may say,
humanized, by civility and arts. Whoever,
therefore, would trace human nature
up to its source, must study very diligently
the manners of barbarous nations, instead
of forming theories of man from what
he observes among civilized nations. Whether
we can, in that way, trace man up
to what I suppose his original state to have
been, may perhaps be doubted; but it is
certain we can come very near it: for we
are sure, that there have been in the
world, and are still, herds of men (for
they do not deserve the name of nations)
living in a state almost entirely brutish,
and indeed in some respects more wild
than that of certain brutes, as they have
neither government nor arts *55. Some of
them who are advanced the length of civil
society and language, have nevertheless
133ideas exceedingly imperfect: for tho'
they have general notions, without which
there could be no language, they can
hardly be said to have abstracted ideas, as
shall be shewn when we come to speak of
the barbarous languages. From such be
ginnings, however, men proceed to form
distinct ideas; then they advance to arts
and sciences, and so on to refinement and
politeness. Now where-ever there is a
progress, there must be a beginning; and
the beginning in this case can be no other
than the mere animal: for in tracing back
the progress, where else can we stop? If
we have discovered so many links of the
chain, we are at liberty to suppose the
rest, and conclude, that the beginning of
it must hold of that common nature
which connects us with the rest of the animal

From savage men we are naturally led
to consider the condition of the brutes;
betwixt whom and the savages there is
such a resemblance, that there are many
who will hardly admit of any difference;
and even betwixt us and them at the time
of our birth, and for some considerable
time after, there is not, as I have already
134observed, any material difference. The
mind of the brute (so I call the inward
principle in him that governs his motions
and actions) is inseparably connected
with his body, and bound in the chains
of matter, in the same manner that we
are when we first come into the world.
And accordingly, in the first operations
of our mind, we see the very same process:
for they have the same perceptions
of sense that we have; they preserve those
perceptions in their memory or imagination;
and they have also, as well as we,
a notion of sameness, likeness, or diversity,
in the objects of sense; and they recognise
the species in the individual, as readily as
our children do. Does not this plainly
indicate, that there is no natural difference
betwixt our minds and theirs, and that the
superiority we have over them is adventitious,
and from acquired habit? How far
the brute might go in that way, we have
no sufficient experience to determine with
any certainty. If we can believe some
stories told of them, and by philosophers
too, we cannot deny their capacity of acquiring
the habit, not only of forming ideas,
but of comparing them together;
135that is, of reasoning. The story told by
Mr Locke of the Brazil parrot belonging
to Prince Maurice of Nassau, is well known.
And Porphyry, the greatest philosopher,
as well as best writer of his age,
relates, that crows and magpyes, and
parrots, (and another bird that he calls
ἐρίθακος), were taught in his time, not only
to imitate human speech, but to attend to
what was told them, and to remember
it; and many of them, says he, have
learned to inform against those whom
they saw doing any mischief in the house.
And he himself, he says, tamed a partridge
that he found some where about
Carthage, to such a degree, that it not
only played and fondled with him, but
answered him when he spoke to it, in a
voice different from that in which the partridges
call one another; but was so well
bred, that it never made this noise but
when it was spoken to *56. And in this
work he maintains, that all animals who
have sense and memory are capable of reason:
and this, he says, is not only his
opinion, but that of the Pythagoreans 57;
136the greatest philosophers, in my opinion,
that ever existed, next to the masters of
their master, I mean the Egyptian priests.
And he adds, that besides the Pythagoreans,
Plato, Aristotle, Empedocles, and
Democritus, were of the same opinion *58.
One thing cannot be denied, that their natures
may be very much improved by use
and instruction, by which they may be
made to do things that are really wonderful,
and far exceeding their natural power
of instinct. There is a man in England
at present, who has practised more upon
them, and with greater success, than I
believe any body living; and he says, as
I am informed, that if they lived long enough,
and pains sufficient were taken upon
them, it is impossible to say to what
lengths some of them might be carried;
for there is a great difference among them,
as well as us, in docility and natural capacity.

But allowing, that in these two respects
we are superior to all the brute creation,
and that we can go farther than the brute
with any culture can go, this is saying no
137more than what I have already said, that
we have by nature greater capabilities
than they, and a greater facility of forming
and improving habits; but I deny that
there is any other difference betwixt us and
them. We are for a time, like them, immersed
in matter,

— inclusi tenebris et carcere caeco.
Virg. Aen. 6.

Like them we acquire faculties, and improve
our nature by use and instruction.
Where then should the difference be but
where I have placed it? The maturity of
age, we see, makes no such alteration upon
their mind, as to take it out of the natural
state: it does no more than give
greater strength to their bodies, and the
perfect use of their senses; and perhaps
by use and experience it may improve
their instinct. What reasons, or what
facts, can induce us to believe, that it
should have any other effect upon us, so
that when we come to a certain time of
life, we should instantly burst our prison
of flesh and blood, and be transformed in
a moment into rational creatures, without
any use or instruction, or previous habit
138acquired? It is certainly much more
probable, and more agreeable to the analogy
of nature, and the progress which
we observe in our species, from a state
little better than that of the vegetable, to
suppose, that we acquire ideas, as we do
the arts and sciences, that are founded upon
them; and that as Nature has not given
us the one, so she has not given us
the other; and for the same reason,
namely, that we have the capacity of acquiring
both: for Nature is always frugal
in her gifts; nor is she in any other
instance so profuse, as to bestow upon one
and the same animal, both the capacity
of acquiring any faculty, and the actual
possession of that faculty.139

Chap. XI.
Continuation of the subject. — Ideas of Reflection
not from Nature.

In order to examine this question more
closely, we must go back to the division
that I have made of ideas, into those of external
, and those of the operations of
our own mind, or, as Mr Locke calls
them, ideas of reflection. In forming the
ideas of either kind, we may be said to
study and investigate the nature of things;
for we discover, in things of which we
form the idea, that common nature which
binds them together, and constitutes the
genus or species under which we recognise
them. By the ideas, therefore, formed
from the perceptions of sense, we investigate
the nature of external objects;
by ideas of reflection, we study ourselves,
and discover the nature of our mind, and
its operations. The question then is,
Whether those reflex acts of the mind by
which this discovery is made, are the
140mere operation of nature? or whether this
faculty of reflection is not acquired by use
and exercise, like other faculties belonging
to our nature?

In order to decide this question, we must
consider the state of savages; who, as I
have observed, are so much nearer the
natural state of man than we, that it is
from them only that we can form any idea
of the original nature of man: and I will
venture to affirm, that any man who attempts
to form a system of human nature from
what he observes among civilized nations
only, will produce a system, not of nature,
but of art; and instead of the natural
man, the workmanship of God, will
exhibit an artificial creature of human institution *59
Now though we should suppose,
141that the mere savages, employed altogether
either in gratifying their natural appetites,
or procuring the means of such
gratification; wanting that leisure, and that
assistance to knowledge, which civil society
affords to speculative men; without curiosity
also, or any desire of knowledge, which
is known to be the character of all savages,
would nevertheless apply themselves to the
study of things without them; is it possible
to suppose, that they would turn their
eyes inward, and carry their philosophy
so far as to study their own natures? If
we can suppose them to do this by nature
merely, we may likewise suppose that they
will, in the same way, invent all arts and
sciences; for ideas are the foundation of
all arts and sciences, which cannot exist
without definitions; and these, as we have
shewn, are nothing else but perfect ideas
of the things defined, which necessarily
must be preceded in order of time by ideas
less perfect: And particularly of this most
useful of all sciences, the science of man,
the ground-work are the ideas of reflection,
of which we arc now speaking.

Not only is such a supposition altogether
absurd in theory, but in fact it appears, as
142much as such a fact can be known, that
savages have no such ideas. For even such
of them as have formed themselves into
society, and have got the use of language,
and of other arts, have hardly any words
to express the operations of mind. And
in all languages, even those the most cultivated,
the words of that kind are metaphors
borrowed from the objects of sense *60.
Now as it is by language that we trace,
with the greatest certainty, the progress
of the human mind, it is evident, that ideas
of reflection must have come only in
process of time, and, after ideas of external
things were not only formed, but had
got a name. We must therefore consider
this kind of ideas, not as the first step of
the progress of the human mind towards
science and philosophy; so that if we are
at liberty to suppose it to be the work of
nature, we cannot stop, but must likewise
suppose every other step, and the arts and
sciences themselves, to be the work of nature,
and nothing at all to be produced
by acquired habit.

It may be objected, That consciousness is
143held by all philosophers to be essential to
human nature; so that if a man is not conscious
of what he does, he does not deserve
the appellation of a human creature.
Now if a man knows that he thinks, deliberates,
chuses, &c. he must necessarily have
the idea of thinking, deliberation, &c.; and
these are ideas of reflection.

To this I answer, 1st, That those philosophers
who suppose, that consciousness is
essential to human nature, are such as I
mentioned before, who have formed their
systems of man from what they observe among
us; and because they see that all
men in this country are rational, they
conclude that man was always so; and that
our forefathers, inhabiting the woods two
or three thousand years ago, were men in
that respect as well as we. But this is
plainly begging the question. For I deny,
that in the natural state, and previous to
any acquired habit, there is any difference
with respect to mental faculties betwixt us,
and the brute, to whom I suppose those
philosophers will not allow the privilege of
consciousness. Further, I say, that after
man has raised himself so far above the
brute, as to form ideas of external things,
144he may be long in that state before he has
any consciousness, or knowledge of his own
operations. For even among us, nothing
is more true than the common saying,
That we often act without reflection, or
knowing what we are doing, going on in
a course of action, sometimes for a considerable
time, without any reflex act of
the mind upon itself. But, 2dly, I answer,
suppose that a man is conscious of
one single thought, he has not therefore
the idea of thinking, any more than a
man that has the perception of any one
external object, has the idea of that object;
since an idea is of that which is common
to many things, not belonging to
one only.145

Chap. XII.
That Ideas of external Objects are not from

So far, therefore, we have proceeded in
this argument, as to be able to affirm,
with great certainty, that the reflex act of
the mind upon itself, by which it is conscious
of its own operations, is not from
nature. Here then is one class of ideas
which must be produced by acquired habit;
and this creates at least a presumption,
that the other set of ideas is to be derived
from the same source: for in that way the
system of the human mind will be much
more uniform and consistent, than if we
were to divide the matter, and suppose
that one class of ideas arose from nature,
and the other from acquired habit. Both,
according to my hypothesis, are from the
last-mentioned source; and nature, has
done no more than to furnish the materials,
I mean the perceptions of sense;
from which are derived, mediately or immediately,
both classes of ideas.146

But to come closer to the point,— it
will be necessary, for the decision of this
question, that the reader should recollect
what we have said concerning the nature
of the intellectual world, and the formation
of those ideas which constitute it. We
have seen how different in every respect it
is from the natural; we have seen how we
come by the knowledge of this last; and
the question is, How the intellectual is disclosed
to us? To suppose that there is any
secret communication betwixt our
minds and superior minds, by which it is
revealed to us, is a kind of visionary and
enthusiastical philosophy that is now altogether
exploded. The fact truly is, that
every man is the architect of his own ideas,
and forms a little intellectual world
in his own mind.

How artificial the operation is by which
he does so, we have endeavoured to explain:
and indeed it may in some sense
be said to be an unnatural operation, is we
consider that every thing here below consists
of matter and form joined together. It
is from this compound we receive our first
impressions; and it is with it only that,
in our natural state, we are conversant.
147To separate, therefore, matter from form,
as we do in framing ideas, may be said
to be an unnatural operation, since it is
disjoining what nature has joined. And it
must appear still more unnatural and artificial,
if we further consider how long
we were accustomed to view this compound
in its natural state, before we began
to make so violent an abstraction.
This must make the operation at first most
painful and laborious. It appears indeed
easy to us, who are accustomed to it, by
insensible degrees, from our early years,
and assisted by instruction, and conversation
with those who had already formed
the habit. But the philosopher, who can
carry himself back to the first ages of the
world, must be convinced, that to a savage,
nothing could be more difficult, than
an operation, by which he learns to think,
in a way so different from that to which
he had been accustomed. Even the vulgar,
among us, though they have the advantage
of being educated among thinking
and speaking men, make this abstraction
of the matter from the form very clumsily,
and, if I may be allowed to use the expression,
leave always some of the matter
148sticking to the form. But how much more
clumsily, and with how much more difficulty,
must it be performed by the rude
untaught savage?

Can we then suppose, that so unnatural
an operation is the work of nature? or that
what is performed with so much difficulty
is a natural energy? The operations of
nature, we see, are all easy, and they
are performed as readily, and as well, at
first as at last. Now this is certainly not
true of the ideas of external things; for
there is a progress in the formation of
them, as shall be very clearly shewn from
fact and observation, when we come to
speak of the barbarous languages; and many
abstractions which were not at all made
at first, come afterwards to be made, till
at last the idea ripens into that perfect idea
which is the object of science. Even in
our present state, we are daily forming
new ideas, or making more perfect those
we have already formed, in proportion as
we advance in knowledge. For every man
that learns any art or science, acquires ideas
that he had not before. Thus a man
who studies geometry, gets the ideas of
figures which he had not before; such as,
149a rhombus, a rhomboid, a paralellopiped, &c.
And of the figures which he knew, he
learns to distinguish species which before
he did not attend to; such as, equilateral,
isosceles, and scalene triangles, and the like.
And as we advance in this and other sciences,
we learn to correct our former ideas,
and to acquire new and more perfect ones *61.
But setting aside philosophy and science,
how many ideas has any common artist,
that a man not skilled in the art never
dreamed of, and which he has to learn if
he studies the art? How then can we suppose,
150that a thing in which there is such
progress, correction, and amendment, is
a natural operation? or how can we doubt,
that men acquired ideas at first, in the
same manner as we acquire them now?
only with much more labour and difficulty,
and with much less accuracy, no
doubt, as being unpractised in the art of

If, indeed, we were not so much creatures
of artificial habit as it appears we
are, it might be doubted, whether this
faculty, as well as others, was not from
nature. But the account I have given of
human nature clearly shews, that it is almost
wholly composed of artificial habits;
and that even the perceptions of sense,
which one should think were natural, if
any thing belonging to us was so, are, for
the greater part, the result of acquired
habit. In seeing, for example, we naturally
perceive no distance, and see the object
inverted, double, and of no greater magnitude
than the picture upon the bottom
of our eye: so that we see objects as we
now see them, only by habits of judging
acquired from experience and observation;
without which, that most useful sense
151would hardly be of any use at all *62. What
reason, then, can we have to doubt, that
our ideas, which are so much farther removed
from sense and matter, are not the
work of nature; and that there is nothing
from that source, except the bare impulses
of external objects upon our organs of
sense, conveyed to the mind in some way
that we cannot explain?

If any doubt upon this subject could remain,
it appears to be entirely removed;
by considering what I have so much laboured
to establish, namely, that the ideas
even of external objects are altogether
the operation of mind. The body,
therefore, and its faculties, are in this argument
entirely out of the question. So
that we are not to inquire what faculties
belong to the body, or at what time of
life they are most perfect. Such inquiry
might be very proper, if the question were
152concerning the perceptions of sense; but
it has nothing to do with this question
concerning ideas; in forming which the
mind singly is employed. The only question,
therefore, is, What influence the
growth of the body has upon the mind?
When the mind is to operate by the assistance
of the body, it is evident that it
will have a great deal, and that the mind
will perform such operations much better,
when the body has come to maturity, and
the man has got the perfect use of all his
senses. But how can the mind be thereby
assisted in those operation which it
performs by itself? It may be said, that
during the time in which the body is
growing, the mind improves by experience
and observation; and I am persuaded
it does so. It learns in that way, as
we have seen, the use of the senses; and
if it is admitted, that it learns in the same
way to form ideas, there is an end of the
question. But the hypothesis I am combating
is, that men do not learn to think
by degrees, and from practice and experience,
as they learn to see; but that, all
at once, when we come to a certain age,
intellect breaks out, like an animal out of
153its shell; and the mind, though conversant
before with material forms only, is
instantly enabled to lay aside the use of its
instruments of perception, the senses, to
disembody, if I may so speak, the form, and
to contemplate the idea pure and unmixed.
This hypothesis, when attentively considered,
is really wild and phantastical, and altogether
unsupported either by theory or fact.

The only way in which ideas could be
conceived to be from nature, is to suppose,
that they are formed by what we call instinct;
which is an inward principle in animals,
moving them to perform certain
actions. But I say, 1mo, That the operations
of instinct, being from nature, are
involuntary; for they are not from the
mind itself, but are certain determinations
or dispositions of the mind to act,
not proceeding from choice or deliberation,
but impressed upon it by the author, of
nature for certain purposes. Whereas the
forming of ideas is a voluntary act of the
mind; by which, from certain motives,
which shall hereafter be explained, the
mind is induced to study the nature of
things, to observe what is common to the
, what peculiar to the individual; and
154in that way to form notions and ideas.

But, 2do, Let us consider for what purposes
instinct is given to animals. For
this we are to seek among the brutes, in
whom it is still the governing principle,
as I admit it was once in our species. Now
among them, instinct serves no other purpose
than to direct to what is necessary
for the preservation of the individual, or
the continuation of the species; nor is
there the least reason to believe, that it ever
served any other purpose among us.
Now we are sure, from the example of
the brutes, that ideas are not necessary
for either of these purposes. Arts, indeed,
may be necessary; and accordingly some
brutes have the practice of certain arts,
such as weaving and building. They have
not, however, ideas, but are directed to
the practice of those arts by that superior
impulse above mentioned: and indeed it
is impossible to conceive how ideas by
themselves, without arts, can be either
necessary or useful for the preservation of
the animal life in the individual, or the
continuation of it in the species. Instinct,
therefore, would not have answered its
end, if it had bestowed upon us ideas,
155without giving us at the same time arts;
which it is certain it has not done: for
there is no dividing the matter, or stopping
betwixt the two; but we must say,
either that nature has given us both ideas
and arts, or that she has given us neither.

It may be thought by some, that we
have from instinct a love for knowledge,
and that this would be a sufficient motive
to excite the mind when we come to maturity,
to study the nature of things, and
to form ideas. And in support of this
hypothesis, great authorities from philosophers,
might be quoted, to prove, that
the desire of knowledge is natural to
man *63.

But I answer, 1mo, That this is using
the term instinct in a sense very different
from the common acceptation of it; and
if we are to use such freedom with words,
we may as well call by that name any
motive directing us to any pursuit. But,
2do, The love of knowledge belongs to
156the rational nature alone; of which only
those philosophers must be understood to
speak: for the mind, as soon as it comes
to feel its own vigour, and to exert its
power of contemplation, is delighted with
the exercise of this its noblest faculty; and
if it attains to any degree of perfection in
such exercise, is infinitely more delighted
with it than with any thing else. But the
question here is, How our nature becomes
rational, and how we first get that taste
of knowledge, of which we are afterwards
so fond? Till that happens, we can have
no desire of it; for, according to the common
saying, Ignoti nulla cupido. And accordingly
we observe, that the most barbarous
nations, that is, those who are
nearest the original state we speak of, shew
no desire of knowledge at all; which is
one, among other reasons, that makes
them pass among us for animals quite stupid
and insensible, and little better than

If then ideas are not from instinct, they
cannot be from nature in any other way
than as other natural operations are, such
as breathing and digestion. But this is
too absurd to be maintained. It remains,
157therefore, that they must be from what
I call acquired habit. Now this habit is
acquired by frequently doing the thing.
If in this practice we have the assistance
of a master, or if, without being taught,
we have any pattern that we can imitate,
we learn much faster. But even without
such assistance, by practice merely, and
by observing what is done wrong, and
correcting it, and so becoming our own
masters, we learn at last to do the thing:
and thus the habit is formed by similar or
homogeneous energies, as Mr Harris has
expressed it, that is, by doing the thing,
we learn to do it *64. And in this way men
have learned to build, and to weave, and
to practise other arts; and, among other
things, to form ideas.

If it be objected, that it is impossible to
do any thing before we have learned to do
it, and that therefore we cannot learn to
do any thing by doing it; the answer is,
That we must have from nature the faculty
of doing something of the kind, though
very imperfectly; and upon that foundation
158going on, we learn at last to do the
thing as it should be done *65. Thus a man
could never learn to build, if he had not
from nature the faculty of laying a stone;
nor to weave, if he could not stretch out
and arrange threads; nor to speak, if he
had not organs for that purpose from nature,
and could not move those organs,
and put them in certain positions. In like
manner, we could not form ideas, if we
had not sense and memory; and, besides
these, the faculty of separating things that
are joined in nature, and of comparing
two or more things together. This separation,
and this comparison, will at first
be very clumsily performed, like the rudiments
and first beginnings of all arts.
Things, for example, will not be sufficiently
separated or sifted, but taken together,
as it were, in great lumps; and the
comparisons will be inaccurately made;
so that similitudes will be observed which
do not exist, and many will be overlooked
159that do exist. In this way, the ideas
at first will be exceedingly imperfect, and
hardly deserving the name. But the practice
being constantly continued, they will be
improved by degrees, till they come to be
good enough for the ordinary purposes of
life, and at last so perfect, as to be fit for
the objects of science.

And thus, I think, I have proved, that
the ideas of the objects of sense, as well as
those of the operations of our own mind,
are not from nature, but acquired; and
if I shall be able to shew, from facts and
examples, by what degrees they have been
acquired, as I hope I shall in the sequel,
the evidence I think must be allowed to be
complete; for then the proposition will
be proved, both a priori and a posteriori;
that is, from fact as well as from theory.160

Chap. XIII.
Conclusion of the subject of Ideas. — General
view of Human Nature, and the rank it
possesses in the scale of Being. — compared
with superior Natures.

I cannot conclude this subject, without
taking a general view of human nature,
according to the account that I have given
of it; which, I am persuaded, will be
found agreeable to the general analogy of
nature: for it seems to be a law of nature,
that no species of thing is formed at once,
but by steps and progression from one stage
to another. Thus naturalists observe several
different appearances betwixt the
seed and the vegetable, the embryo and the
animal. The principles of body in general,
are, points, lines, and surfaces, which are
not body *66; and of number, the monad, and
161duad, which are not numbers; and in general,
the elements of things are different
from the things themselves. There is the
same progress, according to my hypothesis,
in the formation of man, and the same
distinction betwixt the elements oi this species,
and the species itself. The progress
of his body I am not concerned with at
present: but with respect to the mind,
the first observable step in its progress is
sensation, or perception by sense; but even
before we arrive at that, there is a
progress, though not commonly observed.
For, as we have seen, sense is very imperfect
at first; and it is only in process
of time that this primary faculty, of all
others the most natural, becomes complete.
Next in order comes the faculty
by which those perceptions, otherwise
fleeting and transitory, are retained in the
mind; for I am persuaded it is not so
early as sensation, and therefore does not
exist at all in new-born infants, nor perhaps
for some considerable time after the
162birth. This retentive faculty is of two
kinds; or perhaps only assumes two different
names, according to the different
ways in which it retains the sensations:
for if they are there painted, (to use a metaphor
of Plato *67), it is called fancy, or imagination;
163but if they are only written,
that is, simply preserved, without colour
164or shape, it is called memory. And thus
sensation, memory, and imagination, together
165with certain natural appetites and
desires, complete the animal. Next in order
166comes the comparative, or rational faculty,
by which we become men, or rational
167creatures; and the first exercise of reason
is opinion *68: and, last of all, out of
sense, memory, imagination, reason, and
opinion, is produced, by very flow degrees,
as I imagine, that best faculty of
the human mind, and which therefore, in
the common course of nature, ought to
come last, I mean intellect, from which is
derived science. And thus man is completed,
and brought to the perfection of
his nature.

This is the scale of being, rising by proper
gradations, from mere matter and sense
to intellect, through the medium of memory,
imagination, and opinion. Some animals
appear to have only sense, such as muscles,
and other shell-fish. There are others
that never attain even to sense in any degree
of perfection, but fill up the interval
betwixt the vegetable and animal, participating
something of the nature of each,
from which they have the name of Zoophytes.
Other animals, besides sense, have
memory and imagination; and some perhaps
only one of these two; but man being a
168little world
, as the antients called him,
has in his frame a portion of every thing
to be found in nature. He has in his body
all the elements of which the inanimate
world is composed; he has the growth and
nutrition of the vegetable; and he has sense,
memory, and imagination, belonging to
the animal life; and, last of all, he acquires
reason and intellect. Thus is man formed,
not however at once, but by degrees, and
in succession: for he appears at first to be
little more than a mere vegetable, hardly
deserving the name of a Zoöphyte; then
he gets sense, but sense only, so that he is
yet little better than a muscle; then he becomes
an animal of a mere complete kind;
then a rational creature; and finally a
man of intellect and science, which is the
summit and completion of our nature.

From this point of view let us try if we
can discern the difference betwixt us and
higher intelligences. We begin with matter
and material objects and through particulars
and individuals investigate generals.
They (so far as we can conceive of their
operations) proceed in a method directly
opposite to this: for, beginning with generals,
they through them recognise particulars.
169In this way we too proceed, after
we have attained to intellect and science;
but with this difference, that those more
perfect minds see the particulars in the
generals intuitively; whereas we for the
greater part are obliged to investigate them,
and find them out by circuit and collection.
If it were otherwise, and that in the universals
we could see at once the several
subordinate species, and their several properties,
connections, and dependencies, we
should then indeed be divine intelligences,
and be ranked with beings of superior order.
But, if we cannot be gods, let us continue
men, and not be degraded to brutes,
by being stripped of that prerogative
which chiefly distinguishes us from
I mean intellect.170

Chap. XIV.
That Articulation is not natural to Man.

We are now to descend from those high
speculations concerning ideas which
constitute the form of language, to founds,
which are the matter of it. And though
I may have failed in my endeavours to
convince the reader, that the operation of
abstracting the perceptions of sense, and
forming of them generals and universals,
(for as to ideas of reflection I think there
can be no doubt), is not performed by
any natural instinct, but has arisen, like
the arts that are founded upon it, from
experience and observation, and by use has
been formed into habit; I cannot doubt
but that I shall convince every one who
will think it worth his while to read what
follows, that articulation is altogether the
work of art, at least of a habit acquired
by custom and exercise, and that we are
truly by nature the mutum pecus that Horace
makes us to be. This I think I am
171able to prove, both from theory and facts.
I will begin with the facts which will
serve to explain my theory.

It is a clear case, that we do not speak
in that state which, of all others, best deserves
the appellation of natural, I mean
when we are born, nor for a considerable
time after; and even then we learn but
slowly, and with a great deal of labour
and difficulty. About the same time also we
begin to form ideas. But the same answer,
I know, is made to serve for both; namely,
That our minds, as well as our bodily organs,
are then weak, and therefore are unable
to perform several of their natural
functions; but as soon as they become
strong and confirmed by age, then we
both think and speak. That this is not true
with respect to thinking, I have already endeavoured
to show; and with respect to speaking,
I say, in the first place, that of all those
savages which have been caught in different
parts of Europe *69, not one had the use
172of speech, though they had all the organs of
pronunciation such as we have them, and
the understanding of a man, at least as
much as was possible, when it is considered;
that their minds were not cultivated
by any kind of conversation or intercourse
with their own species; nor had they come
the length, according to my hypothesis, of
forming ideas, or thinking at all. One of
these was catched in the woods of Hanover
173as late as the reign of George I. and
for any thing I know is yet alive; at least
I am sure he was so some years ago. He
was a man in mind as well as body, as
I have been informed by a person who lived
for a considerable time in the neighbourhood
of a farmer's house where he
was kept, and had an opportunity of seeing
him almost every day; not an idiot,
as he has been represented by some
who cannot make allowance for the difference
that education makes upon mens
minds; yet he was not only mute when
first caught, but he never learned to speak,
though at the time the gentleman from
whom I have my information saw him, he
had been, above thirty years in England.

Further, not only solitary savages, but
a whole nation, if I may call them so,
have been found without the use of speech.
This is the case of the Ouran Outangs that
are found in the kingdom of Angola in
Africa, and in several parts of Asia. They
are exactly of the human form; walking
erect, not upon all-four, like the savages
that have been found in Europe; they use
sticks for weapons; they live in society;
they make huts of branches of trees, and
174they carry off negroe girls, whom they
make slaves of, and use both for work and
pleasure. These facts are related of them
by Mons. Buffon in his natural history:
and I was further told by a gentleman
who had been in Angola, that there were
some of them seven feet high, and that
the negroes were extremely afraid of them;
for when they did any mischief to the Ouran
Outangs, they were sure to be heartily
cudgelled when they were catched. But
though from the particulars above mentioned
it appears certain, that they are of
our species, and though they have made
some progress in the arts of life, they have
not come the length of language; and accordingly
none of them that have been
brought to Europe could speak, and what
seems strange, never learned to speak. I
myself saw at Paris one of them, whose
skin was stuffed, standing upon a shelf in
the King's cabinet of natural curiosities.
He had exactly the shape and features of a
man; and particularly I was informed,
that he had organs of pronunciation as
perfect as we have. He lived several years
at Versailles, and died by drinking spirits.
He had as much of the understanding
175of a man as could be expected from his
education, and performed many little offices
to the lady with whom he lived;
but never learned to speak. I was well
informed too, of one of them belonging
to a French gentleman in India, who used
to go to market for him, but was likewise
mute *70.

Further, to shew the difficulty of pronunciation,
the fact is most certain, that
those who have been accustomed to speak
all their lives, cannot without the greatest
labour and pains learn to pronounce
sounds that they have not been accustomed
to. Thus a Frenchman that has not
been taught English early in his youth,
can hardly ever learn to pronounce the aspirated
t, that is, the th; and an Englishman
cannot pronounce the aspirated
K, or χ of the Greeks, which we in Scotland
176pronounce with the greatest ease. And
the Baron Hontan, who travelled so much
in North America, tells us, that he spent
four days to no purpose in trying to teach
a Huron to pronounce the labial consonants
b, p, and m, which we reckon so
easy, and which are among the first consonants
that our children pronounce; the
reason of which was, that the Hurons
have no such consonants in their language.

But what puts the matter out of all
doubt in my apprehension, is the case
of deaf persons among us. And their
case deserves to be the more attentively
considered, that they are precisely in the
condition in which we suppose men to
have been in the natural state. For, like
them, they have the organs of pronunciation;
and, like them too, they have
inarticulate cries, by which they express
their wants and desires. They have likewise,
by constant intercourse with men who
have the use of reason, and who converse
with them in their way, acquired the habit
of forming ideas; which we must also
suppose the savage to have acquired, tho'
with infinitely more labour, before he
177could have a language to express them.
They want therefore nothing in order to
speak, but instruction or example, which
the savages who invented the first languages
likewise wanted. In this situation, do
they invent a language when they come
to perfect age, as it is supposed we all
should do if we had not learnt one in our
infancy? or do they ever come to speak
during their whole lives? The fact most
certainly is, that they never do; but continue
to communicate their thoughts by
looks and gestures, which we call signs,
unless they be taught to articulate by an
art lately invented.

The inventor of this wonderful art,
which, I think, does honour to modern
times, was Dr John Wallis, one of the
first members of the Royal society, and a
most ingenious, as well as learned man.
He has written an excellent English grammar,
which was reprinted in 1765, and
subjoined to it is a letter of the author to
one Beverly, wherein he gives an account
of this art which he had invented, and
mentions two persons upon whom he had
practised it with success. I knew two professors
of the art in Paris, one of them
178Mons. l'Abbé de l'Epée, with whom I was
several times, and whose civility, and the
trouble he took to shew me his method of
teaching, I take this opportunity of acknowledging.
He had brought some of
his scholars a surprising length; and one
of them I particularly remember, a girl,
who spoke so pleasantly that I should not
have known her to be deaf. — There is at
present in Edinburgh a professor of the
same art, Mr Braidwood, whom I know,
and who has likewise been at the trouble
of shewing me his method of teaching; of
which I very much approve. He has
taught many with great success; and there
is one of his scholars particularly who is
presently carrying on the business of a
painter in London, and who both speaks
and writes good English. But it is surprising
what labour it costs him to teach,
and his scholars to learn: which puts it
out of all doubt, that articulation is not
only an art, but an art of most difficult
acquisition, otherwise than by imitation,
and constant practice, from our earliest
years. For, in the first place, it is difficult
to teach those scholars to make any
sound at all. They at first only breathe
179strongly, till they are taught to make that
concussion and tremulous motion of the
windpipe which produces audible sounds.
These are very harsh, low, and guttural,
at first, and more like croaking than a
clear vocal sound; which I think will account
for what Mons. la Condamine tells us of
the strange method of speaking of a people
he found upon the banks of the river Amazons;
for the sound of their language was
so low, and so much inward, more resembling
muttering than speaking, that he imagined
they spoke by drawing in their
breath: and a girl whom I myself saw in
France, that had been catched wild in the
woods of Champaigne *71, when she shewed
me how the language of her country was
180spoken, made a low mustering sound in
her throat, in which I could hardly distinguish
any articulation. After this difficulty,
which is not small, is got over,
then comes the chief labour, to teach them
the pronunciation of the several letters;
in doing which, the teacher is obliged, not
only himself to use many distortions and
grimaces in order to shew his scholars the
positions and actions of the several organs,
but likewise to employ his hands to place
and move their organs properly; while the
scholars themselves labour so much, and
bestow such pains and attention, that I
am really surprised, that, with all the desire
they have to learn, which is very great,
they should be able to support the drudgery.
And I am assured by Mr Braidwood,
that if he did not take different methods
with them, according to their different
capacities, and the difference of
their organs, it would be impossible to
teach many of them. And this very well
accounts for what seems so strange at first,
that those Ouran Outangs that have been
brought from Africa or Asia, and many of
those solitary savages that have been catched
in Europe, never learned to speak, tho'
181they had the organs of pronunciation as
perfect as we: for, as it is well known, savages
are very indolent, at least with respect
to any exercise of the mind, and are
hardly excited to action by any curiosity,
or desire of learning.

If, therefore, this art be so difficult to
be learned without imitation, even by the
assistance of the most diligent instruction,
how much more difficult must the invention
of it have been; that is, the acquiring
of it without either instruction or example?

Having thus proved the fact, as I think,
incontestably, it will not be difficult to assign
the reasons, and explain the theory.
For we need only consider with a little attention
the mechanism of speech, and we
shall soon find, that there is required for
speaking certain positions and motions of
the organs of the mouth, such as, the tongue,
the teeth, lips, and palate, that cannot be
from nature, but must be the effect of art:
for their action, when they are employed in
the enunciation of speech, is so different
from their natural and quiescent situation,
that nothing but long use and exercise
could have taught us to employ them in
182that way. To explain this more particularly
I think is not necessary for my present
purpose. I shall have occasion to say
more of it afterwards; but who would
desire in the mean time to be better informed
about it, may consult Dionysius the
Halicarnassian, in his treatise of Composition,
where he has most accurately explained
the different operations of the organs
in the pronunciation of the different letters.
And whoever would desire to be still better
informed, let him attend Mr Braidwood
when he teaches, who, from his practice
in that way, has learned to know more of
the mechanism of language than any
grammarian or philosopher.

I shall only say further on this subject,
that pronunciation is one of those arts of
which the instruments are the members of
the human body; like dancing, and another
art more akin to this. I mean singing:
and like those arts it is learned, either
by mere imitation, man being, as
Aristotle has told us, the most imitative
of all animals; or by teaching, as in the
case of deaf men; but joined with very
constant and assiduous practice, that being
absolutely necessary for the acquiring
183of any art, in whichever of the two ways
it is learned.

And here we may observe, that it is a
very false conclusion, to infer, from the facility
of doing any thing, that it is a natural
operation. For what is it that we do
more easily and readily than speaking? and
yet we see it is in art that is not to be
taught without the greatest labour and difficulty,
both on the part of the master
and the scholar; nor to be learned by imitation,
without continual practice, from
our infancy upwards. For it is not to be
learned, like other arts, such as dancing
and singing, by practising an hour or two
a-day, for a few years, or perhaps only
some months; but constant and uninterrupted
practice is required for many years,
and for every hour, I may say, every minute
of the day. And even after it is learned
with so much trouble and pains, it
may, like other acquired habits, be lost
by disuse: of which I mentioned a remarkable
instance before, in a boy, who
did not lose his hearing till he was after
eight years old, and had learned, not only
to speak perfectly, but to read; and yet,
when he came to be taught by Mr Braidwood,
184which was at the age of five and
twenty, he had absolutely lost the use of
speech, and had it to learn as much as
any of his scholars. So that we need not
doubt of what we are told of Alexander Selkirk,
who was but three years in the desert
island of Juan Fernandez; and yet during
that short time he had lost the use of speech
so much as to be hardly intelligible to
those who found him there. They therefore
who, from the facility of a performance,
conclude, that it is not a work of
art, but of nature, do not sufficiently consider
how much of artificial habit there is
in our natures, in the state we are in at
present, and that in this chiefly we differ
from other animals; that the most of them,
I mean such as are wild, are altogether
creatures of nature; and even such of
them as we have tamed, and assimilated
in some degree to ourselves, have still
much more of nature in them than of art.
Whereas a civilized man is so much more
a creature of art than of nature, that his
natural habits are almost lost in his artificial.

I will make another observation before
I conclude this article. If it had not been
185for this new-invented art of teaching deaf
persons to speak, hardly any body, would
have believed that the material or mechanical
part of language was learned, with
so much difficulty. But, if we could get
an Ouran Outang, or a mute savage, such
as he above mentioned, that was caught in
the woods of Hanover, and would take
the same pains to teach him to think that
Mr Braidwood takes to teach his scholars
to speak, we should soon be convinced,
that the formal part of language was as
difficult to be learned as the material. For
my own part, I am fully persuaded, that
the minds of men laboured as much as first,
when they formed abstract ideas, as their
organs of pronunciation did when they
formed articulate sounds; and till the
mind is stored with ideas, it is a perfect
void, and in a kind of lethargy, out of
which it is roused, only by external objects
of sense, or calls of appetite from
within. It was this want of ideas which
made the Hanoverian savage pass, in the
opinion of many, for an idiot; and it accounts
for that brutish insensibility in a
nation of which Diodorus Siculus, in his
186third book *72, has given us an account.
They were situated upon the coast of the
Indian ocean, beyond the straits which
join that ocean to the Arabian gulf. Ptolemy king
of Egypt, the third of that
name, having heard, he says, much of
their brutishness and stupidity, had the
curiosity to send one of his friends to bring
him an account of them; who accordingly
went, properly attended, and brought back
to the king a report, which in substance
amounted to this: That they neither desired
the company of strangers, nor shunned
it: That no appearance, however
strange, seemed to move them, for they
kept their eyes always fixt, and never
altered their countenance: That when
any person advanced upon them with
a drawn sword, they did not run away:
and they bore all kinds of insults
and injuries without shewing the least sign
of anger. Nor did those of them who
were spectators of such injuries shew any
indignation at what they saw their countrymen
suffer. He adds, That they carried
their insensibility so far, that when
187their wives and children were killed in
their presence, they were even then unmoved,
shewing no signs, either of pity
or anger. In short, says he, in the most
terrible situations they seemed perfectly
tranquil, looking stedfastly at what was
doing, and at every event that happened
giving a nod with their heads. Thus far
Diodorus; and with this account many of
the relations of our modern travellers,
concerning people living in the lowest state
of barbarity, agree. And I know a gentleman
who saw in Batavia two savages,
brought from New Holland, that appeared
to him to be perfectly stupid and idiotical,
though he had no reason to think
that they were more so than the other natives
of that country.188

Book II.


In the preceding book I have endeavoured
to shew, that our ideas of external
objects, as well as those of the operations
of our own minds, are not the
gift of nature. Further, I think I have
clearly shewn, that articulation is not the
work of nature. From these premisses one
of two things must necessarily follow: either
that language altogether, the form as
well as the matter, is the fruit of human
art and industry, as I suppose it to be; or
it must have been revealed from heaven.

Another thing also appears to be evident
from what has been said, that if language
was invented, it was of very difficult invention:
for if, even after it was discovered,
it is learned, as we have seen, with
so much pains and labour, it must have
been invented with infinitely more. And
indeed the difficulty of the invention appears
189so very great, that it seems hard to
account how it ever happened; and it is
the more so, that it must have been among
the first arts invented. For one art discovered,
naturally leads to another; but
the beginning in all things is exceeding
difficult: and what makes the difficulty
the greater is, that, as Aristotle has
observed, all our learning at first is from
imitation *73. Children among us do certainly
learn in that way; and what is
commonly said I believe to be true, that
men learned at first to build, from the
swallow; or any other bird that makes
such an artificial nest; from the spider to
weave; and from the birds to sing. This
last I have a particular reason to believe
to be true, because the wild girl above
mentioned, whom I saw in France, told
me, the only music of the people of her
country was the imitation of the singing
of birds; and she affirmed, that she herself
could once have imitated the notes of
any bird. But this faculty, as well as
many others which she possessed in the
wild slate, she had lost; for it was then,
190when I saw her, above thirty years after
she was caught. In short, it appears to
me, that we resemble very much an American
or West-India bird that I have heard
of, called the Mock-bird, which has no tune
of its own, but imitates the notes of any
other bird: for we seem to set out in life
without any original stock of our own,
nor any natural talent besides that faculty
of imitation, which nature has bestowed
upon us in so high a degree, that Aristotle
has denominated man, very properly, the
most imitative of all animals. Now while
man was learning other arts by imitating
the instinct of the brute creation, by what
imitation could he learn to speak?

These, and many other considerations
that might be mentioned, have induced
some learned men that I have known to
believe, upon philosophical as well as religious
principles, that it exceeded the
power of man to invent so wonderful an
art; and that therefore it was the gift of
God, or of some superior nature *74. This
191is an opinion that I am far from rejecting
as absurd, or improbable; nor would I
have it believed that I pay no regard to
the account given in our sacred books of
the origin of our species: but it does not
belong to me as a philosopher or grammarian
to inquire whether such account
is to be understood allegorically, according
to the opinions of some divines *75; or
literally, and as an historical fact; an inquiry,
besides, which I am very ill qualified
for, not understanding the original
language of those books. But supposing
that we are to understand the story in the
literal sense, and to suppose the gift of
speech to have been once bestowed by God
192upon man, it may afterwards have been
lost. For it is a fact that cannot be
controverted, that in many parts of this
earth great calamities have befallen the
human race, by fire or water, plague
or famine, insomuch that they have been
either totally destroyed, or very small remains
left, and these scattered and dispersed:
so that all arts, and even language
itself, which cannot be preserved without
social intercourse, were in process of
time lost among them *76. In this solitary
state we may suppose them to have been
for some time, till the males and females,
by natural instinct, going together, the
race would increase, and at last become
numerous enough to herd and associate together.
Or, without having recourse to
such extraordinary accidents as the destruction
193of whole nations by fire or inundation,
we may suppose that those savages
above mentioned, which have been
found in different parts of Europe, had
come together, (and two of them were actually
found together in the Pyrenæan
mountains), and had multiplied. In such
cases we have no warrant to believe, that
another miracle would be wrought, and
that language would be again revealed;
and therefore we are at liberty to suppose it
possible, and I say no more, that in process
of time they might have invented a language.
It will be the subject of this book
to shew, how this might have happened,
by what steps and degrees, and of what
nature the first invented languages probably

Chap. I.
Of the connection betwixt Society and Language
— An Inquiry into the Origin of Society

The difficulty of the invention of language
must appear so very great to
the philosophical reader, that he will not
be surprised that I have spent so much
time, and must still spend more, upon the
preliminaries of it. I said in the beginning
of the work, that it was an inquiry
that would lead me back to the very origin
of the human race; and it has so happened.
For I could not give the philosophical
account I proposed, of the origin of
language, without inquiring into the origin
of our ideas. This made it necessary
for me to define and divide them, to explain
the nature of the two several kinds
of them, and to shew how they were formed,
without supposing them to be the
work of nature. I have thought it proper
also, in this disquisition, to state the several
opinions of philosophers concerning ideas,
195and to refine, as well as I was able, the
opinion of those who maintain, that we
have no ideas, but only perceptions of sense.

Tantæ it molis erat HUMANAM condere

But with all this labour we have only
made of man a rational animal; it remains
still to make him a speaking animal. For
this purpose I hold society to be absolutely
necessary: for though a solitary savage
might in process of time acquire the habit
of forming ideas, it is impossible to suppose,
that he would invent a method of
communicating them, for which he had
no occasion. Our subject, therefore, further
leads us to inquire into the origin of
society; which appears to Mons. Rousseau 78
to have so necessary a connection
with language, that he proposes it as a
question to be resolved by the learned,
Which was most necessary, language for the
institution of society, or society for the invention
of language?
This question I hope I
shall be able to solve, by shewing, that society
196must have been first in the order of
things; and that, though it was impossible
that language could have been invented
without society, yet society, and
even civil society, may have subsisted,
perhaps for ages, before language was invented.

This is an extensive subject of inquiry,
and belongs to a greater work, which I
have long meditated, but probably shall
not live to execute, I mean, The History of
. But as my present subject requires
that I should say something of it, I will
endeavour, in as few words as possible, to
explain my notions concerning the beginning
of society.

And the first question to be considered
upon this subject, as well as with respect
to language, is, Whether it had a beginning
at all? that is, Whether it be from
nature, or of human institution? for there
are many who believe that we are naturally
a political, as well as a speaking animal:
and indeed there is such a connection
betwixt the two, that if it could be shewn
that we are by nature political, I should
think it not improbable that we derived
from the same source the gift of speech.197

Chap. II.
Division of Animals into Solitary and Gregarious,
Political and not Political. — Man
to be ranked in neither of those divisions,
but in the middle of each of them. — Other
Animals of the same amphibious kind.

All animals, says Aristotle, are gregarious,
solitary, or betwixt the two;
that is, participating of the nature of
both, and able to live, either in solitude,
or in company, as occasion requires. Again,
of the gregarious kind, some are
political; that is, carry on together one
common work; others have no such bond
of union, and live together without any
joint stock, or common good of any
kind *79 The question is, What place we
198are to assign to man in these two divisions?
And with respect to the first division Aristotle
has decided, that he is by nature
199neither gregarious nor solitary, but participates
of both: and, I think, rightly.
For man is allowed by all physiologists to
200be of more various mixture and composition
than any other animal known, as we
have already seen. He is rational, and he
is irrational; he has intellect, and he has
not intellect; he is a biped, and he is not a
biped; he is a land-animal, and he is a
water-animal; and, among other varieties,
he is social, and he is not social.
In short, he appears to be placed on the
201confines betwixt different kinds of beings;
and as the Zoöphyte is in the
middle betwixt the vegetable and animal,
so man appears to occupy the space betwixt
the several classes of animals.

But in what sense does man participate
both of the gregarious and solitary kind?
Aristotle has not explained this: but it is
obvious, that in one sense at least he is akin
to both: for as he can live in society,
so he can live without it. For not only
savages can procure for themselves the
means of subsistence in a solitary life, but
even men that had been brought up in
societies, such as those of Europe, and consequently,
were in that state of indigence
and dependence which is necessarily produced
by such an education, have been
able, when forced to it, to live by themselves.
But further, as by no necessity of
his nature he is obliged to live in society,
so neither do I think, that by any propensity
of his nature he is determined to live
in that way more than in the solitary life.
And in that respect too I think he is in
the middle betwixt the two kinds, and
differs from other animals, such as horses,
202oxen, sheep, and deer, which though they
can subsist without one another's assistance,
yet have a strong inclination to the
fellowship of their own species.

When I say so, I would not have it understood,
that I believe, as Mr Hobbes
does, that man is naturally the enemy of
man; and that the state of nature is a state
of war of every man against every man *80.
This is such a state as neither does exist,
nor ever did exist, in any species of animals:
and however ingenious Mr Hobbes
may have been, (and he certainly was a
very acute man, and much more learned
than those who now-a-days set up for
masters in philosophy), it is plain to me,
that he did not know what man was by nature,
divested of all the habits and opinions
that he acquires in civil life; but supposed,
that, previous to the institution of
society, he had all the desires and passions
that he now has. But my opinion is, that
man participates so much of the gregarious
animal as to have no aversion to the
society of his fellow-creatures, far less to
be the natural enemy of his own species,
203as certain specieses are of others; and that
he also has so much of the nature of the
solitary wild beast, that he has no natural
propensity to enter into society, but was
urged to it by motives which I shall afterwards
explain. What induces me to
think that he is of this mixt kind, is the
formation of his teeth and intestines. He
has teeth for tearing, and others for grinding;
whereas the solitary beast of prey has
only teeth for tearing; and the frugivorous
animals (so I call those who feed only
on grain or herbage) have only grinders,
such as the ox and sheep; or if they
have teeth which serve sometimes for tearing,
such as those of the horse, they are
not near so much incisive as those of
man, which, by one nation that has been
discovered upon the coast of New Guinea,
are used as an offensive weapon; for we
are told, they bite those they attack, like
dogs *81. As to the intestines, the animals
of prey have short guts, the frugivorous
have them long; but man has them of a
middle length betwixt the two. And in
204conformity to this structure of his body, it
is well known that man can live, either
upon the fruits of the earth, or upon the
flesh of other animals. His nails, too,
seem to place him in a middle state betwixt
those two kinds of animals. The
frugivorous have no nails at all; the carnivorous
have crooked nails or talons;
and all such animals Aristotle, in the passage
above quoted, says are solitary. But
man's nails are straight; and therefore are
fit for tearing, though not so fit for piercing,
or holding, as those of the beasts of prey.
Accordingly sir Francis Drake tells us,
that he found a people in the south sea
who had the nails of their fingers about
an inch long, which served them for offensive
arms *82.

But though I think that man has from
nature the capacity of living, either by
prey, Or upon die fruits of the earth; it
appears to me, that by nature, and in his
original state, he is a frugivorous animal,
and that he only becomes an animal of
prey by acquired habit. The histories of
antient nations inform us, that the people
205in the first ages lived only upon the fruits
of the earth *83; and that he is not naturally
an animal of prey, what Mons. Bougainville
relates, and which I have heard
206likewise from others, that when he landed
in the Malouine, or Falkland islands, as
we call them, which are uninhabited, all
the animals came about him and his
men; the fowls perching upon their heads
and shoulders, and the fourfooted animals
running among their feet. Now if man
had been naturally an animal of prey,
their instinct would have directed them
to avoid him, as experience directs the
wild animals of this country to do. But
though he be not in this first stage of his
nature an animal of prey, yet I hold, that
he has even then no natural propensity to

I know that this opinion of mine is very
different from the common opinion, and
that it is generally believed, that men are
by nature as much, or more, united to
their kind, than any other species of animal.
But let those who believe so, consider
one thing belonging to our species, and
which seems to be a peculiarity that distinguishes
us from every other land-animal,
and sets us at a greater distance from our
kind, than even the beasts of prey are
from theirs; what I mean is, the practice
of men feeding upon one another. Those
207who judge of mankind only by what they
see of the modern nations of Europe, are
not, I know, disposed to believe this; but
they may as well not believe, that there
are men who live without cloaths, or
houses, without corn, wine, or beer, and
without planting or sowing: and if there
was any doubt before, it is now entirely
removed, by the late discoveries that have
been made in the South sea *84. And I am
208persuaded, that all nations have at some
time or another been cannibals; and that
men, as soon as they became animals of
prey, which, as I have said, they were
hot originally, fed upon those of their
own kind, as well as upon other animals:
so that it appears to me evident, that man
has not that natural abhorrence to the
flesh of man, that lions and tigers, and
209other beasts of prey, have to that of their
own species; who, so far as I can learn,
never feed upon one another except when
urged by the extremest hunger.

This therefore is another peculiarity of
our species, which distinguishes us both
from the carnivorous and frugivorous
kinds of animals; and proves to me incontestably,
that what is said by philosophers
of the attachment we have to our
common nature, and of those ties of love
and sympathy which bind us so fast together,
applies only to the rational, not to
the natural animal; for as Marcus Antoninus
the Emperor has observed, we are
social, because we are rational *85.

Let us next consider how man stands
with respect to the other division of animals,
into political and not political: and I
say, that he is likewise in the middle betwixt
these two; for he is political, not
by nature, but by institution, and acquired
habit. And indeed, if he be not by nature
even a herding animal, it follows of
consequence, that he is not political: nor
can we suppose that any thing is natural
to an animal that is hot necessary for his
210subsistence, which certainly; the political
life is not to man; whereas to the bee and
ant it is natural, because it is necessary;
and accordingly those animals have never
been found single or detached. With respect
to man, it appears to me, that he has
herded, and entered into the political life,
for the same reasons, and at the same time;
and therefore I believe no men have been,
found herding together who did not likewise
carry on some common work; that
is to say, as has been explained, lived in
the political state.

But is man the only animal that is in
this state with respect to the social and political
life? If it were so, it would be nothing
extraordinary in so extraordinary an
animal as man. But there are other animals
of the same amphibious nature. And, first,
there is the wild boar, which, while he is
young, is a herding animal; but when
he grows old, he lives by himself, and
become what the French call un solitaire.
Then with. respect to the political state,
the horse in this country is not a political
animal, though social and gregarious:
but in the deserts of Tartary and Siberia
he is political; for being there hunted by
211the Tartars, as hares and deer are in this
country, they, for self-defence, form themselves
into a kind of community, and take
joint measures for saving themselves,
which they commonly do by flight; and
that they may not be surprised by their
enemy, they set watches, and have commanders,
who direct and hasten their
flight; some of whom have been seen
bringing up the rear, and biting and kicking
the hindmost, in order to make them
run faster.

But there is another animal that, resembles
us still more in this respect, and
that is the beaver; of which I shall say a
great deal more afterwards, but it is sufficient
for my present purpose to observe,
that he is precisely what I suppose man to
be, amphibious betwixt the solitary and
the social life: for in certain countries,
particularly in North America, and some
of the northern countries of Europe, he
is found living in what may be called civil
without metaphor or exaggeration;
whereas in other countries, where
they are not so numerous, or in those very
countries when they happen to be dispersed,
and their villages (for so I may call
212them) ruined by the men who hunt them,
or when they are prevented by men from
associating, as they are in all the southern
countries of Europe, they lead a solitary
life, and hide themselves in holes,
without any community or public good *86.

Of the same amphibious kind is an animal
well known in this country, viz. the
hare, which being few in number in all
the countries of Europe, and much persecuted
by men, lead a solitary life, and never
associate or form a public; but in the
plains of Tartary they are gregarious.
The fact we are assured of by the same author
who informs us of what is above related,
concerning the horse, viz. Mr Bell,
who has published his travels through
Tartary and Siberia, which he made with
the Russian caravan that goes to China.
Now: I cannot conceive that the hare,
which by its nature appears to be solitary,
should associate in Tartary for any other
reason except sustenance and self-defence;
which, as I shall shew afterwards,
are the reasons that made men
first herd together, and enter into the political
213life. Whether the hares have any
thing of policy in their associated state, Mr
Bell has not told us; but I think it is
likely they have; otherwise I do not think
that they would have come together.
For even those animals, such as the sheep,
which are not political while they are fed
and protected by us, become so when they
live in a kind of natural state by themselves
in the hills: and accordingly they
are observed to set watches in the night-time
against their enemy the fox, who
give notice of his approach; and, when
he attacks them, they draw up in a body,
and defend themselves, And, in general,
as nature appears to me to have always
some further intention than pleasure merely,
and the gratification of appetite and
inclination, I think it is probable that she
has not given to any animal that desire for
society, without intending that it should
be useful for some political purpose, either
of sustenance or defence: so that I
doubt whether gregarious and political animals
differ entirely in their natures, or
only in the more or less, so that some by the
necessities of their nature are more political,
others less.214

But that the fierce and ravenous animals,
which subsist entirely by prey, are
naturally solitary, and averse to all society,
cannot be doubted, for this plain reason,
that they can both subsist and defend
themselves without it. For though some
wild beasts are much stronger than others;
yet as they do not prey upon one another,
the weaker have no occasion to associate in
in order to protect themselves against the
stronger. But though they have no society
on that account, they are by nature
directed to associate with the female at
certain times, for the purpose of propagating
the species; but this intercourse continues
no longer than is necessary for that
purpose. That time is longer or shorter
according to the nature of the animal. ln
birds it continues a considerable time, because
both the parents must contribute to
the support of the young; whereas in
beasts it is commonly over very soon, the
care of the offspring being entirely left to
the mother. Of what kind our commerce
with the female is in the natural state,
whether we be of those animals which
Linnæus calls bigamous, that is to say,
which pair for the propagation of the species,
215and continue jointly their care of the
offspring; or whether we are not in this
respect rather to be classed with the ox,
the sheep, the deer, and almost all the other
beasts of the frugivorous kind, as well
as those of the carnivorous; is a disquisition
which belongs indeed to the history
of man, but not I think to our present

I shall add only one observation more
before I conclude this chapter: That tho'
we should suppose that men herded together
before they entered into civil society,
yet I think it is impossible to believe, that
while they only herded together, they ever
could invent a language, which could only
be the fruit of that strict intercourse
which the political life produces. Our
business therefore at present is, to inquire
how the political life began.216

Chap. III.
Examples from antient and modern history of
Men living in the Brutish state, without
Arts or civility.

But before I enter upon this inquiry I
think it proper to support the account
I have given of the original state of
human nature, both with respect to rationality
and society, by facts as well as
by arguments: for it is very different
from the notions commonly received, and
will no doubt appear incredible to those
who have been taught, that man is by nature
a rational, as well as a social and political
animal, and have read large volumes
on the subject of the law of nature
founded all upon the supposition that civil
society, or the political life, is the original
and natural state of man. I have already
given sundry examples of solitary
savages that have been found at different
times, in different parts of Europe, without
language or arts of any kind, and even
without the erect form; and I will
now proceed to shew, from the history
217both of the antient and modern world, that
there have been found whole nations, not
indeed altogether without arts or civility,
(for that is impossible, since, according to
my hypothesis, they associated together
only for the purpose of carrying on some
joint work), but with so little of either,
that we can be at no loss to suppose a prior
state, in which there were none at all.

And I will begin with instance, furnished
me by an antient author, namely
Diodorus Siculus, who was a traveller as
well as an historian, and whose work, the
greatest part of which is unhappily lost,
was the fruit of the labour of thirty years,
which he spent in collecting materials,
and travelling into the different parts of
the world, which he had occasion to mention
in his history *87. I am the more inclined
to lay weight upon the facts recorded
by him, that his style, is very plain
and simple; so that he appears to me to
have spent that time in preparing, and digesting,
the matter of his history, which
many historians, antient as well as modern,
have spent in adorning their style.
218In the beginning of his history he says,
that men at first lived dispersed, and subsisted
upon the natural productions of the
earth; that they had no use of speech,
and uttered only inarticulate cries; but
that having herded together, for fear, as he
says, of the wild beasts, they invented a
language, and imposed names upon
things *88. This opinion of the original
state of man he no doubt formed from the
study of many antient books of history
that are now lost. But besides this, he relates
particular facts concerning certain
savage nations which lived, either in Africa,
of upon the opposite coast of the
Indian ocean, or that gulf of it which is
now called the Red sea. Of these he had
an opportunity of being very well informed,
by the curiosity of one of the Ptolemies,
king of Egypt, who, as I mentioned
before sent men whom he could trust, on
purpose to be informed concerning such
nations; and besides, the passion he had
for hunting elephants made him discover
more of Africa than I believe has been discovered
in modern times.219

The first instance I shall mention from
Diodorus is of a nation, if a herd of men
may be called so, of ἰχθυφάγοι, or fish-eaters,
that lived near the strait which joins the
Indian ocean to the Red sea or Arabian
gulf, upon the Asiatic side. They went
naked, and lived entirely by fishing, which
they practised without any art, other than
that of making dikes or mounds of stones
to prevent the fish which had come with
the full tide into the hollows and gullies
upon that coast, from going out again
with the ebbing tide, and then catching
them in those ponds as in a net *89. In
this way they employed themselves for
four days, and the fifth day they all set
out for the upland country, where there
were certain springs of fresh water, of
which they drank, after having filled
their bellies with fish. This journey, says
220our author, they performed just like a
herd of cattle, making a great noise, and
uttering loud cries, but all inarticulate;
and after haying filled their bellies with
water, so that they could hardly walk,
they returned to their habitations upon
the coast, and there passed a whole day
incapable to do any thing, lying upon the
ground, and hardly able to breathe
through fullness; after which they returned
to their only occupation, of fishing
in the manner above described: and this
was the round of their life. The women
and children were common, belonging to
the herd. They had no sense of what is
just, honest, or decent, living entirely under
the guidance of instinct and appetite.
They had no arts, unless we give that
name to their way of fishing above mentioned,
and a certain method which they
had of curing and preserving their fish,
very particularly described by Diodorus.
They used no weapons except stones, and
the sharp horns of goats, with which they
killed the stronger fish. They had no use
of fire, but roasted their fish upon the
rocks by the heat of the sun. Neither do
they appear to me to have had the faculty
221of speech; for though our author does
not expressly say so, yet I think it is his
meaning, from the account he gives of
their journey to the springs: and it is clear
that they had nothing like religion or
government *90.

The next nation he mentions is that of
Insensibles 91, as he calls them, of whom
I have already spoken. Of these he says
expressly, that they had not the use of
speech, but made signs, like our dumb
people, with their heads and hands. They
lived, he says, promiscuously with other
animals, and particularly with seals,
which, he says, catch the fish in the same
manner that these men did, who were also
of the race of fish-eaters; and he adds, that
they lived with those other animals, and
with one another, with great good faith,
and in great peace and concord. The most
extraordinary particular he tells concerning
them is, that they never used water,
nor any kind of liquid, not having so
much as an idea of that sort of nourishment *92.;
222though even this I think is less
incredible than what more than one modern
traveller has told us of people in the
South sea, that when they had occasion to
be long at sea, supplied the want of liquids
by drinking sea-water.

The next nation mentioned by Diodorus
that I shall take notice of, is one upon the
African side, in that part of Æthiopia
which is above Egypt. They were of a
quite different race, being what he calls
ὑλοφάγοι or wood-eaters; for they subsisted
entirely upon the woods, eating either the
fruits of the trees, or, when they could
not get these, chewing the tender shoots,
and young branches, as we see our cattle
do in this country. This way of living
made them very nimble in climbing trees;
and they leapt, says our author, with amazing
agility from one branch or one tree to
another, using both feet and hands; and
when they happened to fall, their bodies
were so light that they received no hurt 93.223

They too went naked, had no arms but
sticks, like the Ouran Outangs, who are
still to be found on the same continent,
and their wives and children were in common.
Diod. p. 111.

Diodorus concludes his account of those
savage African nations by telling us, that
in the southern part of that great peninsula
there are races of men who, in the
human form, live a life altogether brutal.
p. 115.

Thus far Diodorus Siculus; from whose
account it is evident, that there were in
Africa, and the opposite continent of Asia,
in his time, herds of people that lived
without any civil society, even the domestic
224society of man and wife, which is
the first step towards forming a state or
political society.

With Diodorus, in this account of the
savageness and barbarity of the people of
Africa, agrees Herodotus; a man of the
greatest curiosity and diligence that perhaps
ever lived, and whose authority may
be depended upon, when he relates a thing
simply as an historical fact, and not as a
hearsay. He speaks of herds of people in
this peninsula that coupled together promiscuously
(κτηνηδόν) like cattle, lib. 4. c. 180.;
and of men and women absolutely wild,
lib. 4. c. 191.; and particularly of the Troglodytes
he says, that they fed upon serpents
and other reptiles, were hunted
like wild beasts by the Garamantes, and
by way of language made a kind of murmuring
inarticulate sound which he compares
to the cry of a bat, ibid. c. 183. And
it is not unlikely that it is the same kind of
language that Mons. la Condamine reports
to have been spoken by a nation that he met
with upon the banks of the river Amazons:
for it was a muttering murmuring
kind of noise, as he has described it, and
which appeared to him to be formed in
225drawing in the breath; probably because
it was a low and obscure sound, not unlike
that which a man makes who is very
hoarse by reason of a cold *94.

As to modern authorities, I will begin
with that of Leo Africanus, an African
Moor of the sixteenth Century, who coming
to Rome, did there abjure the Mahometan
faith, and was baptized by the name of the
pontiff who then filled the papal chair,
Leo X. He had travelled much in the interior
parts of Africa with caravans of
merchants, and appears to me to have
known more of that country than any
modern. He wrote a description of it in
Arabic, which is translated into Latin,
and published in nine books, containing
a very accurate account, both of the men
226and manners, and natural curiosities of
the country: and he agrees with Diodorus
as to the savageness of some of the
people of Africa; and particularly he
says, that in the inward parts of the country,
southward from Barbary, there are
people that live a life entirely brutish,
without government or policy, and copulating
promiscuously with their females,
after the manner of the brutes *95. And he
mentions another nation to whom he gives
a name, calling them Bornians, who lived
not far distant from the fountain of the
river Niger. These people, says he, are
without religion of any kind, and have
their women and children in common 96.

The next modern author I shall mention
is likewise a very diligent and accurate
writer. It is Garcilasso de la Vega,
who has written in Spanish the History of
the Incas of Peru, of whose race he himself
was 97. According to his account of
227that country, when the first Inca began
his conquests, or rather his taming and
civilization of men, (for he was a conqueror
of that kind, such as the Egyptians
report their Osiris to have been), it was inhabited,
for the greater part, by men living
in a state altogether brutish, without
government, civility, or arts of any kind;
and such of them as were in any degree
civilized, had a tradition preserved among
them, that they had been taught, as the subjects
228of the Incas were, by men, who came
from distant countries, and imported among
them the arts of life. And, more
particularly, he relates, that in some parts
of Peru, which were afterwards civilized by
the Incas, the people were under no kind
of government, living together in herds
or flocks, like so many cattle or sheep, and
like them copulating promiscuously *98. In
other parts of the country, they did not so
much as live in herds, but dwelt in caves,
and holes of rocks and mountains, in small
numbers of two or three together, feeding
upon herbs, grass, roots, and wild fruits,
and copulating promiscuously 99. And in
later times, under the fourth or fifth Inca, he
mentions a people in the great province of
Chirihuana, who lived altogether like beasts,
wandering in the mountains and woods,
without religion or worship of any kind,
and without any community or political government,
unless when they associated to
infest their neighbours, and make use of
them for food; for the end of their wars
was to eat their enemies. These people were
229so brutish, and the country of so difficult
access, that the Inca gave over thoughts of
conquering or civilizing them; and the
Spaniards afterwards attempted it, but
without success, lib. 7. c. 17. He mentions
also another people of the same province
that lived near the cape of Passau,
who never having been conquered, or rather
civilized, by the Incas, lived, even at
the time the author wrote, in a state of
the utmost savageness and barbarity, having
no religion at all, and worshipping
nothing either above or below them; inhabiting
caves, and hollows of trees, without
communication, friendship, or commerce,
and hardly having language sufficient
to understand one another *100. One
of the Incas, he says, coming with an army
to subdue them, but despairing of being
able to reclaim them from their brutish
life, said to his people, “Come, let
us return again; for these deserve not
the honour of our dominion.” Upon
which the whole army faced about, and
returned home 101. And these people were in
230that state of barbarity, or very little better,
at the time the author wrote; for he says,
he himself saw some of them *102. He further
tells us, that one of the Incas found men
that preyed on one another like wild beasts,
attacking their fellow-creatures for no other
purpose than to eat them. These the
lnca hunted on the mountains, and in the
woods, like so many beasts 103.

But the communication and intercourse
that has been betwixt the several parts of
the old world on this side of the globe,
and likewise betwixt the old and the new
world discovered by Columbus, during
these last three hundred years, has made
so great a change of the manners and way
of living of men in those countries, that
it is not there we are now to look for people
living in the natural state, but in another
part of the world, as yet very imperfectly
discovered, and with which we
have had hitherto very little intercourse,
I mean the countries in the south sea, and
such parts of the Atlantic ocean as have not
231been frequented by European ships. What
I shall here set down of the wild people
found in those countries is taken from a
French collection of voyages to the South
sea, printed at Paris in the year 1756, in
two volumes 4to. The author s name, as
I am informed, is Labrosse.

Americus Vespucius, who made the
discovery of the continent of America for
the King of Spain, and gave his name to
it, was afterwards employed by the King of
Portugal, in whose service he made a voyage
in that great ocean which extends from
Brazil eastward, towards the Cape of Good
Hope; and in this voyage he discovered a
great tract of country, which he calls a
continent, where he found a people who,
though living together in herds, had neither
government, religion, nor arts, nor
any property; and every one of them had
as many wives as he pleased. Americus
was among them seven and twenty days,
which was long enough to have observed
what he affirms of their manner of living.
Vol. 1. p. 96. of Labrosse's Collection.

Jack the Hermit, a Dutch traveller, affirms,
that the people of Terra del Fuego
live entirely like brutes, without religion,
232or policy, or any the least regard to decency,
vol. 1, p. 445. And the same is
said of them by an English traveller,
sir John Narburgh, vol. 2. p. 33. They
are besides cannibals, and have not the
least idea of honesty or good faith in their
dealings, vol. 1.p. 445.

Another Dutch traveller, one Roggeveen,
came to an island in the South sea, where
he could not find out that the people had
any kind of government; but some way
or other they had got a religion, in which
they were very zealous, and trusted to it
for their defence, in place of arms, against
the Europeans, vol. 2. p. 235.

Many people in those countries have
been found without almost any of the arts
of life, even the art of defending themselves,
or attacking their enemies; for
but few of them have been found that
have the use of the bow and arrow. Most
of them, like the Ouran Outangs, use nothing
but sticks and stones; and the last-mentioned
people, who had so much religion,
used no arms at all. Sir Francis
Drake discovered certain islands in
the South sea, to the north of the line,
where he found inhabitants who had the
233nails of their singers about an inch long,
which he understood served them for offensive
arms, vol. 1. p. 197. And Le Mere
met with a people in New Guinea, who
used their teeth as an offensive weapon,
and bit like dogs, vol. 2. p. 396. & 397.
Among such a people, if there was any
government or civil society, it must have
been very imperfect, and of late institution.

This is all, so far as I have observed,
that has hitherto been discovered in the
South sea concerning the natural state of
men there. But we have reason to expect
from those countries, in a short time,
much greater and more certain discoveries,
such as I hope will improve and enlarge
the knowledge of our own species as
much as the natural history of other animals,
and of plants and minerals.

Before I conclude this article of travels,
I will quote one traveller more, who is
very little known, though he reports a
very extraordinary fact concerning our
species, and which well deserves the attention
of naturalists. His name is Keoping,
a Swede by birth, who, in the year 1647,
went to the East Indies, and there served
234aboard a Dutch ship of force, belonging
to the Dutch East-India company, in quality
of Lieutenant. In sailing through
those seas they had occasion to come upon
the coast of an island in the gulf of Bengal
called Nicobar, where they saw men
with tails like those of cats, and which
they moved in the same manner. They
came in canoes along-side of the ship, with
an intention to trade with them, and to
give them parrots in exchange for iron,
which they wanted very much. Several
of them came aboard the ship, and many
more would have come; but the Dutch
were afraid of being overpowered by their
numbers, and therefore they fired their
great guns, and frightened them away.
The next day they sent ashore a boat with
five men; but they not having returned
the following night, the day after the Captain
sent a larger boat ashore with more
hands, and two pieces of cannon. When
they landed, the men with the tails came
about them in great numbers; but by
firing their cannon they chased them away:
but found only the bones of their
companions, who had been devoured by
the savages; and the boat in which they
235had landed they sound taken to pieces,
and the iron of it carried away.

The author who relates this is, as I am
well informed, an author of very good
credit *104. He writes in a simple plain manner,
236not like a man who intended to impose
a lie upon the world, merely for the silly
pleasure of making people stare; and if it
be a lie, (for it cannot be a mistake), it is
the only lie in his book; for every thing
else that he has related of animals and vegetables
237has been found to be true. I am
sensible, however, that those who believe
that men are, and always have been, the
same in all ages and nations of the world,
and such as we see them in Europe, will
think this story quite incredible; but for
my own part I am convinced, that we
have not yet discovered all the variety of
nature, not even in our own species; and
the most incredible thing, in my apprehension,
that could be told, even if there
were no facts to contradict it, would be,
that all the men in the different parts of
the earth were the same in size, figure,
shape, and colour. I am therefore disposed
to believe, upon credible evidence,
that there are still greater varieties in our
species than what is mentioned by this
traveller: for that there are men with
tails, such as the antients gave to their satyrs,
is a fact so well attested that I think
it cannot be doubted *105. But our Swedish
traveller, so far as I know, is the only one
who speaks of tails of such length as those
of the inhabitants of Nicobar.

That these animals were men, as they
238trafficked, and used the art of navigation,
I think cannot be denied. It appears, that
they herded together, and lived in some
kind of society; but whether they had the
life of language or not, does not appear
from our author's relation: and I should
incline to think that they had not, and
that in this respect they resembled the Ouran
Outangs, though in other respects
they appeared to be farther advanced in
the arts of life; for I do not think that
any traveller has said, that the Ouran Outangs
practised navigation or commerce.
They live however in society, act together
in concert, particularly in attacking elephants,
build huts, and no doubt practise
other arts, both for sustenance and defence;
so that they may be reckoned to be
in the first stage of the human progression,
being associated, and practising certain
arts of life; but not so far advanced as to
have invented die great art of language,
to which I think the inhabitants of Nicobar
must have approached nearer, (if they
have not already found it out), as they are
so much farther advanced in other arts.239

Chap. IV.
Of the progress of Civil Society. — That this
progress shews it is not from Nature.

Enough, I am persuaded, has been said
in the preceding chapter, to shew
from fact, and the history of mankind,
that civil society at least is not from nature,
but of human institution. And indeed
there is such a progress in it, that it
must needs have had a beginning; for,
as we have observed, there is no such progress
in natural things. First, we see men
living together in herds, like cattle, or
horses, without even coupling together, or
pairing, as we see the males and females
of certain other species do; but, nevertheless,
carrying on some common business,
such as fishing or hunting, or whatever
else may be necessary for their sustenance,
though without any thing that
can be called government or rule; and of
this kind are the instances that I have
quoted from Diodorous Siculus, Herodotus,
and modern travellers. Next, we see
240them submitting to government, but only
upon certain occasions; and particularly
for the purpose of self-defence: in which
case, it has been observed, that other animals,
such as sheep and horses, who are
not by nature political, institute a kind
of regimen and discipline; but which appears
l to last no longer than the danger.
Under this kind of occasional government
certain inhabitants of the Caribbee islands
were when we first discovered those islands.
They had chiefs and generals in time of
war; but in time of peace, they lived under
no government at all *106.

The next stage of civil society I shall
observe, is that of the Indians of North
America, who have a government in time
of peace as well as war, and may be
said to form a state. This government
is administered by their sachems, or old
men, who meet together in council to deliberate
upon public matters; and to their
determinations in such matters the young
men submit; but without any compulsion
or punishment, if they are refractory.
But in other matters, every man is his
own master, subject to no controul, not
241even that of his parents. For though
they have all separate and distinct families,
there is no domestic government among
them; neither have they any laws
or judges: so that every man defends his
own rights, and revenges the injuries done

A stricter and more regular form of government
obtains in the several countries
of Europe, which is administered by certain
magistrates, known under different
names in the different countries, according
to certain rules and regulations, to which
every member of the state is obliged to
submit, under certain pains and penalties.
For the great difference betwixt this government
and the last mentioned, is the
power of punishment which the magistrate
assumes; not only for offences against the
state, but for injuries done to any member
of it, who is not allowed to be judge in
his own cause, but must apply to the magistrate
for redress; and he also determines
every question concerning right or property
among the citizens, according to established
rules. But the private lives of the
subjects under those governments are left
as much to the free will of each individual,
242and as little subjected to rule, as in the
American governments above mentioned:
and every man in such a state may with
impunity educate his children in the worst
manner possible, and may abuse his own
person and fortune as much as he pleases,
provided he does no injury to his neighbours,
nor attempts any thing against the

The last stage of civil society, in which
the progression ends, is that most perfect
form of polity, which, to all the advantages
of the governments last mentioned,
joins the care of the education of the
youth, and of the private lives of the citizens;
neither of which is left to the will
and pleasure of each individual, but both
are regulated by public wisdom. Such
was the government of antient Sparta,
and such were all the plans of government
devised by Plato and other philosophers.

Nor do societies differ less in their size
and extent, than in their nature and institutions.
The first society among men
was undoubtedly the family-society. In
this way, as Homer tells us, the Cyclops,
a barbarous people of those times, lived.
And Mons. Frezier, in his voyage to the
243South sea, informs us, that a great part
of the inhabitants of Chili live in the same
manner at this day. Some of those families
produced out of themselves, without
any foreign mixture, great nations. This
was the case of the family of Jacob. But
the most of nations have been formed by
the association of several families; not,
however, a great number at first. For the
Indian nations of North America consisted
originally of no more than three families,
which are yet preserved among them distinct,
and there is always one of them
that is accounted more honourable than
either of the other two *107. The Roman
state, in like manner, consisted originally
of associated families; a clear proof of
which is, that even in the civil state, the
antient family-government among them
was preserved in its full rigour, insomuch
that the father had power of life and death
over his children. From such small beginnings
nations have grown to the size of
244which we now see them; and the whole
history of mankind is nothing but a narrative
of the growth of families into nations,
of small nations into great, and of
great nations into mighty empires. These
at last become too great, and sail by their
own weight. But they are never broken
into so small pieces as those of which they
were originally constituted: for I doubt
it is a mistake to suppose, as some do, that
there is a perpetual revolution and circle
in human affairs. So far from that, it
appears to me, that men are still going
farther and farther off, not from the state
of nature only, but from the original constitution
of society.

This progress in civil society, and the
many changes and revolutions it is subject
to, plainly shew, that it is not from nature,
but of human institution. For nature
is permanent and unchangeable, like
its author: and accordingly the wild animals,
who are undoubtedly in a state of
nature, still preserve the same œconomy
and manner of life with no variation, except
such as change of circumstances may
make absolutely necessary for the preservation
245of the individual or the species; and
the variation goes no farther than that necessity

Chap. V.
Of the causes which gave rise to Civil Society.

I Think I have shewn very clearly in the
preceding chapters, that civil society,
which alone could produce a language, is
not from nature, or coeval with the animal,
but must have had a beginning; and
the question now to be examined is, How
it began? for it is evident, that there
must have been some cause of a change so
great as from a solitary, or at least an animal
not political, to a social and political animal.
And I say, that the same cause
produced ideas, and made men
creatures, did also make them social
and political, and in process of time
produced all the arts of life; and this
cause is no other than the necessities of human

Hinc varia venire artes: labor omnia vicit
Improbus, et duris urgens in rebus egestas.

For not only did this want produce what
is called the necessary arts of life; but after
those first wants were supplied, there
arose another want very urgent likewise, I
mean, the want of occupation, of pleasure,
and amusement, which gave birth to the
pleasureable arts; and when the mind
came to be cultivated, there arose a curiosity,
and desire of knowledge, which produced
the sciences.

But the necessities we are now speaking
of were, either the want of subsistence, or
of defence against superior force and violence.
As to the want of sustenance, it
appears evident, that in certain countries
and climates the natural produce of the
earth is sufficient to maintain man, as well
as other animals, without either society or
arts: but, in the first place, he may multiply
so much, that the spontaneous growth
of the earth, without art or culture, cannot
maintain him; or he may go to countries
and climates which by nature are not
fitted to support him. In either of these
cases he must have recourse to society and
247arts. It is by means of these, that man
has multiplied more than any other animal
of equal size, and has become an inhabitant
of every country and climate;
whereas every other animal has only certain
countries or climates where it can

The other motive which I mentioned,
as inducing men to enter into society, was
self-defence; the necessity of which will
appear the greater if we consider two
things. First, That man is by nature much
weaker and not near so well armed as
many of the beasts of prey; and, secondly,
That he is the natural prey of all
those beasts, when they think they can
master him; whereas such beasts do not
prey upon one another; by which I mean,
not only that a lion does not prey upon a
lion, but that he does not prey upon a tiger,
or wolf, or any other carnivorous beast,
though of less size or strength, unless perhaps
in cases of extreme necessity. But man
is the common prey of them all; and some
of them who have tasted of his flesh are,
like the Indians above mentioned, fonder of
it than of any other; which is said to be
case of the Hippopotamus or river-horse
248in Egypt *108. In this so disadvantageous
situation, surrounded by so many enemies,
nature appears to have provided ho defence
for man but superior sagacity. Nor
would even that have availed him in the
single state; but it directed him to associate
himself with others of the same species; to
act in concert with them; in short,
to institute civil society, and invent arts;
and, among others, that great instrument
of social life, Language, without which
mankind never could have proceeded far
in the invention of arts. But with the assistance
of language, society, arts and sciences,
it is hardly possible to set bounds
to the progress of an animal, the most sagacious
and inventive, as well as the most
imitative of any that has been hitherto
discovered; and who has from nature an
instrument of art, which may be called
the instrument of instruments, as by it he
both makes and uses other instruments;
I mean, the human band, without which he
could hot, though possessed of such superior
talents of mind, perform the works
of art. He has already made himself the
249lord of this lower world, and acquired
dominion over animals very much stronger
and fiercer than he, and by nature
much better armed. The face of the earth
he has changed by his art and industry,
and even the elements and powers of nature
he has made subservient to his purposes.

Audax omnia perpeti
Gens humana. —
Expertus vacuum Dedalus aëra
Pennis non homini datis *109.
Perrupit Acheronta Herculeus labor;
Nil mortalibus arduum.

Chap. VI.
Continuation of the same subject. — Some countries
not fit to maintain Men in the Natural
state. — All countries may be overstocked
with Men, as well as with other Animals.
— The Remedies in such a case.

The origin of human society is a subject
of great curiosity, and of great
importance in the history of man. I
should far exceed the bounds of my work
if I were to treat of it at as great length,
and with as great accuracy, as it deserves;
I cannot however dismiss it without some
further observations.

It appears to me, that without one or
other of those two causes which I have assigned
for the origin of society, there never
would have been society, language, or
arts, among men: and could we suppose a
country naturally so fruitful as to produce,
at all times of the year, food in abundance
for men, however numerous; and if
we could also suppose the climate of such
251a country so mild as not to require any
protection from art against it, which is
truly, the case in many countries; and if
we could further suppose, that there were
there no animals of superior strength, with
which men were obliged to contend, — I do
not see how it ever could have happened
in such a country, that men should have
associated, and instituted civil society.

One thing at least is certain, that in
fruitful countries, and benign climates,
men can live very well in the natural state,
and may continue a long time in that
state; and I think it is equally certain,
that in rude climates, and barren countries,
they cannot subsist at all without society
and arts. In such a country as Canada,
for example, which is covered about
seven months of the year with deep
snow, how is it possible the Indians could
live without the arts of fishing and hunting,
by the first of which they support
themselves in the summer, and by the last
in the winter? As it is, they very often
perish by hunger; but without those arts,
or agriculture, and the art of preserving,
as well as raising, the fruits of the earth,
it is evident they could not live a year to
252an end. For supposing that men could
subsist upon herbs or foliage, as horses and
cattle can do, without seeds or fruits,
(which however I do not believe); or supposing
that they could be nourished by the
roots of certain vegetables, to be found wild
even in the northern countries, which, for
any thing I know, may be the case; and
supposing further, that they could dig for
them with their fingers, as the wild girl
above mentioned, whom I saw in France,
told me she did; where are leaves or herbage
to be found in such countries for one
half of the year? and how could single
men, without instruments of art, dig for
roots in ground hardened like iron by
frost, and covered with five or fix feet of

From these considerations I think we
may infer, that men never could have
lived in the natural state in such countries;
that is, without society and arts;
and consequently, that in those countries
the human race never could have a beginning,
and that therefore they must
have been peopled from milder climates,
by tribes and colonies of men already civilized,
and who brought with them arts,
253by which they were enabled to subsist in
those rougher climates.

And this explains a fact in the history
of man, which I hold to be certain, as
both sacred and profane history agree in
it, that the progress of the human race
has always been, so far as we can trace it,
from the east, and particularly from Asia,
where, according to our sacred books, the
human race first began. For Asia (I mean
Asia Minor, and the more southerly parts of
that great continent) is a much finer country
than Europe, and has always produced finer
bodies of men, and other animals, as well
as better vegetables *110. This of itself makes
it highly probable, even if it were not attested
by history, that men having first
associated themselves in those milder and
more fruitful regions of Asia, did from
thence spread themselves into Europe, and
other parts of the world, where the climate
was not so propitious to the human
race, and there subsisted by arts which
they had imported.

But the most fruitful country may be
overstocked with any animal, and particularly
254with man, who I believe is maintained
with more difficulty, even in his
natural state, than other animals of much
larger size: for I hold, that he cannot
subsist upon herbage or foliage alone *111,
but must have seeds, fruits, roots, or flesh.
And it is to be considered, that man must
have multiplied very much in his natural
state, as he likewise does in the first stages
of society 112. Now when men were so
multiplied that the natural fruits of the
earth could not maintain them, they were
under a necessity to practise one or other
of the following methods; either to disperse,
and go in search of other countries,
255where they might subsist more at their
case. But this in many cases might be
impracticable: for the countries round
them might be, and in process of time certainly
would be, as much overstocked as
theirs; or they might be hindered by
seas, great rivers, or impassable deserts.
To all which maybe added, the natural
aversion that every animal has to quit its
native country, and the haunts to which
it has been accustomed. Or, 2do, They
must prey upon other animals, or upon one
another. But this, besides the danger of it,
would hardly be practicable by man solitary,
unassisted by arts, and without other
weapons than those which nature has
given him. Or, lastly, They must associate
and provide in common what singly
they could not procure. And this last method,
it is natural to think, so sagacious an
animal as man would prefer to the dangerous
expedient of devouring one another,
which I think can never be but the last
resource among all animals *113.256

It would lead me much too far from my
purpose to inquire, what methods were
first used by men associated for increasing
their natural stock of provisions. I will
only say in general, that I believe hunting
must have been among the first;

— Cum jam glandes atque arbuta sacræ
Deficerent silvæ, et victum Dodona negaret.

Virg. Georgic.

For, as I have already observed, the
natural fruits of the earth were the
first food of men. My reason for thinking
that hunting was the first expedient
they fell upon for supplying the want
of those fruits is, that it is much easier
than planting, sowing, or any kind
of culture of the ground, before instruments
of art were invented. For man, by
his natural strength and agility, with the
addition only of a stick, which, as we
have seen, is used even by the Ouran Outangs,
whom some authors will not allow
to be of our species, can master a great
number of quadrupeds, especially if he be
assisted by numbers; and I remember the
wild girl I have so often mentioned, told
257me, that with no other weapon than a
bludgeon, which she called a Boutou *114, she
was able, with the assistance of the black
girl her companion, to kill as much game
as, together with the roots they dug up,
maintained them in their travels through
the woods. One natural consequence of
hunting would be, that in process of time
they would think of the expedient of
catching certain animals alive, taming
them, and breeding out of them, which
would greatly add to their stock of provisions.
This produced the pastoral life,
which is the only means of subsistence of
whole nations at this day. But it may be
observed, that, unless in countries where
flocks and herds can live through the winter
upon the natural produce of the earth,
it is impossible that men can be supported
in that way, without the assistance of other
arts, and particularly agriculture. And
this is a good reason why the Indians of
North America, not having the art of agriculture,
have never attempted the pastoral
258life, or to tame any animals other
than dogs that live upon flesh.

But I have no occasion to trace any
further the progress of men in the arts of
subsistence; it is sufficient for my present
purpose, that I have brought them together
by means of the first cause of association
I have mentioned, viz. the want of
the necessaries of life
; and I proceed next
to examine the second reason I mentioned
for the institution of society, self-defence.

But before I come to that, it may not
be improper to observe, that this change
of man from a frugivorous to a carnivorous animal
must have produced a great
change of character. What effect the mere
feeding upon flesh, instead of vegetables,
may nave upon the temper and disposition
of the mind, I shall not at present inquire;
but it is the way of procuring this
flesh-diet, by the destruction of other animals,
that has produced the change I
speak of. While man continued to feed
upon the fruits of the earth, he was an
innocuous animal, and, like others who
lived in the same way, more disposed
to fly from an attack than to make one.
But as soon as he became a hunter, the
259wild beast, which is part of his composition,
became predominant in him. He
grew fierce and bold, delighting in blood
and slaughter. War soon succeeded to
hunting; and the necessary consequence
of war was the victors eating the vanquished,
when they could kill or catch
them *115. In this state, man, if not tamed,
or subdued by laws or manners, is the
most dangerous and most mischievous of
all the creatures that God has made;
much more so than any lion or tiger, or
any other the fiercest animal that roams
the forest. It was in this state that Orpheus,
the first civilizer of men in this
western part of the world, found the savages
of Greece, when he imported among
them the arts he had learned in Egypt,
and tamed them by religion and

Dictus ob hoc lenire tigres rabidosque leones *116.

Which is one of the fictions of the Greek
poets, where the truth of history is easily
seen through the vail of fable.

Chap. VII.
What dangers made men associate for the sake
of self-defence.

Man, in the natural state, must stand
in need of defence, either against
wild beasts, against men of the same
country, or, lastly, against foreign invaders.

As to the first, those who know no more
of the history of man than what they have
learned, from ob serving the customs and
manners of their own and other modern
nations of Europe, will hardly believe,
261that there was a time when wild beasts.
disputed with us the empire of this earth:
but nothing is more certain,

Tempora si fastosque velis evolvere mundi.

And it is likewise certain, that they very
often prevailed in the dispute, till art and
numbers came to the assistance of our natural
strength and agility. And therefore
the first heroes, and greatest benefactors of
mankind, next to the inventors of arts,
were those men of superior strength and
valour, who fought with and destroyed
wild beasts. Such was Hercules of old:
I mean, not the Greek Hercules, the
son of Amphitryon, who came too late
into the world to have much ado of that
kind; but the Egyptian Hercules, several
thousand years older, whose exploits the
Greeks, with their usual vanity, ascribed
to their hero, who was indeed originally
from that country, and from thence
probably had his name *117. The arms which
262the later Greek fables (for they are not so
old as Homer *118) give to this hero, were very
probably the arms of his antient namesake
of Egypt; I mean, the club, and the
lion's skin, these being the only arms
then known. But expedience would soon
discover, that it was necessary to have other
and better arms against enemies so
263much superior in bodily strength *119; and
that it was also necessary to avail themselves
of their numbers, and to act together
in concert, both in attacking and defending.
264And this I hold to be one kind
of self-defence that made association and a
public necessary; so necessary, that Diodorus
Siculus mentions no other reason
for mens herding together *120.

The second reason I assigned for association
under this head was the violence
and injustice which men had to fear from
one another. For as soon as men began to
multiply very much in any country, there
would necessarily be an interference about
provisions; about their layers, where they
slept, or rested, and sheltered themselves
from the weather,265

— Glandem el cubilla propter;
and, lastly, about their females,
—Venerem incertam rapientes more ferarum.

Such interference would produce strife and
contention; of which the consequence would
often be wounds and death, and in which
the stronger would always have the better,
as we observe in the herds of other animals,
where there is no other law but that of the
strongest. In this way there would be
great violence, oppression, and destruction
of the species; to prevent which, so sagacious
an animal as man would be naturally
led to form a kind of public, by the
strength of which the weaker might be
made more powerful than the stronger,
and the whole society benefited in every

By what I have said here, I would not
be understood to retract what I hay said
above in opposition to Mr Hobbes, that
the state of nature was not a state of war:
for I perfectly agree with Mons. Rousseau,
that there are in the state much
fewer occasions of quarrel than in the state
of society; for, in the natural state, man
can quarrel only about the necessaries of
266life, and the gratifications of natural appetite;
whereas, in the civil state, men
quarrel about fame, power, pre-eminence,
and all the numberless gratifications of
vanity and luxury. But what I maintain
is, that when men .grow numerous, and
the necessaries of life scanty, they must,
like all other animals, prefer each himself
to another, and that will of necessity produce
strife and contention. But this is
not the consequence of the natural state
in itself, but of the excessive multiplication
of the species; against which nature
has provided several remedies, such as famine,
pestilence, inundation, extraordinary
severity of weather, and, among others,
the destruction of the animals by
one another, when provisions become

The third reason of this kind I mentioned
was protection against foreign invaders.
This proceeds upon the supposition
of associations being already formed
by some herds in the neighbourhood for
invading their neighbours, either from
mere wantonness, and a spirit of conquest,
which has produced many cruel wars among
men; or for want of the necessaries
of life, which has obliged men very often
267to leave their own country, and try to
find out another. This would naturally
lead the people of the country invaded to
associate themselves, in order to take common
measures for their defence.

One or other of these reasons appears to
me to have made men first associate for
the sake of self-defence; and this, joined
with the want of the necessaries of-life,
accounts for the origin of society among

Chap. VIII.
Answer to the objection, That instinct was
sufficient to provide men with all the necessaries
of life, and to defend them against
their enemies.

It may be objected, That all the necessities
I have mentioned, whether of sustenance
or defence, might be supplied by
instinct, with which I have supposed man
to be originally provided by nature, as
well as other animals, for whose wants we
see it is sufficient; so that the reasons I
have mentioned did not give rise to society;
268which therefore may still be from nature,
and not an adventitious state, as I
suppose it, introduced by the necessities of

This objection is pretty much the same
with the argument which I stated in the
first book, and endeavoured to refute,
tending to prove, that our ideas are from
instinct *121; and if it be true, as I think I
have shewn, that our ideas are not from
instinct, it will follow of necessary consequence,
that those arts of sustenance and
self-defence, which cannot be without ideas,
are likewise not from instinct. I
will, however, without repeating what I
there said, add some further observations
concerning the difference betwixt instinct
and art.

But, in the first place, it is to be observed,
that I do not deny, that nature has made
sufficient provision for the preservation of
the race of men, as well as of other animals:
but she has not made provision for
that extraordinary multiplication of the species
which makes society and arts necessary.
For nature appears to me to have kept the
269balance pretty even among her children;
and therefore she has provided, that no
species of animal should increase very
much; because that could not be without
prejudice to the other specieses; for this
reason, when any one increases immoderately;
it is either reduced by famine, and
the other calamities above mentioned, or
by being preyed upon by themselves or other
animals; and, by these means, the
equilibrium is restored. Now, this would
certainly have happened with respect to
our species, if it had continued in: the natural
state, and those arts of sustenance
and defence above mentioned, had not
been invented. And the question at present
is, Whether those arts could have
proceeded from instinct, or must have
been the effect of art?

Betwixt these two there is this material
difference, that instinct is a principle of
action implanted in us as in other animals,
by which we are directed to what is necessary
for the preservation either of the
individual or the species; but without any
knowledge of the end, or how the means
conduce to the end; and, consequently,
without will, which never can be but
270where there is an end in view. Art, on
the other hand, acts with knowledge of
the end, and of the means by which it is
attained; and consequently its operations
are voluntary, proceeding from motives
influencing the will. But besides this capital
difference, there are the following.

1st, All animals are directed by instinct
to search for, to find out, and to
make use of the food which nature has
provided for them. But it has not directed
nor instructed them to multiply that
food, and to make the earth produce more
of it than it naturally produces. In other
words, instinct does not teach us to till,
sow, or plant.

2dly, Instinct has directed us to make
the best use of all the parts or members of
our body for procuring our subsistence;
but it has not directed us to make artificial
instruments, either for increasing the
quantity of food which nature has provide,
for us, or for bringing within our
reach food which otherwise would, by our
natural faculties, be inaccessible to us.

3dly, Nature has directed every animal
to the best use of those arms, offensive or
defensive, with which she has provided the
271animal; but she has not taught us either
to make or to use any other; so that
whenever we see an animal using adventitious
aids of that kind, we may be sure
that it is the effect of art. And if there
were nothing else to convince me that the
Ouran Outang belongs to our species, his
using sticks as a weapon would be alone
sufficient. Horace therefore appears to
have been very well instructed by his philosophy
in the progress of man, from instinct
to art, and from natural to acquired
faculties, when he tells us, that men, as
long as they were mutum et turpe pecus, that
is, altogether in the natural or brute state,
fought, unguibus et pugnis, glandem et cubilia
; — dein fustibus, that is, when
they came to be a little advanced towards
humanity, and in the state the Ouran Outangs
are at present; and then, armis quæ post
fabricaverat usus
, that is, when they were
so far advanced in civil life as to invent
arts *122.272

The sum of these differences betwixt art
and instinct seems to amount to this, that
instinct goes directly to the end it proposes,
or does not go far about; whereas
art takes a round, and performs its operations
by studying the nature of things,
comparing ideas, and drawing consequences
from premisses; ex. gr. Nothing appears
to us more simple than the use of a
stick for a weapon, yet the animal who
uses it must know, 1st, the nature of wood,
That it is a hard body; 2dly, That any
273hard body, impelled upon another body
with force, will make an impression which
may very much hurt or destroy that other
body; 3dly, That the manner in which
the human hand can make this impression
in the most forcible way is, by taking a
stick of a moderate length, and suitable
thickness, by the one end, and in that way
making the blow. All these ideas the Ouran
Outang must have formed from observation
and experience, before he used a
stick as a weapon-offensive. Whether he
be so far advanced in the art of cudgel-playing
as to use it likewise by way of defence,
and for warding blows, I cannot

Another difference which we may observe
betwixt art and instinct is, that as
art is founded upon experience and observation,
so it is improved by them; and
it is by gradual improvements in that way
that arts are perfected: but instinct, as it
does not arise from experience, so it is not
improved by it: And accordingly a swalow,
builds her nest, and a spider weaves
his web, as well the first year as any year

Thus, it appears that instinct and art
274are in their natures different, though in
their operations they sometimes seem to be
the same. The bee, for example, forms
her hexagon cells as accurately as if she
had been instructed by Euclid; yet it is
impossible to believe, that she understands
geometry, and knows the rules by which
she works, or even the end for which she
works. It is therefore only instinct, but
an instinct of an extraordinary kind, in
which the wisdom of the great Author of
nature manifests itself more than it usually
does in the operations of brutes. Now
there is not the least reason to think that
we ever had such an uncommon instinct,
or any other than what we observe in horses,
cattle, and other quadrupeds of this
country. Such instinct certainly never
could have taught us to till, sow, or hunt,
or to invent arms, either for attack or defence.
It appears therefore evident, that
our instinct could not have supplied those
wants which made society necessary.

Before I conclude this chapter, I will
make some observations upon the consequences
which the introduction of art has
had with respect to the numbers, both of
men and of other animals. And, in the
275first place, as I have already observed, It is
by the means of art that man has spread
himself over the earth more than: any other
animal known, so as to be of all climates,
and to inhabit countries which otherwise
could not support him. 2dly, It
is by the same means that he has multiplied,
in the several countries much more
in proportion than any other animal of the
same size. But, ►3dly, This I think could not
have happened without the destruction of
many other animals. With respect indeed
to such as we have tamed, it may be
thought that we take so much care to provide
food for them, which they would not
have without our skill and industry, that
they should multiply more under our government
than in their natural state. But
it is to be considered, on the other hand,
what numbers we consume of them in
food, and how many more we destroy of
them by hard labour, and by using them
cruelly or unskilfully. Besides, they do
not propagate so much, and are not so
healthy under our care, being housed, and
kept in a way not unlike that in which we
keep ourselves, as they would be in the
natural state. But with respect to the wild
276animals, I think there can be no doubt
that they are greatly decreased by the empire
which man has obtained over them:
for in certain countries we have destroyed
whole specieses of them, such as we found
troublesome or dangerous to us; as
wolves, for example, in Great Britain and
Ireland, and lions in every part of Europe.
What remains of them, we preserve for our
sport and pleasure: but though they be
under the protection of the laws in all the
kingdoms, I believe, of Europe; yet those
laws have been so much neglected or evaded;
and so many ways have been fallen
upon of destroying them, that I hold the
fact to be certain, that their numbers are
decreasing daily, even in Europe, and
much more so in other countries, where
the men subsist upon them, as in North
America. I am persuaded therefore, that
with respect to us and the brutes, the general
law of nature takes place, that no
species can be increased beyond its natural
proportion, but at the expence of others *123.277

Chap. IX.
Objection answered, that there could be no
society without Language. — Instances of
such Societies.

I will now try to solve Mons. Rousseau's
great difficulty with respect to the invention
of language. He is convinced
that society is absolutely necessary for this
invention; but he seems to think that
language was as necessary for the constitution,
of society. Now I will endeavour to
shew, both from theory and fact, that animals
may associate together, form a
community, and carry on in concert one
common business, without the use of speech.

For this purpose nothing else is necessary
than that there should be among such
animals some method of communication.
If therefore there be other methods of
communication, besides that of articulate
sounds, there is nothing to hinder a society
to be constituted without the use of
speech. Now that there are other methods
of communication, is a fact that cannot
279be doubted: for there are inarticulate
cries, by which we see the brutes communicate
to one another their sentiments
and passions; there, are imitative cries;
and, lastly, there is the expression of
looks; that is, the action of the face, and
the gestures of the body. In one or other,
or all of these ways, it is evident
that animals may understand one another
so far at least as to act in concert, and
carry on some common business, which,
according to Aristotle, is the definition of
a political animal.

As to instances of animals acting in this
way, without the use of speech, I will not
insist upon such animals as the bee or ant,
because I hold, that they act by instinct
merely; that is, by a necessary determination
of their nature, without any will
or choice, and without any knowledge of
the operations of one another, or even of
their own; but I will give examples unexceptionable,
of animals that act in concert,
and by communication, and yet
have no use of speech.

And I wilt begin with the beaver; which,
as I have observed already, resembles our
species in this, that it is of an ambiguous
280nature, between the solitary and the social,
without any necessary determination
to either way of life; so that he sometimes
lives in society, and sometimes by
himself, according to the circumstances
and situation in which he finds himself.
In such an animal there must necessarily
be choice and deliberation, not instinct
merely, and therefore I think his example
will apply most appositely to our species.
This animal is truly political, in the common
sense of the word, at least when they
are in their social state; for they live in
what may be properly enough called villages,
consisting sometimes of twenty or five and
twenty cabanes, or little houses, and these
inhabited each by five or six and sometimes
to the number of ten pairs; for they are all
coupled in that way, male and female together,
These several families compose a
community or state, consisting commonly
of an hundred and fifty or two hundred,
beavers, who work together in concert in
all their public works, such as felling
trees, and building the dam of their pond.
And of this great community each cabane
is a part, forming a lesser community,
which works together in every thing relating
to the cabane, such as building it,
281and laying up a magazine of provisions
for it: for they have property among other
things appertaining to the political
life; and not property belonging to the
state only, which is commonly the case of
the Indians of North America, but property
belonging to each cabane. The construction
of their dikes and cabanes, as described
by Mons. Buffon, from whom I
take this account *124, is really wonderful,
particularly that of the dike, which is a
stupendous work for an animal of so small
a size, and built with so much skill, that I
do not think human art could build it
better. They have not however that mark
of humanity which I observe in the Ouran
Outangs, of using any instrument besides
those which nature has furnished
them, viz. the members of their own
body; for though they have very short
fore-legs, with the feet of them shaped like
a hand, having five singers divided, with
which they feel any thing, lay hold of it,
and carry it to their mouths; and though
they can easily erect themselves upon their
hinder parts, and very often do so; yet
they never use a stick, or any other instrument
of art. But except in this particular,
282and that they have no use of
speech, they are as much a political animal
as man, only much better policed
than any community of men that we
know at present; for they live together,
and carry on their public affairs in the
greatest peace and harmony, and with the
exactest observation of justice, never injuring
one another, either in their persons
or properties. What signs or methods of
communication they use in carrying on
their works Mons. Buffon does not mention,
but it is certain that they must use
some; and if their policy were carefully
observed, I am persuaded it would be
found, that there is an established government
among them of one kind or another,
without which I think it is impossible
that the affairs of their community
could be so regularly conducted.

In such a state I imagine men were, and
must have been, perhaps for ages, before
a language was invented. They must, I
think, have been associated as the beavers
are, living together in cabanes or huts *125,
283and carrying on of concert some common
work, either for their sustenance, such as
hunting or fishing, or in the way of defence
or attack. In short, they must have
been united in the political life; for the
mere herding together, without such
union, would not be sufficient for the
invention of so difficult an art as language,
or indeed of any thing which deserves
the name of art. For though I do
not deny, that man, by his natural sagacity,
and by experience and observation,
might perhaps, towards the close of a long
life, form some imperfect ideas, even
without the help of political union, I
think it is impossible that he could invent
any thing deserving the name of art. But
it is needless to dwell longer upon this inquiry:
for, as I have already said, I do
not think there is any reason to believe,
that men ever herded together without
acting in concert.

Of so difficult invention does this art
of language appear to me, that I imagine
men must previously have invented and
practised more difficult arts than the fishing
practised by those inhabitants of Jew
Holland whom Dampier mentions, or
284by the fish-eaters of Diodorus Siculus.
And though those New-Hollanders have the
use of speech, I can hardly believe that they
have invented it, but have learned it by
intercourse with some other nation; and
this I believe to be true bf all the nations
that have been found in a very barbarous
state, and yet having the use of speech.

The next animal I shall mention living
in a political state, without the use of
speech, is an animal not so well known as
the beaver, and mentioned only by one
author, so far as I know, but an author
of good credit, I mean Cardinal Polignac *126,
in his Anti-Lucretius. And he is
the more to be credited in this particular,
that the instance, as he confesses himself,
makes against his system, of the brutes
being no more than machines, according
to the philosophy of Descartes, which he
follows; This animal, he says, he saw
285himself somewhere in the Ukraine, upon
the banks of a river he calls Danastris. It is
named, he says, by the Poles Baubacis; and
is like a fox in appearance; but subsists
upon herbage. They live associated in
caverns under ground; and the business
they carry on is, foraging in the fields,
and making magazines for their provision
during the winter; and it is about their
fields and pasture that they quarrel and
go to war. Their battles, as our author
has described them, are very orderly and
regular; for they have a kind of military
discipline, and are formed into corps under
certain leaders. But the most extraordinary
circumstance he tells of them, is
their manner of treating their prisoners of
war, of whom they make slaves, obliging
them to work in the business of foraging,
and laying up provisions against winter.
And particularly he says, that they make
those slaves lie down upon their back, and
hold op their legs, and then they pack
the hay upon them, which their legs keep
together, and having thus loaded these
living carts, as our author calls them,
they drag them along by the tail *127. I
286think it can hardly be doubted, but that
this animal, with so much sagacity, if it
had likewise the organs of speech, would
in process of time invent a language.

The last animal of the brute kind I shall
mention living in this way, without language,
is an animal they call a sea-cat, of
which we have an account, that I think
may be depended upon, from the Russian
academicians in the description they have
published of Kamschatka, which they went
to visit by orders and at the expence of
the Czarina. This animal is amphibious
and, so far as appears, does not form
dates or republics like the beaver, but
lives in families, which are sometimes
very numerous, amounting to a hundred
and twenty, old and young: for the male
keeps a seraglio, sometimes of fifty females,
of whom he is as jealous as the
Grand Signior is of his. They keep up
a very strict family-discipline, punishing
their wives severely for neglecting any
point of duty, such as the care of the offspring,
for which they shew great love
and tenderness; and the consequence of
this discipline is, on the part of the wives,
very great submission to their lord and
287master, whom they endeavour to pacify
when they have offended him, by every
mark of humiliation and contrition; all
which he receives with the utmost stateliness
and sullenness. They have almost all
the passions and sentiments of men. They
are jealous, proud, quarrelsome, and revengeful;
and when they have suffered
any injury, and cannot resent it, they, like
Achilles in Homer *128, shed tears. They
are as brave as any Spartan, and will rather
die upon the spot than yield, or quit
their ground; and their military discipline
in this point is so severe, that if any
of them runs away, or even is suspected
of doing so, the rest fall upon him as
fiercely as they would upon an enemy,
and destroy him 129. Yet this animal has
no use of speech, nor, so far as I know,
organs proper for it: but it appears,
that without it he can practise the most
difficult of human arts, that of government,
and of government over females,
288in which most men have failed; and even
the legislator of Sparta, who, as Aristotle
tells us, wanted to regulate the lives of
the women as he had done those of the
men, but found it so difficult a work that
he was obliged to give it over.

But I think it is unnecessary to give
more examples of this kind from the brute
creation, since it appears to me that our
own species furnishes sufficient for my
purpose. And, first, there are the Ouran
Outangs. who, as I have said, are proved
to be of our species by marks of humanity
that I think are incontestable; and
they have one property more of the species
than the quadruped savages above mentioned,
which have been found in different
parts of Europe, that they walk erect.
They live in society, build huts, joined in
companies attack elephants, and no doubt
carry on other joint undertakings for their
sustenance and preservation; but have
not yet attained the use of speech.

But should any one, after all that is said,
still doubt of the humanity of the Ouran
Outangs, what can be said to the example
of dumb persons among us, whom no
body will deny to be capable of living together
289in society, and carrying on jointly
any fort of business; since we see both men
and women with that defect, not only capable
of acting in concert with others,
but of governing and directing.

And thus I hope I have removed Mons.
Rousseau's chief difficulty concerning the
invention of language, by shewing that
society, and even the political life, which
he judges rightly to be necessary for the invention
of language, may exist without

Chap. X.
Objection, That the law of nature, as it is
treated of by modern writers, supposes men
to have been originally rational and political.
— Answer to that objection.

I cannot conclude this book without answering
another objection, which will
readily occur to those who have studied the
law of nature and nations; a study that
was very fashionable some years ago, but
I think has become less so of late. It will
be said, that, according to my system of
290human nature, it is impossible to suppose,
that man, in his natural state, can be subject
to any law or obligation, not being
conscious of any rule of action, nor having
any ideas of right or wrong, because
he has no ideas of any kind. If this be
so, they will say, what are we to think of
those volumes that have been written
within these last hundred years upon the
law of nature, all supposing, that man is
by nature, and in his original state, rational
and social, and therefore subject to
certain laws and rules, which are laid
down in those authors at great length?

My short answer to this is, That those
gentlemen plainly beg the question, and
suppose, what I think is clearly disproved
by fact and experience, as well as argument,
that man, in his original state, is
rational and political. I think I have
shewn, that his natural state is no other
than that of the mere animal; and therefore
he can be only subject to that common
law of the animal nature, well
known by the name of instinct; a law
much superior to all laws of human institution,
or founded upon human institutions,
291and proceeding from a much higher

As to the authorities quoted against me,
the first who reduced this law of nature
into a system, and gave it the form of a
science, was Hugo Grotius, a name well
known in the learned world. This he did
in his excellent treatise De jure belli ac pacis,
written with a most commendable intention,
to try if he could establish any rule
of right and wrong *130 among persons who
may be said indeed to live in a state of
nature, such as Hobbes has described, of
war of every one against every one
, and a
state infinitely more terrible than the state
which he supposes: for there only single
savages fight,

Glandem et cubilia propter;

but here leviathans 131 indeed of enormous
292size take the field, having not hundreds of
hands only, like the giant of the poets,
but hundreds of thousands, armed with
deadly weapons, with which they wage
most cruel war. To speak without a figure,
the destruction of modern war is so
prodigious, by the great armies brought
into the field, and which are likewise kept
up in time of peace, and by the extraordinary
waste of men by fatigue, diseases, and
unwholesome provisions, more than by
the sword, while the internal policy of Europe
at present is so little fitted to supply
such destruction, that unless the princes
either fall upon some other way of deciding
their quarrels, or provide better for
the multiplication of people, Europe is in
the utmost hazard of being again depopulated,
as it once was under the Romans,
but without the resource which it then
had of barbarous nations to repeople it.

— But to return to our subject.

In this work, Grotius understands by
the law of nature, a law which is common
to the rational and social nature *132, in contradistinction
to what is called civil law,
293which is peculiar to each society or nation
of men. It is the same with the law of
nations, at least in the common use of authors;
though Grotius has made the distinction
betwixt them, making the law of
nature to arise immediately from, the dictates
of reason, and to be of universal obligation,
without any consent or compact;
whereas the law of nations is founded
upon the consent of nations *133. But he
confesses, that the terms are used promiscuously
even by the best authors 134. Now,
I acknowledge, that Grotius, as well as
Puffendorf, Barbeyrac, and many other
later writers upon the subject of the law
of nature and nations, does suppose, that
men are by nature rational, and were always
associated in states or communities
of one kind or another. But they only
suppose it, without proving it; and it is
plain, they have taken it for granted, without
so much as making a question of it.

But if their authority were more decisive
upon this point, I appeal from them to a
294much greater authority; I mean that of
those philosophers who formed the system
of the Roman law: for it is well known
to those who have studied that law, that
they were really philosophers, who, being
at the same time great men in the state,
and intrusted with the administration of
public justice, did apply the principles of
philosophy, and the method of science
by definition and division, to the laws of
private property among their countrymen;
a thing that never had been before done
in any nation. In laying the foundation
of their system, they have begun with the
law of nature, as that from which every
other law is ultimately derived. But what
is the law of nature, according to them?
Is it the law of the rational and social nature
only, as the modern writers upon the
law of nature and nations have defined it?
No: it is a law common to the whole animal
race. “Jus naturæ,” say they,
“est quod natura omnia animalia docuit.
Nam jus istud non human generis proprium;
sed omnium animalium quæ in
terra, quæ in mari nascuntur, avium
quoque commune. Hinc descendit maris
atque fœminæ conjunctio, quam nos
295matrimonium appellamus; hinc liberorum
procreatio, hinc educatio. Videmus
etenim cætera quoque animalia, feras etiam
istius juris peritiâ censeri.”

Thus it appears, that as we, giving an
account of the origin of language, have
gone back to that original state of our nature
when we were no more than mere animals;
so those philosophers, in giving
the origin of law, have likewise gone back
to the same original state, when we were
subjected only to that universal law which
governs the whole animal nature, and is
antecedent to reason, society, and all human
institutions. This is their law of
nature. As to the law of nations, they
define it thus: “Jus gentium est quo
gentes humanæ utuntur; quod a naturali
recedere facile intelligere licet: quia
illud omnibus animalibus, hoc solis hominibus
inter se commune sit; veluti
erga Deum religio, ut parentibus et patriæ
pareamus. — Ex hoc jure gentium
introducta bella, discretæ gentes, regna
condita, dominia distincta, agris termini
positi, ædificia collata, commercium,
emptiones, venditiones, locationes, conductiones,
obligationes, institutæ; exceptis
296quibusdam quæ a jure civili introductæ
sunt *135.”

Thus those founders of the Roman law
have distinguished accurately what other
writers have confounded, the law of nature
and the law of nations; making the law of
nature to be that which is common to the
whole animal race, directing every thing
that is necessary for the preservation of
the race; and they mention particularly
the conjunction of the male and female,
the procreation and education of the offspring;
and law here is used in the same
sense as when we speak of the laws of nature
which govern the inanimate parts of
the creation. The law of nations, on the
other hand, is not the constitution of nature,
but arises from human reason, and
the institution of society and political life;
and it is called the law of nations, because
it is the general law of the rational and
social nature, and consequently of nations,
which being independent of one another,
can be subject to no other law, at least of
human institution. From this law, these
authors derive religion, duty to our parents
297and our country, distinction of property,
commerce, and, in short, all the
rights that men enjoy, either in war or in
peace. For our authors do not, like Mr
Hobbes, make war the natural state of
mart, but derive it from this law of nations:
Ex hoc jure gentium introducta bella,
And this is the law of the rational
nature, different from the laws of inanimate
nature above mentioned, and also from
the laws of animal nature, in so far as
the word law, when we speak of the law
of nations, is used, in the proper and ordinary
signification, to denote a rule of action
prescribed to a free agent, of which
he is conscious, and wich which he voluntarily

The rules of this law of nations, at it
ought to be called, I hold to be binding
upon all rational men living in society,
princes as well as subjects, and to be
founded in nature; not indeed the original
nature or man, but that secondary and
acquired nature of a rational and political
creature, which he himself has formed;
and therefore this law is not improperly
called by some later writers, a secondary
law of nature
, in contradistinction to the
298primary law mentioned by the Roman
lawyers. I hold also, that the obligation
of this law is as much founded upon
compact, as the obligation of any private
citizen to submit to the laws of the particular
society of which he is a member.
For every man, by living in society, and
enjoying the protection and other benefits
of it, is understood to have agreed to submit
to the general laws of the rational and
nature, without the observation of
which, society could not subsist; and therefore,
if a man will not submit to this law,
he must fairly do as the Hottentot did, of
whom Mons. Rousseau tells the story, that
is, throw off his cloaths, and run to the
woods and fields, renouncing all the benefits
of society, as well as subjection to
its laws.

And thus I have endeavoured to shew,
that though society be absolutely necessary
for the invention of language, yet language
is not necessary for the constitution
of society; and having thus prepared
matters for the invention, I proceed, in the
next book, to shew in what manner it probably
was invented, and of what nature
the first languages were.299

Book III.

Chap. I.
What was required for the invention of Language,
besides the constitution of society.

In the preceding book, we nave placed
man in a state of society and or political
union, carrying on of common consent,
and with joint labour, some work
necessary for defence, or the support of
life. In this situation, and this only,
could language have been invented. But
more was necessary for the invention of so
difficult an art. And, in the first place,
The proper organs of pronunciation were
indispensably required. These are given
to some few animals besides man; but I
believe they are in none so perfect.

2dly, They must have been a very long
time in this political state; so long at least
as to have improved into an art the business
they were carrying on: by which I do not
mean to require, that they should have
300been regular artists, knowing the causes
and principles, of their art, and operating
by certain rules which they could demonstrate
from those principles; but my meaning
is, that they must have improved their
rude practice at first into a better practice
by observation and experience; and, in that
way, have fixed a certain method of doing
the thing, which, when it is done by degrees,
and from observation and experience,
may not improperly be called an
art. For, as I have already observed, one
of the great differences betwixt instinct
and art is, that what is done by instinct,
is performed as well at first as at last;
whereas art is necessarily formed by gradual
improvements. In short, before man
could have invented a language, he must
have been perhaps for many ages in the
same state the beaver is in, as I have described
it above. For the beaver, of all the
animals we know, that are not, like the
Ouran Outangs, of our species, comes the
nearest, to us in sagacity, and, as I have
already observed, appears to have some other
principle of action beside instinct; of
which, there is a proof that I have not
mentioned, arising from the form of their
301huts or cabanes; which, as Mons. Buffon
tells us, is not always the same; so that it
would appear they have different opinions
of things as well as we: whereas instinct
performs every thing in the same invariable
manner. I am therefore persuaded,
that the beaver did, from experience and
observation, the old teaching the young,
learn the architecture of his dike and his
hut, as we have learned our architecture
and other arts.

3dly, Another thing absolutely required,
as preparatory to the invention of a language,
is, that men should previously have
formed ideas to be expressed by language:
for it is impossible to conceive a language
of proper names only without general
terms. Now, ideas must have been formed
by an animal, such as man, carrying
on any common business, and operating,
not by instinct, but learning by observation
and experience. For such an animal
must have an idea of the end for which
he acts, and of the means for attaining
that end. For, as I have shewn, every animal
that does not act from instinct, like
the bee or the spider, must act with knoweldge
of the end. Besides, man, in the
302state in which I have described him, must
necessarily have had ideas, however imperfect
of trees and animals, and other
objects, with which he was conversant:
and he must have had more perfect ideas
of the instruments of art which he used;
especially if they were of his own invention.

Lastly, It appears to me to have required
an extraordinary degree of sagacity, to invent
so artificial a thing as speech; nor do
I think that there is any animal other than
man yet discovered, unless perhaps it be the
beaver, that has sagacity enough to have
invented it: for however easy the invention
may seem, now that it is discovered, and
so commonly practised; yet it was truly
far from being obvious, but, on the contrary,
very far removed from common
apprehension. For, in the first place, Man,
as we have seen, does not naturally form
articulate sounds; but, on the contrary,
it is a great work of art, difficult to be
learned even after it is invented, but infinitely
more difficult to be invented. 2dty,
Suppose this first difficulty got over, and articulate
sounds invented, it was by no
means an obvious thought, to apply them
to the expression of ideas, with the greater
303part of which they have no connection,
at least that is easily discovered; for though
there be words expressing certain sounds,
which are imitations of those sounds, it
is certain that by far the greater part of
words are not natural signs of ideas. And
how is it possible they should? for what
natural connection is there betwixt the idea
of a tree, ex. gr. the earth, the sun,
the moon, and any articulation of sound?
And indeed the making ideas in this way
audible, appears to me to have been full as
great a refinement of art, as the so-much-boasted
discovery of making sounds visible,
l mean the invention of alphabetical
characters; and so much the more wonderful,
that it was invented in a much
earlier age of mankind. And it must appear
still more wonderful when we consider,
that it is not the only method of
communication, and therefore not absolutely
necessary for the purposes of political
life; but that there are other methods, as
we have seen, which in great part answer
those purposes, and, with which accordingly,
other animals that live in the political
state, as well as man, remained satisfied.
Of these other methods we are
304now to speak more particularly, in order
to try whether from these we cannot trace
the progress to the invention of language.

Chap. II.
Of the several methods of communication in
use among men before the Invention of Language.

The only ways that I can think of by
which men could communicate together,
before the invention of speech, are
four: first, Inarticulate cries, expressive of
sentiments and passions; 2dly, Gestures,
and the expression of the countenance;
3dly, Imitative sounds, by which audible
things may be expressed; and, lastly,
Painting, by which visible objects may be
represented. The two first are common
to us with the brutes; the two last are peculiar
to man; and all the four may be
said to be natural signs of what they express,
for even the connection betwixt
inarticulate cries and the things expressed
by them, though it appear to be the most
305remote, is so established in nature, that it
is understood by every animal, without
any previous compact or agreement.

Of those inarticulate cries there is a very
great variety; and it is really surprising
how many different passions, such as love,
joy, anger, grief, fear, the brutes express
by them; and I am persuaded, the
nearer the œconomy of any of them comes
to ours, the greater variety will be found
in their cries, because they have the more
to express by them. The Russian academicians
say, that the sea-cat above mentioned,
which has so much of human nature
in it, can low like a cow, growl like
a bear, and chirp like a cricket, which
last is a song of triumph after he has vanquished
his enemy *136; and if the beaver
living in a social state was accurately
observed, there would be found a great
variety of this kinds of language among
them. When the brutes are tamed, and
become familiar with us, they acquire
voices and tones that they had not before.
Thus Porphyry the philosopher tells us,
that his partridge learned to converse with
him in a voice very different from what
306she used in communication with her fellows *137;
and some of them, as it is well
known, may be taught to articulate. But
it is evident, that all this variety of cries,
thought were much greater than it really
is, would not answer the purposes of human
life, when it came to be enlarged and
extended to many different arts and occupations,
which the growing wants of men
rendered necessary.

The next kind of expression I mentioned
was that of looks and gestures, which is
also very strong, and various among the
brutes, and it is a language which they perfectly
well understand. The only use they
make of it is to express their passions and
feelings; but we know certainly, from
the example of dumb persons among us,
that it may be used to express ideas: and
we learn from history, that they may be
expressed in this language, with the utmost
accuracy and precision; for in Rome
there was an art of this kind formed, called
the pantomime art, which was brought
to the utmost perfection about the time of
Augustus Cæsar 138. An artist of this kind
307could express by signs; not only every sentiment
and passion of the human mind,
but every idea, with as great accuracy;
and as great variety too, as any orator
could do by words; and it is a noted story
of Roscius the player in Rome, that he used
to contend with Cicero, which of them
could express the same thing, he by looks
and gestures, or Cicero by words, with
the greatest variety and copiousness.

There can be no doubt but that, before
the invention of language, this kind of
expression, as well as the other by inarticulate
cries, would be much used. That
savage nation which Diodorus Siculus, in
the passage I quoted before, calls the Insensibles,
conversed in no other way: and
the savages in North America do at this
day supply the defects of their language
by a great deal of action and gesticulation.
But it is impossible to suppose, that this art
of speaking to the eyes could be brought
to such perfection among savages as it was
by Roscius at Rome, or by the pantomimes
in after times, who danced whole
theatrical pieces, according to the expression
in antient language; that is; represented
them by gestures and movements
to music, without one word
308being uttered *139. Even in Greece, where
all the other arts of pleasure and entertainment
were cultivated, and brought to
the highest degree of perfection, the art
of the pantomime was not carried so far
as in Rome. For although their players
did no doubt express a great deal by
their action, particularly in the movements
of their choruses, and their monodies,
there was no such thing, so far, as I
can learn, practised among them as dancing
a whole piece, or even acting a single
monody, without speaking; at least not
in the better days of Greece. For in the
later times it is not improbable that they
may have adopted the pantomimes of the
Romans ; and Lucian appears to me to
309speak of it as an entertainment among the
Greeks in his time *140.

So far from being brought to this state
310of perfection among savages in the first
stage of humanity, I am persuaded it
would not go the length of serving the purposes
of common intercourse, where there
was any number of wants to be supplied by
mutual assistance: or if we could make so
wild a supposition, as that it would be carried
to the same degree of perfection as in
the polite age of Augustus, still it is in
sundry respects far inferior to the method
af communication by speech; for, first, it
speaks only to the eyes, so that it can be
of no use but in the light; and then we
cannot converse in that way at such a distance
as by words, which alone makes it
a very improper vehicle of our thoughts
in carrying on any business without doors,
such as fishing and hunting, which are
the chief occupations of savages.

The third method of communication I
mentioned was by imitative or mimic sounds,
which, I doubt not, was practised before
the invention of language, as it has been
since; but the expression of it could not
go any great length; no farther than to
denote sounds, or objects which were distinguished
by particular sounds, such as
beasts and birds of different kinds.311

As to the last method I mentioned,
painting, or delineating any object by
drawing the figure of it, it may have been
used before the invention of language;
but it could go no farther than to communicate
the notion of visible objects;
and, besides, it is of slow and difficult
practice, and not at all of so ready use as

Of these four ways of communication,
it is plain, that only two have any
connection with language, viz. inarticulate
cries and imitative sounds, which are
both modifications of the human voice,
as well as language, and could alone lead
the way to the invention of language.
And we are now to inquire, whether,
from one or other, or both of these, that
invention can be traced.312

Chap. III.
Whether there might not be a language of
music singly, without any articulation.

But there is a third modification of the
human voice which deserves to be considere
before we proceed further, and that
is musical modulation. There is an ingenious man,
an acquaintance of mine *141,
that has bestowed a good deal of thought
upon this subject, who conjectures, that
the first language among men was music,
and that before our ideas were expressed
by articulate sounds, they were communicated
by tones, varied according to different
degrees of gravity or acuteness: for
he considers language to be of so difficult
invention, that it could not have been attained
313to at once, without trying every
more obvious variation of the voice, such
at that of musical tones, which we first
learn by imitation of the birds; whereas
articulation we could not learn by imitation.
Having therefore in that way learned
to sing, it was natural enough to think
of applying the variation of tones to a
purpose of utility, as well as pleasure,
namely, the communication of ideas. And
he adds, that when it was found necessary
to enlarge the expression of language by
the addition of articulation, the tones were
still preserved.

The thought, I own, is very ingenious;
and thus far it is supported by fact, that
I believe all the antient and original language,
without exception, have a great
deal of accent or tone in them *142.; and the
want of such tones is but a modern corruption
314of language, of which I shall have
occasion to speak afterwards. Thus the
Greek has its tones, by which one syllable
of a word is raised above another in respect
of acuteness; and the interval has
been marked by their grammarians, as I
shall explain more particularly in the sequel.
In the Latin language likewise there
are the same tones, though with some variations
with respect to the syllables upon
which they are placed. The Chinese,
which, though an imperfect language, is
a very antient one; and for that
very reason, it is likely so imperfect, is
full of tones, insomuch that sometimes
the same monosyllable signifies nine or ten
different things, according to its different
accents. The Indians too in North America,
as I have been informed by gentlemen
who have studied their languages,
have tones by which they make the same
word signify different things, of which
they have given me instances; and particularly one
of those nations, the Hurons,
according to the account given us of their
language by Gabriel Sagard, an author
whom I shall have occasion frequently to
315mention in the sequel *143, supply the defects
of their language, particularly the
want of tenses, persons, numbers, and
genders, by accent, only. These facts
convince me, that the variation of the
human voice by tones or musical modulation
was, if not prior to language, at
least coeval with it; for which reason it is
taken into the composition, and made a
part of all original languages; and yet I
dare not venture to affirm, that there ever
was a language of singing merely before
there was a language of speaking. And I
316should rather incline to think that there
was not. One thing at least is certain,
that such a language would be altogether
insufficient for the purposes even of savage
life: for the music of savages is of
very small compass; that of the Hurons,
according to a specimen of it given by the
author I just now mentioned, does not rise
above a fourth, which is all the compass
of the music of the birds, from which, in
all probability, it was copied *144. And we
know, that the ancient Greek lyre had no
note above a fourth, and they had no interval
so small as a semitone, which is also
the case of the Huron music. There must
therefore have been in such a music so little
variety of expression, that I can hardly believe
it ever was used as a language.

Quitting therefore this hypothesis, we
mull try if we can deduce language from
inarticulate cries, or imitative sounds.317

Chap. IV.
That Language arose from natural Inarticulate

With respect to mimic sounds, I am
of the same opinion as with respect
to musical notes, that there never was a
language entirely, or even for the greater
part, composed of them; and I am
confirmed in this opinion by observing,
that there are no such words, at least so
far as I have observed, in the barbarous
languages; so that I am disposed to believe, that
the framing words with an analogy
to the sound of the things expressed
by them — verba ex sono facta, — as the
grammarians call them, belongs rather to
languages of art, than to the first languages
spoken by rude and barbarous nations.
It is therefore inarticulate cries only that
must have given rise to language; and, as
every thing of art must be founded on nature,
it appears at first sight very probable,
that language should be nothings but
an improvement or refinement upon the
318natural cries of the animal, more especially
as it is evident, that language does
no more than enlarge the expression of those
natural cries: for such cries are used by
all animals who have any use of voice to
express their wants; and the fact is, that
all the barbarous nations have cries expressing
different things, such as cries of
joy, grief, terror, surprise, and the like.
The war-cry of the Indians of North
America is well known to those that have
been among them; and they have a cry
they return from any expedition, by
which they signify, before they enter their
village, what success they have had. The
savage girl whom I have so often mentioned,
entertained me with several such
cries, belonging to her nation; and she
told me, that while she was travelling
through the woods with the negro girl
who had escaped the shipwreck with her,
as they did not understand one another's
language, they conversed together by signs
and cries; and in that way they understood
each other so well, that they made
a shift to live upon what they could catch
hunting together. These two methods of
communication were undoubtedly the first
319used by men; and we have but to suppose
a great number of our species in the
same situation as those two girls, carrying
on some common business, and conversing
together by signs and cries, and we
have men just in a state proper for the invention
of language. For if we suppose
their numbers to increase, their wants
would increase also; and then those two
methods of communication would become
too confined for that larger sphere of life
which their wants would make necessary.
What then was to be done? I have shewn
already, that signs alone would not do,
unless they were to acquire the pantomime
art, which cannot be supposed.
The only thing then that remained to be
done was, to give a greater variety to the
natural cries. The question then is, What
sort of variation was first made upon them?
And here I agree with Dr Blacklock, that
as the natural progress is from what is
easy to what is more difficult, they would
first make the more obvious and simple
variation by tones, before they distinguished
them by the more difficult operation
of articulation. And I am the more
inclined to be of this opinion, that I observe
320a difference of tone in the natural
cries of other animals, of which I have no
doubt but a skilful musician could mark
the intervals: so that, though I cannot
agree with the Doctor, that there ever was
a singing language, entirely composed of
different musical notes; yet I think it is
highly probable, that the natural cries
were varied by tones, before they were
distinguished by articulation.

But this variety, as I have observed,
could not go far; and therefore another
method of variation was to be thought of.
And being advanced so far, it was natural
that so sagacious an animal as man should
go on farther, and come at last to the only
other variation remaining, namely, articulation:
for that there was such a progress
in the formation of language, as in
all other things belonging to man, I cannot
doubt; and I am persuaded, that the
most barbarous and imperfect language
extant is at the distance of many stages
from its first origin.

The first cries that would be articulated
were probably those by which animals call
upon one another, and exhort or command
one another to do certain things:
321for such cries are necessary in carrying on
any work by joint consent, such as we
must suppose men to be engaged in before
a language could be invented. And the
first articulation must have been very
simple, the voice being broken, and distinguished
only by a few vowels and consonants,
but not so exceedingly diversified
by various articulation as we see it is in
the languages of art: for if in any thing
the progress of man was slow, and from
small beginnings, it must have been so in
the invention of this most difficult art.

Further, as all natural cries, even tho'
modulated by music, are from the throat,
and larynx, or knot of the throat, with little
or no operation of the organs of the
mouth; it is natural to suppose, that the
first languages were for the greater part
spoken from the throat, and that what
consonants were used to vary the cries
were mostly guttural; and that the organs
of the mouth would at first be but
very little employed.

And this theory of mine is confirmed
by what the above-mentioned author,
Gabriel Sagard, tells us of the language
of the Hurons, of which I shall make
322much use in this inquiry, because it is
more imperfect, and therefore nearer to
die origin of the art, than any language,
so far as I know, that has hitherto been
discovered. He says, that they have a
form of address or salutation, which is no
more than a vocal cry aspirated, that is,
pronounced from the throat. It is Ho, ho,
; and in calling upon one another they
use the sounds, Hi, ha, and halouet, which
are very frequent in their songs, when
they call upon one another to be merry;
and it may be observed, that we have in
our language words of much the same signification,
such as, hollow, halloo, huzza,
, and such like, which are no other
but cries, calling or exhorting, a
little articulated.

This author also informs us, that they
have but very few consonants in their language;
and particularly they want the
labial consonants, such as b, p, f; the
consonants v, m, n; and even the vowel
u, because it is pronounced by the lips;
and with respect to the consonants of this
kind La Hontan says the same thing, and
he adds, what indeed is a necessary consequence,
that they never shut their lips in
323speaking *145; which is the case of every animal
that utters only natural cries. Neither
have they the lingual consonants g
and r; and accordingly our author tells
us, that they could not pronounce his
name, Gabriel, otherwise than Aieuiel:
for it seems, that though they have not
the pure vocal sound u, which I take to
be that of the French u, they have such
as come near to what is expressed by the
diphthongs eu and ou, which last is also
used in setting down their words. ln
short, the consonants they mostly use are
gutturals, such as k, q, x; and they
make very much use of the aspirate h,
which is also pronounced from the throat;
and La Hontan says, that almost all their
words have a very strong aspiration 146.
And their language, upon the whole, seems
to be little better than animal cries from
the throat, of different tones, a little broken
and divided by some guttural consonants.
And with this account of the Huron
language agrees perfectly the account
324which the wild girl I have so often mentioned,
Mademoiselle le Blanc, as they call
her in France, gave me of the language of
her country, and which, for any thing
I know, may be a dialect of the Huron
language: for she said, it was all spoken
in the throat; and that there was no use
of the tongue or lips in it; and, to convince
me that it was so, she pronounced
some words that she remembered of it.

From this account of the origin of language
it appears, that the first sounds articulated
were the natural cries of men,
by which they signified their wants and
desires to one another, such as calling
one another for certain purposes, and other
such things as were most necessary for
carrying on any joint work. Then in process
of time other cries would be articulated,
to signify that such and such actions
had been performed, or were performing,
or that such and such events had happened
relative to the common business. Then
names would be invented of such objects
as they were conversant with. This increase of
words would make more articulation
necessary. And thus the language
would grow by degrees; and as it grew,
325it would be more and more broken and
articulated by consonants; but still the
words would retain a great deal of their
original nature of animal cries: and thus
things would go on, words still multiplying,
till at last the language became too
cumbersome for use; and then art was
obliged to interpose, and form a language
according to rule and method; of which
we shall endeavour in the sequel to give
some account; but in the mean time we
must explain more particularly the nature
of those first-invented languages which
the necessities of human life produced
without any art at all.

Chap. V.
General Observations upon the first Languages.
— Division of them into the Matter
and the Form. — The nature of Articulation,
and the Division of Elemental sounds
into Vowels and Consonants.

Before I enter into particulars upon this
subject, I will make one or two general
observations. And, first, In such languages
326as I have described, being nothing
but the natural and instinctive cries of the
animal, a little varied and distinguished
by articulation, no art or regularity can
be expected. And accordingly Sagard tells
us, that the Huron language is so very
imperfect and irregular, that it is impossible
to form a grammar of it; that is, to
reduce it to any rule. 2dly, A consequence
of this is, that those languages can
have no standard, or any thing fixed and
established in the use of them, such as we
see in formed languages; but must be differently
spoken by the different families
or tribes of which the nation is composed,
and must also be constantly changing
and fluctuating: for it is art only
that gives any constancy or stability to
practice; which, till the art is invented,
must be various and capricious. Thus,
till the orders were invented, and architecture
formed into an art, every man
built his house according to his own
fancy; and even in nations where there
appears to have been some taste of building
established, as among the Goths, it
is remarked in their buildings, that there
are no proportions constantly observed,
327nor any uniformity in the ornaments, no
capital of one pillar being exactly like another,
nor any two doors or windows ornamented
in the same manner. In music
likewise, till it became an art, there could
be no Regularity or uniformity in the compositions,
as may be seen in the music of
barbarous nations. In painting also, and
sculpture, till they were formed into arts,
and the standard of beauty fixed, as it was
among the antients, the taste of beauty
would be as various as the untaught fancies
and apprehensions of the several artists,
as we may perceive with respect to
the painters and sculptors among us who
have not formed their taste upon the antient
models. And in this very matter of
language Gabriel Sagard informs us, that
hardly any one village of the Hurons
speaks the same language as another; nay
two families of the same village do not
speak exactly the same language.

But in order to consider more particularly
the nature of those primitive languages,
we must return to the division of language
with which we set out, into its
matter and form. And I will begin with
die matter of the languages of savages;
328that is, the sounds of which they are composed:
with respect to which I have anticipated
a good deal of what I had to say,
in the account I have given of the origin
of them; and I hope what I have further
to say, will naturally follow from
that account. But first I must say something
in general of articulation; for it is
that which distinguishes language from
any other sound.

The breath which comes from the lungs,
and passes through the wind-pipe, is the
subject-matter both of singing and speaking.
In singing, this breath is modified
by different contractions and dilatations
of the wind-pipe, and of the rimula, or
little hole of the larynx, which produce the
several degrees of gravity and acuteness of
sound, such as form the different notes of
music. After the breath has passed the larynx,
it receives a further modification by
the several positions and actions of the several
organs of the mouth, such as the tongue, the
teeth, the palate, and the lips; to which also
we may add the throat and the nose, which
have a great share in the pronunciation of
some languages, and more or less in the
pronunciation of all. The alteration made
329by those organs upon the voice is
call articulation, a metaphor taken from
the articuli or joints of the limb of any
animal: for as these divide the limb into
parts, so articulation breaks and divides
the continuity of the voice, which othervise
would go on in the same tenor, without
any distinguishable parts. And it ist
in this way that all the variety of sound is
produced, by which men have been enabled
to express their conceptions, and to
mark every conception by a different
sound. To analyse all this variety of
sound into its several elemental parts, was
a work of art of very great difficulty,
which certainly was not performed by they
first savages who spoke, nor for many ages
after. What therefore we have to say
upon this subject, we shall refer till we
come to speak of languages of art. It will
only be necessary at present, in order to
understand what follows, to observe, that
some of these elemental sounds are produced
by the position or configuration of the
several organs, with little or no action of
them, while others are produced by the
action of those organs. The first kind are
called vowels, making a sound by themselves:
330for they are nothing else but the
blowing of the breath with a tremulous
concussion of the wind-pipe and larynx,
(which is absolutely necessary in order to
produce any sound), through the organs
mouth in a certain position. The
other class is called consonants; a name importing,
that they cannot be founded by
themselves without the aid of the vowels.
For is is evident, that the action of the
organs alone can produce no vocal sound
without the expiration of the breath, tho'
it may make some kind of beating or
chopping, which is the sound of those letters
they call liquids. The consonants
therefore are nothing else but vocal sounds,
or vowels modified and diversified by the
several actions of the different organs of

And here we may observe how complex
and difficult a business articulation is , tho'
by constant practice it appears so easy.
For, let us take the simplest syllable, which
is that made by a single consonant and
vowel such as ba, or ab, there must be
complicated together in the same enunciation,
the blowing of the breath, with
tremulous concussion above mentioned;
331the position of the organs necessary to
produce the vocal sound; and the action
of the organs, by which the consonant is
sounded: which action must be either before
or after the position of the organs
forming the vowel, according as the consonant
is sounded first or last in the syllable.
But the business becomes much more
difficult, when we compound vowels, making
what we call diphthongs, and when
we throw into the same syllable two or
three consonants, as in the English word
strength. In short, the more accurately
and minutely we consider language, the
greater the difficulty of the invention, appears,
and indeed the absolute impossibility of
it, unless we suppose it to be invented
by very flow degrees, from very
small beginnings, and in a very long
course of time.332

Chap. VI.
Of the Matter of the first Languages. — That
the Words of them are long, and full of
Vowels. — Answer to Objection.

As those who know no more of men
than what is to be seen in the several
countries of Europe, will form very false
judgements of human nature; so those
who rhave studied only the regular languages,
of art, without having recourse to the
barbarous languages, which are so much
nearer the origin of speech, will be apt to
form an hypothesis concerning the sound
of the first languages very different from
that which I shall endeavour to maintain,
and for which, I hope, I have already prepared
my readers. They will suppose, that
the first languages, being very rude and
barbarous, as no doubt they were, would
be crouded with consonants, and therefore
of very harsh sound, like some of the
northern languages in Europe, such as the
German, and other dialects of the Teutonic.
And, 2dly, They will suppose, that
333the first languages consisted mostly of monosyllables,
or very short words; and that
it would be only in process of time that
they were lengthened, and in consequence
of the improvement of the grammatical
art, by which composition, derivation, and
inflection, were introduced into language.
In short, they will be apt to imagine, that
what we call now the roots of a language,
were truly the original words, and at first
the only words.

These suppositions may at first sight appear
not improbable, but if my hypothesis
concerning the origin of language
be well founded, the direct contrary of
both suppositions is the truth.

And, first, With respect to the number
of consonants in those primitive languages,
it is the necessary consequence of my
theory, that the words of those primitive
languages must have been very vocal, being
nothing else but the natural cries of
the animal, a little varied and distinguished
by articulation. And from what we
have said in the preceding chapter, of the
nature of articulation, it is evident, that
the consonants, being formed by tne action
of the organs of the mouth, and
334consequently of much more difficult pronunciation
than the vowels, which are
sounded by the simple position of the organs,
it was impossible that they could
be much used at first. And so difficult
is the pronunciation of them, that at
this day, as was before observed, there is
hardly any language to be found which
has the use of them all. I know none, except
the Greek; which in this respect, as
well as in every other, is the most perfect
language that I am acquainted with *147. And
those who have not learned early in life
to pornounce any consonant, even such as
are of most easy pronunciation, cannot afterwards,
without the greatest difficulty,
be taught to sound them; as appears from
what La Hontan tells us of a Huron, upon
whom he bestowed four days to no
335purpose, in endeavouring to teach him the
pronunciation of the labial consonants *148.
such as b, p, m, which are the first that
our children learn to articulate. But, on
the other hand, the five vowels are to be
found, I believe, in all languages, though
not all sounded in the same way in every
language. For even the Huron language,
though it have not, as I have observed, the
pure sound of the vowel u; yet it has the
mixed sound of it in composition with
other vowels, such as the diphthongs eu
and ou. And the reason is very plain
upon my hypothesis, viz. that the vowels
are the simplest and easiest modification of
the natural cries, being a very small alteration
of them, compared with what is
made by the consonants; and the sound
of some of them very much resembles the
cries of certain animals.

If there were any doubt in this theory,
which I think there is not, it is entirely
removed by the fact. For all the barbarous
languages that have hitherto been
discovered, without exception of one, are
full of vowels, with very few consonants.
336I have already mentioned the Huron language,
the most original of any that I
know; and to it I may add another language
of North America, viz. the Algonkin *149,
and, in general, all the languages of
North America, which are dialects of either
the Huron or Algonkin. The language
of the Galibi, a people of South America 150,
affords another example: for in
that language likewise the words are very
vocal. A third example is furnished by
the language of the Caribs, inhabiting the
Caribbee islands, which appears to have a
considerable affinity with the language last
mentioned 151. A fourth, by the language
337of the Peruvians, as appears from the
specimens of it given us by an author
before quoted, viz. Garcilasso de la Vega's
history of the Incas of Peru. A fifth instance
is the language of the Esquimaux
in North America, of which Mr Dobbs
has given us a vocabulary, in the accounts
he has published of the attempts to discover
the north-west passage. And, lastly,
the specimens that have been lately published
of the language of the new-discovered
island of the south sea, Otahitee,
shew, that this language likewise is extremely

All those barbarous languages want
many consonants, as well as that of the
Hurons; but even of those consonants
which they have, they never found two
together in the same syllable. This is observed
by Garcilasso de la Vega; who, after
telling us, that the Peruvian language
wants the consonants s, b, d, f, g, and x,
adds, that when two of the other consonants
happen to stand together in the same
word, they divide them in the pronunciation
into different syllables. Thus they
pronounce roc-ro, not ro-cro. And I have
had occasion to observe, that a black that
came from a country in Africa near to
the settlement of Goree, where he was so
old that he never learned English well,
could not pronounce two mute consonants
together; so that, instead of stable, he always
said table; instead of sconce, conce, &c.

Thus we see, the progress has been from
the use of single consonants in syllables to
the use of two or more. But is there not
a further progress in this matter? And
was there not a time when no consonants
at all were used, and when the only articulation
was by vowels? And indeed, when I
339consider the great difficulty in the pronunciation
of the consonants, and in combining
them in the same enunciation with
the vowels, I think it is highly probable,
that men did begin to articulate in that
manner, and did not at once arrive at the
more difficult articulation by consonants.
There are indeed no facts to support this
hypothesis; for we have not yet discovered,
so far as I now, any language so
much in the infantine state. But we find
words in those barbarous languages that
come very near to the simplest kind of articulation,
such as the word oueouelim, mentioned
by La Hontan in his vocabulary
of the Algonkin language *152, and translated,
voilà qui est bien. This word, and
many others of the same kind that might
be instanced, is plainly a cry articulated
by two consonants only, one in the end
of it, and one towards the end of it. I
think it probable, that the language of
those Ouran Outangs of Abyssinia, whom
I mentioned before, is all of that kind,
consisting of words articulated by vowels
340only, or at least with, very few consonants *153.

The next thing to be considered is, the
length of the words in the primitive languages.
And I say, that instead of being
short, and consisting of monosyllables,
they were of great length: and this too is
a consequence of those languages being
derived from natural cries; for such cries
of almost all animals have a certain tract
and extension, such as the lowing of an
ox, the neighing of a horse, the braying
of an ass, the roar of a lion, &c. And
that we may not think man an exception
from this rule, we need only attend to
the dumb persons among us, who utter
inarticulate cries, sometimes very
loud, but always of a considerable length.

There is another reason why the words
of those languages should be long, namely,
that having very little articulation by
consonants, and none at all at first, according
to my supposition, it was necessary
341that they should have a certain length,
in order to distinguish them from one another,
and give them that variety which
was necessary to express various things;
whereas we that have so many consonants,
can by their means give a considerable
variety even to one syllable, and a very
great variety to two or more.

And this theory too is strongly supported
by the fact; for all the barbarous languages
have their words of a remarkable
length. Some of them indeed have them
longer than others, because all of them
are not equally near to the original source;
and some of them, as I shall have occasion
afterwards, to observe, begin to be languages
of art: but all of them without
exception have a much greater length of
words than is to be found in the languages
of civilized nations. All the languages
above mentioned plainly prove this;
and particularly the language of the Hurons,
the words of which, as they are set
down in Sagard's Dictionary, are of an
enormous length. The language of the
Caribs, according to the account of it
given by the missionary above mentioned,
exceeds even the Huron in this particular;
342and Mr Dobbs, in his vocabulary of
the Esquimaux language, has given us
the word won-na-we-uek-tuck-luit, signifying
much; and a word but a little shorter,
signifying little, viz. mik-ke-u-awk-rook.
But the language of a barbarous
people that Mons. la Condamine met with
upon the banks of the river Amazons, exceeds
all others in length of sound, of
which he gives a specimen in their word
for the number three, viz. poetazzarorincouroac *154.

And thus it appears, that the length, as
well, as the vocality of the words, is a
common property of all barbarous languages.
Now whatever is general must
have a general cause; and let any man
who is not satisfed with my hypothesis
consider what other cause he can assign.

There is an objection will occur to
this hypothesis of mine, from the example
of the Hebrew and the Chinese languages.
The first of these is undoubtedly a most
antient language, and by some thought
the parent of all others; yet it has no extraordinary
length of words, and abounds
343with consonants; particularly the roots of
it have all three consonants and but two
vowels. The Chinese is likewise a language
of great antiquity; and yet all its
words are monosyllables.

I answer, first, with respect to the Hebrew,
That it is no doubt a language of
very great antiquity; and, as it is likely,
the parent of many others: but it does
not from thence follow, that it is one of
those first languages which grew out of
the first attempts of savages to articulate,
and were formed without any rule or art,
which are the subject of our present inquiry;
but, on the contrary, if what is the general
opinion of the learned in that language be
true, it must be a language of very great
art; for they tell us, that the roots of it
consist of triads of the several consonants
variously combined. This shows evidently,
that the language is the work, not of
savages, but of men of art, who knew
the power of the letters, and the effect of
the several combinations of them; and in
that way formed the radical words of the
language, from which all the rest are derived,
according to certain rules: so that
the language is a complete system, which
344never could arise out of the rude and casual
essays of men first beginning to

And as to the objection arising from the
Chinese language, there is no evidence
neither that it is one of those languages
concerning which we are inquiring; but,
on the contrary, as the language among
the Chinese is so great a part of their
learning, there is reason to think that it
was the work of learned men; more especially
as it bears none of those marks of
a rude and artless language, which I shall
take notice of afterwards when I come to
speak of the formal part of such languages:
for it is a language, so far as I can
be informed, full and accurate in its expression,
with all the parts of speech as
distinct as in our European languages.
For what reason the artists of this language
stopped short in the formation of it,
and did not enlarge their words by composition,
derivation, and inflection, is a
curious enough question, of which we
may take occasion to say something afterwards;
but it does not belong to our present

It may also be objected, that the language
of the new-discovered island of Otahitee,
mentioned above, is not so remarkable
for the length of its words, as
for their being full of vowels, and of very
soft pronunciation. As to which, I was informed
by one of those gentlemen to
whom the learned world, and indeed all
mankind, is so much obliged for the toils
and dangers they have gone through in
search of knowledge, that it is far from,
being a barbarous language; for they
have cases of nouns, and tenses of verbs,
which they form as we do, the cases by
prepositions, and the tenses by auxiliary
verbs; and they have all the parts of
speech that we have, without exception
even of the adjective, which is not to be
found in any barbarous language, as I
shall take occasion afterwards to observe.
There is likewise etymology in their language;
that is, derivation and composition;
and as to the length of their words,
he told me, they were generally of several
syllables; and he could recollect but one
monosyllable in the whole language, tho'
he has applied himself particularly to the
346study of it, and had made so great proficiency
as to be able to speak it with tolerable

Chap. VII.
Of the Formal part of Barbarous Languages,
— An account of it from Theory.

I come now to consider the formal part
of barbarous languages; that is, the
sounds of them as signicant; a subject
much more curious, and more worthy of
the attention of a philosopher, than mere
sounds in any language, but particularly
in the language of savages: for as there
is a necessary connection betwixt thinking
and speaking, we trace there the progress
of the human mind in its state of infancy;
a fact of the greatest importance in the
history of man, but of which there can be
no other record except the languages of
barbarous nations.

In treating of this subject I will follow
the same method that I have followed with
respect to the material part of such languages.
— I will begin with the theory:
347Not that I pretend to have discovered a priori,
and from speculation merely, what I
am to deliver upon this subject; for as I
should have known nothing of the original
state of man, without having studied
the manners of barbarous nations; so I
should have been equally ignorant of the
origin and progress of language, if I had
not studied the language of barbarous nations:
but because the method of science
requires, that we should begin with the
principles and causes, and from them deduce
the facts, though the order of investigation
and discovery be just the reverse:
and if it shall appear, that from the facts
the theory naturally arises, and that again
the theory explains and illustrates the
facts, it is hoped very little doubt will remain
of the truth of my system.

Whatever is expressed by language,
may be reduced to two general heads;
things themselves, and the relations or
connections of things. We will begin
with the things considered absolutely
in themselves, and as unconnected with
one another. And, in this view, they are
either substances, and their properties; or
actions, and their circumstances; or, in the
348grammatical language, they are either
nouns substantive, and adjectives, or
they are verbs and adverbs. I will begin
with substances, and their properties. And
in treating this matter I require only one
postulatum, which certainly will be granted;
me, That men never would give a
name to that of which they had no idea;
and if they had not a separate idea of any
thing as distinguished from other things,
they would not give it a separate name.

That there can be no language without
ideas, is evident; and it is as evident, that
there can be no ideas without abstraction.
We have therefore thought it necessary, in
this philosophical inquiry into the nature
of language, to explain at some length the
doctrine of abstraction; and however foreign
to the purpose it might appear at the
time, we hope it will now be found of
use in explaining the nature of those primitive
languages. We have there shewn,
that this operation of abstraction is performed
in a greater or less degree of perfection;
that when it is most perfectly
performed, every quality of the individual
is considered separately by itself:
then it is considered, what of those qualities
349it has in common with other individuals,
and what it has peculiar to itself.
When the mind perceives what is common
in any subject, then it is said to generalize;
and when it unites together the
qualities in any subject that are common
to other subjects, and makes owe of them,
then it recognises the species, and is said
to have the idea of the thing; and that
idea is perfect, if it takes in all that is
common to that thing with other things
of the same species, and nothing more.

That savages should perform accurately
this double operation, of first separating
and then uniting, and should in that
way form those perfect ideas which only
men of science form, must be allowed to
be a thing impossible. They will no
doubt have some general notion of the
species, such as we have seen even brutes
have; and consequently some obscure
perception of the difference betwixt what
is common to the species and what is peculiar
to the individual, and making no
part of the idea of the species; but they
will not make this distinction accurately,
so as to take nothing into their idea but
what belongs only to the species. To be
350convinced of this, we need only recollect,
that all our ideas arise from perceptions
of sense, and that the sense presents every
thing to us as it exists in nature; that is,
with all its qualities, both those belonging
to the species, and those which are peculiar
to the individual. Now, can we
suppose, that the savage, in forming his
idea of the species, will take in only what
belongs to it, rejecting all the qualities
of the individual, which are often more
striking and obvious to the sense than the
specific differences? If we could conceive
his notion to be so correct, then no doubt
the name he would impose would be the
proper name of the species; but as it is
impossible to suppose in a savage such
justness of thought as can only be the effect
of much thinking and observation,
it is evident that the name with which he
marks any thing must denote, beside the
qualities common to the species, some that
belong only to individuals. Thus he will
not denote a bear by a name signifying
only that species of animal, but he will
use a word signifying a great bear, or a
small bear, a strong bear, or a weak fear, or
any other quality of the individual bear
351that affects his senses or imagination most.
They will not have a word denoting a
house, or a hut, in general, but they will
have a word signifying a great or a little
, or my hut, or your hut.

Thus it appears, that at first there would
be no name of any substance considered
abstractly by itself, because there would be
no such abstract idea of it; but the word
expressing any such substance would always
denote something more than the substance
itself. And as to the qualities of substances,
the matter is still clearer; for it is
impossible to conceive, that savages should
have any idea at all of qualities abstracted
from the substance in which they are necessarily
inherent. It is evident, therefore,
that the words of those primitive languages,
expressing qualities, would only denote
them as they exist in nature; that is,
inherent in the subjects to which they belong:
so that the names of qualities
would be blended with the names of substances.

When I was upon the subject of ideas,
I observed, that some were more general,
and some less general; and accordingly in
all the languages of civilized men there
352are terms more or less general. Thus animal
is a more general name than man,
comprehending under it, besides man, all
other specieses of animals. In like manner,
animated body is more general than
animal, — body than animated body, — substance
than body; and there the progression
ends, substance being one of those universals
of the highest order, known by the
name of categories *155. The question is,
How far our savage will proceed in this
ascent? That he will go up to the top of
the ladder, must appear impossible 156. But
353how far will he proceed? Will he go the
length of animal in the instance given? I
think not; and my reason is, that the
354wants of life, from which we are to deduce
all the improvements of the human
mind, would only make it necessary for
355him to have an idea of the several specieses
of animals with which he was conversant,
not to form a more general idea
356comprehending them all. Such an idea
would come only in process of time, and
after his sphere of life was so much enlarged,
and reasoning so far advanced, as
to make it necessary for him to distinguish
betwixt animals in general, and the
vegetable or inanimate nature; and it
would not be till all the necessaries of life
were supplied, and till men had found
leisure to philosophise, that they would
find out those remote likenesses which
constitute such ideas as those of body, substance,
matter, space, and the like. And
thus it appears, that the ideas of savages,
and by consequence their language, would
357at first be confined to the lowest specieses,
unless where it happened that the specific
differences of such specieses were not so
readily to be distinguished. In that case
it is natural to suppose, that they would
leap over the lowest specieses, and ascend
at once to the genus immediately above
them. Thus, ex. gr. they would have
the idea of a tree, before they had the ideas
of the different specieses, such as ash,
oak, beach, &c.; but where the specific
differences are obvious, as in the case of
such animals as man, horse, dog, &c. it
is impossible to suppose that they would
not form the idea of those several specieses
before they formed the more general idea
of animal.

The last thing I have to observe, with
respect to the names of substances and
their qualities, is, that many substances,
as well as their qualities, have a similitude
one to another; and therefore they are
expressed in the languages of art by words
which have likewise a resemblance: which
resemblance is produced by derivation or
composition. These make a considerable
part of the grammatical art, known by
the name of etymology, but which we cannot
358not suppose the savages to be possessed of.
The consequence of this will be, that every
thing, however like to another, will be
expressed by a word quite different; which
will occasion a great multiplication of
words entirely new, that are saved by the
two artifices above mentioned, of composition
and derivation; and it will make all
the words of the language unconnected
with one another; so that there will not
be what we call roots in it, nor any
thing like a system of a language. And
what will occasion a further multiplication
of words in such a language, is the necessity
of denoting the same substance joined
to a different quality by a different name,
and the same quality joined to different
substances, also by a different name.
Whereas, in languages of art, the same
substance, with how many soever different
qualities, is always known by the same
name; and likewise the same quality is
expressed by the same word, whatever
different substances it is joined with.

I come now to speak of actions and
their circumstances. With respect to which,
accurate abstraction considers sour things
separately: 1mo, The action itself; 2do,
359the agent; 3tio, The subject of the action,
or that which suffers; and, lastly,
The manner in which the action is performed.
Let us take, for example, the
verb signifying to beat, there is first the
action of beating, then the agent or person
who beats, then the person or thing
which suffers, or is beaten, and, lastly,
there is the manner of beating, whether
quickly or slowly, severely or gently, &c.
But all these exist together in nature, and
therefore the savage considers them all in
the lump, as it were, without discrimination,
and so forms his idea of the action,
and according to this idea expresses it in
words. Whereas, in languages formed by
rule, all those things are expressed by different
words, or by variations of the same
word, if that can be conveniently done.
Further, there are some necessary adjuncts
of the action, such as time. This too,
though inseparably joined with it in nature,
accurate abstraction separates, and
expresses either by a different word, or by
a certain variation of the same word: but
this the savage likewise throws into the
lump, and expresses all by the same word
without variation, or by a word quite different.
360There is also the disposition or
affection of the mind of the speaker, with
respect to the action affirming or denying
it, commanding it, or wishing it, These
dispositions, in regular languages, are expressed,
either by different words, or by a
variation of the word denoting the action;
whereas, in the languages we speak of,
they are either not expressed at all, or by
a word altogether different. And this will
produce a further increase of words not
necessary: for as there is no word expressing
the action simply by itself, if there be
the least change in any circumstance of
the action; nay, if there be but an alteration
in person, number, or time, or in
the disposition of the mind of the speaker
with respect to the action, there must be a
new word. For as they have no ideas of
those circumstances separate from the action,
they can have neither separate words
to express them, nor variations of the same
word, even if they knew that great secret
of artificial languages, I mean inflection.

The last thing I proposed to consider
was, the expression of the relation or connection
of things, and of the words expressing
them, with one another; which
361makes what we call syntax, and is the
principal part of the grammatical art, being
that for the sake of which all other
parts of grammar are intended, and without
which they would be of no use *157; for
the end of grammar is to produce speech
or discourse. Now, let ever so many
words be thrown together of the most
clear and determinate meaning; yet if
they are not some way connected, they
will never make discourse, nor form so
much as a single proposition. This connection
of the parts of speech in languages
of art is either by separate words, such as
prepositions and conjunctions; or by cases,
genders, and numbers, in nouns; and in
verbs, by numbers and persons, and also
by voices and moods, such as the infinitive
and subjunctive, which, in the more
perfect languages, are all expressed by inflection
or variation of the principal word.
But in less perfect languages, the most of
them are denoted by separate words. Now,
as every kind of relation is a pure idea of
intellect, which never, can be apprehended
by sense, and as some of those relations,
362particularly such of them as are expressed
by cases, are very abstract and metaphysical, it
is not to be expected, that savages
should have any separate and distinct idea
of those relations. They will therefore
not express them by separate words, or by
the variation of the same word, but will
throw them into the lump with the things
themselves. This will make their syntax
wretchedly imperfect, and very much resembling
the language which they used
before they had words; I mean, the language
of signs. For we may observe, that
the greatest defect in the language of our
dumb persons is the want of signs of connection
betwixt the ideas which they express
by their gestures. And we may observe
the same defect in the language of
our children while they are learning to
speak: for though they have the words,
they do not know how to join them together
in syntax.

This is my notion of the nature of the
first languages, deduced, as the reader will
perceive from my philosophy of the human
mind, laid down in the first book of
this work. And we are now to examine
whether this theory is supported by fact.363

Chap. VIII.
The preceding Theory illustrated by Examples
from the Barbarous Languages.

There are only three barbarous languages,
so far as I know, of which we
have any particular account published that
can be depended upon. The three are those
I mentioned above; the Huron, the Galibi,
and the Caribbee; of which we have dictionaries,
and grammars also, so far as it
is possible to make a grammar of them,
given us by men of letters who had studied
them. The Huron is the rudest and
most imperfect of the three, and therefore
it is from it chiefly that I shall take my

And, in the first place, There is no such
thing in this language as derivation or
composition: so that, whatever analogy
words may have in their signification, they
have none at all in their sound. The Hurons
therefore have not attained to that
art by which a language is connected together,
and the number of different sounds
364very much abridged. The consequence of
which is, that if their sphere of life were
not very narrow, there would be such a
multiplicity of words entirely different
from one another, that the memory would
be overburdened, and the language become
too bulky and cumbersome for use *158.

2dly, Substances are commonly not expressed
by themselves, but in company
with their qualities, and often with actions
concerning them, as shall be afterwards
observed. Even the common relations
of father, mother, uncle, aunt, are
365not expressed simply by themselves, but
with the adjuncts of mine, thine, his, and
by words entirely different one from another.

3dly, There is no such thing in the language
as a quality expressed without the
particular substance in which it is inherent:
for there is not in the whole language
one adjective, that is, a word denoting
a quality inherent in some undetermined
subject; far less have they abstract
nouns, as they are called, derived from
adjectives, such as goodness, badness, and
the like. They have not therefore a word
which expresses good or bad; but they have
words which signify you are good, or you
are bad

4thly, In actions, they do not commonly
make the distinctions above mentioned,
betwixt the action, the agent, the
subject of the action, and the manner of it;
but very often express all together by the
same word. And hence it is, as our author
observes in his preface, that they have a
great many words which are so many sentences.
Thus they express by one word,
There is water in the bucket; by another
word quite different, There is a great deal
366of water
; by a third, different from either,
You have overturned the water in the
. But by one and the same word they
express, Thou shalt be very glad of it, and
Thou art very glad of it. Their verbs commonly
express the action with the subject
of 1 the action, and but very few denote
the action simply by itself. Thus there is
no word which signifies simply to cut,
but many that denote cutting fish, cuttingwood,
cutting cloaths, cutting the head,
the arm, &c. In like manner, they have
no word that denotes the simple idea of
giving; but there are two or three pages
in our author's dictionary filled with
words signifying to give different things.
This again multiplies their words so
much, that, if it were not for the reason
above mentioned, their language could not
serve the ordinary purposes of life.

5thly, As to tenses, numbers, and persons,
our author tells us in his preface,
that they commonly do not distinguish
them otherwise than by the accent or
tone: and in the same way they distinguish,
whether the verb affirms or interrogates.
The different tenses, therefore,
numbers, and persons, are commonly expressed
367by the same word; or if they are
expressed by different words, it is by words
altogether different, and unconnected with
one another. Thus, I have said, Thou hast
, He hath said, are all expressed by words
quite different; — I have said it, by a
fourth word, not at all like any of the other
three; and I have said to him, by a
fifth word, likewise entirely different.

6thly, There is not in the Huron language,
nor in either of the other two, so far
as I can discover, any word denoting a
higher genus, such as animal or vegetable,
and far leis matter, space, beings, or such
like metaphysical entities. This is observed
by M. la Condamine of the language
of the savages that he saw upon the
banks of the river Amazons, who have
words of such an enormous length; and
it is true of all the barbarous languages
without exception. In what I have said
above, I hope I have sufficiently explained
the reason of this so general property of
those languages.

Lastly, With respect to syntax, they appear
to have none at all; for they have
not prepositions or conjunctions. They
have no genders, numbers, or cases, for
368their nouns, nor moods for their verbs.
In short, they have not, so far as I can
discover, any way of connecting together
the words of their discourse. Nor is this
a peculiarity in their language; but it is
the same in the languages of the Galibi
and Caribbees, as we are informed by the
authors who have given an account of
those languages, though neither of them
be so rude and imperfect as the Huron.
Those savages therefore, though they have
invented words, use them as our children
do when they begin to speak, without connecting
them together; from which we
may infer, that syntax, which completes
the work of language, comes last in the
order of invention, and perhaps is the
most difficult part of language. It would
seem however, that persons may make
themselves understood without syntax.
This I think can be done no other way
but by the arrangement of the words,
(which is a considerable part of the syntax
in modern languages that have not cases),
by accents or tones, or by gestures and
signs. The Hurons, and I believe all the
barbarous nations, have a great variety
369of tones; they have also much action in
their speaking; and there can be no doubt
but that the position of the word will commonly
determine what other word in the
sentence it is connected with.

And thus I think it appears from fact,
as well as theory, that those primitive
languages are natural cries, a little varied
and distinguished by articulation, signifying
things as they are conceived by savages;
that is, mixed together as they are
in nature, without being divided into certain
classes, commonly known by the
name, of the parts of speech, and without
being connected together in syntax.370

Chap. IX.
Progress of the Barbarous Languages towards
Improvement. — Account of Languages that
are not barbarous spoken by Barbarous
Nations; — such as that of the Garani,
— of the Algonkins, — of the Goths, —
of the Albinaquois. — This last too artificial.

But although the Huron language be,
as I have said, the most rude and
imperfect of any that have come to my
knowledge, yet even in it we can see beginnings
of improvement; which are the
more to be attended to, that they are so
many steps of the progress of the human
mind in the art of thinking.

And, in the first place, as the great defect
of all barbarous languages is, the expressing
different things by the same word,
without abstracting and separating them
one from another; where-ever we see any
one thing expressed by a distinct word, it
is to be reckoned an improvement of the
people in the faculty of thinking, and by
371consequence of their language: for if they
had not first formed a separate idea of the
thing, they never would have expressed it
by a separate word. I have observed already,
that they are not so far advanced
in abstraction as to divide the quality
from the substance in which it is inherent,
and to express it by a distinct word; but
they have made an abstraction less violent,
and with which it was natural they should
begin; I mean, of the substance from the
qualities; and considered the substance as
existing by itself, without any particular
quality, and have given it a separate
name. This, I think, must necessarily have
been the first abstract idea that was in any
degree perfect, formed by men; and accordingly
the Hurons have come the
length of forming some such ideas, and
giving names to them. For example, they
have a word which denotes trees simply;
others which denote certain specieses of
trees , of fruits, and of animals, others
that denote works of art, without the addition
of any quality.

2dly, In generalization they have begun
to go beyond the lowest species, not only
in trees, but in animals: for though they
372have not a word, as I have already observed,
to express the genus animal, yet
they come pretty near it, having a general
word which denotes the quadrupeds of
the forest
, and another which denotes the
tame quadrupeds
, such as dogs and cats.

3dly, They have made some progress in
that most artificial part of speech, the
verb; for, in the first place, they have
carried abstraction so far in some few instances,
that they have abstracted the action
from the agent, and from every circumstance
accompanying it, and have invented
a word to express it simply by itself.
Then they have made the distinction
of the three persons; and in some few of
their verbs this distinction is marked by a
variation or inflection of the word, as in
the expression, I am hurt. — Thou art hurt,
— He is hurt
, the same word, with a different
inflection in the beginning, expresses
all the three persons. This indeed
is uncommon; but it is not so uncommon
that one of the persons should be
distinguished from the rest by a variation
of the word; as in the word which signifies
to sneeze, the second person of the
present is distinguished from the first person
373by the addition of the letter s to the
beginning of the word. Thus the first
person, I sneeze, is atsonsta, and it is the
same with the third; but the second person
is satsonsta. And in this very verb there
is a mood, namely the infinitive, viz. atshonsta,
denoting the action by itself, without
any person. I have found too one
verb, and but one, where there is a distinction
of the time by a variation of
the word; it is the verb signifying to say,
in which the present, I say, is distinguished
from the perfect, I have said, by a different
form of the word.

But these are all improvements that
have been made upon the language: for
the original state of it, as is evident from
what still remains of it, was as I have
represented it, and still continues so with
respect to the cases of nouns, and the syntax;
which inclines me to believe, that
these two parts of language are of most
difficult invention.

There is one thing concerning these
Hurons which deserves our notice; that
although they are but very little advanced
in the arts of life, and their language
particularly is, as we have seen, so imperfect,
374perfect, yet they have a decimal arithmetic
such as we have; for they count to
ten, and then turn back again as we do.
Our author has given us the names of the
principal numbers up to two thousand,
which I have set down below for the entertainment
of the curious, and at the
same time to serve as a specimen of their
language *159. Whether their arithmetic
375goes farther our author does not say;
but I imagine it does not, as I do not
think their sphere of life does require any
376further use of numbers; and I observe,
that men in that state of human nature
very seldom go farther in any thing than
the necessities of human life require. The
people of Kamschatka go no farther than
the number twenty, the number of their
toes and singers, and then they ask, What
shall we do next *160?
And the arithmetic
377of the Caribbees, we are told, goes no farther
than that of the Cyclops in Homer, viz.
to the number five; and yet these people
have made greater progress, as we shall
see presently, in the art of language, than
the Hurons. This I think makes it very
probable, that the Hurons have learned
their knowledge of numbers from some
other nation more advanced in the arts of
life: and it is not unlikely that the Caribbees
have got their language in the same
way; for there have been strange migrations
and mixtures of nations at different times;
and indeed there is hardly any thing that
we can conceive to be possible that has not
happened in a long course of time *161.

The language of the Galibi, according
to the account of it given in the grammar
and dictionary before mentioned, is much
less imperfect than that of the Hurons;
for they have come the length of dividing
speech into parts, as we do. They not
378only mark the different persons in their
verbs by a variation of the word, but they
have also distinct names for them;
so that they have pronouns; and they have
even adjectives. They have likewise those
pegs or nails in the structure of language
which we call conjunctions. But they
have very little of composition or derivation.
They want cases altogether, as well
as the Hurons; and their syntax, except
that they have conjunctions, and some
prepositions, is as imperfect.

The Caribbee language has an affinity,
as I observed before, with that of the
Galibi; but from the account given of it
by the missionary above mentioned, it appears
to be more imperfect, though not so
imperfect as that of the Hurons; for they
have some kind of derivation and composition,
and more tenses for their verbs than
the Hurons: but they often express a
whole sentence by a word; which is not
the case of the Galibi language.

So far therefore we may see the progress
of the art of language among the Galibi
and Caribbees, and even among the Hurons;
but we are not to imagine, that even
among the nations that are accounted barbarous,
379the art of language has not gone
farther: for there is a people that they call
Garani, in the country of Paraguay in
South America, of whose language I have
seen a Spanish dictionary and grammar,
printed at Madrid in 1639, written by a
Jesuit, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
It is very accurate, and the work of a
learned grammarian; and from the account
he gives of this language, it is a
regular-formed language, as much as any
that is spoken at present in Europe,
and preferable to them all in this respect,
that it has declensions of nouns by inflection,
and conjugations of verbs, expressing
likewise by flection the tenses,
numbers, persons, and voices. And
they have a peculiarity in the first persons
plural of their verbs, such as is not to be
found in any other language that I know,
but is likewise in the language of the people
of Brazil, as I was informed by Mons.
de la Condamine at Paris, to whom I was
obliged for the use of the grammar and
dictionary of the Garani: for they have
a first person plural inclusive, that is, including
both the person who speaks, and
the person to whom he speaks; and another
exclusive, that is, excluding the person
380to whom you speak; both marked by
different inflections of the word. In
French, they make the distinction by the
expression nous autres, which is the exclusive
plural; and in English, by a greater
circumlocution. This is an accuracy of
thinking, which shews them to be far advanced
in the grammatical art, and makes
me have the same conjecture concerning
them that I mentioned with respect to the
Galibi. For I think it is impossible that
they who have made so little progress in
the other arts of life, should have invented
so complete a language; and as they could
not have learned it from any of the nations
presently in their neighbourhood, I
think it is very probable, that, some time
or other, by one of the many changes and
revolutions that have happened in this
earth, they have been connected with
some more civilized nation, from whom
they have learned to speak.

There is another language, from the
name of which we should expect nothing
but rudeness and barbarity, and yet it is a
great work of art, such as may be compared
even to the Greek, and in many respects
is preferable to the Latin. The language
381I mean is the Gothic, the parent of
all the different dialects of the Teutonic,
such as the German, the Dutch, Swedish,
Danish, Icelandish, and of the English among
the rest. There is only one book of
it extant, and that but a short one, viz. a
translation of the four gospels, which is
preserved in the university of Upsal in
Sweden. There are also preserved some
fragments of the epistle of Paul to the
Romans. From these remains, small as
they are, we discover that it is a complete
language in itself, having its roots all of
its own growth, from which it forms the
rest of its words by derivation and composition;
and it is copious enough to express
every thing in those translations by
words of its own, without borrowing one
from the original Greek, as I have been
assured by a gentleman learned in language,
and who has studied this very
diligently. It has all the several parts
of speech distinguished from one another,
and among others the adjective of three
genders. It forms the cases of its nouns
by flection, and has five declensions as
well as the Latin; in all which, there are
four cases, distinguished from one another
382by the difference of termination, viz.
the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative.
It has an article of three genders,
as the Greek has, and also a dual number
in the two first pronouns, and in their
verbs. These have four moods, as well
as the Latin verbs, formed by the change
of termination, and three tenses, with the
variety of persons and numbers, all formed
in the same way. And, lastly, it has
prepositions, conjunctions, and a regular
syntax *162.

The last language I shall mention deserves
particular notice, being the most
artificial, if not the most perfect language
of any that I have hitherto mentioned. It is
the language of the Algonkins, once a great
and flourishing nation in North America,
till they were almost entirely destroyed by
the Iroquois. It is one of the two mother-tongues
in that part of the world,
the Huron being the other; and all the
other languages of North America are dialects
of one or other of these two. La
383Hontan says, that the Algonkin is the
learned language of Canada, as much esteemed
there as the Greek and Latin are
in Europe *163, and he has given us some
account of it, but a very imperfect one.
I have had occasion to be better informed
concerning it by the French Jesuit whom
I mentioned before, who had a much better
opportunity of knowing it than the
Baron Hontan, for he was seven years
missionary among the Albinaquois, a nation
of Indians who speak a dialect of
this language, of which he was perfectly
master, as otherwise he could not have discharged
the duty of his mission. What he
told me of it was in substance as follows.

Although it be, as I have said, a very
artificial language, as will afterwards appear,
it still retains several marks of a primitive
language, though much farther
removed from the origin of the art than
the other mother-tongue of North America.
For example, it has not that part
of speech we call an adjective, that is, a
word denoting a quality, existing in an indefinite
subject; but they supply it by the
384verb, as if in English I said, instead of a
wife man
, a man who is wife; or, to bring
it nearer to the idiom of their language,
as if, instead of saying in Latin, vir sapiens
I should say, vir qui sapit.

2do, They have no word to express the
action simply and absolutely; ex. gr. they
have no word denoting the abstract action
of doing; but it must be doing some particular
thing, or kind of thing. In like
manner, they have no word to express
simply going; but they have one denoting
going by land, and another expressing going
by water
. And there is in all their
verbs a distinction, which shall be afterwards
explained, whether the subject of
the action is definite or indefinite: so that
the verb always comprehends in some sort
the subject, and never denotes the action
simply and abstractedly.

3tio, They have no possessive pronouns,
but only a primitive one, which they likewise
use for a possessive.

4to, They had not originally in their
language any abstract nouns, that is, substantives
expressing abstract qualities of
substances, though they have now got
385such words, as shall be afterwards explained.

5to, They have not yet got words expressing
abstract relations, such as father
or son; but they have words which express
my father, or my son.

These are the marks of rudeness and
simplicity in their language. But the following
shew a great deal of art and contrivance.
For, In the first place, as to the
sound of their language, they have a great
deal of variety, using all the letters we use,
except only the f and the v, which none
of the North-American languages use:
whereas the Huron, besides wanting the
f, has none of the labial consonants. Then
they have several aspirates, and also long
and short syllables. And Mr Roubaud
mentioned some words signifying different
things, which are only distinguished one
from another by the length or shortness
of the syllables. Further, the language
is far from being harsh, or of unpleasant
sound: but, on the contrary, is sweet and
flowing; for you very seldom find in it
two consonants together; and by elisions,
where it is necessary, they prevent the
gaping of vowels upon one another.386

With respect to the words considered as
significant, they use those three great artifices
of language which I have so often,
mentioned, viz. composition, derivation,
and inflection.

With respect to composition, they have
as much of it as any other language, and
by far the greater part of the words are
composed of verbs and adverbs, (the adverb
being a part of speech much used by
them), expressing in a very ingenious
manner the nature of the thing signified.
Derivation also is used by them as in other
languages; and particularly they have a
great number of derivatives from the third
person singular of the present of the verbs,
by which they express the abstract action
of the verb, as from curro, cursus.

As to inflection, they have more of it
than any other language I have heard of.
For not only in that way do they form the
cases of their nouns and the tenses of their
verbs, but they form verbs expressing so
many different modifications of the action,
that it is difficult to ascertain the number
and variety of them.

With respect to the cases of their nouns,
they have three formed by different inflections,
387viz. the nominative, accusative, and
ablative, if the noun be noble, that is, if
it express a living thing, or what belongs to
a living thing
: but if it be ignoble, that is,
expressing an inanimate thing, it has only
two cases, a nominative and accusative.

The verbs, in the first place, form their
tenses by inflection: I mean their present
and their past; for as to the future, they
form it as we do, by auxiliaries, such as shall
and will. They have two forms of the perfect,
both distinguished by inflection; the
one denoting, that they themselves saw
the action that is past, and that therefore
it may be depended upon as certain; the
other expressing, that they have it only
by report.

The voices and moods they form also
by inflection; by which I would be understood
to mean, an alteration of, or an
addition to, the final syllable of the word.

As to the persons of their verbs, they
form two of them, viz. the first and second,
by prefixing to the verb the pronoun;
but as there is only one other person,
they say that needs no mark of distinction;
and therefore they give you only
the simple tense of the verb, without
388any thing prefixed. They have, like some
other of those barbarous languages which
I have observed, two first persons plural,
distinguished by inflection; the one including
the person to whom the speech is
addressed, as when we say, we are all men;
the other excluding him, as when an Englishman,
speaking to a Frenchman, says,
we Englishmen do so and so. This in French
is denoted by the expression, nous autres.

But besides what is, commonly expressed
by inflection of verbs, the Albinaquois denote
in that way the subject of the action,
or the noun that is governed by the verb,
whether it be noble or ignoble, and also
whether it be in the accusative or the ablative;
so that the verb is truly declined,
as well as the noun, and agrees with the
noun it governs, much in the same way
that noun and adjective agree in the learned
languages: and further, they express by
inflection a distinction not known in any
other language that I am acquainted with,
whether the subject of the action be a
definite and particular thing, or an indefinite.

But besides all this, they express, by inflection
of or addition to the termination,
389the various modes of the action: and
in this way they create derivative verbs almost
without number. Thus they have not
only frequentative verbs, like those of the
Latin, and verbs which denote that the
action is reflected upon the actor, something
like the Greek middle verbs; but
they have verbs which denote the possibility
of doing or suffering the action, in
place of whom it is done, whether in my
own place, in your place, or in the place
of a third person; and, in like manner,
for whose behoof, &c. And further, by
the addition of a syllable, they express
whether the action is to be considered as a
great action, or contrarywise; and whether
a sad or doleful one; and, lastly,
they have a derivative verb which expresses
the negation of the action.

By this variety of expression, the forms
of their verbs become almost infinite, so
that Mons. Roubaud reckons, that from
a single present of a verb there may be
some hundreds of different forms derived,
and many more if the verb be noble; and
as the different forms are commonly expressed,
by addition of syllables, this makes
their verb run out into a prodigious length
390of word. He gave me for example the
verb neteberdan, which signifies, I govern
same indefinite thing
; and he showed me more
inflections and changes of that verb than
I could well number, besides very many
more which he could upon recollection
add. I observed, that in all those changes
the two syllables -teber always remained
invariable, and they were the only part of
the verb that did so; from whence I was
apt to conclude, that these syllables denoted
the action of the verb absolutely
and simply. But he said, there was no
such thing in the language, and that -teber,
though it may be called the theme or
radical verb, had no signification at all by

He assured me at the same time, that
this almost infinite variety of their verbs
was all according to the exactest rule and
strictest analogy, without those irregularities
and anomalies to be observed even in
our learned languages. And if you once
know the rules by which those different
verbs are formed, you may form as many
of them, as you have occasion for with
great facility. One day, in conversation
with a savage of his million, he observed
391to him the great order and regularity of
his language, with which he seemed to be
much surprised, as a thing he had never
before attended to. He said, the invention
of a language appeared to him an extraordinary
thing, and wondered who had
invented his language. You Europeans,
says he, have much more wit than we;
but has any of you invented a language?

The women among them, as they are
their historians, who preserve the memory
of their families and genealogies, so they
may be also called the keepers or preservers
of their language: for they really
understand so much of the grammatical
art, that they not only know the rules of
speaking, but can render a reason for them;
while the men are contented to learn from
them the practice, without troubling
themselves much about the reason for it.

Mr Roubaud observed while he was among
them, that the missionaries had
made considerable alterations in their language,
not only by giving, them new
names for things, but by introducing new
forms of speech; and particularly, that
they had taught them to form from their
verbs abstract substantives; that is, substantives
392expressing the abstract quality,
such, as we form from our adjectives, as
from good, goodness, and the like. And he
suspects, that they have learned in like
manner from the missionaries to form
verbal nouns, i. e. substantives expressing
the action of the verb abstractedly, as from
curro, cursus; and his reason for thinking
so is, that they do not use this way of
speaking in conversation among themselves,
but only with the missionaries.
And this, and other alterations which the
missionaries have introduced, makes the
language they speak with one another so
different from what they speak with the
missionaries, that he was often at a loss
to understand them conversing with one

From this account of the language of
the Albinaquois I am disposed to conjecture,
that in the progress of language,
which I imagine has been very long, there
has been invented a language too artificial,
such as this of the Albinaquois. and such
as it is said the Armenian language is *164,
393before a language of complete art was
formed, which is always as simple as the
nature of the thing will permit. First
there was a language altogether rude and
barbarous, such as we have described;
then was formed a language of art; but
by very flow degrees, as we have also seen.
Before the art was completed, there was
an intermediate stage of a language, too
intricate and complex in its structure.
And in this respect I imagine the invention
of language resembles the invention of
machines. At first a machine is contrived
very clumsy, and answering very ill the
purpose for which it is intended; then
art falls to work with it, and makes it
better, but so complex, and with so many
springs and movements, that it is not easily
used. But art still proceeding, and
observing the defects and inconveniencies,
at last devises a way of simplifying the machine,
and making it perform its operations
with as few powers and movements as possible:
and this is what I call the perfection
of art. To this perfection the language of
the Albinaquois is not yet arrived: but I
cannot doubt, that if the Albinaquois
were to cultivate arts and sciences as much
394as the antient Greeks did, and among other
arts the art of language, they would
come at last to simplify their language,
and make it perhaps as perfect as the

Chap. X.
Several questions concerning the first Languages.
— What words of them were first invented,
or what names of things. — Whether
they have any Radical Words. — Whether
there be only one primitive Language.

It may be asked concerning those primitive
languages, What words in them were
first invented? My answer is, That if by
words are meant what are commonly called
parts of speech, no words at all were first invented;
but the first articulate sounds that
were formed denoted whole sentences;
and those sentences expressed some appetite,
desire, or inclination, relating either
to the individual, or to the common business
which I suppose must have been
carrying on by a herd of savages, before
language was invented. And in this way
395I believe language continued, perhaps for
many ages, before names were invented *165,
For that the first articulate cries expressed
the names of things, I can no more believe
than that the neighing of a horse,
396or the lowing of a cow, is a name for any

If it be further asked, What names
were first invented? My answer is, The
names of the objects that they were most
conversant with, and had most frequent
occasion to name. Thus we see the Hurons
first gave names to trees, and to
those animals that they hunted or tamed.

It is an ingenious conjecture of the author
before quoted *166, and I think a very
probable one, that the first names of objects
were proper names denoting the individual;
but afterwards, by being applied
to objects of the same kind, on account
of their resemblance, they became
general names of the species. For the natural
progress of the human mind, with
which language always keeps pace, is from
individuals to generals; and therefore, as
individuals must necessarily have been first
known, it is likely that they were first

The radical words in a formed language
may be said, in one sense, to be the first
397words of the language, and accordingly
are called primitives. But such words are
far from being the first invented words:
for the barbarous languages having no
composition or derivation, can have no
roots; but they belong only to artificial
languages, and are the invention of the
grammatical art, to make the words of a
language connect and hang together, and
to save the too great multiplication of
them, as shall be afterwards shewn. And
in general, it is in vain to seek for any
thing like art in the truly primitive languages;
which being produced by the necessities
of life, and used only to serve
those necessities, had at first no rule or analogy
of any kind: so that, whatever we
find like art or regularity in them, we are
sure is an improvement of the original

There is another question concerning
language that has been much agitated,
namely, Which is the truly primitive language
from whence all the others are derived?
But first I think it ought to be
determined, whether there be any one primitive
language. Upon the supposition
indeed, that language could not have been
398invented by man, but was revealed from
heaven, it is evident, that this revealed
language is the only primitive one, and
that all the other languages of the world
are only dialects of it, more or less pure.
And then the question will be, Whether
that first language is yet extant? or, if it
be lost, What language now remaining
comes the nearest to it? But, on the other
hand, supposing language to be the
invention of man, (and it is upon that
supposition I proceed), I see no reason to
believe, that it was invented only by one
nation, and in one part of the earth; and
that all the many different languages spoken
in Europe, Asia, America, and the
new world that we have now discovered
in the South sea, are derived all from this
common parent. And accordingly I have
all along spoken, not of one primitive language,
but of primitive languages in general.
At the same time, I am far from
being of opinion, that every nation has
invented the language it uses: on the contrary,
I am persuaded, that so difficult an
art as language has not been the invention
of very many nations; but having been
once invented, and being of its nature
399of long duration, as well as easy communication,
it has been propagated to
countries very distant from those where
it was first invented. But the duration
and propagation of language is a curious
subject, which deserves to be considered
and explained at some length; after
which, we shall be better able to judge
whether one language could be spread all
over the face of the earth.

Chap. XI.
Of the duration of Language, and the facility
of its propagation. — Of the Celtic,
and the great extent of country over which
it is spread. — Of the Teutonic, and its
propagation. — Of the Greek and Latin, and
their connection with the Teutonic. — That
the Latin is the same Language with the
antient Pelasgic; and of the affinity betwixt
the Latin and Hebrew; — also betwixt the
Latin and Hetruscan.

As language is among the first arts invented
by men, so it is among the
last that are lost. It cannot be totally and
at once lost, except by the total destruction
400of the nation, either by some natural
calamity, like that of the Atlantic island
sinking, as it is said, into the sea, or by
the extirpation of war. In this last way
the Celtic language was lost in England,
when it was conquered by the Saxons,
and preserved only in the mountains of
Wales, which were not conquered by
them. But in the case of most other conquests,
the language of a country has not
been totally lost, but mixed with that of
the conquerors; and out of that mixture a
corrupt language produced. This was the
case of the conquest of the several provinces
of the Roman empire by the northern
nations. In Italy, for example, the
language that took place after it was subdued
by the Lombards, was a mixture of
Latin and the language of that people,
which is the present Italian. In France,
after the conquest of the Franks, the language
was mixed of Latin, of Tudesque,
or Teutonic, which was the language of
the Franks, and of what still remained of
the antient language of the country, viz.
the Celtic; and of those three languages
the modern French is composed *167, but
principally of Latin.401But it has sometimes happened, that the
conquered retained their language entire,
and that even the conquerors adopted it.
This was the case when the conquered nation
was much more numerous than the
conquerors. For example, when the Normans
conquered England; as they did not,
like the Saxons, extirpate the people, and
as they were but a small number, compared
with the body of the English nation,
English continued to be the language of
the country, notwithstanding that the
Norman was the language of the court
and of the law, and that the Normans,
for many years after the conquest, were
possessed of all the great baronies, and
held all the offices of dignity and trust in
the kingdom; yet, under all those disadvantages,
the English language stood
its ground, and at last prevailed over the
Norman, and came to be the general language
of the country. In like manner,
and for the same reason, the Tartars, tho'
they have conquered China thrice, and are
now, and have been for many years, in
possession of it, have not established their
language there; but, on the contrary, the
Chinese is not only the language of the
402country, but even of the court, and of all
kinds of public business. The Romans
likewise, when they conquered Greece,
did not make their language triumph there
as well as their arms; not only for the
reason I have mentioned, viz. the smallness
of their numbers; but for another
reason, as I imagine, namely, the greater
excellency of the Greek tongue, which
made it in time prevail even over the language
of their conquerors. This happened
after the seat of the empire was removed
to Constantinople: for though Latin
continued to be the language of the court
at Constantinople, and was the language
of the law for more than two hundred
years after, down to the time of Justinian,
the Emperor, who compiled a great body
of law in that language, which is the Roman
law that we use at this day; yet the
Greek at last prevailed, insomuch that
within less than a hundred years, they
were obliged to translate Justinian's collection
into Greek *168. And when Constantinople
403was token by the Turks, the Latin
was as much lost in the Eastern empire, as
the Greek was in the West.

For the reason last mentioned, the very
reverse has happened in some instances,
(such is the variety of human affairs in
the matter of language, as well as in every
thing else), and the language of the
conquerors, though few in number, has
become the language of the conquered nation.
Thus, when the Incas of Peru conquered
the several provinces of that country,
they introduced, with their other arts,
their language, which the people learned
instead of the barbarous jargon that they
spoke before *169; and the same, I am persuaded,
was the case of the barbarous inhabitants
of Greece when they were conquered,
or rather tamed and civilized, by
the Pelasgi. — But of this I will speak
more here after. The Romans too endeavoured
to make their language universal
through the whole orbis Romanus; and in
some of the provinces, particularly in
Gaul, they did make the Latin the prevailing
404language. But still the Celtic continued
to be spoken, at least among the
lower sort of people; and it is for this reason
that, as I have just now observed, the
French has at this day some Celtic in its

And not only is language the longest:
lived of all the arts of men, but it may be
said to live even after its death; for by
the writing-art languages have been preserved
many hundred years after they
ceased to be living. In this way the learned
languages of Greek and Latin continue
still to be the admiration and delight of
the scholar; and the Hebrew, which has
ceased to be spoken these two thousand
years, (for it appears to me that the genuine
Hebrew was lost among the Jews as
a living language during the Babylonish
captivity), is still to be understood. And
what is yet more extraordinary, some languages,
even without literary monuments,
have been preserved in the countries
where they were spoken, long after they
ceased to be spoken. This happens by
the names of places; for in this way the
Celtic is preserved, both in France and
Spain, without any written monuments:
405and indeed there are very sew such monuments
of that language to be found
any where. As language therefore is the
most lasting of all the memorials of men,
so of language itself the names of places
are what last the longest.

Another observation I will here make
concerning language is, that it is not only
most permanent and durable, but it is
of those arts which men easily carry about
with them, and perhaps is that of all others
which is the most easily communicated,
especially to those who have been
in the use of speaking any other language;
for to a mute savage it would, I believe,
be of very difficult communication. It is
by this property of language that the same
languages have been propagated to so
many parts of this earth: for where-ever
the people who spoke them went, there
also the language would go. Now as in
the early ages of the world the migrations
of nations, or of colonies from them, were
very frequent, it happened in that way
that languages were very far spread: so
that there is nothing more certain, than
that every country has not invented a language
406for itself; but, on the contrary,
there is the greatest reason, as I have said,
to believe, that language has been the invention
but of few countries, and that
from those countries it has been propagated
to many others. It is of this propagation
of language that I am now to
speak; and I will begin with the language
of the Celts, who certainly, if not the
most antient, were among the most antient
inhabitants of Europe.

The Celtic, if I can believe the accounts
I have heard of it, is spread over a great
part of the world, and is to be found in
places so remote from one another, as
shews, that there must have been a most
extraordinary intercourse and communication
among men in antient times. The
French Jesuit above mentioned, from
whom I got my information concerning
the language of the Albinaquois, told me
as a fact which he himself could attest,
that one of his mission having lost his way
in the woods, and strolled into the country
of the Esquimaux, staid long enough
there to learn the language of that people;
after which he came back again to his
407countrymen; and happening one day to
go aboard a French ship at Quebec, he
found there among the sailors a Basque,
that is, a native of the country at the foot
of the Pyrenean mountains on the side
of France, whom, by his knowledge of
the Esquimaux language, he understood
very well, and the Basque likewise understood
him, so that they conversed together.
Now the language that the
Basques speak is undoubtedly a dialect of
the Celtic; and it is now discovered, that
the Esquimaux language is the same which
is spoken by the natives of Greenland.
so it appears, that the Celtic was not only
the antient language of France, Spain,
Britain, and Ireland, but that it has
spread itself over the northern parts of
Europe and America.

And further, with respect to this language,
I am informed by a gentleman
from the highlands of Scotland, who was
some years in Florida in a public character,
that the language of the natives there
has a great affinity with that dialect of the
Celtic which is spoken in those highlands;
and particularly, that their form of salutation,
408by which they ask you, Are you well?
is the very same *170.

Those who would desire to know more
of this very antient language, and of the
409many languages that are supposed to be
derived from it, may consult M. Bullet's
memoirs of the Celtic language, published
410in French, in three volumes in folio, at
Basançon, in 1759.

The Teutonic also is a language very
far spread. It is at present the language
of all Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden,
Norway, and Iceland; and the English
is a dialect of it. The parent of this
language is the Gothic; of which, besides
some inscriptions, there is only extant a
translation of the four gospels, preserved
in the university of Upsal in Sweden, and
some fragments of the epistle of Paul to
the Romans, But we know it was once
the language, not only of the Goths, but
of the Vandals, the Lombards, and the
Jepidæ: for Procopius, a contemporary
historian, tells us, that all those nations
spoke the same language *171. Now, as the
Goths, and in general all the conquerors
of the Roman empire, came from the antient
Scythia and Samatia, that is, the
north-east parts of Europe and north-west
of Asia, comprehending all the country
now known by the name of Tartary, and
a considerable part of Muscovy and Siberia,
it is evident, that, some time or
411another, the Gothic must have been the
language of all that great tract of country.
And accordingly there are still remains of
it there to be found. For there is so great
a resemblance betwixt the language presently
spoken in Persia *172 and the Teutonic,
that it is impossible it can be accidental.
And Busbequius the German, who in the
sixteenth century was sent ambassador by
the Emperor to Constantinople, relates 173,
that he there conversed with two men
from Crim-Tartary, and found, that the
language there had a great affinity with
the German. For proof of which, he has
given us their names of numbers, which
are plainly Teutonic; and also several other
words, out of many more, that he
heard, which any man who knows English
may understand. And not only have
they those vestiges of the language of the
Goths still remaining in the east; but their
characters, I mean the Runic letters, are
to be found there. For Strahlemberg, the
Swedish officer, who has written an account
412of Siberia and Tartary, relates, that
he found Runic inscriptions in the deserts
of Tartary *174.

If it could be further proved, that the
Celtic, and Teutonic, or its parent the Gothic,
were originally the same language,
which is the opinion of M. Bullet above
mentioned, it would, I think, establish
this proposition, That there was but one
language antiently spoken all over the
north, north-east, and west of Europe, and
the northern and western parts of Asia.
Now, I should think it might be discovered
with pretty great certainty, whether
there was any affinity betwixt the Celtic
and Teutonic, by comparing the most antient
remains of the Celtic, which I believe
the poems of Ossian are, with the
mod antient remains of the Teutonic,
such as the Edda, and other old Icelandish
poems, and with what is still more antient,
the remains of the Gothic. This would
be a very fine field of criticism, by which
I think a great discovery might be made,
not only in the matter of language, but
413with respect to the history of mankind:
for if it could be proved, that the Celtic
and Teutonic languages were originally
the same, it would go far to prove, that
the two races of people were likewise the
same originally.

That Greece was inhabited in very antient
times by a race of people that came
from the East, and particularly from Asia,
is a fact that I think cannot be controverted.
The Pelasgi, who, if not the first
inhabitants, were at least the first who introduced
civility and arts into Greece, and
established rule and government there *175,
we can shew from good authority, came
originally from Asia, where some of them
were at the time of the Trojan war, into
Greece 176. And besides the testimony of
414authors, we have still a stronger proof
from the names of places, by which we
415can trace their progress all the way from
Asia into Greece, through Thrace, Macedonia,
and Thessaly *177. Now, as they
416came from the East, there is all the reason
in the world to believe, that their language
was some dialect of the Gothic, Celtic,
or whatever other language was spoken in
the western parts of Asia, or eastern parts
of Europe; and as I shall show, that the
antient Greek and Pelasgic were the same
language, what is here said of the Pelasgic
must be understood likewise of the Greek.
I know, that the vanity of the generality
of the Greeks made their language,
as well as themselves, the growth of
their country. But the more learned
and wise of them were above this vulgar
prejudice; and particularly, Ephorus the
historian *178, and Plato the philosopher,
417acknowledged, that the barbarians were
more antient than they: and if so, their
language must have been more antient
too. And accordingly Plata admits, that
there are many words in the Greek language
which they got from the barbarians;
and particularly the words πῦρ and
ὗδωρ, denoting fire and water, and many
others *179, he says, are Phrygian. And
there is the highest probability, that their
names for the other two elements came
from the same source.

Now if it be admitted, that the Greek
418derives from the Phrygian, or any other
language in Asia, such words as the names
of the elements, which must have been
among the first names in every language,
it is, I think, a convincing proof that the
whole language must have come originally
from that country; and the name of one
of those elements, viz. πῦρ, is clearly the
same with the German or Teutonic name
for that element, fyr, or fire, as we call
it in our dialect of the Teutonic, the π being
only changed, as is very common, into
its aspirate φ marked by the character f.

Another set of capital words in every
language are the names of numbers, which
must have been coeval with every language,
as it is impossible to conceive, that a nation
should practise the art of language,
or indeed any art, without the use of
numbers. And accordingly we find in the
most barbarous and imperfect languages,
such as the Huron, the names of numbers.
Now it appears to me evident, that
those names in the Teutonic, the Persian,
the Greek, and its most antient dialect
the Latin, are the same words, with less
variation than could be expected in dialects
spoken by nations living in countries
419so remote from one another, and that must
have come off from the parent-stock at
times so different *180.

Those words also which denote the relations
of consanguinity among men, such
as father, mother, brother, must have been
among the first words in every language.
Now it appears, that these names are the
same in all the four languages, I mean,
the Teutonic, Persian, Greek, and Latin:
for as to the Greek names πατήρ, and μήτηρ, or
mater, as it is in the Latin, we may know
from our own dialect of the Teutonic,
that they are the same in that language;
and the Persian bader and mader are evidently
the same. And the Latin word frater,
or φράτηρ, the old word in Greek, from
whence a word still in use, φρατρία is clearly
the same word with the German bryder,
the Persian brader, and our word brother 181.

Since therefore such capital words as the
names of the elements, of numbers, and
of such near relations, are common to the
Greet, Teutonic, or Gothic, and Persian,
besides a great many other words of which
420we can still trace the resemblance *182, one
of three things, I think, must necessarily be
true, Either the Greek must be derived from
those other languages; or, secondly, those
other languages must be derived from the
Greek; or, lastly, they must be all dialects
of the same parent-language. That those
other languages are not derived from the
Greek, is confessed by the Greeks themselves,
when they admit, that the barbarians
are more antient than they, and that
they borrowed many words from them;
and without such admission it is evident,
from the account I have given of the migrations
of the Pelasgi, that the first who
imported arts into Greece, and, among other
arts, as may be supposed, the art of
language, were a people who came from
the east. And to me it appears evident,
both from the reason of the thing, and
from history, that not only all arts and
sciences came from the east, but even the
race of men who peopled Europe, and
brought with them those arts, and, among
others, language, without which
they could not subsist in the ruder climate
and more barren soil of Europe, as I have
421shewn in the preceding book. It remains,
therefore, either that they are all three
dialects of the same mother-language, or,
what I think more probable, the Greek is
immediately derived from the Teutonic or
Gothic. But whichever of these two is the
truth; or even if we should suppose that
the Teutonic, or its parent the Gothic, is
derived from the Greek; if the affinity betwixt
those languages be such as I. am endeavouring
to shew it is, and if the Celtic
be originally the same language with the
Gothic, it follows of necessary consequence,
that the same language, or dialects
of the same language, were spoken
over the greatest part of Europe, and a
great part of Asia.

As to the Oriental languages, it is certain,
that the Hebrew, Phoenician, Syriac, Chaldaic,
and Arabic, have all such an affinity,
that either one of them must be the
parent-language of the rest, or they must
be all children of some common parent;
and if it could be proved, that they are
connected with the Greek, or Gothic, or
its offspring the Teutonic, we should in
that way extend the language which I suppose
to have been spoken in Europe, and
over the north of Asia, into Asia Minor,
422Syria, Phœnicia, Arabia, and Chaldea.

And this connection betwixt those Eastern
and Western languages the learned in
the Hebrew have endeavoured to make
out by comparing that language with the
Greek, and particularly with the most antient
dialect of the Greek, viz. the Latin.
That the Latin is a dialect of the Greek,
is well known to every scholar; and that
it is the most antient dialect now extant, is
evident from the following considerations:
1mo, There are preserved in the Latin
language many words which we are sure
were antiently Greek words, though now
obsolete in that language *183. 2do, The
termination in the canine letter r is
much used in Latin, and was also very
frequent in the antient Greek; but in
place of it the Greeks in later times substituted
the s, as being a pleasanter
423sound *184. 3tio, Even the inflection of
nouns and verbs appears to have been the
same in the antient Greek as it is now in
the Latin 185. 4to, The Latin alphabetical
424characters we know are the same with
the antient Greek. “Formæ literis
Latinis, quæ veterrimis Græcorum,”
says Tacitus in his Annals, lib. 2. And
Pliny says the same thing, appealing to a
monument that was extant in his time:
“Veteres literas Græcas fuisse easdem
pene quæ nunc sunt Latinæ, indicio erit
Delphica tabula antiqui æris, quæ est
hodie in palatio, dono principum Minervæ
dicata.” Nat. Histor. lib. 7. c. 58.
Now these old Greek letters were no other
than the Pelasgic letters, of which
Diodorus siculus speaks, lib. 3. p. 236.
edit. Wesseling
; and in which he says Linus
and Orpheus wrote their poems.
These appear to have been used by the Pelasgi,
before Cadmus brought into Greece
the Phenician letters, from which the
modern Greek alphabet is undoubtedly
derived. As therefore the Latin alphabet
is the same with the antient Greek alphabet,
it may be presumed, that their language
also is the same, or nearly the same,
with the antient Greek language. For I
believe it has very seldom happened, that
two nations speaking languages entirely
425different, have used the same alphabetical
character. But, lastly, there is the
greatest reason to believe, that both Greeks
and Romans got their language, as well
as their characters, from the Pelasgi.
With respect to the Greeks, one part of
that nation, viz. the Dorians, were, as
Herodotus informs us, Pelasgi, and therefore,
no doubt spoke the Pelasgic language;
and as to the Ionians, who made the other
half, we have already seen, that all the
Greeks were first taught the arts of life by
this wandering people: and, among other
arts which they introduced among them,
it is highly probable their language was
one; for allowing that the Greek savages
had then some use of language, yet as
the Pelasgi were the governing people among
them, and gave them both laws
and religion *186, it is natural to think, that
they would adopt the language of their
governors, and of a people so much superior
to them in every thing; especially if
426we consider that it must have been a language
much better than the jargon they
spoke. Nor is this mere conjecture; for
we are told by Herodotus, that while the
Pelasgi were the governing people in Attica,
the inhabitants there spoke the Pelasgic
language *187. And we cannot doubt
427that this was the case in the other parts
of Greece, where they were the mailers.
Thus it appears, that the Ionian Greeks,
as well as the rest, got their language from
the Pelasgi. And with respect to the Romans,
it is certain that this same people,
the Pelasgi, were among the most antient
428inhabitants of Latium and the adjoining
country, of whom there is any memory
preserved; and we cannot doubt that they
carried their arts with them into Italy, as
they did into Greece, and among others
their language: and as we cannot suppose
the savages that inhabited Latium in
those days to have been less barbarous or
ignorant than the savages of Greece, I
think it can be as little doubted that they
likewise learned every thing from the Pelasgi.
It therefore appears to me to be as
evident as any thing of so remote antiquity
can be, that the Latin language is
a dialect of the antient Pelasgic, and consequently
of the antient Greek, which, as
I have shewn, was the same with the Pelasgic.
It is therefore in this most antient
dialect of Greek that we are chiefly to
seek for the affinity betwixt the Greek and
Hebrew. And this I find is the opinion of
a man very learned in language, Thomassin
in his preface to his Glossary; for
whose opinion in this matter I have the
greater regard, that he confesses he was
once of another opinion, and believed that
there was a greater conformity betwixt the
Greek and Hebrew, than betwixt the Latin
429and Hebrew; but had changed that
opinion upon a more diligent and accurate
study of the three languages.

As I do not understand the Hebrew, I
cannot pretend to judge for myself of the
affinity betwixt the two languages. But,
besides the multitude of words agreeing
both in sound and sense, which are common
to the two languages, and of which
there is a large catalogue to be seen in a
work published not long ago, intitled,
Græca et Latina lingua Hebraizantes *188; in
all which, I cannot suppose, that so many
learned men are mistaken; there are three
things that I observe: 1st, That the names
of the gods in Latin, such as Minerva,
Neptune, Venus, Ceres, and which undoubtedly
were their names in the antient
Pelasgic, though disused by the later
Greeks, are allowed by all the learned in
those matters to be of Phenician or Hebrew
origin 189. And the general name
which both the Greeks and Latins gave to
430the gods, viz. θεός or Deus, is of Hebrew
extraction: for, as Herodotus informs us,
lib. 2. cap. 52. it is derived from the Greek
word θεός, bf which they afterwards made
τίθημι denoting, that the gods arranged and
put every thing in order. Now, θεωμι in
this sense, is plainly a Hebrew *190 root, as
431I am informed, with a Greek termination
signifying, disposuit, designavit, determinavit,
&c. which perfectly agrees with Herodotus's
etymology *191.

2dly, The names of the several countries
and islands of Greece are undoubtedly of
Phenician or Hebrew extraction; and the
name of the most antient race among
them, according to Herodotus, I mean
the name Ιαονος, or Javans, by which name
we are told the barbarians did antiently
call all the Greeks, and by which the Orientals
at this day call them, is undoubtedly
a Hebrew word: for Javan is the
name of the son of Japhet, who was one
of the sons of Noah 192.

Lastly, The similarity of termination betwixt
the Hebrew and the Latin, or old
Pelasgic, is to me a convincing proof of
432the affinity of the languages. For underderstanding
of which, it is to be considered,
that there are three marks of affinity
betwixt languages. The first is, The similarity
of the sound of words signifying the
same thing in both languages; 2dly, The
similarity of termination in particular; and,
lastly, Similarity of flection, in forming
cases, genders, numbers, and tenses. If
the words have only the first kind of resemblance,
the connection betwixt the two
languages is remote; and all we can say
in such a case is, that either the one language
is derived from the other, but has
undergone much alteration since it came
off from the stock; or that they are both
derived from the same parent-language,
but, like streams from the same fountain,
have divided; and, wandering far from
the source, have assumed very different
appearances. But if, besides this first
mark, the two languages have likewise the
second, the connection becomes much
greater: for the termination of words is a
characterstical mark, either of likeness or
of difference betwixt languages. Thus the
English and Italian having such different
terminations, the one ending its words
433mostly in consonants, the other in vowels,
we readily conclude them to be languages
of different lineage and extraction; whereas
the Dutch, German, Swedish, and other
dialects of the Teutonic, terminating
their words mostly in consonants, we conclude
them to have been originally from
the same stock with the English *193. But if
the third mark of resemblance likewise
concurs, and if the flection is the same, or
nearly the same, then we pronounce, without
hesitation, that they are either the
same language, or dialects of the same
language, very near akin to one another.
But if the resemblance of the flection is
not so obvious, it is only the learned in
the grammatical art, who have observed
attentively the changes which languages
undergo in passing from one people to another,
that will discover the two languages
to have been originally the same. In this
way the Latin is discovered to be a dialect
of the Greek. Whereas the later dialects
434of that language, such as the Ionic, Attic,
Doric, and Eolic, are known, at first
sight, to be dialects of the same language,
as readily as the dialects spoken in the different
provinces of the several kingdoms
of Europe are known to belong all to the
same language.

To apply these general observations to
the Hebrew and Latin: They have the
first mark of resemblance in a great many
words; and it is likely it would have been
found in many more, if there were as many
books extant in Hebrew as there are
in Latin. But in Hebrew there is only
one book, which cannot be supposed to
contain all the words of the language, if
it were a much larger book than it is.
And indeed it is evident from the way that
the roots of this language are composed,
that it contains but a small part even of
them *194. As to the flection, it is, to be
sure, very different in the two languages.
But we are to consider, that flection is the
435chief part of the grammatical art; and
therefore, when we see two languages differing
in flection, we are not from thence
to conclude, that they are languages originally
different, but that after they were
divided from one another, and came to be
spoken by different nations, those nations
followed different rules of art, in cultivating
and improving their several languages;
so that, from the same materials,
languages were formed in appearance
very different, though originally the same.
For flection, or analogy, as it is commonly
called, gives what may be called the form
to languages; and makes them appear so
different, that it is only the critical eye
that can see the resemblance. But by the
means of the termination, the relation
betwixt the Hebrew and Latin appears evident:
for, according to the hypothesis
of some of the learned in the Hebrew, all
the words in that language terminate in
consonants; and it is not disputed but
that by far the greatest part of them terminate
in that way. Now a great part
of the Latin words end in consonants:
nor is there any of the simple consonants
436(I mean such as are not aspirated) that
does not terminate some one Latin word.
For as to f, it is an aspirated consonant,
approaching in sound to the Greek φ; and
as to the g, though no word terminate in
it, it is very near of kin to the c, which
terminates several words, and indeed may
be accounted the same sound; and accordingly,
in the antient Latin monuments
c is commonly used for g, as in the Duilian
inscription, leciones is written for legiones,
and exsociont for effugiunt; and indeed,
from its order in the alphabet, we
may know, that it answers to the Greek γ.
As to p, though it is not used in the end
of any word as the Latin is written at
present, yet we know, that, according to
the old orthography, it was frequently used
for b, to which it is so near akin, even
in the end of words. Thus they said ap
for the preposition ab, which is just the
Greek ἀπό, without the final vowel. And
as to the q, it is used for the Greek κ, with
some variation, it is likely, in the sound,
which it is not easy to explain. And in
the old Latin, there are still more words
437to be found terminating in consonants.
In the present Latin there are but few
words which end in d; but there were
more in the old Latin; for in the Duilian
monument, instead of populo we find
populod; instead of sententia, sententiad. On
the other hand, in the Greek language, as
we have it at present, there is no noun
terminating in a mute consonant, as Aristotle
has observed *195; nor indeed any
word. so far as I can recollect, unless
the preposition ἐκ. But even this preposition,
before a vowel, is written ἐξ and as
it was so pronounced by the Latins, I
should incline to think, that ἐξ was likewise
the Greek word, and the σ was only
elided, for the sake of better sound,
when a consonant followed it. Nor does
any of the liquids terminate words in
Greek, except ν and σ, as Aristotle likewise
has observed; and but very few end in
ρ, as I had occasion to observe before.

But I am persuaded it was not always
so among the Greeks; and that while
their dialect was nearer to the old Pelasgic,
438before they began to soften the sound
of it, and to vary the terminations of it
by inflection, they had as many words
ending in mute consonants as the Latins.
Thus, as I observed before, I cannot
doubt, but in place of λέγοντι, they said of
old λέγοντ, as the Latins say; in place of
μελε, μελ; and instead of ἀπό they used the Latin
preposition ἀπ or ἀβ. And yet, notwithstanding
the difference of termination betwixt
the Greek and Hebrew, some learned
men *196 are of opinion, that the Greek
resembles the Hebrew more than the Latin.
But besides the resemblance of termination,
which, as I have observed, is a
strong mark of affinity betwixt two languages,
it is natural to think, that the old
Pelasgic would undergo less change in Italy,
and be less cultivated and improved,
than it was in Greece, and consequently
have the greater resemblance to the Hebrew.

I have insisted the more upon this likeness
of termination betwixt the Hebrew
and Latin, that I think it has not been
439sufficiently attended to by learned men;
but it appears to me so strong a mark of
resemblance, that it is very near as clear
a proof of the Latin being derived from
the Hebrew, as of our English being derived
from the Gothic: for the flection
in these two last-mentioned languages is
very different; and it is as much by the
likeness of the termination, as by the similarity
of the sound of the words in other
respects, that we know them to be so
near akin.

If any more arguments were wanting
to prove the affinity betwixt the Latin, or
old Pelasgic, and the Hebrew, this alone,
I think, might suffice, that as the Pelasgi
came from Asia, they must have spoken
some Asiatic language. Now we know,
that the dialects that were spoken in that
part of Asia, such as the Syriac, Phenician,
and Chaldaic, are all connected with
the Hebrew.

If the reader is satisfied of the connection
betwixt the Hebrew and the Latin,
it will follow of consequence, that the
Hetruscan language is also connected with
the Hebrew. For it is evident, from the
monuments of that once great and powerful
nation still extant, particularly the
440Tabulæ Eugubinæ *197, that their language
was the same, or a dialect of the same
language with the Pelasgic or Latin; and
the connection betwixt it and the Hebrew
may be accounted for in the same
way as the connection betwixt the Hebrew
and the Pelasgic, namely, from the
origin of the people, who came from Asia,
as well as the Pelasgi, being originally
Lydians, as Herodotus has informed

And thus it appears, that not only the
northern parts of Asia, but the southern
parts adjoining to the Mediterranean sea,
and Greece, and Italy, and we may say
all Europe, once spoke the same language,
or dialects of the same language.

But what shall we say of the parent-country
of all arts and sciences, at least
to this western part of the world, I mean
Egypt? What was the language spoken
there? Was it peculiar to them? or was it
borrowed from any of their neighbours?
441or did their neighbours borrow from
them? This is a matter of curious inquiry,
and well deserves a chapter by itself.

Chap. XII.
Of the Antiquity of the Egyptians. — That the
Pelasgi got their Language from Egypt,
and brought it into Greece. — That the Athenians
were a colony of the Egyptians.
— That Egypt was a country very proper
for propagating or for inventing a language.
— No Universal Language now existing.

It cannot, I think, be doubted, that the
Egyptian nation was of very great antiquity,
compared at least with any nation
in Europe: for nothing is more certain in
antient history, than that Egypt was a
great kingdom, flourishing in arts and
sciences, religion, and policy, while Europe
was inhabited, if at all inhabited,
only by savages. The only nation in Europe
in antient times that had any pretensions
to antiquity was the Greek: but
442the wiser even among them considered
themselves as children, and of yesterday,
compared with the Egyptians. Plato says,
that they had no memory of any thing
beyond a thousand, or at most two thousand
years before his time; whereas, if
we can believe that most diligent and accurate
historian Herodotus, the Egyptians
had not only traditions, but records, viz.
their sacred books, that went back above
eleven thousand years before that time.
And besides those books, they had a chronological
record, such as I believe was never
found in any other nation, I mean the statues
of the high-priests of Jupiter in
Thebes, of which Herodotus saw himself
to the number of 345, who succeeded one
another from father to son, (for the
priesthood in Egypt was hereditary), from
the reign of their first king down to
Herodotus *198. And Plato speaks of pieces
443of music among the Egyptians, ascribed
to Isis, which he says were above
ten thousand years old *199. What number
of years the learned and religious
reader will think proper to abate of this
account, I cannot take upon me to determine;
but thus much I may say, that
unless we believe Egypt to be a nation of
very high antiquity, we must reject the
authority of all antient history, sacred as
well as profane.

Further, we are sure, from the best authority,
that Egypt was a country of
learning in very early times, as early as
444the days of Moses, who, we are told, was
instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians *200.

Lastly, It is a fact, which I think likewise
cannot be denied, that all religion
and policy, arts and sciences, came originally
from Egypt into the different parts
of Europe: and they appear to me to have
been conveyed and propagated in two several
ways, and by two several nations;
by the Phenicians by sea, and the Pelasgi
by land. Of these last, and of their intercourse
with Egypt, I have said something
already, and shall presently say
more. And as to the Phenicians, they
once dwelt upon the Red sea, as Herodotus
informs us, nearer to the Egyptians;
and, if they were not a colony of
theirs, had certainly a close intercourse
with them, in consequence of which they
learned to circumcise themselves, as the
same author tells us 201. And it appears
they were so much connected with them
445as to be admitted to a participation of their
religion and worship:, for we are told likewise
by Herodotus *202, that they carried
upon the prows of their gallies an image
of the god Vulcan, such as that which the
Egyptians worshipped in the adyta of their

These things being premised, we are
now to inquire, Whether the art of language,
as well as other arts, may not have
come to the Western world from Egypt?
and whether that language, which I have
shewn was universal over Europe, and a
great part of Asia, was not originally the
language of Egypt?

If such was the case, the nations who
spoke this language must have had some
way or other a communication with Egypt;
and all or most of them had that
communication, if we can believe the history
of the Egyptians, of which Herodotus
has given us so exact an account.
For, not to mention the conquests of their
god Osiris, their king Sesostris traversed,
with a great army, almost all the world
that was then known, and left monuments
446of himself in several countries, some of
which were still remaining in the days of
Herodotus. Among other monuments he
may have left his language in several
places, as he certainly did in Colchis,
where he left a colony, who, at the
time Herodotus wrote, lived according
to the manners of the Egyptians *203,
and spoke their language. And if it
be further true, that they planted a colony,
not only there, but in many other
parts of the world, as Diodorus informs
us they pretended, in that way we can
account for all the languages I have mentioned
being dialects of the Egyptian: for
that, the Egyptians learned their language
from any of those other nations, there is
not, I think, the least proof or probability.

But if we should disbelieve every thing
that the Egyptians have said of themselves,
it is impossible that we can reject what the
Greeks have told us of their intercourse
with that nation, unless we have a mind
to reject at the same time all antient history.
447Now, according to the Greek accounts,
they had a communication with
Egypt, not only by the means of Greek
travellers into that country, in which way
I do not think their language was brought
into Greece; but chiefly by the means of
strangers from that country, who came,
and settled in Greece, and became governing
persons, and founders of states there.
Of this kind I hold Deucalion to have
been, and Inachus the first king in Greece,
as Danaus and Cecrops certainly were; and
likewise Cadmus, who, though he came
into Greece immediately from Phenicia,
was originally from Egypt. But besides
those patriarchs of the Greeks, as I may
call them, it appears to me, that the Pelasgi,
the first civilizers of Greece, and
whose language I think I have proved was
the origin of the Greek language, were either
some colony of the Egyptians, or, by
intercourse with them, had learned, not
only their religion and arts, but their language.

It is certain that the Pelasgi were the
first civilizers of Greece; and I think I
have shewn, that, among other arts which
they brought into Greece, they introduced
448their language. Further, it is evident,
that they came from Asia; and as to their
intercourse with Egypt, we are told by
Herodotus, that they brought into Greece
from Egypt the names of the gods.
And if Herodotus had not told us so,
from what other country than Egypt could
they have brought the gods of Egypt?
And it further appears, that they not only
knew the popular religion of the country,
but were initiated into their mysteries:
for it was from Egypt that they brought
the Samothracian mysteries, the most antient
and most respectable of all the Greek
mysteries. These mysteries were in honour
of the Cabiri *204, most venerable deities
of Egypt, into whose temple none was
permitted to enter but the priest 205. The
conclusion that I draw from these facts is,
that the Pelasgi were either one of the
many colonies that came out of Egypt, or
were so intimately connected with the Egyptians
as to have learned their language,
as well as their religion and arts.

This conclusion, I think, must appear
449extremely probable, especially as it is not
contradicted by any antient author; for
none of them has said any thing concerning
the origin of the Pelasgi. But the evidence
becomes much stronger, and indeed
amounts to a proof as clear as can be
expected in matters of such remote antiquity,
if we attend to what Herodotus has
said, That the Dorians were Pelasgi; and
that the leaders of the Dorians were from
Egypt *206. Now what language can we suppose
those Egyptian leaders to have spoken
other than the Egyptian? And is it to be
believed, that the Dorians spoke a different
language from their leaders? For suppose
they had spoken a different language
when those leaders came among them, it
is natural to think, that the same thing
would have happened to the Dorians, as
Herodotus tells us happened to the Athenians
when the Pelasgi governed Athens,
namely, that they would adopt the language
of their governors. And as to the later Egyptian
strangers, such as Danaus or Cadmus,
that came into Greece after the Pelasgi
were established there, they must have understood,
and been able to speak, the language
450of the country; otherwise, I think,
it is impossible that they could have got
such an ascendency over the people as to
become kings and rulers among them, not
by force, which it is certain they did not
use, but by persuasion *207.

Thus, I think, I have proved, that one
race of the Greeks, viz. the Dorians, spoke
a dialect of the Egyptian language. But
what shall we say of the other race, the
Ionians, whom only Herodotus will allow
to be the true Hellens or Greeks? I
say, in the first place, that the Doric, and
Attic, or Ionic, are clearly dialects of the
same language; so that if we admit the
Doric to be Egyptian, it is impossible we
can deny the Attic to be so likewise. And
as to the notion of the Pelasgi or Dorians
having changed their language after they
came into Greece, and adopted the language
of the people whom they governed,
I have endeavoured to shew, that it is
without foundation, and contrary to all
probability. But, 2dly, suppose we should
451admit this to have happened, however improbable,
and that the Attic or Ionic is
the true original Greek language which
the Pelasgi learned after they came into
Greece; I say, that the language of Athens,
the principal city of the Ionians,
was originally Egyptian; because the Athenians
were an Egyptian colony. This
is a curious fact of antient history, not
commonly known; and as it belongs to
our subject, I will state the evidence of it
at some length: in doing which I am assisted
by a French dissertation on the subject,
lately published by the society of antiquarians
in London.

And, in the first place, if we can believe
the Egyptians themselves, there is no
doubt of the matter. For, as Diodorus Siculus
informs us *208, among many other
colonies which they pretended to have
settled in different parts of the world, they
said the city of Athens was one; and they
were so particular as to name the nome
or district in Egypt from whence this colony
came, viz. the district of Saïs. And
accordingly Plato tells us 209, that the
452Saïtes considered the Athenians as related
to them; and on that account treated Solon
with great kindness when he came among
them, and instructed him in antient
history; telling him, among other things,
the story of the Atlantic island, which Plato
has related in the Timæus. The Egyptians
further, according to Diodorus *210, said,
that Erechtheus, who is commonly reckoned
the sixth King of Athens, was an Egyptian;
and did, on account of that relation
of the Athenians to the Egyptians, import
into Attica, from Egypt, a quantity
of corn in a time of great drought, which
had produced a famine in Attica, and for
this service was made king of the country.
This account of Erechtheus must be allowed
to be at least more credible, than
the story which the Greeks told of him,
that he sprung out of the earth 211; and
was so far confirmed by the Athenians
themselves, as the same Diodorus tells us,
that they admitted there was a great scarcity
of corn in Attica in the reign of Erechtheus,
and that then Ceres came among
453them, and gave them corn; the
meaning of which fable, the Egyptians
said, was, that Erechtheus, along with the
corn, brought with him from Egypt the
mysteries of that goddess, and established
them in Eleusis in Attica, from whence
they were called the Eleusinian mysteries.
Nqw, if it be admitted, that there was at
that time an importation of corn into Attica,
I think it could hardly be from any
other country than Egypt, which, by its
nature, could not suffer famine from the
want of rain, the cause, as it is said, of
the famine at that time in Attica, and, as
Diodorus tells us, in almost every part of
the known world, except Egypt. It must
therefore, I think, be allowed, that the
Egyptian story is at least a probable one,
and agreeable to what the Athenians
themselves relate.

Further, that the Athenians were a colony
of the Saïtes, was the opinion of Theopompus,
a very learned Greek historian, whose
diligence, and the expence, as well as the
pains he was at to inform himself of facts,
and particularly concerning the origin
of nations and cities, Dionysius the Halicarnassian
454very much commends *212. The
work of Theopompus is lost; but the fact
is related by Eusebius in his Præparatio Evangelica,
lib. 10. cap. 10. p. 491.
; and also
by Proclus the philosopher, in his commentary
upon the Timæus of Plato, p. 30.; who
informs us at the same time, that Callisthenes
and Phanodemus averred the contrary
of this, viz. That the Saïtes were a
colony of the Athenians; and he mentions
Atticus, a Platonic philosopher of
later times, who says, that Theopompus,
through envy, inverted the story. And
he adds, that in Atticus's time there came
certain persons from Saïs to Athens to renew
their relation and connection with the
Athenians 213.

From all these accounts, one thing appears
to be evident, that there was a connection
betwixt the Saïtes and Athenians,
455and that either the Saïtes were a colony of
the Athenians, or the Athenians of the
Saïtes. Now, I think the learned reader
cannot hesitate a moment in chusing which
or these alternatives he should believe:
for though it be certain, that the Egyptians
sent out many colonies, and particularly
that many Egyptians came into
Greece; there is not the least proof or
probability that any colony ever came
from Greece into Egypt, nor indeed from
any other country in the world, so far as
we know, except from Ethiopia, which I
hold to have been the parent-country of
the Egyptians, who, coming from thence,
first inhabited the Thebais, or Upper Egypt,
and then spread themselves over the
Delta, after that country was formed by
the river.

Further still, not only does it thus appear
in general, that the Athenians were
a colony of the Saïtes, but I think we
know particularly, at what time, and by
whom this colony was settled in Athens.
For it appears to me, that the colony
was led by Cecrops, the first king of Athens,
some time after the Ogygian deluge,
which had desolated Attica. Whether
456this deluge was the same with that
of which Solon was informed by the old
Egyptian priest of Saïs, and which, at the
same time that it destroyed Attica, overwhelmed
the Atlantic island *214, or whether
it was another, posterior to this, I pretend
not to determine.

That this first Athenian king was an Egyptian,
is a fact that I think incontestable 215,
though the Athenian mythologists
made him likewise the offspring of the
earth 216. And it appears also certain, that
457he came from Saïs in Egypt *217. And that
he came after the Ogygian deluge, and
found Attica inhabited by men, who
lived in a state of the greatest barbarity,
copulating promiscuously like beasts,
appears also to be certain 218: for it is agreed,
that he first instituted marriage among
the Athenians; and for this reason
he is distinguished by the epithet διφυής, as
Tzetzes has very well explained the word
in his various history 219. The case appears
to have been, that the country, of Attica
having been quite desolated by the Ogygian
deluge at the time that Cecrops arrived
with his colony from Saïs, which it
is computed was a hundred and eighty-nine
years after that deluge, according
to Africanus's chronology, as quoted by
Eusebius, was then inhabited by savages,
458who lived without government, arts, or
civility; and who therefore must be supposed
to have learned every art of life
from Cecrops and his followers; and, among
other arts, that of language.

Diodorus, though his vanity as a Greek
made him unwilling to believe that the
principal city of Greece was an Egyptian
colony; yet, as a faithful historian, he
has fairly given us the arguments which
the Egyptians used to convince the Greeks
of the truth of the fact. They said, that
there was a great conformity betwixt the
religious and civil institutions of the people
of Saïs, and those of the Athenians. And,
among other particulars, he mentions the
division of the people of both cities into
three classes of the same kind *220.

But, among other arguments, they used
one which appears to me most convincing
in matters of such remote antiquity,
because it is drawn from the most
antient of all the monuments of men, I
mean the names of places. For the Egyptians
said, that the colony came
from a town in the district of Saïs,
459called Asty *221; and this name they gave to
the new city that they founded in Greece.
In support of this argument, they said,
what no doubt was true, that the Athenians
were the only people in Greece that gave
that name to their city 222: for the word ἄστυ is
not the general name for a city in Greek, except
among the poets, but a name peculiar to
the city of Athens, and no doubt a foreign
word, which the Athenians preserved without
altering it, or giving it the usual Greek
460termination. For Aristotle has told us *223,
that there are only five nouns in Greek
which, terminate in this vowel υ, of which
ἄστυ is one; and I am persuaded they are
all foreign words, that had not been naturalized
by getting a Greek termination.

But besides all these arguments, there
is one that arises from the manners and
institutions of the Egyptians, and the state
of their country, which to many may appear
more conclusive than any that I have
hitherto mentioned. It is a fact that cannot
be disputed, that Egypt, in antient
times, I mean before the Persian conquest,
was the most populous country then
known in the world 224. Nor indeed can
any man, from what is to be seen in Europe,
have any idea of the populousness
of this country, such as it is described to
us by antient authors. For, not to mention
the number of cities and great villages,
which are said to have amounted to eighteen
thousand, Herodotus tells us 225, that
in one of their many processions, that to
461the city of Bubastis in honour of Diana
there would be sometimes seven hundred
thousand men and women, besides children,
as he was informed by the natives.
And the account he gives of the race of the
fighting men shews us, that the numbers
of the whole people must have been prodigious
for a tract of country which is
not near so large as what now goes by the
name of Egypt; for it comprehended no
more than what was overflowed by the
river; so that a great deal of the country
now called Egypt was then known, either
under the name of Arabia towards the east,
or of Libya towards the west. The sighting
men, he says, all together, were four
hundred and ten thousand in number
when Egypt was in its most flourishing
state. So that, according to the ordinary
computation, of one fourth of the whole
number of people being able to bear
arms, the number of this class of men in
Egypt must have amounted to one million
six hundred and forty thousand. Now,
the race of fighting men was, as Herodotus
tells us, but one of seven classes into
which the people were divided; and if
their number was so great, what must the
462number have been of husbandmen, shepherds,
sailors, and artificers of every kind,
not to mention the priests, who were in Egypt
a very numerous race *226? What
enabled Egypt to maintain such numbers
was the nature of the country, where the
land was not only more fruitful than the
land of any other, but the river abounded
exceedingly with fish, and also with herbs,
which served for the sustenance of man.
Their policy too and manners very much
encouraged propagation: for every man
in Egypt had as many wives as he chose,
except the priests, who married only one.
Nor was exposition of children allowed among
them, as in Greece; but they were
obliged to bring them all up, even such
as they had by female slaves, and without
distinction, whether they were lawful
children, or what we call bastards. And
lest we should think it impossible that they
could rear so many children, the same
author informs us 227, that it was done at
no cost, the children for the greater part
463going about naked, and feeding upon
reeds and other aquatic plants which grew
in their river and marshes.

In such circumstances, it was of absolute
necessity, that they should ease themselves
of their superfluous numbers by sending
out colonies; a fact of which I could
have had no doubt, though it had not
been vouched by any history or record.
And I imagine, that the warlike expeditions
of Osiris and Sesostris were undertaken,
rather with a political view of easing
themselves of their superfluous numbers,
than of making conquests: for it does not
appear that they retained, or attempted to
retain, any of the countries that they over-ran,
but only settled colonies in them.
I therefore consider Egypt as a hive that
cast off swarms from time to time, which
spread themselves all round on every side,
carrying with them their religion and
their arts, and, among other arts, that of
language. And it appears to me, that
those swarms did not only settle in the
West, but also in the East. For the Egyptians
themselves said, that the Babylonians
and Chaldeans were a colony from
464them *228. And indeed I think it is highly
probable, that the Chaldeans, who were
the priests and philosophers of the Babylonians,
brought with them their religion
and sciences from Egypt. For, besides the
resemblance which Diodorus has observed
betwixt them and the Egyptian
priests, there is, with respect to religion,
a circumstance of surprising conformity
mentioned by Herodotus, which, I think,
could not have been accidental 229; and as
there is not the least reason to believe that
the Egyptians borrowed any thing from
any other country, unless it be Ethiopia,
the country from whence, as I have
said, they probably came, we must suppose,
that the Chaldeans took it from

Further, it is a fact which cannot be
doubted, that when the Greeks under Alexander
the Great came into India, they
found every where there monuments both
of Bacchus, or Dionysius, and Hercules;
and especially of the first, who, the Indians
said, came from the west with a
great army, conquered the country, taught
them agriculture and the use of wine, and
other arts of civil and facial life *230. Now,
there is no man who knows any thing of
antient history, that can believe that this
conqueror of India was Bacchus the son
of Semele, or Hercules the son of Amphitryon.
And I think there can be little
doubt who they were, when we find the
history of two countries so remote as Egypt
and India agreeing in the same story: for
the Egyptians related, that their Bacchus,
whom they called Osiris, (with whom their
Hercules was contemporary), over-ran all
the world known at that time with a great
army, civilizing men, and teaching them
the arts of life where-ever he came; and
particularly, that he was in India, where
he built several cities, and, among others,
466a famous one, called Nysa, and left besides
many other monuments of himself *231. And
there are at this day remarkable vestiges
in India to be found of Egyptian manners
and customs; particularly the veneration
of the cow 232. And I am disposed to believe,
that the arts and sciences, of which
it is certain the Indians have been in possession
for many ages, have risen from
seeds sown there by the Egyptians 233.

Now, if we can believe that the Egyptians
sent out their colonies as far as India,
or if we only believe that they went
the length of the Euxine sea, where the
Colchians dwelt, whom Herodotus positively
affirms to have been an Egyptian
colony, we can hardly doubt of their
sending colonies to Greece; a country so
much nearer to them, and to which they
had so easy access, both by sea and land.

Thus I have endeavoured to shew, that
even upon Herodotus's supposition, of the
Pelasgic being a barbarous language, altogether
467different from Greek, and that the
Attic language was the only true Hellenic,
there is the greatest reason to believe, that
the Attic itself was originally an Egyptian
dialect, which came with an Egyptian colony
into Attica. And upon this hypothesis,
I think, we may account for the
possibility of that change of language
which Herodotus says happened in Attica
after the expulsion of. the Pelasgi. These
Pelasgi possessed Attica before the arrival
of Cecrops. This Herodotus very plainly
intimates, when he tells us, that while the
Pelasgi were masters of what is now called
Greece, the Athenians were Pelasgi, and
were called Cranai; then, under Cecrops
their king, they were called Cecropidæ;
then, under Erechtheus, a succeeding king,
their name was changed into Athenians,
*234 Now, if it be true, as I have endeavoured
to shew, that the Pelasgi spoke
the Egyptian language, as they were at
that time long from Egypt, it must have
been a dialect of it different from that
which was newly imported by Cecrops,
and perhaps from a different part of the
country. The Athenians therefore, in
468place of the old Egyptian of the Pelasgi,
may have learned a more modern dialect
of it from this king and his followers. For
though it be almost impossible, that a whole
people having once learned a regular-formed
language, and been in use to speak
it for some time, should unlearn it, and
acquire another quite different; they may
change one dialect of the same language
for another, as we see men among us
get free of their provincial dialect, and
learn one more courtly and polite.

If the arguments that I have used to
prove, that both races of the Greek nation
were originally from Egypt, do not
appear so convincing to the reader as they
do to me, there are not wanting other
proofs, and these more direct, of the Egyptian
and Greek languages being originally
the same. And, first, if it be true,
as I have endeavoured to shew, that there
is a resemblance betwixt the Greek and
the Hebrew, and if it be also true, that
there is such a similarity betwixt the Hebrew
and Egyptian as could not be accidental,
it will follow of necessary consequence,
that there must have been a connection
betwixt the Egyptian and Greek. Now,
469that there is such a similarity betwixt the
Hebrew and Egyptian, is evident from the
scattered remains of the Egyptian in the
writings of the antients, which have been
carefully collected by learned men, particularly
Bochart and Thomassin, and compared
with the Greek. Some of these
words are preserved in the sacred writings,
and particularly the name Moses,
which it is said Pharaon's daughter imposed
upon the child that she drew out of the
river *235, is, as I am certainly informed, a
Hebrew word, signifying what it is said
in the text to denote, viz. the being extracted,
or drawn out. And the name also
which Pharaon gave to Joseph 236, is likewise
thought, by learned men, to be a
Hebrew word, signifying an interpreter of
secret things

Another proof more direct still is, the
conformity which is at this day to be found
betwixt the Greek and the Coptic, that is,
the remains of the old Egyptian, which still
470continue to be spoken in Egypt. This
conformity appears so great to the learned
Kircher, that he thinks the one must be
derived from the other; but he says it is
difficult to determine whether the Greek
be derived from the Egyptian, or the Egyptian
from the Greek *238. But this appears
to me to be a question very easily
determined: for even the vanity of the
Greeks never pretended, that the Egyptians
had borrowed any arts from
them of any kind, much less this most
necessary art of life. Nor do I know that
any other nation ever boasted of the Egyptians
being obliged to them for any
invention, except the Ethiopians, who, as
I have said, were originally the same people.

Other arguments might be used to shew
the conformity betwixt the Egyptian and the
antient language of Greece; some of which
Mr Squire, in the Inquiry above quoted,
has very well enforced; such as the authority
and ascendant which single Egyptian
strangers gained over the people of Greece,
and which it is hardly possible to conceive
471how they should have gained, if
they, had been entirely ignorant of the
language of the country: and how should
those many Greek strangers that travelled
into Egypt in antient times, such as
Orpheus, Musæus, Linus, Homer, &c.
have been so successful in learning and
importing into Greece the religion and
arts of Egypt, if they had been obliged to
undergo the drudgery of acquiring a language
quite different from their own, as
well as of learning those arts? But I think
enough has been said already to make it
highly probable, and indeed as certain as
any matter of such remote antiquity can
be, that Egypt was the parent-country, at
least with respect to Europe and the western
parts of Asia, of language, as well as
of other arts.

But was this language, so far spread,
invented in Egypt, as well as derived
from thence to the several countries
where it was spoken? This is a question
that cannot, like the one we have been
speaking of concerning the propagation of
languages, be decided by history and facts,
but is a matter of argument and probable
conjecture. One thing, I think, cannot
472be denied, that Egypt, of all the countries
in this part of the globe, is that where it
is the most likely a language of art should
have been invented. In any country where
any common business was carried on by
men, a barbarous jargon, such as we have
described, may have been invented; and,
I am persuaded, many such were invented
in different parts of the world: but without
the closest intercourse of social life,
it appears to me impossible, that an art of
such refinement as the art of language
could have been discovered. Now, such
intercourse there is not among savages
that subsist by hunting, fishing, or the
natural fruits of the earth. It is to be
found only among men that subsist by agriculture,
and live in cities, under regular
forms of government. Now, the Egyptians
were certainly the first people in the
neighbourhood of Europe who lived in
that way, being obliged to do so by the
nature of their country. For, as their
land was under water a considerable part
of the year, they could not subsist by
hunting or pasturage, nor without agriculture,
at least in any great number;
and it was necessary for them to have cities473

or villages, such as we know those of
Egypt were, raised upon mounds of earth,
in which they might live in the time of the
inundation. This nature of their country,
it is admitted, gave birth to geometry among
them, and, I am persuaded, to many
other arts. They were likewise the
first people, so far as we know, that were
civilized, and lived under a regular government.
For these reasons, I think it
is probable, that they first invented the
art of language, as well as the art of noting
it by alphabetical characters, and every
other art and science of which we
are in possession. And accordingly it
is recorded in the Egyptian annals, that
Teuth, or Hermes, as he was called by the
Greeks, invented the grammatical, as well
as the writing art; giving a form to language,
and imposing names upon things
that had none before *239.474

But was this language, which I suppose
may have been invented in Egypt, and
carried to so many different countries,
propagated all over the earth? Are we to
believe that the Huron, the Algonkin, the
Caribbee, and all the many different languages
spoken in North and South Amemerica;
the language of Otahitee, and the
other islands or continents that may be in
the great Pacific ocean; the hissing language
of the Troglodytes in Abyssinia; or
the muttering jargon of those savages
mentioned by Condamin upon the banks
of the river Amazons, spoken, as he says,
in drawing in the breath; or the language,
if they have any, of the men with tails in
the island of Nicobar, are all dialects of
the same parent-language, which I suppose
to have been invented in Egypt? This
might be credible, if there were any history
or tradition of all the world being
peopled by colonies from that country,
or if there were any such conformity
475of those languages last mentioned, either
with one another, or with the language
of Egypt, as is to be found in the
other languages above mentioned; if, for
example, they agreed in religious terms,
in words expressing numbers, or relations
of persons, or any other capital words of
necessary and frequent use. But the fact is,
that so far as we know of those languages,
they differ totally from one another, particularly
in the names of numbers. Of
these I have given specimens from the
Huron, the Algonkin, and the Otahitee
language, all differing extremely from one
another; and it is impossible, I should
think, to connect them with the same
names in any of the languages that I suppose
to be derived from Egypt. I have
given also the name of the number three
used by those savages upon the banks of
the river Amazons, which he must be an
able etymologist indeed who can derive
from any Hebrew root; and I think I may
say the same of the Esquimaux words expressing
much and little.

I cannot therefore carry the propagation
of language further than I have done. I
think it probable, that all the languages
476spoken in Europe, all Asia, if you will,
and some part of Africa, are dialects
of one parent-language, which probably
was invented in Egypt. But I am not
warranted to go further, either by the
reason of the thing, by historical facts, or
by any thing I can discover in the languages
themselves. Some, I know, are
very fond of the system of an universal
language; but when they come to prove
it by facts, and by the languages themselves,
I think they fail very much; as
may be seen from that dictionary of universal
language which Mons. Bullet has
subjoined to his Celtic dictionary. Whatever
therefore we may believe of there having
been once but one language upon the
face of the earth, we must, I think, allow,
that it is now either totally lost in a great
part of the earth, or so depraved and corrupted
as no longer to be known.477

Chap. XIII.
Changes to which Language is liable; — especially
in its passage from one people to
another. — Examples of that kind. — General
Observations upon Etymology, and the
derivation of one Language from another.
— Conclusion and Recapitulation.

Although language be of a nature so
durable, that I doubt whether there
be an example of a language of art being
totally lost; yet it is extremely mutable as
to its form and fashion; as mutable, I
believe, as any thing belonging to man.
Words, says Horace, are as liable to
change and decay as the leaves of trees:

Ut sylvæ foliis pronos mutantur in annos;
Prima cadunt: ita verborum vetus interit ætas,
Et juvenum ritu florent modo nata, vigentque.
Debemur morti nos nostraque.
Hor. Ars Poët.478

Thus the languages spoken in the several
nations of Europe only three hundred
years ago, are so different from the present,
that if we can understand them at all, it
is only by the help of learned critics who
have composed glossaries and dictionaries
of them. Nor is there any way of fixing
and giving a standard to a language, otherwise
than by written records, that is,
by books, one or more, which are allowed
to be perfect in their style and composition.
Thus, though there can be no doubt
that the Greek language underwent many
variations before the days of Homer, his
poems fixed the standard of it; so that
there was no considerable variation of it
from his time down to the taking of Constantinople
by the Turks; that is, for the
space of about three thousand years: for
we have at that time books written in
Greek with as much purity of style, and
almost as much elegance, as any written
in any preceding period. The English
language, in like manner, was in a constant
state of fluctuation down to the
reign of James VI. when it was fixed
by the translation of the Bible, which
is the standard of our language as well
479as of our faith; and every variation that
has been made from it is, in my opinion,
for the worse. And to give one example
more, the standard of the Arabic
was in the same manner fixed by their religious
record, the Koran, which is held to
be so perfect in its style and composition,
that it is used by the Mahometan doctors,
as a proof of the divine mission and inspiration
of their prophet, who being an illiterate
man, they say, could not otherwise
have composed such a book. And by this
method of record, as I observed before, the
life of a language is perpetuated, and it
still exists after it ceases to be a living language;
and perhaps in greater purity, and
with less hazard of corruption, than while
it continued to be spoken.

But if a language is thus liable to
change while it is in the mouths of the
same people, how much more altered must
it be when it is derived to different tribes
and nations, living perhaps in parts very
remote from the mother-country of the
language, under the influence of different
climates, customs, and manners, and mixing
with ether nations speaking different
languages I In such a case, to distinguish
480the mother from the child, or even to
perceive any connection betwixt the two,
is a matter of great learning and nice discernment.
It is in this that the art of that
part of grammar we call etymology consists;
and if, in tracing the progress of a language
from one nation to another, the derivations
appear sometimes to be forced and farfetched,
we must not therefore reject them.
The French, Spanish, and Italian, are undoubtedly
derived from the Latin; and
yet how different are the words in those
languages from the Latin words? The author
of the Mechanism of language, whom
I quoted in the beginning of this work, has
given us sundry examples of the surprising
change that words have undergone in their
passage from the Latin into those languages:
I will add some few more. Who
would think that the French words Vendredi,
noël, and caresme, or carême as
they write it now, came from the Latin
words Venus, natalis, and quadragesimus *240;
yet nothing is more certain: for Vendredi
481is from Veneris dies, by cutting off the termination
-is of Veneris, transposing the r
and e, and inserting a d betwixt the n and
r; and then by cutting off the termination
-es from the word dies. Noël is formed from
natalis, by striking out the t, changing the
two a's into o and e, and taking away the
termination is; which last is commonly
done, in the words which the French have
taken from the Latin. Thus, in place of
ventus, they say vent. And from quadragesimus,
caresme is derived, by cutting off
in like manner the termination us, changing
the qu in the beginning of the word
into the consonant c of like sound, and abridging
the rest of the word, by throwing
out the consonants d and g, and the
vowels a and i.

I will give one example more, from our
English language. Who would think that
the word stranger was derived from the
Latin preposition ex? and yet there is no
genealogy of a word more certain: for,
from, ex comes extra; from extra, extraneus;
from extraneus, the French word estranger,
(for so they spelled it of old);
and from estranger comes our English word
stranger, by throwing out the initial e, as
482happens in several words, particularly the
word escuage, from which comes the English
word scutage, signifying the assessment
which a knight who was armed with a
scutum, or shield, paid for the dispensation
of personal service.

It would be beside the purpose of this
work to dwell longer upon the particulars
of etymology and derivation, and the
changes which a language undergoes in its
passage from one nation to another. What
I have further to say upon this subject will
be more proper when I come to speak of
the corruption of language, which will be
the subject of the last part of my work.
I will therefore conclude this part with
two or three general observations.

And, in the first place, We are to distinguish
betwixt, a dialect of a language
and the corruption of a language. The
Attic, Ionic, Doric, and Eolic, are all dialects
of the original Pelasgic or Hellenic,
but none of them corruptions of it. Neither
is the Latin a corruption of the
Greek, but a dialect; only it is a dialect
that came off very early, and was not so
much cultivated and improved as the other
dialects above mentioned. It therefore
483has not all the numbers, voices, and
tenses of those dialects, nor that variety
of inflection and copiousness of sound in
which the Greek language so much excels
all others that I know. It appears to me,
from comparing the remains of old Latin
yet extant with the later Latin, that the
Romans, when they came to be a great
people, and to apply to arts and sciences,
polished and improved their language upon
the model of the Greek, by clearing it
of the rust of the antient Pelasgic, or of
what mixture of a more barbarous language
there may have been in it. And
this I take to be what Plutarch means
when he says, that the later Latin was
much liker the Greek than the antient.

On the other hand, the French, Spanish,
and Italian, are clearly corruptions of the
Latin, by which the analogy, that makes
so great a part of the art of language, is
lost, and the words almost all made indeclineable.

It is not easy, merely by a comparison
of the, languages, to say, whether the worst
of the two be the corruption of the other,
or the original language out of which it
is formed and improved by the addition
484of proper terminations and flections. Thus
it would be difficult to determine, whether
the Pelasgic, Hebrew, or Egyptian, was
a corruption of the Greek, or whether
they were the parent-languages out of
which the Greek was formed, if we did
not know from history, that those languages
were much more antient than the
Greek. In the same manner, it would
not be easy to decide, whether the English,
or any other dialect of the Teutonic presently
spoken in Europe, was a corruption
of the Gothic and Saxon, or whether the
Gothic and Saxon were an improvement
of the English, if we did not know from
history, that the most antient of them is
the most perfect: for the Gothic is a more
perfect language than the Saxon, having,
as I have shewn, almost as much variety
of termination and flection as the Greek,
and the Saxon is more perfect than the
English. The case, therefore, with respect
to those dialects of the Teutonic, is
just the reverse of what has happened with
respect to the Greek and Latin, which are
improvements of their parent-languages:
whereas the English, and other dialects of
485the Teutonic, are so many corruptions of

Another observation is, that in judging
of the affinity of languages, we are to
have little regard to the vowels, but chiefly
to consider the consonants. For, as
I observed when I was explaining the nature
of articulate sounds, it is the consonants
which break and distinguish the
voice most, and make the principal part
of articulation. The consonants therefore
may be said to be the bones and sinews of
a language, while the vowels are little
more than the vehicles of breath by which
they are enunciated. Accordingly, in the
Hebrew, many learned men are of opinion,
that no points or marks of vowels
were originally used. And the fact undoubtedly
is, that at this day the Arabians,
in common writing, use no such
marks, but only in transcribing the Alcoran,
or any of their antient poems, for
which they have a particular esteem, in
order to prevent all possibility of mistakes.
In the different dialects of the Greek, we
see how the vowels are changed; and in
the same dialect the cases and tenses, and,
in general, the declension of their words
486is in a great measure by change of the
vowels. Nor does the change of the vowel
appear to me to be so material a thing in
the, Greek language, as the change of
the time, or quantity of it: for we often
see one short vowel changed for another,
or one long vowel for another, in the different
dialects; but seldom a short for a
long, or a long for a short.

But the change even of consonants does
not often make so great a change of the word
as might be expected: for consonants of the
same organ are easily interchanged. Thus
b, p, v, f, being all labial consonants, are
frequently interchanged in many languages *241.
And in Greek, γ, κ, ξ, χ, which are
487all palatine consonants, are commonly
changed into one another; particularly in
the flection of nouns and verbs; and the
soft, middle, and aspirated mute consonants
of the same order, are very often
changed into one another in the different
dialects. Thus δ is the middle consonant
betwixt the ν and the θ; and therefore the
Latins, in place of the Greek θεός, say Deus.

The last observation I shall make is,
That they appear to me to be much mistaken,
who think we ought to judge of the
affinity of languages chiefly by the flection
or analogy, and not by the word itself,
or by its termination: for these are
the three things, as I observed, by which
we determine the relation of languages
to one another. But, on the contrary, I
488maintain, that it is the mark of likeness
which least of all is to be regarded: for,
if we were to judge by that rule, we could
not say that the French, Spanish, or Italian,
are derived from the Latin; because
the flection, as well as the termination,
and in general the grammar, of those languages,
is very different from that of the
Latin. But the case truly is, that if the
one language be a corruption of the other,
as the languages just now mentioned are
of the Latin, the flection, and very often
the termination, will be different: or, if
the one language be at a distance from
the source, and be much more cultivated
and improved than the parent-language,
its flections or analogy will be very different;
and if it be at a great distance,
its terminations will also be different.
Thus the Greek being further removed
from the Oriental languages than the Latin,
has both its flections and its terminations
quite different: whereas the Latin,
not being so far removed, though it have
different flections, has, as we have shewn,
a great similarity to those languages in its

With these observations I conclude this
book, and this first part of the work; in
which I have endeavoured to shew, that
no part of language, neither natter nor,
form, is natural to man, but the effect of
acquired habit: — That this habit could
not have been acquired, except by men
living in political society; but that neither
is the political life natural to man: —
That the political life arose from the necessities
of men, and that it may exist
without the use of language: — That the
first languages were without art, such
as might be expected among people altogether
barbarous: — and, lastly, that if
language was at all invented, there is no
reason to believe that it was invented only
in one nation, and that all the languages
of the earth are but dialects of that one
original language; although there be good
reason to believe, that language has not
beta the invention of many nations, and
that all the languages presently spoken in
Europe, Asia, and a part of Africa, are
derived from one original language.

The End of Part I.490

1* In this sense which I have given to language the
Greek word λόγος is commonly used, denoting both the
ideas, and the sounds used to express them; that is,
sounds significant. But it may be observed, that it is
often used to denote only the principal part of speech;
namely, the ideas, and that combination of them we call
reason, which must necessarily precede the use of speech.
This ambiguous signification of the word has given occasion
to the distinction made in the Peripatetick school
betwixt λόγος ἐνδιάθετος, and λόγος προφορικός, that is, the inward
operations of the mind, and those operations enunciated
by speech. The not attending to this distinction
has led translators into great mistakes, and even the
translators of our sacred writings. For in that famous
passage in the beginning of St John' gospel, which contains
one of the sublimed mysteries of the Christian
theology, the Latin translator has rendered λόγος by
verbum. And, in like manner, our English translators
have rendered it by word, and have made St John say,
that the word was God, which, to me at lead, does not
convey any meaning at all: For how can I understand,
that word, that is to say, speech, or ideas expressed by
articulate voice, is God? But λόγος, in this passage, is
not λόγος προφορικός, or reason enunciated; but it is λόγος
, i.e. reason in the mind of the Deity, according to
which every thing was made. This reason is the second
person of the Christian Trinity, by whom we are told the
visible world was created, and answers to the θεος δημιουργός
of Plato, who is also the second person of his Trinity.
For that Plato knew the doctrine of the Trinity (however
he came by that knowledge) is evident: but he kept it
ἐν ἀποῤῥήτοις, not to be revealed but to those who were initiated
in his philosophy. And the other two persons in
his Trinity correspond likewise with the same persons in
the Christian Trinity: for he has the supreme God, or
God the Father, and also the ψυχή τοῦ κόσμου, which answers
to the Holy Ghost. See Eusebii Præpar. Evangel.
lib. II. cap. 14. — 20.: from which passage it appears,
that Eusebius understands λόγος in this passage of St John,
as I do; and he quotes a Platonic writer, one Amelius
who understands it so also, and wonders where that
Barbarian (so he calls the Evangelist) had learned so sublime
a theology, not knowing that this was the theology
of the Jews many hundred years before his master
Plato was born.

This error in the Latin and English translations of St
John's gospel has, I doubt not, been taken notice of by
some of our learned divines. But as I am not so much
conversant in their writings as I would wish to be, I
cannot with certainty say that it is so.

2* The Author of Hermes, a work that will be read
and admired as long as there is any taste for philosophy
and fine writing in Britain.

3* This book is intitled, Traité de la formation mechanique
de langues, et des principes physiques de l'étymologie
printed at Paris 1765, in 2 vols 12mo.

4* The word habit I use in the sense of the Greek word
ἕξις. This I think proper to observe; because the word
in English is frequently used to denote that custom or use
by which any habit is formed, by a metonymy, not unusual
in language, from the effect to the cause.

5* Δύναμις.

6 See this distinction made by Aristotle, in his 8th book,
De Phys. Auditions, and explained at length by his commentator
Simplicius, fol. 281. The example Aristotle
gives, is that of a man who has not learned any art, but
has the capacity to learn; and one who has learned it,
but is not actually performing its energies. Both are
said to be artists δυνάμει, but in different senses; which
therefore I have chosen to distinguish by different appellations.
Simplicius very well observes, that this second
kind of power, or faculty, as I chuse to call it, lies in
the middle betwixt mere power, or capacity alone, and
energy, participating of each; that is, betwixt what is
most imperfect in nature, and what is most perfect; for
mere capacity is most imperfect, pure energy most perfect.
— See the following note.

7* What is said here of powers and capacities, is, I
think, sufficient for the present purpose. Who would
know more of this matter, may read what follows, taken
from the abstruse or esoteric philosophy, as Aristotle cails
it, contained in his books of Physics and Metaphysics. All
things in nature exist either in capacity merely, or actually
and really; that is, as it is expressed by Aristotle, either
δυνάμει, or ἐνεργείᾳ. Betwixt these two there is a progression
both in nature and in art, and which is the cause
of all the productions of either; for every thing that is generated,
or produced, proceeds from a state of nothing
more than capacity, to a state of actual existence. Thus
plants and animals are produced from feeds and embryos,
which are no more than plants and animals in
capacity: and with respect to works of art, the statue is
in the block of marble δυνάμει, but it does not actually exist
till it gets its form from the artist; and the artist himself
was at first only an artist in capacity. This progress,
by which every thing in nature or art is produced, is
what is commonly called motion: which is therefore something
more than mere capacity, but less than energy or
actual existence; for it cannot be said to have any fixed
or permanent existence of any kind, nor to be in any state,
being truly a passage betwixt two states; so that it exists
only in succession, and not any two parts of it together.
This so shadowy being, and so difficult to be apprehended,
Aristotle has, with wonderful acuteness and
subtlety, defined and made an object of intellect: and as
it lies betwixt two extremities, capacity, and energy, or actual
existence, he has given us a twofold definition of it,
the one taken from the one extreme, and the other from
the other. The first is taken from the state of capacity,
from which it proceeds: and in this way it is defined to
be, ἐντελέχεια τοῦ ἐν δυνάμειἢ ἐκ δυνάμει, which may be translated
thus, the perfection of what is in capacity, considered
merely as in capacity
. The meaning of the last words is,
that nothing is considered in the thing that is moved,
but merely its capacity: so that motion is the perfection
of that capacity, but not of the thing itself. This definition
he makes more explicit and determinate, by ascertaining
of what nature the capacity is, and expressing it
to be the capacity of motion; which is done by the Greek
word κινετόν. In this way conceived, the definition runs
thus: ἐντελεχείᾳ τοῦ κινετοῦ ᾕπερ κινετοῦ, i. e. the perfection of
what is capable of being moved, considered merely as having
that capacity
. The reason why it is said to be the perfection
of this capacity is already hinted at, namely, that it
is something more than mere capacity; for it is capacity
exerted, which, when it has attained its end, so that the
thing has arrived at that state to which it is destined by
nature or art, ceases, and the thing begins to exist ἐνεργείᾳ:
And therefore Aristotle has very properly called this exertion
the perfection of capacity, since capacity can go no
further. — The other definition is taken, as I have
said, from the other extreme, namely, the state to which
the progression is, that is, energy, or actual existence And
in this way it is defined to be ἐνέργεια ἀτελής, or imperfect energy;
for as it is the perfection of capacity, so it is the
imperfection of energy. It is capacity carried its almost
length, but it stops on this side energy.

This is the account given by Aristotle, in his books of
General Physics, (commonly intitled De Physica Auditione),
of the nature of motion, taken, as we see, from a comprehensive
view of nature and art, and of every kind
of generation and production. None of our modern philosophers,
so far as I know, have given a general definition
of it that is in the least satisfactory, though they must
all confess, that it is the grand agent in all natural operations;
and therefore the knowledge of its nature must
be the foundation of all natural knowledge. Mr Locke
has saved himself the trouble of seeking for a definition of
it, by telling us, that it is undefineable, because it is a
sensation, or perception of sense; and he has endeavoured
to ridicule Aristotle's definition of it in a barbarous translation,
not understanding, as I suppose, Aristotle in his
own language. The reason that he gives for its being
undefineable, will apply equally to every perception of
sense of whatever kind: And to be sure it is true, that
no individual sensation, or perception of sense, can be defined;
for this very reason, that it is a perception of
sense, and not an object of intellect. But Mr Locke
ought to have considered, that from those perceptions of
, the mind forms ideas, which are the proper objects
of intellect; and therefore capable of definition; and of
science, which cannot be without definition. And all
those perceptions of sense which he calls simple ideas of
, might, when generalised by the intellect, be
defined, as well as the perception of motion, by a genius
as acute as Aristotle's, assisted by proper observations and
experiments. But the great defect of Mr Locke's philosophy
is, that having, in the very outsetting, confounded
the operations of sense and intellect, under the common
name of ideas, he never afterwards sufficiently distinguishes
them. Other modern philosophers have attempted to
define motion by change of place or situation. But that is.
no more than the effect of motion; and it still remains to
be inquired, what sort of thing it is that produces this effect.
Besides, if it were a good definition, it is not general
enough, comprehending only one kind of motion,
viz. that from place to place; whereas Aristotle's definition
comprehends every kind of change or alteration in
body, whether with respect to place, magnitude, or quality.

This is the general doctrine of capacities and energies,
and the transition from the one to the other, according
to the notions of the Peripatetick school: but there is still
a higher philosophy upon this subject, which teaches us,
that this distinction betwixt capacity and energy takes place
only in inferior beings; and that there is a higher order of
being, in which there is no progress, motion, or change of
any kind, and in which there is not the imperfection of
mere capacity, but all is habit and faculty, not productive
of energies occasionally, as with us, but constantly energising.
See Arist. Metaph. lib. 9. cap. 8. But this belongs
to a philosophy far beyond sense and nature; and which,
for that reason, is very properly described to be μετὰ τὰ
, that is, with respect to our capacities, and the order
of teaching, after physics; but with respect to the nature
of things, the first philosophy.

8* Colour is the primary perception of this sense; the
others are only consequential. Figure, e.g. and magnitude,
are nothing else but colour of a certain extent, or
terminated in a certain manner.

9* It is worth observing, though I think it has not been
observed, that, in this sense, the progress from the impression
made by the external object upon the organ to
the mind, is better marked than in any other sense: for
with respect to the other senses, all we know of the matter
is, that the impulse upon the organ is propagated to
the brain by certain nerves, and so perceived by the mind.
But here there is a stage of the progression distinctly marked,
and now well known to all opticians, namely, the
picture upon the retina of the eye, which was first discovered
by Kepler, and is, I think, the greatest discovery
in the matter of sensation that ever was made.

10* This is an observation of Dr Reid's, in his ingenious
work, intitled, An Inquiry into the Human Mind. I agree
very much with this author in most things, and particularly
in the distinction he has made betwixt natural
and acquired habits; which he has illustrated by examples
that I have likewise made use of: but I do not like
the name which he gives to the last-mentioned habits,
when he calls them acquired habits of perception; for as by
the word perception, is commonly understood perception
by the senses, one should imagine the author meant, that
these acquired habits were truly perceptions of sense.
This, however, is not his meaning, though it be the opinion
of the vulgar. But I think it is too much complaisance
to vulgar opinion in a philosopher, to speak vulgar
language, when it is apt to mislead. I have therefore
to call such habits acquired habits of judging, in
contradistinction to natural habits of sensation, or perception
by sense. And by this way of speaking, I mean always
to keep in view the distinction betwixt mind and body,
and betwixt those operations which the mind performs
only with the assistance of the body, and those which it performs
by itself; a distinction which I hold to be the foundation
of the whole philosophy of mind, and which I shall
take occasion to explain more fully afterwards.

In what I have said above, concerning some optical
theorems, I have presumed to differ from the Doctor in
a general proposition, which he lays down, p. 459. That
a telescope, though it magnifies the visible figure of the
object ten times in diameter, yet makes it seem no bigger,
but only ten times nearer: for this is true only of known
objects that we are accustomed to see at different distances;
but it is not true of objects that we are not accustomed
to see in that manner, though they be known. He
says also of a single microscope what I confess I do not
understand, namely, that it does not magnify the visible
appearance of the object, but only makes it appear at a
greater distance: And in the very same place, he says,
that the object appears to the eye twelve or fourteen
times larger in diameter than it really is. How to reconcile
these two assertions, I do not know. But the fact I
take, to be, that a microscope, whether single or double,
does magnify the visible figure; because it makes the object
appear very much bigger than it does to the naked
eye, for a reason that is very well known to those who are
learned in optics; at the same time it makes the object
appear at a greater distance than it really is. And this
too can be accounted for, if it were here a proper place
for such discussions. I take notice of those things only
with an intention that the Doctor may correct such inaccuracies
of expression in any after edition he may give of
his book; which, upon the whole, I think is a very valuable

11* If Mr Locke would have taken the trouble to study
what had been discovered in this matter by the antients,
and had not resolved to have the merit of inventing himself
a whole system of philosophy, he would have known,
what I mentioned before, that every material object is
composed of matter and form. Of these two, the form is
by far the more excellent, being that which constitutes
the essence of every thing, and makes it what it is, in contradistinction
to every thing else. This only is the idea
of the thing, as we very properly express it in common
language; and this is an object of intellect alone, which
can no more be perceived by the sense, than the object of
one sense can be perceived by another; so that it is as improper
to speak of an idea of sensation, as it would be to
speak of visible sound or audible colour. The matter, on
the other hand, is only that which excites the sense; by
which indeed the mind, in this state of its existence, is
ronsed, and, as it were, awakened to the perception of
ideas; but of which by itself there is no distinct idea,
knowledge, or comprehension, nothing but an obscure
notion; for it is only by the species that we know even
the individual. See Philoponus in Analytica poster. lib. 1.
in fine
. And this is true, not only of substances, such as a
man or a horse, but of accidents, (and every thing that
exists is either substance or accident); for when I say,
that any substance is white or round, sweet or four,
that quality which I ascribe to it is not a perception of
the sense, but the idea of the general quality, which I apply
to this particular substance. For though this idea arise
form the perceptions of sense, which furnishes the materials
for it, it is impossible it can be the object of sense,
which perceives only what is particular, not what is general,
as shall be shewn more clearly afterwards. Till,
therefore, the idea of any quality, such as white or round,
be formed by the mind, and become an object of the intellect,
the perceptions of the sense, with respect to such
qualities, have no name or denomination, neither is there
any knowledge or comprehension of them: so that it is
impossible they can be affirmed or denied of any thing.

12* P. 135. Ed. Ficini.

13 Κοῦς ὃρᾳ, νοῦς ἀκυοι, is the saying of a very antient philosopher;
I think it was Thales; and it is adopted by Aristote.

14 This word is commonly supposed, and, if I am not
mistaken, is said by Diogenes Laertius to have been first
used by Plato: but the fact is otherwise; for it is used by
Timætes the Locrian, in his treatise De Anima Mundi:
and it is likely was a word used in the Pythagorean
school, from which Plato took his doctrine of ideas, as
most other things in his philosophy, even his doctrine
of morals, though that is not commonly believed;
and the contrary is said by the same Diogenes Laertius
in his life of Plato, where he tells us, that he took that
part of his philosophy from Socrates. But the truth is,
that he took nothing from Socrates but the manner of philosophising,
and the art of dialogue.

15* This is an observation of a late author, very little
known, Eugenius Diaconus, a Greek by nation , and a
professor in the Patriarch's university at Constantinople;
from whence the reader would not expect to hear or any
book of science coming at this time of the day. It is a
system of logic, written in pure Attic Greek, printed at
Leipswick 1766. The learned reader, I am persuaded,
will be glad to see some specimen of this living monument
of antient Greece; I shall therefore give his words,
which I think are elegant. Speaking of the first class he
had mentioned, viz. the ideas of reflection, he says, Οἴκοθέν
τι, καὶ ἄνευ τῆς παρὰ τοῦ σώματος συνδρομῆς ἡ ψυχὴ καρποῦται· ἐπὶ δὲ
τῆς τῶν δευτέρων εἰδοποιίας (he means what I call the first class of ideas
viz. those formed from external objects), καὶ αἱ παρὰ τῶν ἐκτὸς
αἰσθητικαὶ ἀλλοιώσεις τὸ παρ᾽ ἑαυτῶν συνεισφέρουσιν. Ἔποι δ΄ἄν τις εἰκάσας
ἰθαγενεῖς ἐκεινας εἶναι τῇ ψυχῇ ἐννοίας, ταυτας δὲ οἰον πολιτογραφουμένας
αἰ γὰρ διὰ τῶν αἰσθήσεων ἀνεπιστάτως διεγειρομεναι ἀπλῶς ἐπήλυδες

p. 159.

16* It is called by the Greek philosophers νοῦς.

17 This is the opinion of Plato, who makes the τὸ αυτομέγητον
to be the distingushing attribute of mind.

18* Mr Locke wrote at a time when the old philosophy,
I mean the scholastic philosophy, was generally run down
and despised, but no other come in its place. In that fixation,
being naturally an acute man, and not a bad
writer, it was no wonder that his essay met with great
applause, and was thought to contain wonderful discoveries.
And I must allow, that I think it was difficult for
any man, without the assistance of books, or of the conversation
of men more learned than himself, to go farther in
the philosophy of mind than he has done. But now that
Mr Harris has opened to us the treasures of Greek philosophy,
to consider Mr Locke still as a standard book of
philosophy, would be, to use an antient companion, continuing
to feed on acorns after corn was discovered. I
believe there have been many, since the restoration of letters,
that understood Greek as well, or perhaps better,
than Mr Harris: but this praise I may give to my
friend, without suspicion of partiality, that he has applied
his knowledge in that language more to the study
of the Greek philosophy, than any man that has lived
since that period. It was the misfortune of us in the
western parts of Europe, that after we had learned Greek;
from the Greeks that took shelter in Italy, upon the taking
of Constantinople, and had gut some taste of the
Greek philosophy, enough to know, that what was taught
in the schools was a bastard kind of it, we immediately
set up as masters ourselves, and would needs be inventors
in philosophy, instead of humble scholars of the antient
masters. In this way Des Cartes philosophised in France.
Mr Hobbes and Mr Locke in England, and many since
their time of less note. I would fain hope, if the indolence
and dissipation that prevail so generally in this age
would allow me to think so well of it, that Mr Harris
would put a stop to this method of philosophising without
the assistance of the antients, and revive the genuine
Greek philosophy among us. For this purpose, he has
taken uncommon pains, leading us, as it were, by the
hand to the sources, and even taking the trouble to give
most accurate, as well as elegant translations, of the passages
he quotes, for the sake of those that are not sufficiently
masters of the Greek language. He has, besides.
discovered, to me at least, a new set of writers upon philosophy,
of whom I was before entirely ignorant; I mean
the later commentators upon Aristotle of the Alexandrian
school; without whose assistance, the Esoteric works of
Aristotle, that is, the more abstruse parts of his philosophy,
appear to me altogether unintelligible: for it is certain,
that Aristotle did not compose those works with the
design that they should be understood by the vulgar, or
by any body that had not been taught by him, as he
himself says in his famous letter to his pupil Alexander,
upon occasion of his publishing his books of metaphysics;
which he there says he had published and not published.
In short, his philosophical writings are, for the greatest
part, to be considered as no more than a text-book, to be
explained and enlarged by his lectures. See Simplicius in
the beginning of his commentary upon the Predicaments.
Besides, these commentators, particularly Simplicius,
whom I just now quoted, have preserved to us many valuable
passages form antient books of philosophy which
are now lost; for they had the use of many more books
of that kind than we have. And further, it appears to
me, that there was a traditional knowledge of Aristotle's
philosophy preserved in this school of Alexandria, which,
in the second century of the Christian era, came to be,
what Athens was before, the seat of philosophy and
learning of all kinds. Of some of those commentators
that have not been printed, Mr Harris has been so lucky
as to procure MS. copies: but there are many more of
them to be found in the Escurial library in Spain, that
have not yet been printed, and I doubt never will,
unless the love of Greek philosophy prevails more in Europe
than it is likely to do. And indeed my surprise is
that so many of them have been printed; for which I can
account no otherwise, but that there was a passion for
Greek learning and philosophy soon after the restoration
of letters, (for about that time they were all printed),
which I doubt is not now to be found, except among
a very few.

19* Hermes, lib. 3. cap. 4.

20* By what is here said, I would not be understood to
deny the truth of Aristotle's maxim, that Νοῦς ἐστι τὸ ἐν ποιοῦν,
i. e. it is mind that makes one: for though separation be
the first operation of the human intellect, uniting is the
principal; and that for the sake of which the other is performed;
for it is by uniting, or making one of the many,
that ideas are formed. By the union of ideas we make
propositions; by the union of propositions syllogisms;
and by the union of syllogisms systems of science. Plato
has considered them both as equally the operation of
mind; for, says he, the mind makes one of the many,
and again, many of the one; that is to say, it forms the idea
of the genus, and then we divide it into the several subaltern
species. And there is nothing in science that he recommends
more, than never to quit the general, or let
things go to infinity, as he expresses it; that is to say, to individuals,
till we are sure that we have exhausted all the
specific differences. See the Philebus. And accordingly
he has himself practised this method of division, as it is
called, very much, particularly in the Sophista and Politicus.
But still I think it is true, that union is the principal
operation of mind; for it is in order to make new
species, or new ones, if I may so speak, that we divide
the genus, in the same manner as at first we abstract form
any object of sense any of its qualities, in order to form
the idea of the species.

21* It is in this sense that Simplicius, in his commentary
upon the Categories, uses the word κοινότης. See the passage
quoted by Mr Harris in his Hermes, p. 381. And
it may be observed, that it is from this κοινότης that the
more general idea is said to comprehend or contain the
less general, and the less general to be a part of the more
general; for the κοινότης, or common nature, is said to contain
every thing that participates of it; and, on the other
hand, what participates, is said to be a part of the common
. This is the more to be attended to, that
upon this notion of one idea being part of another, depends
the whole doctrine of the syllogism, as laid down by
Aristotle in his First Analytics.

22* The difference betwixt these two I will afterwards
explain; but I did not think it proper to imbarrass the
present argument with such a discussion.

23* This discovery was first made in the Pythagorean
, (is it was not brought by Pythagoras form Egypt);
and is to be found in the work of Archytas, a philosopher
of that school; which has been preserved to us by Simplicius,
the commentator upon Aristotle, who has inserted
the whole, or by far the greatest part of it, in his commentary
upon Aristotle's Categories. The title of the
work, as Simplicius tells us, was, Περὶ τοῦ παντός, that is,
Of the universe: for it appears he considered these universals
as the principles of all things; which no doubt they
are, Aristotle has intitled his work upon the same subject,
Κατηγορίαι, Categories, or Predicaments, as we commonly
translate the word from the Latin: and the reason of
the difference of the title is, that Aristotle in his work
has considered those universals logically, as the predicates
of proportions
; and accordingly has set this book at the
head of his logic: whereas Archytas has treated of them
metaphysically, as the principles of things. Simplicius tells
us, that Aristotle in his work has followed Archytas very
closely, differing from him in very sew things: and indeed
it so appears from the passages he quotes; which
clearly shew, that the Categories of Archytas are the very
same in name, in number, and in nature, with those of
Aristotle; and there is only some difference in the way of
arranging them: but as to the method of explaining and
illustrating them, it is so very like, that it is plain Aristotle
must have had before him Archytas's book; of
which in some places he has copied the words, only translating
them from the Doric of the original into the Attic.
And yet I am sorry to say, that neither in that work, nor
in any other, so far as I know, has he ever made mention
of an author, to whom he owed a discovery so great,
and of which he has made so much use. It is indeed
true what Porphyry says in his life of Pythagoras, § 53.
That Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers,
whom he names, have taken almost their whole philosophy
from the Pythagoreans. But there is no other of
them, so far as I know, that has transcribed a whole book
of that philosophy, without acknowledging to whom he
owed it.

As to the utility of the discovery, it is such, that without
it we should have had no perfect science: for there
can be no science without definition; and there can be no
definition, unless we can tell the genus or class to which
the thing defined belongs; and the definition is not complete,
unless we can tell, not only the immediate genus,
but the highest genus, that is, the last class under which
the thing is comprehended. Thus, though I know that
man is an animal, if I do not know what animal is, I
cannot be said to know what man is. But further, suppose
I know that animal belongs to the genus of the τὸ
, or animated body, in order to make the definition
complete, I must know likewife to what genus or class of
things the the τὸ ἔμψυχον belongs. But is there no stopping
in this ascent? or is there an infinite progress upwards?
If there be, it is clear there cm be no complete definition,
and consequently no perfect science; because there
is no science of infinity. Again, suppose there was a limit
to this ascent, and that we could determine the ultimate
genus, beyond which there is no other, that is the
category, which in the instance I have given is substance;
yet is we could not define the number of those universals,
there would, for the same reason, be no science of the
principles of things, which, as I have said, the categories
are; and all we could say of them would be, that
they were infinite. And thus it appears, that without
the knowledge of the categories, there would be no
such science as metaphysics, which is the science of the
principles of things, nor any perfect science of any kind.
I say, perfect science; for there may be science without
such complete definitions as I have supposed. Thus Euclid
has not told us what a point is; that is to say, what
genus it belongs to; but has only said, that it is that
which has no parts
. Figure he has defined in the same
way, by telling us, It is that which is inclosed by one or
more boundaries
. Length, breadth, and thickness, he has
not at all defined, though he has made use of the terms
in the definitions of lines, surfaces, and solids, but has
referred to sense and common apprehension for the knowledge
of them. And though he has made magnitude and
number the subjects of two sciences, viz. geometry and arithmetic,
he has said nothing of the category to which
they both belong, viz. quantity. It is for this reason that
Plato has said, that geometry, and in general what we
call mathematics, are not perfect sciences; because they
do not demonstrate or explain their principles. See Plato,
De Republ. lib 6. But Aristotle has made an apology
for Euclid, and all those that have treated of the inferior
by shewing, that it belongs only to the first philosophy,
or the science of sciences, as it may be called, co
demonstrate the principles of the subaltern sciences, which
assume their principles, but do not demonstrate them.
And therefore Euclid would have been to blame, because
he would have gone out of the bounds of his science, if
he had meddled with space, extension, quantity, or any
such universals.

Thus it appears of what universal use, not only in logic,
but in the whole of philosophy, the doctrine of the
Categories is; of which I could not help taking notice in
passing, though it has run out into a long note. I shall
only add, that the public will very soon see a work of Mr
Harris, in which the nature of the several categories will
be accurately explained; and which, if I am not much
mistaken, will be the best book of metaphysics in the English
language; for in that way he has chosen to treat the

24* I call it mere sensation, when there is no perception of
any external object
; for it is to be observed, that the word
sensation, as it is commonly used, is equivocal, denoting
either the perception of any external object by the senses.
or the inward feeling of pleasure or pain arising form the
body; and which is always accompanied with a certain
emotion and alteration of the mind. This last kind of
sensation is often joined with the former; for often when
we feel pain, we perceive at the same time the external
object that produces it; as when a man is pricked by a
sword, or burnt with a hot iron. At other times we fed
pain without the perception of any external object; which
is the case where the body labours under any disease.
And as thus we have sensation of pain, without the perception
of any external object; so, on the other hand,
we have very frequently, and indeed moil commonly, the
perception of external objects without either pain or pleasure.

25* The definition is, Λόγος ἔστι μεγεθῶν ὀμογένων κατὰ πηλικότητα
ποιὰ σχέσις
, lib. 5. def. 3. And the learned in the Greek
language may observe, that this is the proper etymological
sense of the word λόγος; for it is derived from λέγω;
of which the antient signification was, to gather or collect;
in which sense it is used by Homer, and in the most antient
dialect of Greek extant, I mean the Latin language;
and in the later Greek it is still used in that sense in composition,
as in the word σύλλογος. From this original signification
λόγος, by a very natural metonymy, came to signify
relation, or comparison; which cannot be made without
collecting the things together, and setting them, as
it were, beside one another. And accordingly this very
word comparison, from the Latin comparo, and likewise
confero, compono, all denote setting together, or juxtaposition.

It may here be observed, that in this sense the word
λογικόν is used with peculiar propriety in the Peripatetic
definition of a man; which is, ζῷον λογικόν, νου καi ἐπιστημης διατικον.
For here λογικόν denotes the being possessed of that
comparative faculty which is the foundation of rationality
among men; and therefore the possession of it is very properly
set at the head of the specific differences which distinguilh
man from other animals. — The rest of the definition
will be afterwards explained.

26* This is the language of Dr Berkeley in his Theory of

27* Plato, in Epinom. p. 1008. edit. Ficini.

28* Πρὸ τῶν πολλῶν.

29 Ἐν τοῖς πόλλοις.

30 Ἐπὶ τοῖς πόλλοις. See Mr Harris's Hermes, book 3, ch. 4,
where this doctrine is finely illustrated by an example
from the works of art, and by several elegant quotations
from the Greek commentators upon Aristotle. What I
have here said relates only to the works of nature.

31* See upon this subject a pythagorean philosopher of
the later time , Nicomachus Gerasinus, in his treatise upon
Arithmetic, in initio. The passage is somewhat long,
but I will transcribe it for the sake of the learned reader,
who may not have the book, as it is rare, never having
been but once printed. It is where he explains Pythagoras's
definition of philosophy, which was ἐπιστήμη τῶν ὄντων.
Upon that occasion, he explains what the ὄντα, or things
really existing
, are, in contradistinction to what has no
fixed or permanent existence. The words are, ὄντα δὲ
τὰ κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ὡσαύτως ἀεὶ διατελοῦντα ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ καὶ οὐδέ ποτε τοῦ εἶναι
ἐξιστάμενα, οὐδὲ ἐπὶ βραχύ.·ταῦτα ἂν εἴη, τὰ ἄυλα καὶ ὧν κατὰ μετουσίαν
ἕκαστον λοιπὸν τῶν ὁμωνύμως ὄντων καὶ καλουμένων τόδε τι λέγεται. καὶ ἔστι
τὰ μὲν γὰρ σωματικὰ δήπου καὶ ὑλικὰ, ἐν διηνεκεῖ ῥύσει καὶ μεταβολῇ διὰ
παντός ἐστι μιμούμενα τὴν τῆς ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἀιδίου ὕλης καὶ ὑποστάσεως φύσιν καὶ
ἰδιότητα ὅλη γὰρ δι’ ὅλης ἦν τρεπτὴ καὶ ἀλλοιωτή. τὰ δὲ περὶ αὐτὴν καὶ
σὺν αὐτῇ θεωρούμενα ἀσώματα οἷον ποιότητες, ποσότητες, σχηματισμοί,
μεγέθη, μικρότητες, ἰσότητες, σχέσεις, ἐνέργειαι, διαθέσεις, τόποι, χρόνοι
πάντα ἁπλῶς, οἷς περιέχεται τὰ ἐν ἑκάστῳ σώματι, ὑπάρχει καθ’ ἑαυτὰ ἀκίνητα
καὶ ἀμετάπτωτα, συμβεβηκότως δὲ μετέχει καὶ παρα πολαύει τῶν περὶ τὸ ὑποκείμενον
σῶμα παθῶν. τῶν δὴ τοιούτων ἐξαιρέτως ἐπιστήμη ἐστὶν ἡ σοφία,
συμβεβηκότως δὲ καὶ τῶν μετεχόντων αὐτῶν, ὅσα ἐστι σῶμα παθῶν. Ἀλλ’
ἐκεῖνα μὲν ἄυλα καὶ ἀίδια καὶ ἀτελεύτητα καὶ διὰ παντὸς ὅμοια
καὶ ἀπαράλλακτα πέφυκε διατελεῖν, ὡσαύτως τῇ αὐτῶν οὐσίᾳ ἐπιδιαμένοντα
καὶἕκαστον αὐτῶν κυρίως ὂν λέγεται
. The sense in substance is
that ideas, or intellectual forms, alone can be properly said
to exist, being immaterial, eternal, and unchangeable;
that matter and body are by their natures in a continual
flux and change; that it is only by participation of the intellectual
that the corporeal form can be said to have
any existence at all; that these intellectual forms, though
of their own nature immortal, yet being united to body,
they by accident (συμβεβεκότος) partake of it affections, and
become liable to change.

32* This is the way in which Aristotle has divided
the sciences. See his Metaphysics, lib. 6. in initio.

33* Τὸ ὄντως ὄν.

34 See Plato, in Philebo, XX alibi.

35* These are his books, Περὶ πολιτείας, or, De Republica.

36 See the Pythagorean philosopher Theages, in his
most valuable work, Περὶ ἀρετῶν, inserted in Gale's collection,
intitled, Opuscula Mythologica, &c. p. 681.

37 Plato, De Republica, lib. 7.

38* The note is on the following page.

The following not is referred to on the preceding page.

Those who are not acquainted with this intellectual
philosophy, will be surprised at one part of this description,
namely, that we are not to consider this idea of
beauty as inherent in any particular subject, not even the
heavens. But those who have studied the precious remains
that we have left of the Pythagorean philosophy,
from which it is evident that Plato took almost all his
philosophy, particularly his theology and doctrine of ideas,
will not be surprised at this expression of his: for
the Pythagoreans made the same distinction with respect
to music that Plato makes with respect to beauty, distinguishing
sensible and intellectual music; by which last
they understood the ratios and proportions of numbers,
considered simply by themselves, abstracted form voice
or sound, and every sensible object, even the stars or
planets; (see Nicomachus's Arithmetic, p. 5.). So that
this music, according to their notion, was superior
even to their music of the spheres, so much talked of,
and so little understood. Is it be objected, that this
intellectual music of the Pythagoreans is as difficult to
to be conceived as Plato's intellectual beauty. I answer,
that I myself have known a man who understood it perfectly,
and took great delight in it; for he would spend
whole days in reading music, without applying either
voice or instrument to it. Now this was certainly intellectual
music, though conveyed to the mind by sensible
marks, as much as reading any book is an exercise of the
intellectual faculty, though the thoughts are there likewise
conveyed to the mind by sensible characters; because
in both cases, the marks have not the least analogy
or resemblance to the things signified; and therefore
they only excite the memory, but do not in the least operate
upon the sense or imagination. The pleasure, therefore,
of this musician, must have been altogether intellectual,
produced by the idea of those numbers of which
melody and harmony consist.

39* p. 1221. Ficini.

40* These ideas of Plato being the subjects of science,
are, in the language of Aristotle's philosophy, the τὰ νοητά,
that is, the objects of intellect, or of that faculty of the
human mind which, in the proper sense of the word, is
called νοῦς; by which, not general conceptions only are
formed, but perfect ideas, such as contain the nature
and essence of things. The conclusions from thence deduced
with demonstrative certainty by the discursus mentis,
make what the Greek philosophy calls ἐπιστήμη , and
which we may express in English by the word science.
And now it is easy to explain the whole of the definition
of man, of which before I explained only a part. The
definition is, ζῷον λογικόν, νοῦ καὶ ἐπιστήμης δεκτικόν, that is, a rational
animal, capable of intellect and science
. But the first
part of the definition, as I have already observed, is expressed
that faculty of comparison which is the foundation
of our rational nature; for λόγος, as I have shewn, in its
proper signification denotes comparison, though it is commonly
used to denote all the operations of intellect, and
intellect itself. Of this comparative faculty the animal
must be in actual possession, that is, he must be ζῷον λογικόν,
otherwise he if not a man. But as to intellect, by which
we form perfect ideas, or definitions of things, and that
discursus mentis which science requires, the capacity of
these two is all that is required to constitute a man.

41* The idea of man, in the language of the Platonic
philosophy, is called αὐτο-ανθρωπος, that is, man itself, or the
real man; while the corporeal man is only ἄνθρωπος, or simply

42* Ethic. ad Nicom. lib. 1. cap. 4.

43 This passage is to be found in Philoponus's Commentary
upon Aristotle's third book of General Physics, or,
De naturali auscultatione, where Aristotle refutes another
opinion of Plato, about two infinites. There Philoponus
plainly says, that Aristotle affects to misunderstand
Plato, and refutes his words, not his meaning; and he
adds, that this was a common practice of his with respect
to the antient philosophers, καὶ οὕτως ἐπιλαμβάνεται τοῦ λόγου
ὡς δηλονότι πανταχοῦ τὸ φαινόμενον ἐλέγχει καὶ οὐ τὴν διάνοιαν τῶν
A most grievous charge against his candour, by
a disciple too of his school, and one who, in other respects,
was his great admirer.

44* Metaphys. lib. 6. cap. 1.

45* χώρισμα εἴδη, that is what Mr Harris calls previous
, in contradistinction to forms existing either in material
substances, or abstracted from them by our understanding.

46 αὐτα καθ' αὐτα ὑφεστωτα.

47 Philoponus's expression is, Λόγος ἐν τῷ δημιουργῳ; for understanding
which, we are to know, that in the language
of Aristotle's philosophy, the thing existing ἐνεργεια,
that is, existing materially, was only called οὐσία; but the
idea of it was no more than the λόγος τής οὐσίας, or simply logos.

48* The three principles are, the idea, the matter, and
the body, falling under the senses, which is the produce
of the two first. The words are, τὰ δὲ ξύμπαντα ἰδίαν ὕlαν
αἰσθετόν δὲ ὅσoν ἐνγόνεν τυτίων
Timaeus, in initio.

49* οὗτος γὰρ, (meaning Moderatus), κατὰ τοὺς Πυθαγορείους τὸ μὲν
πρῶτον ἓν ὑπὲρ τὸ εἶναι καὶ πᾶσαν οὐσίαν ἀποφαίνεται, τὸ δὲ δεύτερον ἕν, ὅπερ
ἐστὶτὸ ὄντως ὂν καὶ νοητὸν, τὰ εἴδη φησὶν εἶναι, τὸ δὲ τρίτον, ὅπερ ἐστὶ τὸ ψυχικόν,
μετέχειν τοῦ ἑνὸς καὶ τῶν εἰδῶν, fol. 50.
This passage plainly
shews, that Plato took from the Pythagoreans, not only
his doctrine of ideas, but his theology, and particularly his
notion of the Trinity in the divine nature, which I took
occasion to mention in a former note. This notion appears
to me to be as antient as any thing in the Greek
philosophy. and very probably was brought by Pythagoras
from Egypt with the rest of his philosophy.

Those who are learned in the Hebrew, and the books
of Moses, may perhaps find the Platonic doctrine of ideas
in that passage of the second chapter of Genesis,
where it is said, That God made every plant in the field before
it was in the earth, and every herb in the field before
it grew
; which I think can hardly be understood but of
the ideas of such plants and herbs. And the same learned
men may also find some connection betwixt that water
which Simplicius, in the same book, fol. 51. say's the Egyptians
made the symbol of the first matter, and that
deep, and those waters
, upon which Moses says the Spirit
of God moved when the world was created.

50* This writer is of later times, having lived, as I conjecture,
in the age of the Antonines; but there are very
few writers of the best times that exceed him in purity
or elegance of style: and I would advise all our sceptical
writers to study him diligently, not only for the improvement
of their style, if they happen to understand
the original, (or if they do not, there is a very good Latin
translation of him), but of their matter; for there is as
great copiousness of argument in him as in any writer I
know. I would also advise such of them as write against
the Christian religion, to study Julian the Emperor's
work of that kind, preserved to us by one of the fathers
of the church, Cyrillus; who, in answering him, has
done his antagonist the justice to give us his own words.
They will there learn better arguments, and much more
elegantly expressed, than any they have used.

51* Essay on the Human Understanding, book 4, ch. 7.
§ 9

52 Theory of Vision, p. 147.

53* There is another difference, which, though not immediately
belonging to our subject, is well worth observing
by the philosopher; and it is this: That the ideal
world, being entirely of our own creation, is, or ought to
be, perfectly known to us, so that we should be able to
define or explain the essence of every thing in it; whereas
in the world made by God, we know not the essence or
constituent principles of any thing; for I deny that we
can define any natural substance. Not to speak of the
first matter of the philosophers, which by all of them is
allowed to be undefineable and incomprehensible, what
do we know more of those bodies with which we are surrounded,
and are dairy conversant, or even of our own
bodies, with which we are so intimately connected, except
certain qualities or properties? But what constitutes
the essence of any particular body, or of body in general,
no man can tell. The common definition of body is, that
which hath three dimensions. But this is telling us no
more than that it is bounded in a certain way: and I ask,
What is that is thus bounded? It is also defined to be
that which resists, or fills place. But still I ask, What is
it that has this quality of resistance or filling place? I
have already observed, that Euclid, in his definitions,
has very properly not meddled with space, extension,
quantity, or any other of those universals which are the
subject of the first philosophy. He has also wifely abstained
from making mention of σῶμα, or body, even when
he defines a solid, For he tells us, that a solid is that
which hath length, breadth, and thickness, without telling
us what it is; though he no doubt knew that it was
body, and nothing else. But the subject of his science
was not that undefineable thing we call body, but only
the boundaries of body; which being abstracted form body,
are treated off by the geometer. It is therefore no
impeachment of the certainty of the science, that body,
is what is contained within these boundaries, cannot
be defined.

54* Insanientis dum sapientiæ
Consultus erro. Hor.

55* Of such nations more will be said in the sequel.

56* Porphyr. De Abstin. lib. 3. cap. 4.

57 Ibid. cap. 1.

58* Porphyr. De Abstin. lib. 3. cap. 6. in fine.

59* See Mons. Rousseau, in his Treatise on the inequality
of Men
, where he ridicules the folly of those who think
they understand human nature, because they know the
character and manners of their own nation, and perhaps
some of the neighbouring nations, and very wifely cell
us, that man is the same in all ages, and all nations.

I am very happy to find, that my notions, both with
respect to the original state of human nature, and the origin
of language, agree so perfectly with the notions of
an author of so much genius, and original thought, as well
as learning.

60* This, I think, is an observation of Mr Locke.

61* Geometry affords a very remarkable instance of this
in the doctrine of proportions. After having learned that
doctrine in the common way in which it is taught in our
schools, if we study the 5th book of Euclid, we there
learn an idea of proportion altogether new, and much
more general and comprehensive, including incommensurables
as well as commensurables. This idea will appear,
to the young geometer so new and strange, that he will
find it difficult to apprehend it, and more difficult still
to make it familiar to him; and before he perfectly understands
it, and fees the consequences of it, he may be
disposed to reject it, as some modern smatterers in geometry
have done. The same thing happens in other
sciences, and in every branch of philosophy, till we come
up to the highest philosophy, or science of sciences, as it
may be called; where we find ideas that many persons
are by nature incapable of forming, because they require
a power of abstraction which few persons are possessed of.

62* This is a discovery of modern philosophy, which was
unknown to Aristotle: for he reckons seeing among those
things which we do entirely by nature, not by custom.
Οὐ γὰρ ἐκ τῶ πολλάκις ἰδεῖν ἣπολλάκις ἀκοῦσαι τῆς αἰσθήσεις ἐλαβομεν
ἀλλ᾿ἀνάπαλιν, ἔχοντες ἐχρησὰμεθα, ἢ χρησύμενοι ἔχομεν.
Nicom. lib. 2 cap. 1.
; whereas it appears to be, at
lead for the greater part, what we learn to do by doing.

63* Μανθάνω οὐ μόνον τοῖς φιλοσόφοις ἥδιστον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ὁμοίως.
Aristot. Poet. cap. 4. And he assigns this as one of the
natural causes why poetry, and the other arts of imitation,
please us so much.

64* ἃ γὰρ δεῖ μαθόντας ποιεῖν, ταῦτα ποιοῦντες μανθάνομεν, οἷον οἰκοδομοῦντες
οἰκοδόμοι γίνονται, καὶ κιθαρίζοντες κιθαρισταί.
Ethic. Nicomach.
lib. 2. cap. 1

65* This objection was made by the Sophists in the days
of Aristotle, as appears from his Metaphysics, lib. 9. cap. 8.;
where it is answered very shortly, and indeed but in a
word, according to the manner of Aristotle in his Esoteric
; but I think in the same way that I have answered

66* It is in this way that the antient Sceptics argued against
the principles of geometry. What is a point? said
they: Is it body? or is spirit?. And if it be neither
one nor t'other, it has no existence at all. The answer
is, That though it be not body, and much less spirit, it
is the element of body. — See Sextus Empiricus adversus

67* The passage is in the Philebus, p. 388. edit. Ficini.

ΣΩ. Ἡ μνήμη ταῖς αἰσθήσεσι συμπίπτουσα εἰς ταὐτὸν, κἀκεῖνα ἃ περὶ
ταῦτ’ ἐστὶ τὰ παθήματα φαίνονταί μοι σχεδὸν οἷον γράφειν ἡμῶν ἐν
ταῖς ψυχαῖς τότε λόγους·κ.τ.λ. — ΠΡΩ. Πάνυ μὲν οὖν δοκεῖ μοι,
καὶ ἀποδέχομαι τὰ ῥηθέντα οὕτως. ΣΩ. Ἀποδέχου δὴ καὶ ἕτερον δημιουργὸν
ἡμῶν ἐν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ἐν τῷ τότε χρόνῳ γιγνόμενον. ΠΡΩ. Τίνα;
ΣΩ. Ζωγράφον, ὃς μετὰ τὸν γραμματιστὴν τῶν λεγομένων εἰκόνας ἐν τῇ
ψυχῇ τούτων γράφει. ΠΡΩ. Πῶς δὴ τοῦτον αὖ καὶ πότε λέγομεν; ΣΩ.
Ὅταν ἀπ’ ὄψεως ἤ τινος ἄλλης αἰσθήσεως τὰ τότε δοξαζόμενα καὶ λεγόμενα
ἀπαγαγών τις τὰς τῶν δοξασθέντων καὶ λεχθέντων εἰκόνας ἐν αὑτῷ
ὁρᾷ πως.

This is well said, but shortly said, and only by way of
metaphor or similitude; which is one great fault that Aristotle
finds with his matter. For, says he, he does not
tell us what a thing is, but what it is like. But even Aristotle
himself does not satisfy me entirely by what he
has said upon this subject, though he has taken a good
deal of pains upon it in his books De Anima et de Menichia.
The reader, if he is not satisfied neither, may content
himself with the following observations, till he shall
find something better.

Memory and imagination (considering them as different
faculties) agree in this, that they are both subsequent
to sense, and prior to reason and intellect; 2dly,
they both preserve in the mind the perceptions brought
into it by the senses, which would be transitory and evanescent,
is it were not for the aid of these two faculties.
But they differ in the following particulars.

1mo, Memory, as Aristotle has observed, always refers
to what the mind formerly perceived or knew;
whereas the imagination only presents the object to the
mind, but without any reference to the past, except it be
accompanied with memory, which it is not always; for
imagination so far resembles sense more than memory
that it represents the object as present, and affects the
mind nearly in the same way as is it were present; and
from thence is called, by some antient philosophers, a
weaker sensation.

2do, The imagination preserves in the mind the perceptions
of sense only; whereas the memory retains not
only these, but also ideas, and theorems, or propositions.

3tio, The image of the object preserved in the memory
is not near so lively and strong, as that which is presented
to the mind by the imagination: for we often remember
things in general only; or if we remember also the
particular circumstances, they do not affect us near so
much as the original perception of them by the senses;
whereas imagination paints them, as I have said, and exhibits
them to the mind with all the colourings, and all
the peculiarities, with which they appear to the senses,
and with very near as much emotion as they at first produced.
The consequence of this is, that having seen any
object of the agreeable or disagreeable kind, if I have
a good memory only, I can give a particular description
of it, which will be very well understood, but such as will
not much affect the hearer: but if I have the eye and imagination
of a painter or a poet, I can describe the object
in so lively a manner, that it will produce in the hearer
very nearly the same emotions that it produced in me
when I first saw it.

4to, This lively painting of the imagination, and the
emotions which it produces in the mind, of joy, grief,
terror, or whatever other passion was excited by the object
itself, have a very great effect upon the happiness or
misery of our lives; so that the man possessed of such an
imagination, must necessarily be more happy or more miserable
than other men.

5to, The imagination has not only the power of retention,
as well as memory, but it has a creative power,
which is peculiar to it, and distinguishes it essentially both
from sense and memory: for sense is only conversant with
the present, memory with the past; whereas imagination,
by the means of this faculty, is conversant with the
future as well as the past, and paints to itself scenes that
never did exist, and it is likely never will; for it may be
said to create even the materials of those scenes, being
such as are not directly and immediately furnished by the
sense, but are formed upon the model of objects that have
been presented by the sense, and are, as it were, imitations
of them.

This is that great work of imagination, which is the
foundation of all the fine arts, and stamps men truly
poets, or makers. By this faculty we are enabled to exhibit
scenes both of natural and human things, which,
though they are far beyond real life and nature, are nevertheless
natural; because they are imitated from things
that have really existed. I say, imitated, for if they are
servilely copied, it is not poetry or painting, but history or
portrait drawing. And it is for this reason that those
fine arts are very properly called arts of imitation.

As the imagination is often joined with memory, as
we have already observed; so it is very frequently accompanied
with opinion, particularly with respect to those
pictures of futurity which the imagination presents to the
mind; for we often believe that the things are really to
happen. And this has likewise a great effect with respect
to the happiness or misery of life: for if the events which
we suppose are to happen, are of the joyful and prosperous
kind, we have all the pleasures of hope, which
makes a man of a warm lively imagination happier while
it lasts, than the actual enjoyment would do. But what
he hopes for may never happen, and then he suffers the
pain of disappointment; which, in some cases, is so insufferable,
that men rather chuse to go out of life than
endure it: or he may obtain the object of his hopes and
wishes; but it may not, and in fact it very seldom does,
answer his expectations; and there is another disappointment,
often more cruel than the first. — If, on the other
hand, the events I believe will happen are of the unprosperous
kind, the fear of them must make me very unhappy;
and is they are strongly painted on my imagination,
and appear unavoidable, they make me as unhappy,
perhaps more unhappy, than if they were actually
present, and, by anticipation, reduce me to that state
of mind, which is well known by the name of despair.
If such belief is taken up rathly, and without sufficient
grounds, it is the effect of a melancholy and gloomy turn
of mind; which sometimes makes men miserable in the
greatest seeming prosperity.

Further, we may suppose the picture of those fairy
scenes by the imagination so very lively, that, instead of
believing the things will happen, we think they have already
. Thus a man believes himself to be a
king, or to be possessed of great wealth and power, who
perhaps is a beggar; and he acts accordingly. This
state of the imagination is what we call madness. But if
the person does not go so far as to believe himself actually
possessed of those things he desires, but only believes, upon
very flight grounds, or no grounds at all, that he is
to be possessed of them, such a man, in common language,
is called a fool. So that, according to this account,
madness is a disease of the imagination; folly an
error of the judgement. As to the first, there is little
difference of opinion betwixt the vulgar and the philosopher;
but as to the last there is a very great difference.
For those errors in judgement, which make us esteem
wealth, and power, and luxury, the greatest blessings in
life, and pursue them accordingly, are, by the philosopher,
held to be the greatest folly. But, on the contrary,
the vulgar hold, that there is no error at all in the
case; that such pursuits are rational; and whoever succeeds
in them they esteem a wise man.

To conclude this note, which has drawn out to too
great a length, it thus appears that the mind operates
in two very different ways upon the materials which sense
brings into it. For, either it abstracts form them ideas,
which serve for the materials of science, when thoroughly
purged and refined from matter; or it forms representations
and pictures of them, which, properly chosen,
and well painted, make the subjects of the most delightful
arts among men.

68* Man, in this state, is very properly called by Polybius
ζῷον δοξοποιητικόν.

69* See an account of them in Rousseau's treatise sur
l'inégalité des hommes
, note 3. The first of these savages
was catched near Hesse-Cassel in 1344, and was taught
to speak. Another was found in the forests of Lithuania
in the year 1694. He too was mute when he was found;
and whether he ever learned to speak, does not appear.
In 1719, two savages were found in the Pyrenæan
mountains; and the Hanoverian savage was catched and
brought to England in the reign of George I. All these,
when they were first catched, were not only mute, that
is, had no articulation, but appeared to be truly quadrupeds;
and the first mentioned, our author says, was
taught with much difficulty to walk upright. When we
join to this a fact which Mons. Rousseau likewise avers,
that the children of the Hottentots and Caribbees walk
so long upon their hands, that they are with much difficulty
taught to walk upright, it would seem that we
must add to man's other acquired habits his quality of
biped, which has been always thought an essential part of
his original nature, and accordingly is made part of
some definitions of him. But Aristotle knew better; for
all that he has said is, that by nature man is more a biped
than any other animal, — μάλιστα γάρ κατά φύσιν ἐστί διπλοῦς.
De animalium incessû, cap. 5. The meaning of which I
take to be, that he has by nature a greater aptitude to
acquire the habit of walking on two than any other animal.
And Mons. Rousseau s arguments in support of his
natural erectness appear to me to prove no more.

70* Mons. Rousseau, in his work above quoted, note 10.
has collected the several accounts given of this animal by
travellers, and agrees with me in opinion, that he belongs
to our species; rejecting with great contempt the
notion of those who think that speech is natural to man.
Now is we get over that prejudice, and do not insist, that
other arts of life, which the Ouran Outangs want, are
likewise natural to man, it is impossible we can refuse
them the appellation of men.

71* There was an account of this strange phenomenon
published in France by a lady, under the title, Histoire
d'une Fille Savage
, and revised by Mons. la Condamine.
It was translated into English, and published in
Edinburgh in 1767, with a preface, shewing it to be very
probable, that she came from a country upon the coast of
Hudson's bay, where she was taken, and carried to one
of the French islands in the West Indies; from whence
she was again imbarked, and the ship was wrecked somewhere
on the coast of France or Flanders; and it appears,
that only she and a negro girl escaped by swiming.
At the time I saw her, she had been thirty years
in France, but remembered many particulars concerning
her own country.

72* cap. 18. edit. Wesseling.

73* Poetic. cap. 4.

74* This appears to have been an opinion as old as the
days of Plato, who, in his dialogue upon language, I
mean the Cratylus, p. 291. edit. Ficini, tells us, that
some, in order to solve the difficulty about the first names
or radical words of language, did, as the tragic poets do
when they cannot otherwise unravel their fables, bring
down a god in a machine to cut the knot.

75* See upon this subject Burnet's Archæologiæ Philosophicæ,
lib. 2. cap. 7.
and the authorities by him there quoted;
form which it appears, that it was not only the opinion
of the Jews, but of the Christians of the first centuries,
that the circumstances related by Moses concerning the
origin of man are to be considered as allegorical or parabolical,
like the parables in the New Testament, and as
many other passages in the Old must be understood. See
also two very elegant epistles of the same author annexed
to his Archæology.

76* See Plato in Timæo, in the beginning, where the
conversation is related betwixt Solon and the Egyptian
, in which, among many calamities that have befallen
this earth at different times, by fire and water chiefly,
but likewise from many other causes, he mentions
particularly the destruction of the Atlantic island, by the
subsiding of the earth, and the inundation of ths sea, in
the same way that a part of the city of Lisboa was lately

77* Tanta mollis erat Romanam condere gentem.
Virg. Æn. 1.

78 See his treatise on the inequality of mankind.

79* The passage is in the first chapter of the first book
of Aristotle's History of Animals. The words are, Τὰ μὲν
γὰρ αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἀγελαῖα τὰ δὲ μοναδικά, καὶ πεζὰ καὶ πτηνὰ καὶ
πλωτά, τὰ δ’ ἐπαμφοτερίζει. Καὶ τῶν ἀγελαίων καὶ τῶν μοναδικῶν τὰ μὲν
πολιτικὰ τὰ δὲ σποραδικά ἐστιν. Ἀγελαῖα μὲν οὖν οἷον ἐν τοῖς πτηνοῖς τὸ
τῶν περιστερῶν γένος καὶ γέρανος καὶ κύκνος·γαμψώνυχον δ’οὐδὲν ἀγελαῖον
καὶ τῶν πλωτῶν πολλὰ γένη τῶν ἰχθύων, οἷον οὓς καλοῦσι δρομάδας, θύννοι, πηλαμύδες,
ἀμίαι·ὁ δ’ ἄνθρωπος ἐπαμφοτερίζει. Πολιτικὰ δ’ἐστὶν ὧν ἕν τι καὶ
κοινὸν γίνεται πάντων τὸ ἔργον·ὅπερ οὐ πάντα ποιεῖ τὰ ἀγελαῖα. Ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτον
ἄνθρωπος, μέλιττα, σφήξ, μύρμηξ, γέρανος.

Upon this passage there are several observations to be
made. In the first place, I hold, that an error has erept,
either into the MS, or the printed editions, where it is
said, that τῶν ἀγελαίων καὶ τῶν μοναδικῶν τὰ μὲν πολιτικὰ, &c. For
it is impossible to conceive, that any of the solitary animals,
that is, such as by nature live in solitude, and
in solitude only, should be political. It is therefore plain,
that the division only relates to the gregarious; so that
the text should run thus, τῶν δὲ ἀγελαιων τὰ μὲν ἐστι πολιτικα, τὰ
δὲ σποραδικα
, where we may observe the great propriety of
the word, σποραδικά, which denotes, scattered, like feed that
is sown upon the ground
; and therefore very fitly expresses
the condition of those animals living together in flocks or
herds, but having no common bond of union.

2dly. In this passage Aristotle calls man a political animal,
and classes him with the bee and ant; from which
it may be inferred, that Aristotle understood man to be
by nature political, not by institution only. But with
to his applying to him the word πολιτικός, it is
to be observed, that those adjectives in -ικος, whether derived
from verbs or nouns, signify the capacity of doing,
without distinction whether the thing to which they
are applied have the actual possession of the capacity, or
the power only of acquiring it. Thus it may be said of
man at the time of his birth, that he is ζῷον θεωρετικόν,
well as when he is grown up, and in possession of the faculty.
And in the Peripatetic definition of man, he is
kid to be, ζῷον λογικόν, by which is certainly not meant,
that he is rational at the time of his birth, but only
has the capacity of becoming so: and Aristotle himself,
in his Categories, has used the words δρομικός and πυκτικός
to denote him that has no more than a natural aptitude
for excelling in those exercises, without having acquired
the habit. See Ammonius in Categor. p. 135. It is true,
the Greek language is very rich in words, and is plainly
the work, not of grammarians only, but of philosophers;
yet it has not made all those accurate distinctions
and divisions of things which philosophy makes: and
accordingly, though it has distinguished betwixt energy
and power, yet it has not distinguished betwixt that kind
of power, which I call capability, and actual capacity, or
faculty; so that Aristotle, as we have seen, was obliged
to use the same word (dunamis) to express both, though he
has very accurately made the distinction. I hold, therefore,
that ζῷον πολιτικόν in this passage denotes only an animal
capable of being political. And as to his classing man
with ants and bees, it must be allowed to be somewhat
inaccurate, that he did not there make the distinction
betwixt being actually political by nature, and only capable
of becoming so: but I think it is almost impossible
to believe he thought man naturally political in the same
sense that a bee is, when he reckons him, not even of the
gregarious kind, but something betwixt them and the

Lastly, We may observe upon this passage how properly
Theodorus Gaza, the translator of this part of Aristotle's
works, has paraphrased the word ἐπαμφοτερίζει
vitam aliæ (animantes) ancipitem degunt, ut eædem modo
societate, modo solitudine, gaudeant
. This Theodorus Gaza
was one of those learned Greeks who fled form the
barbarians, aster the taking of Constantinople, into Italy;
and was employed by the Pope of those times
to translate the Greek learning into Latin. For this
purpose it was necessary that he, and the rest of his countrymen
who were so employed, should first learn the Latin
tongue, the knowledge of which was as totally lost in
the east, as that of the Greek was in the west. We may
judge, therefore, how much we are obliged to the labours
of those learned Greeks, who, if they had not submitted
to the drudgery of learning Latin, as our boys do
at school, (a most ungracious task for men that knew a
language so much better, and in which all arts and sciences
are to be found in greater perfection than in Latin),
could never have taught us Greek. Some of them, as
it appears, thought themselves very ill paid for their labours;
and it was either this Theodorus, or his countryman
Georgius Trapezuntius, I have forgot which, that
having got a purse of gold from one of the popes, which,
he thought too small a reward for the trouble it had cost
him to translate some Greek author, threw it into the
river Tiber, with this saying, Periêre labores; pereat et
eorum ingrata merces
. Vid. Bruckeri Hist. Philosoph.

80* Hobbes's Leviathan, cap. 13.

81* This is related by Le Mere. See the passage quoted
below, when I speak of barbarous nations.

82* The particular passage is quoted afterwards.

83* Diodorus, in the beginning of his history, lib. 1.
cap. 8. edit. Wesseling.
gives this account of the way of
living of the first men. He says, they subsisted upon
herbs, and the fruits of trees. Pausanias, in his description
of Greece, lib. 8. in initio, informs us, that, according
to the traditions of the Arcadians, a very antient
people of Greece, the first inhabitants of that country,
lived in the same manner. And even in the times of
history we see, from an oracle recorded by Herodotus.
that they were then eaters of acorns, lib. 1. cap. 66.
The poetical fictions concerning the golden age, have,
like most of the other fictions, a foundation in historical
truth; particularly in that circumstance, of men living
upon the fruits of the earth without blood or slaughter.
For the account which the antient Greek poets, who
were their first historians, as well as philosophers and divines,
give us of that age, is no other than a representation,
a little embellished and exaggerated, after the manner
of the poets, of the simple and natural way in which
men lived in the first ages of the world, feeding upon
herbs and fruits, which the earth produced spontaneously.
This golden age may be said yet to exist in some of
the countries that have been discovered in the South sea,
where the inhabitants live, without toil or labour, upon
the natural productions of the earth. In some of those
countries there was nothing else that the inhabitants
could subsist upon; particularly in the Ladrone islands,
when they were first discovered by the Spaniards, there
was neither hog nor dog, which are animals commonly
found in the islands of the South sea, nor any other terrestrial
animal, besides man.

84* I mean, those made by Mr Banks and Dr Solander
in their late voyage to the South sea, where they found
in the country called New Zealand, a people who fed
on human flesh; but were, in other respects, far form being
a barbarous or inhuman people, but, on the contrary,
brave and generous. I myself know a French Jesuit,
one Mons. Rouband, who was missionary among a
tribe of Indians in North America, called the Albinaquois
and who told me he saw eight and twenty British
men eaten at a breakfast by a tribe of Indians who had
come to the assistance of the French in the late war, from
a remote part of that country towards the west, where they
still preserved the custom of eating men, which appears
to have been once universal among the nations of that continent.
The British had been taken prisoners by this tribe;
and though the French general, Mons. Moncalme, was at
great pains to save them, and offered the Indians double
the number of beeves in the place of them, he could not
accomplish it; for the Indians said, they were not such,
fools as to prefer the flesh of oxen to that of Englishmen.
And I have heard it well attested, that some civilized
men, who by great necessity have been reduced to the
extremity of eating human flesh, have declared, that
they thought it the sweetest they ever tasted. I am well
informed, too, that there is a nation in the inland parts
of Africa, where human flesh is exposed to sale in the
market as beef and mutton is among us. Garcilasso de
la Vega
, (an author of whom I shall give a particular
account afterwards), in his history of Peru, says the same
thing of a certain nation in South America, upon the
authority of a Spanish writer, one Pedro de Cieca, who
affirms, that he saw there, with his own eyes, the human
flesh exposed to sale in the shambles; and that they
ate their own children whom they begat upon their female
captives; and with respect to their male captives,
they gave them women to breed out of, and they fattened
and ate the offspring as we do calves and lambs; book 1.
chap. 5
. We need not therefore doubt of the truth of
those stories told by Herodotus, and other antient authors,
of Indian and Scythian nations that fed on mens
flesh. We are not however to believe, that there ever
was a nation that fed promiscuously upon one another;
for the fact is, that all such nations eat ealy their enemies,
or strangers, whom they treat as enemies, and such
of their own people as die, or become useless through
age or infirmities.

85* ἐστι τὸ λογικόν, εὐθὺς καὶ πολιτικόν. Meditat. lib. 10.

86* Buffon's Hist. Natur. vol. 8. pag. 297.

87* Diodor. Biblioth. Lib. I. in initio.

88* Lib. I. cap. 8. edit. Wesseling.

89* This is precisely the way of fishing practised by the
inhabitants of New Holland, as described by Dampier in
his travels. This Dampier appears to me to be one of
the most accurate and judicious of our modern travellers;
so that when we find him agreeing in his account
of the customs of barbarous nations, with an antient historian
whom I am persuaded he never read, nor perhaps
ever heard of, we can hardly doubt of the truth of the

90* Diod. lib. 3. p. 106. Stephani.

91 ἀναίσθητοι.

92* Diod. lib. 3. p. 108.

93 The wild girl whom I mentioned above, must have
been of a race of people very like this mentioned by Diodorus:
for she climbed trees like a squirrel, and leapt
from one branch to another, upon all-four, with wonderful
agility, as I was informed by the people of the village
of Songè in Champaigne, where she was caught: and
she still retained, when I saw her, a mark of the use of
her bands as feet in leaping; for her thumbs were of an
unusual breadth. When she happened to fall too, she
was so light and nimble that she received very little hurt.
For the Abbess of the convent of Chalons, (near to Songè),
where she was confined for some time after she was taken,
shewed me a very high window that she leapt out
of into the street, without receiving much harm; and
what she did receive, she imputed to the gross aliment
they had given her, which she said had made her so much
heavier than when she lived upon wild food.

94* There is a race of men yet to be found in that part
of antient Æthiopia that we call Abyssinia, whose language
resembles still more that of the Troglodytes, as described
by Herodotus; for it makes a hissing kind of
noise, very fitly expressed by the Greek word τρύζω, (in
Latin strideo), which Herodotus applies to the language
of the Troglodytes, and which I suppose resembles the
sound made by a bat. Of these people in Æthiopia,
Linnæus, as I was informed by one of his scholars, had
an account from two travellers who had been in that
country at different times; and both agreed in this,
and several other particulars concerning those men. See
Linnæi Systema Naturæ, vol. 1.p. 33.

95* Lib. 7. in initio.

96 Ibid. p. 656.

97 He was born, as he informs us, eight years after the
Spanish conquest of Peru was completed. His mother
was the grand-daughter, is I mistake not, of the Inca
that preceded him who was dethroned and put to death
by the Spaniards. He was brought up among his relations
of the Inca race, till he was twenty years of age;
and from his mother and her brothers, as he tells us, he
received information of the facts which he relates in his
history. He also employed his school fellows the Indians,
after he had formed the design of writing it, to get him
information from all parts of the country. His history
therefore, I think, may be credited as much as any that
is only from tradition; which, however, this history was
not altogether; for they had a kind of record by threads
and knots. And indeed the facts he relates, and his
manner of relating them, bear intrinsic marks of truth,
at least that no falsehood or fiction was intended. And
with respect to the principal facts, we may believe a tradition
that went no farther back than four hundred
years; about which time the first Inca, Manco Copac,
began his reign; especially when it was preserved in the
family of that prince, and we may believe carefully preserved,
and the mere carefully that they had no written

98* Lib. 1. c. 5. & 6.

99 Ibid. c. 7.

100* Lib. 1. c. 4. & 5.

101 Lib. 9. c. 8.

102* Lib. 9. c. 8.

103 Lib. 8. c. 3. See also c. 6. & 7. of the same book,
where there are other accounts to the same purpose.

104* The story is told in the 6th volume of Linnæus's
Amœnitates academicæ, in an academical oration of
one Hoppius, a scholar, as I suppose, of Linnæus, who
relates the story upon the credit of this Keoping, with
several more circumstances than I have mentioned. As I
knew nothing then of any other author who had spoken
of men with tails, I thought the fact extraordinary, and
was not disposed to believe it without knowing who this
Keoping was, and what credit he deserved. I therefore
wrote to Linnæus, inquiring about him, and desiring to
know where his book was to be found. He returned me
a very polite answer, informing me, that the book was
lately reprinted at Stockholm, 1743, apud Salvium; that
the author was “natione Suecus, secutus naves Belgicas
per plures annos, imprimis ad insulas Indiæ Orientalis.
Incepit iter 1647. Erat Lieutenant navalis rei.
Habet multa de animalibus et plantis sparsa, simplici
stylo; sed omnia reliqua quae retulit de his, simplicitate
et fide summa recenset; quorum omnia reliqua
hodie notissima et confirmata.”

Upon this information I got the book from Stockholm.
It is in the Swedish language, which I do not understand;
but that passage of it having been translated to
me by a Swedish gentleman, I found it to agree exactly
with the story told by Hoppius. And the gentleman,
who was very well acquainted with the book, confirmed
what Linnæus says, of its being written in a plain and
simple style, bearing intrinsic marks of truth.

As this is a matter of great curiosity, I will subjoin
what Linnæus further says in his letter to me.

2. Bontius longius post cum (Keoping) vidit ipse
homines caudatos et nocturnos.

3. Gesnerus et Aldrovandus habent ex antiquis similem
figuram caudati.

4. Opus istud Chinense lingua et stylo Chinensi cum
figuris, 30 vol. 8vo. quod possideo, et sistit fideliter
multas et plantas et animalia, idem depingit.

5. Rumphius habuit per plures annos vivum hominem
nocturnum, quem aluit; auctor fidissimus vocat
eum Cacutlack.

6. Brad mercator vivus qui diu, per septennium.
vixit in Malacca, siquis alius vir gravis, candidus, et
sincerus, vidit hominem nocturnum, et descripsit in
familiari colloquio; omnia quæ ego novi antea ita sincere,
ut de ejus fide dubitare nequeam, mihi retulit.

Et nocturnus et caudatus recti incedunt; caudatus
non loquitur.

Dalin fuit informator Principis nostri hæreditarii,
vir infinita eruditione et sapientia. Hic edidit orationem
quam habuit coram soc. Reg. Acad. Scient. in
qua de his agit.

Montpertuis epistola Gallica Berolini ad Regem
Borussiæ de his multum agit.

Unius oculati testimonium, quod vidit, pluris mihi
est, quam centum negantium ideo quod non viderunt.

105* See Linnæi Systema Naturæ, vol. 1. f. 33. and Buffon's
Natural History

106* See Le Bas's account of those islands.

107* Whether this particular he mentioned in any printed
account of North America, I do not know; but I
have it from the French Jesuit I mentioned above, whom
I reckon a better authority in what relates to the Indians
country than any thing we have printed.

108* See Maillet the French Consul's account of Egypt.

109* This story of Dædalus is no doubt a poetical fiction,
though, like other poetical fictions, it has a foundation in
historical truth; for the fact appears to have been, that
Dædalus made his escape from Crete in a swist-sailing
vessel of his own invention. But it is not a fiction, that
Bishop Wilkins, a most ingenious as well as learned
man, did try to invent an art of fliying, and was so confident
of his success, that he said, he did not doubt but
that he should hear men calling for their wings as they
now call for their boots.

110* This is an observation of Hippocrates the physician,
in his treatise, De aëre, aquis, et locis, § 3. p. 288.

111* The Egyptians pretended, that they had sundry aquatic
plants growing in their river, which were sufficient
for the aliment of man, particularly one they called
the Lotus. If this be true, it is an exception to my
rule; and is a very good argument, and as such was used
by the Egyptians, in favour of the antiquity of the
human race in Egypt, as being the country of all others
the most proper to maintain man in his natural and infantine
state, as it may be called, without society or arts.
See Diodorus Siculus, in initio.

112 This is so true, that it was the study of the antient
legislators to prevent the too great increase of their citizens;
for which purpose they used strange expedients,
such as allowing the exposition of children, and even the
unnatural passion of men for one another.

113* What extremities men have been reduced to for subsistence,
even in the first ages of society, is evident from
a fact which cannot be doubted, that several of the barbarous
nations, at this day, use for food the vermin of
their own bodies.

114* It was from this circumstance that I discovered she
had been in one of the Caribbee islands; for in a French
account published of those islands, by one Sieur la Beaud.
I find that the Caribbees use that weapon, and call it by
the same name.

115* It is so at this day in many parts of the earth; and,
I am persuaded, it was so originally among all nations.
In the language of the Iroquois of North America, to put
on the cauldron
, is to declare war, as Charlevoix informs
us. And though those hunrers have given over eating
their enemies, it is certain, there is nothing in which
they delight so much as blood and slaughter.

116* Silvestres homines facer interpresque deorum
Cædibus et
victu fædo deterruit Orpheus:
Dictus ob hoc lenire tigres rabidosque leones.

Hor. Art. Poet. 392.

Where the fœdus victus is no doubt the eating one another;
from which, among other barbarous customs, Orpheus
reclaimed them.

117* He had at first another name, which I have forgot;
but afterwards his parents, who were, both originally
from Egypt, thought proper to give him the name of the
Egyptian god. See Herodotus, lib. 2. cap. 43. & 44,
who tells us, that, in order to settle the point of antiquity
betwixt the Egyptian and Grecian Hercules, he made
two voyages, one to Tyre, and the other to Thasus; in
each of which places there was a temple of Hercules,
both long prior to the son of Alcmena: from whence he
very justly concludes, that these temples were erected to
the Egyptian Hercules. Such was the curiosity and diligence
of this historian, who had so little of the vanity
of his countrymen, that in this, and several other instances,
he was at uncommon pains to refute their vain lies.

118* According to this poet, he wore neither lion's skin
nor elm, but was armed with a bow and arrows; and so
he is introduced among the other spirits which appeared to
Ulysses, in the 11th book of the Odyssey, vers. 606. And
upon this occasion, it may be observed, that a great deal
of the Greek fables and religion is posterior to the days
of Homer: for in his time, neither this Hercules, the son
of Alcmena, was worshipped, nor Castor and Pollux. And
Bacchus, who became so great a god afterwards, is, I
think, but once mentioned in Homer, and that is a way
that does him no honour; for he is represented as running
away form Lycurgus, the King of Thrace, and
hiding himself in the ocean.

119* Even after arms were invented in Greece, and the
use of them well known, the Caledonian boar was destroyed
with much difficulty, and not till he had killed a
great many of the youth of Greece, as Homer informs
us, Iliad, ix. 542. And in much later times, as late as the
days of Crœsus King of Lydia, a boar laid waste the
lands of the Mysians, a people of Asia, in the neighbourhood
of Crœsus; and they not being able to destroy him
themselves, sent to Crœsus for assistance; who accordingly
sent them his son, at the head of a chosen body of
hunters, Herod. lib. 1. cap. 36. I know the mere modern
reader will reject all these stories as fables, and will
not even believe Pausanias, who says, that he saw the
tusks of the Caledonian boar, which were preserved as
late down as his time, and gives us the dimensions of
them. But the learned will have no doubt of the truth
of either of the stories, knowing well, that even what
is called the fabulous history of Greece, is for the greater
part true history; mixed indeed with many romantic
circumstances and superfluous tales, which a little sagacity
and critical discernment can easily separate form the
truth of history. As to Herodotus, though, I know,
his authority is by many thought no better than that, of
Homer, and the other Greek poets, yet I will venture to
affirm, that whoever understands his history, and has
diligently studied it, will hardly doubt of what he relates,
not as a hearsay, (for he has many stories of that
kind which he tells us he does not believe himself), but as a
simple historical fact. But as to this article, concerning the
difficulty of mens defending themselves against wild beasts
in the first ages of the world, Diodorus Siculus, in his
3d book, informs us of a savage nation in Africa, that
he calls ῥεζοφάγοι, from their feeding upon roots, who, he
says, not having the use of arms, could not defend
themselves against lions, and would have been quite destroyed
by them, if it had net been for a multitude of
flies that came at a certain season of the year, and drove
away the lions. It is in a situation such as that of those
root-eaters, that I suppose men would, from the motive of
self-defence, enter into political society, and invent arts
of defence. And not only by such fierce beasts have
countries been rendered not habitable, but also by reptiles,
such as serpents; and small animals, such as mice,
frogs, and sparrows , which, in several instances mentioned
by Diodorus, lib.3. p. 114. Stephani, have got the
better of people with all the advantages of society and
arts, and driven them out of the country.

120* Diodorus, lib. 1. cap. 8.

121* Pag. 154.

122* “Cum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
Mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
Unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ita porro
Pugnabant armis, quæ post fabricaverat usus.”

I will subjoin the rest of the passage, as it shews that
Horace's philosophy perfectly agrees with mine with respect
to the invention of language:

“Donec verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent,
Nominaque invenêre: dehinc absistere bello,
Oppida cœperunt munire, et ponere leges,
Ne quis fur esset, neu latro, neu quis adulter.”
Satir. III. v. 99. et seqq.

The distinction that Horace makes here betwixt verba
and nomina I shall afterwards explain; but what I quoted
the passage for at present is, to observe, that the progress
according to Horace was, first the natural or brute
state, without language or arts of any kind; then the
intention of certain arts, particularly the arts of attack
and defence; — then language; and lastly government
and laws, and every other art of life, connected with,
and dependent upon these. This system, I believe, will,
upon the strictest examination, be found the true system
of human nature; and a history of man would be nothing
else than a commentary upon these few line.

123* Man, says Momus, is the play-thing of Jove, (τὸ παίγνιον
τοῦ Διός
), or, as Mr Pope has rendered it, the standing
jest of heaven
. But if Momus, quitting his sportive vein
should assume a tone of keen satire, and virulent invective,
and if M. Rousseau should lend him words,
he would say, that man is the most mischievous animal
that God has made; — that he has already almost depopulated
the earth, having in many countries destroyed
whole specieses of animals, and continuing daily to destroy
those that remain, not only to gratify his luxury
and vanity, but for mere sport and pastime. “What
atonement, most pernicious biped, or quadruped, or
whatever other appellation most offends thine ear,
what atonement canst thou make for this so great abuse
of thy superior faculties, and this destruction of
the creatures of God? None other, except to destroy
thyself next, and so avenge the rest of the animal race.
This thou art doing as fast as possible; and for this
only I can commend thee. When this work is accomplished,
then shall the true state of nature be restored,
and the real golden age return. Then shall
Astræa visit the earth again, whose latest footsteps are
now no longer to be seen: so shall the animal creation,
freed from a tyrannical and capricious master,
live the life which nature has defined for them, and
accomplish the end of their bring: so shall even man
himself, if any of the wretched race yet remain, acquit
providence of the imputations he has thrown upon
it, and shew that he was made upright, though he
have found out many inventions.”

124* Histoire Naturelle, tom. 8. p. 289.

125* The huts of the New-Hollanders are not near
built as those of the beavers, and serve only for a cover
to the head and shoulders, as I am informed by the travellers
who have lately been in that country.

126* This author flourished about the end of the last century,
and was a man of great eminence, not only for
learning, but for political abilities; and was accordingly
much employed in public business, such as embassies, and
negotiations of peace. In this poem, though he refutes
Lucretius, he has imitated his style and manner very exactly;
and I think the diction of it is the best modern
philosophic Latin extant.

127* Anti-Lucretius, lib. 6. vers. 175.

128* Iliad b. 1. v. 357.

129 Natur. Hist. of Kamschatka, p. 125. It is translated
from the Russian language by James Grieve, and printed
at Gloucester, 1764.

130* That such was the intention of his work, is evident
from what Grotius himself says in his προλεγομένος, § 3.
“Videbam per Christianum orbem vel barbaris gentibus
pudendam bellandi licentiam: levibus aut nullis de
causis ad arma procurri; quibus semel sumptis, nullam
jam divini, nnllam humani juris reverentiam, plane
quasi uno edicto ad omnia scelera emisso furore.”

131 This is the name which Hobbes gives to the great
corporations or political bodies we call states.

132* Lib. 1. Cap. 1. § 10. & 12.

133* Proleg. § 6.

134 Cicero, in a passage quoted by Grotius, lib. 1. cap. 1.
§ 12.
says, In re consensio omnium gentium jus naturæ
putanda est

135* Pandect, lib. 1. tit. 1.

136* History of Kamschatka, p. 128.

137* See before, book. 1. p. 136.

138 See Lucian, περὶ ὀρχήσεως.

139* Before the Romans had pantomimes, their actors,
such is Roscius, played certain parts in dumb show.
Those parts were the monodies, or cantica, as the Latins
call them, which were soliloquies spoken in recitativo
to music. In such parts of the play the actor among
the Romans only gesticulated, and expressed the sense by
his action, that is, danced, as they called it, while another
sung, or pronounced the words to music: so that
it was only in the diverbium or dialogue that the Roman
actor used his voice. How this strange custom of dividing
the acting and speaking, such as never was practised
in any other nation, so far I as know, came to be introduced
among the Romans, Livy has informed us, lib. 7.
c. 2

140* I have often wondered, that Horace, in his epistle
to Augustus, where he flatters that prince so much as
to compare the arts of Rome in his time to the arts, of
Greece, in these lines.

Venimus ad summum fortunæ; pingimus, atque
Psallimus, et luctamur Achivis doctius unctis.

does nor mention this pantomime art, which I believe
the only one in which the Romans of those days excelled
the Greeks. And this perhaps was one of the reasons
which made the people of Rome so passionately fond of
if: for as to painting and music, mentioned by Horace,
I cannot believe that there was the least degree of comparison
betwixt those arts, as practised in Rome, and as
practised in Greece, and particularly painting: for, so
far as I know, the Romans never produced one good
painter or statuary. And with respect to wrestling; as
the first palæstra in Rome was, as I remember, no earlier
than the days of Augustus Cæsar, I think it is hardly
possible that the Romans should all of a sudden have become
such expert wrestlers, As therefore he flatters Augustus
so much at the expence of truth, I can assign no
reason why he omitted this pantomime art, in which he
might have truly said the Romans excelled the Greeks,
except that he did not esteem it, either as a useful art,
which it certainly is not among persons who can understand
one another by language, or of any natural grace
and beauty. And indeed it appears from what Lucian
says in his dialogue upon dancing, that the men of gravity
and correct taste condemned this inimical representation,
as fit only for the lower sort of people.

141* The man I mean is Dr Blacklock of Edinburgh; a
person of great genius, and wonderful learning, if we
consider, that with him knowledge is shut out ac one of
its principal entrances; for he has been blind since his
infancy. He is well known by several works that he has
published, both in prose and verse.

142* I use accent in the antient sense of the word, to signify
a musical modulation of the voice, by which it is
made higher or lower with respect to gravity or acuteness.
This is the meaning of the Latin word accentus.
and of the Greek τόνος. Whereas the word in English has
a sense very different, denoting only the elevation of the
voice upon one syllable of a word above the rest, without
any change as to gravity or acuteness.

143* This Gabriel Sagard was a religious of the order of
St Francis, who was sent on a mission to the country of
the Hurons in the year 1626, and published his travels at
Paris in the year 1631, under the title of Le Grand voyage
du pays des Hurons, &c.
; to which he has added a dictionary
of the Huron language, with a preface to it, containing
many particulars concerning that language. The
book is extremely rare, and I never could hear but of
two copies of it; one in the Museum at London, and another
in the French King's library in Paris. This last I
had the use of by the favour of M. Caperonier, the keeper
of that library, who was so obliging as to allow me
the privilege of taking it out of the library, and keeping
it for some weeks by me. It was the perusal of this dictionary,
and the account of the language prefixed to it,
that first made me think of this work; in which, if the
public finds any thing entertaining or instructing, they
owe it to the politeness and obliging disposition of Mons.
Caperonier, to whom I take this opportunity of returning
my sincere thanks.

144* The tunes which the birds sing are very high set,
that is, the fundamental note is very high, compared
with any of the notes of our music. The lowed note of
a linnet, for example, is much higher than any note we
can found upon any instrument. But then they rise by
very small intervals; so small, as to be hardly distinguishable
by our ears, never higher than a fourth, seldom
above a third, as I am informed by the gentleman
above mentioned, Dr Blacklock, who has the finest ear
perhaps of any man living, and has observed with particular
attention the music of the birds.

145* La Hontan's Travels in North America, vol. 2
p. 219.

146 Ibid. p. 220.

147* By this I mean only to say, that the Greek has all
the consonants commonly used in the languages of Europe.
But I will not venture to affirm, that it has all
the consonants which the human mouth is capable of
pronouncing, or even all those that are actually used in
the barbarous languages. I am well informed, that the
inhabitants of Otahitee, the new discovered island in the
South sea, have a sound in their language betwixt l and
r, which the gentleman who gave me the information
could not pronounce, nor I believe any man in Europe.

148* Vol. 2, p. 219.

149* See a vocabulary of it in La Hontan, vol. 2. p. 202.

150 These people inhibit a province of South America,
near to the isthmus where the French have had a settlement
about a hundred years, which they have cultivated
and improved much since the last peace. They
have been at the pains to learn the language of the natives;
and they have published a dictionary of it, and a
kind of grammar, printed at Paris in the year 1763,
collected from the observations of several persons who
have been in that country. From that work I have taken
what I have said here, and shall say afterwards, of
that language.

151 There is an account of this language, and of the
people who speak it, published at Auxerre in the year
l66r, under the title of Dictionaire Caraibe François, by
Father Raymond Bretton, missionary in the Caribbee
islands. He says, that the language spoken by the men
in those islands is quite different form the language of
the women. And the tradition is, that these islands were
originally inhabited by a colony from Florida, but were
invaded by a tribe of Galibi from South America, who
destroyed all the males, but preserved the women, who
still speak the language of Florida. For proof of this,
our author says, that there still subsists an alliance and
friendly intercourse betwixt the Caribs and Galibi. One
Davies, who published an account of the Caribbee islands
in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, gives the same account,
if I am not mistaken, of the origin of that people. In
this way our author accounts for the affinity which appears
to be betwixt the two languages. His account of
that of the Caribs is full and accurate; and I shall make
a good deal of use of it in the sequel.

152* Vol. 2. p. 203.

153* It may be observed, that there are in Greek some
words consisting altogether of vowels, such as ἀω, ἐαω, ἰαω,
ἐεω, ὑω
; which I consider as vestiges still remaining of the
antient savage language, out of which the Greek was
formed by men of art.

154* Condam. Voyag. p. 66.

155* See book 1. c. 6.p. 67.

156 To remove all doubt in this matter, it may not be
improper, by way of addition to what I have said upon
this subject in my first book, to state a little more particularly
the steps by which the mind rises from sense and
, where it begins, to those ideas of highest abstraction.
In the first place, by comparing together the federal
individuals of a species, and abstracting what is
common to them all from what is peculiar to each, we
form the idea of what the logicians call the lowest species;
as, for example, of man. Then we compare this
species with other specieses of animals, and by separating
what is peculiar to each species, from what is common
to them all; we form the more general idea of animal.
In the same manner, form particular specieses
of vegetables we form the general idea of vegetable.
Then, comparing together the animal and vegetable
we observe what is peculiar to each; and separating that
from what is common to both, we in this way attain to
the still more general idea of the τὸ ἔμψυχον, or animated
. From thence, by the same process, we ascend to
body, and from body to substance; where, as. I have
said, the progress ends. — And with respect to accidents
of qualities of substances, there is the same progress from
the lowest species to the highest genus; as, for example,
from extension in particular objects we rise to the idea of
extension in general, or quantity continuous. In the same
manner, from particular numbers of things we get the idea
of number in general, or quantity discrete; and, by comparing
these two kinds of quantity together, we attain
to the general idea of quantity. In this way we ascend
in the series both of substances and accidents; and these
two comprehend the whole of things. That it is impossible
a savage should go far in this progression must appear
evident, if we consider, 1st, That such ideas are
formed by repeated abstractions, which carry us much
farther from sense and matter than we can suppose the
unpractised intellect of savages to go. 2dly, The formation
of such ideas requires a more extensive knowledge,
and more enlarged views of things, than it is possible
for savages to be possessed of.

And here we have got to a summit, from which we may
see the whole extent of human knowledge, according to the
doctrine of the Pythagorean and Aristotelian school: for
those philosophers did not stop at the categories, which,
according to the account I have given of them, are all specieses
of things formed and complete of their kind. See
Ammon. in Categor. fol. 47. But they inquired further,
whether there were not certain things in nature, which
were not themselves categories, but the principles or
elements of categories: for they conceived, that the
specieses of things were not at once formed by nature,
but that there was a progression in the formation of
them from what was imperfect to what was perfect;
that is, from the elemental principles to the things themselves.
Of this kind of elements they sound the point,
the monad, and the instant, to be; none of which belong
to the category of quantity, being neither magnitude,
number, nor time. See Ammon. ubi supra, fol. 46.
But they are the principles of all the three; the point
being that of magnitude, or quantity continuous; the monad,
that of number; and the instant, that of time. Besides
these, there is one elemental principle much more
general, being the foundation, or substratum, as we may
call it, of all the categories, I mean matter; the several
categories being different forms, which, joined to this universal
matter, constitute the whole visible world. But
how does this union happen? how do matter and form
join together to produce the several substances and their
qualities? Or, in other words, How are things generated?
The answer is, By motion. Here then is another
universal, which is not a category neither, but may be
said to be the road or passage to all the categories, as no
species of thing here below can exist without motion,
Ammon. ibid. 47. Matter then must be moved, and
must undergo some change, before it can receive those
forms which constitute the nature of things. If so, it
must have in itself the capacity of being moved, which,
when brought into exertion, is what we call motion, as I
have explained in a former note, p. 16.; and, according
to Aristotle, is in the body that is moved, not in what
moves; and therefore he has defined a natural body to be
that which has in itself the principle of motion. And
this naturally leads us to a still higher order of being.
For if there be motion, there must be a mover. And
what can this mover be? It cannot be body, which is
only passive of motion, and may communicate it by impulse
to other bodies, but cannot begin it. What then
is it that moves or begins motion? My answer is, That
it is not matter or body. It is therefore an immaterial
substance, and this substance I call mind. Of which, if
we require a definition, I think the best that can be given
is, that it is a substance which has in itself the power of
moving; and in this way it is properly distinguished by
Aristotle from body; which, as I have said, he has defined
to be that which has the power of motion, that is,
of being moved.

But neither did this philosophy stop here; but they inquired
further, whether every mind had originally in itself
this power of moving; and they sound, that there
was but one mind that had this power originally and independently
in itself, and that all other minds had it by
derivation from this first mind, which therefore is the
first cause, the author of all motion, and of all generation
and production of every kind, and which Aristotle,
in the conclusion of his Physics, has proved to be eternal
and unchangeable, immaterial, and without parts.

This philosophy, so noble at least in appearance, and
so extensive, which pretends to lead us from the perceptions
of sense, by gradual removes, from matter, to the
most general and abstract properties of material things,
such as are at a great distance from particular objects of
sense; and from thence to conduct us to the principles or
elements of those general properties, and which are still
more removed from matter and sense: and when we
have gone thus far, supposes us capable of apprehending
that which is not abstracted from matter, or
existing in matter, such as the universals we hare been
speaking of; but what, by its nature, is entirely separated
from matter, or, in one word, mind: and from mind in
general, leads us to the contemplation of the supreme
mind, and first cause of all things. — This philosophy, I
say, which, from what is lowest in nature, conducts us
to what is highest, and ends in the sublimest theology,
should at least excite the curiosity of speculative men among
us to look a little more into it, and see whether it
answers to this idea that I have endeavoured to give of it.

157* See Theodor. Gazæ Grammat. Græc. part. 3, initio.

158* There is so little connection betwixt the words of
their language, and so little art or regularity in it, that
the addition of a negation changes the word entirely.
Thus there is one word which signifies, a thing is handsome;
another quite different, signifying, it is not handsome.
There is one word which signifies, Thou hast beat
; another quite different, which express, I have not
beaten him
. There is a word which signifies, I know it
, another, altogether unlike it, signifying, I do not
know it
. — And any the least change of circumstance
makes the expression quite different. Thus the word
which signifies wounded with a hatchet, is quite different
from the word which denotes simply wounded. In the
, is expressed by a word quite different from the word
signifying hut; and there is a word different from either,
which signifies my hut. Nay, there is a word which signifies
two years, altogether different from that which signifies
one year, four years, or ten years.

159* 1, Escate; 2, Teni; 3, Hachin; 4, Dac; 5, Onyche;
6, Kouhahea; 7, Sotaret; 8, Ateret; 9, Nechon;
10, Assan; 11, Assan-escate-escarhet; 12, Assan-teni-escarhet;
13. Assan-hachin-escarhet; 14, Assandac-escarhet;
15, Assan-onyche-escarhet, 16, Assan-houhahea-escarhet;
17, Assan-sotaret-escarhet; 18,
Assan-ataret-escarhet; 19, Assan-nechon-escarhet; 20,
Teni-quivoissan; 21, Teni-quivoissan-escate-escarhet;
30, Hachin-quivoissan; 40, Dac-quivoissan; 50, Onyche-quivoissan;
60, Houhahea-quivoissan; 70, Sotaret-quivoissan;
80, Ateret-quivoissan; 90, Nechon-quivoissan;
100, Egyo-tivoissan; 200, Teni-tevoignavoy;
1000, Assen-attevoignavoy; 2000, Teni-tivoissan-attevoignavoy.
— And their arithmetic goes no farther;
at least our author says nothing more of it.

I will also give the names of numbers among the Algonkini,
another nation in North America, from the Baron
Hontan's Voyages, vol. 2. p. 217. I, Pegik; 2,
Ninch; 3, Nissoue; 4, Neou; 5, Narau; 6, Ningoutouassou;
7, Ninchouassou; 8, Nissouassou; 9, Changassou;
10, Mitassou; 11, Mitassou-achi-pegik; 12,
Mitassou-achi-ninch; 13, Mitassou-achi-nissoue; 14,
Mitassou-achi-neou; 15, Mitassou-ach-narau; 16, Mitassou-achi-ningotouassou;
17, Mitassou-achi-ninchouassou;
18, Mitassou-achi-nissouassou; 19, Mitassou-achi-changassou;
20, Ninchtana; 21, Ninchtana-achi-pegik; 22,
Ninchtana-achi-ninch; 23, Ninchtana-achi-nissoue; 24,
Ninchtana-achi-neou; 25, Ninchtana-achi-narau; 26,
Ninchtana-achi-ningotouassou; 27, Ninchtana-achi-nineboassou;
28, Ninchtana-achi-nissoassou; 29, Ninchtana-achi-changasso;
30, Nissouemitana; 31, Nissouemitana-achi-pegik,
&c; 40, Neoumitana; 50, Naran-mitana;
60, Ningoutouassou-mitana; 70, Ninchouassou-mitana;
80, Nissouassou-mitana; 90, Changassou-mitana;
100, Mitassou-mitana; 1000, Mitassou-mitassou-mitana.

From this account, I think it is evident, that in the
language of the Algonkins, they have two words denoting
the number ten, viz. mitassou, and mitana; and
therefore it is an error of Hontan, or of his printer, when
he makes the name of twenty to be ninchtana; for it
should be ninch-mitana; that is, twice ten, in the same
manner as nissoue-mitana, thrice ten, and so on, till we
come to a thousand, which is ten-ten-times and ten-times;
that is, the cube or third power of ten.

For the further entertainment of the curious, I will
subjoin an account of the arithmetic of the inhabitants of
the new-discovered island of Otahitee in the South sea,
furnished me by Mr Banks, whose travels in search of
knowledge do honour to the age in which he lives, as
well as to his country. The Otahitans count to 10, and
then turn back, as the Hurons and Algonkins do. The
names of the cardinal numbers arc as follows. 1, Tahai;
2, Rua; 3. Torou; 4, Ita; 5, Rima; 6, Whenu;
7, Hetu; 8, Warow; 9, Iva; 10, Ahourou.
When they have got thus far, they turn back as we do,
and say, ma-tahai, that is, one more, or 11; ma-rua, 12;
and so on, till they come to 20, for which they have a new
word, tahai-taou, that is, one score. Then they proceed,
not by tens, but by scores, saying, tahai-taou-tahai,
tabai-taou-rua; that is, one score and one, one score and
, and so on, not stopping as we do, and turning back
at 30, but going on, and saying, one score and ten, one
score and eleven
, one score and twelve, and so on, till they
come to forty, which they call rua-taou, that is, two-score.
Then they go on, counting in the same way,
till they come to torou-taou, that is, three-score, or 60;
and so they go on till they come to ten score, which they
call aou-manna. Then they go on in the same manner
till they come to ten times ten score, that is, 2000, which
they call mannu-tine; and then they go on till they come
to ten times that number, or twenty thousand, which
they call torou-tine; and after this they have no new
name for any number, though Mr Banks believes they
may count farther.

160* This fact is taken from the Annual Register for the
year 1764, p. 4. where there is an account given of the
inhabitants of Kamschatka, taken from the Russian discoveries
in that country.

161* This is an observation of Herodotus, lib. 5. c. 9.
where he mentions a colony of Medes in the middle of
Scythia. This no doubt is a very extraordinary thing;
but, says he, πᾶν γένοιτο ἂν ἐν τῷ μακρῷ χρόνῳ; an observation
that could be made only by a man who had studied as
much as Herodotus the history of mankind.

162* See Edward Lye's Saxon and Gothic Dictionary, lately
published, with a grammar of these languages, by
Owen Manning.

163* Vol. 3. p. 220.

164* See Dr Smith on the formation of languages, p. 452.
where he says, that the Armenian language has no less
than ten cases.

165* And now I will give the explication I promised of
the passage above quoted from Horace.

“Donec verba quibus voces sensusque notarent,
Nominaque invenêre.” —

Where Horace makes a distinction betwixt verba and
nomina, which has not been explained by any commentator,
so far as I know; but which, if rightly understood,
agrees perfectly with my system; for by verba he means,
as I understand him, those articulate sounds expressing
only appetites and desires; and this I think he has sufficiently
explained himself by the description he has
given ot them, — quibus voces sensusque notarent; importing,
that the first words marked the inarticulate cries
formerly used, which I understand to be meant by voces,
and by consequence the inclinations and feelings of the
mind expressed by those cries, which I take to be the
meaning of the word sensus: for that word in Latin
does not denote ideas, or the operations of the intellect,
but the movements of that part of our mind which is the
seat of desire and inclination, and is called by the Greek
philosophers the orectic, (τὸ ὀρεκτικόν). If the words be
understood in this sense, (and I do not see in what other
they can be understood), Horace very properly places
the verba first, as being undoubtedly first invented; and
then the nomina, which came next in order, and which
undoubtedly signify the names of things, not whole sentences
expressing some desire or volition.

166* Dr Smith on the formation of language, in the beginning.

167* See Mons. Bullet's preface to his Celtic Dictionary.

168* This translation is what is called the Basilica: and
has been much used by Cujatius, and other learned lawyers,
in explaining and correcting Justinian's collection.

169* Garcilassa de la Vega's Royal Commentaries of Peru,
lib. 7. c. 1, p. 249.; c. 3. p. 253. et seqq.

170* It seems very extraordinary how the Celtic language
should have found its way from Europe, or the north
most parts of America, to a country so very remote as
Florida, through so many nations, who, so far as we
know, speak languages altogether different. But there
is a fact related by one Herbert, a Welchman, that will
account for it. This Herbert was a great traveller in
the last century, and has published a book of travels, in
which he has taken occasion to relate, that a dispute having
happened about the succession of the kingdom of
Wales in the twelfth century, the party that was worsted,
with their prince at their head, imbarked, and went
in search of a country where they might live quietly;
and, having directed their course westward, after a long
navigation they landed somewhere in the gulf of Mexico,
and made a settlement there. After which a part of
them having returned to Wales, came back again with
more ships, and a greater number of men, in order to
reinforce the colony, which had been much weakened by
the attacks of the natives. This, our author says, is
recorded by several Welch historians; and he speaks of it
as a fact that cannot be contested. And indeed the truth
of it is strongly supported by the affinity which the gentleman
above mentioned observed betwixt the language
of Florida and the Celtic, of which the Welch is a dialect:
for it would appear, that this colony of Welch,
after having in vain tried to support themselves against
the natives, have mixed and incorporated themselves
with them, and at last been totally lost in them. There
are other proofs of the fact alledged by our author,
such as the names of capes and promontories in Florida,
and of beasts and birds, which he affirms to be Welch.
And a further proof of some European nation having
made a settlement in Florida many years ago, is a fact
that I have from information which I think I can trust
to, that there are regular rows of trees to be found
in that country, carried on in straight lines for a great

All this, I know, will appear incredible to those who
are prepossessed with the opinion, that Columbus and
Americus Vespucius were the first discoverers of America
and the adjacent islands. But the fact truly is, that before
this discovery by the Welch, America had been
found out by some Norwegians from Greenland: for the
Norwegians having made a settlement in Greenland in
the end of the tenth century, some adventurers from
thence, in the beginning of the eleventh, discovered
North America, and made a settlement somewhere, as
it is conjectured, about the mouth of the river St Laurence;
where having found the vine growing, they
from thence called the country Winland. This is recorded
in the annals of Iceland, which was first peopled
from Norway, and from whence the colony came that
made the settlement in Greenland. See a History of
, published by one Mallet, in French, in 1765.
In short, it appears from the whole history of mankind,
that wonderful migrations of people have happened in
different ages of the world, and by that means languages
have been propagated to countries very remote from
those where they were first spoken.

171* See Procop. de bello Vandilico, lib. 1. cap. 2; and
Grot. preface to his translation of Procopius.

172* That country is at present inhabited by a Tartar
nation; and such were the Parthians, who possessed themselves
of it some time after the death of Alexander the
Great. See Herodian's History.

173 Epist. 4. p. 136.

174* See Mallet's History of Denmark, book 1. cap. 13.
p. 345.

175* Οἱ δὲ Πελασγοί τῶν περὶ τῆν Ἑλλάδα. Strabo, lib. 7.

176 This fact is proved by no less authority than that of
Homer, who, in what relates to geography and the inhabitants
of the several countries he speak of, may be accounted
a most authentic historian. He reckons the Pelasgi among
the Trojan auxiliaries, Iliad. 2. vers. 840. and speaks of
them as very numerous; for he mentions them in the plural
number, φῦλα Πελασγῶν. And as to their migration from
Asia to Greece, we know, that the people passed from
the one continent to the other two several ways; either
by sea, and then they commonly took the island of Crete
in their way; or they passed the Hellespont, and came
into Greece by land through Thrace, Macedonia, and
Thessaly. Now, it appears, that the Pelasgi came into
Greece both ways; at least it is evident from Homer,
that they were in Crete about the time of the Trojan
war, Odyss. 19. vers. 172. et seqq. And by the same authority
it is proved, that they were at that time, or had
been, in Thessaly: for he mentions a tract of country
there, which he calls Πελασγικὸν Ἄργος, Iliad. 2. vers. 631.
in contradistinction to the Argos in Peloponnesus. And
it is to be observed, that he dignifies the Pelasgi with an
epithet which he bestows upon no other nation, though
very frequently upon individuals: for he calls them
δῖοι Πελασγοί, Odyss. 19. vers. 177. The reason his commentator
Eustathius gives for this epithet is, that they
were the only people in Greece who, after Deucalion's
flood, preserved the use of letters. That they had the
use of letters before the people of Greece, and brought
them first into that country, I have no doubt; but as
they brought with them likewise many other more necessary
arts of life, and taught them to the savages of
Greece, that of itself was a sufficient reason for Homer's
giving them this title of superiority and excellence. But
further, by the assistance of Herodotus, the most antient,
and, I think, the most diligent and accurate Greek historian
that is preserved to us, we can trace their progress
all the way from the Hellespont into Peloponnesus; for
he speaks of them as having been once settled near the
Hellespont, the same Pelasgi, he says , who afterwards
inhabited Attica. Then he mentions them as dwelling
in Samothracia, and there instituting the Samothracian
mysteries. Next, he speaks of them as possessing that
part of Thessaly called Phthiotis, which no doubt is the
Πελασγικὸν Ἄργος above mentioned of Homer. This was in
the time of Deucalion. The third generation after that
they inhabited, says Herodotus, the country under the
mountains, Olympus and Ossa, called Hestiaiotis. From
thence being driven by the Cadmeans, they moved to the
country near to Pindus in Macedonia, and took the name
of Macedonians. From thence to Dryopis, and from
Dryopis they came into Peloponnesus, where they took
the name of Dorians, lib. I. cap. 56. & 57. And not
only are the Pelasgi to be in this manner traced from Asia,
but there are other nations, or, as I rather believe,
other tribes of the same nation, to be found upon the road
from thence. Thus the Ἕλληνεςand the Ἀχαιοί, at the
time of the Trojan war, inhabited that part of Thessaly
where Achilles reigned, and are mentioned by Homer as
his subjects, Iliad. 2. vers. 684. But these, we know well,
in after times spread themselves all over Greece. The
Hellens particularly came to be the governing people in
Greece, and at last gave their name to the country and
the people. And even in Homer's time we see that the
Achæi had got into Peloponnesus; and were so powerful
there, that he calls by their name, as well as by the
name of Danai, the whole Greeks.

177* Homer tells us, that there was in Asia a Pelasgic city
of the name of Larissa, Iliad. 2. vers. 841. There was a
city of the same name in Macedonia, another in Thessaly,
one in Attica, and a fourth in Peloponnesus. For it
seems, that the Pelasgi from Larissa in Asia gave the
name of their mother-city, as was very natural, to the
new cities which they founded in the different countries
where they settled. Thus Helenus, in Virgil, built in

parvam Trojam, simulataque magnis
. Virg.¤

For the same reason, they called the rivers and mountains
in the new country by the names of those in the
old. Thus there was an Olympus in Thessaly and in
Peloponnesus; and, in like manner, there was an Eurotas
in Thessaly and in Laconia. See, upon this subject,
Salmas. De Hellenist. part 2. p. 361. where he give
more examples of the like kind.

178* This Ephorus, as Polybius tells us, was a very diligent
inquirer into the origin of nations and cities, and
wrote a book upon the subject. He says, not only that
the barbarians were more ancient than the Greeks, but
that Greece, in antient times, was inhabited by various
barbarous nations. With him agrees Strabo, who mentions
several of those antient inhabitants of Greece such
as the Caucones, the Leleges, and the Dryopes, besides
the Pelasgi, p. 494. After this, how ridiculous must
the vanity appear of some of the later Greeks, particularly
of Diogenes Laertius, who, in his proœmium, scruples
not to assert, that Greece was the native country, not
only of philosophy and arts, but even of the human race!

179* Cratylus, tom. 1. p. 410. edit. Serrani; where he says,
that the word κῦνες, signifying dogs, is also a Phrygian word.
Now is the dog appears to be among the first animals that
were tamed by men, and is to be found in countries where
there are hardly any other tame animals, as in North America,
the name of this animal must be supposed to have
been among the first words of the language of every nation
where the animal is found.

180* See the proof of this in that very learned work of
Salmancius, De Hellenistica, p. 384.

181 See Salmas. ubi supra, p. 394. et seqq.

182* See many others of them mentioned by Salmas. ubi

183* Thus porcus was antiently a Greek word for a hog;
and ληνος or λανος was the old word for lana, wool; in
place of which they afterwards used the word ἔριον,
vide Salmas. De Hellenist. And the antient name of the
Greek nation, which was lost in their own language
even before the days of Homer, was preserved in the
Latin; I mean the name of Γραικοί or Γραιοί, by which
they were called long before Hellen the son of Deucalion
gave them his name. See Prideaux in marmor. Arund.
p. 131

184* This appears from a decree of the Spartan senate,
preserved to us by Severinus Boëtius in his treatise of
music. This decree is against one Timotheus, a musician,
who had made some alterations upon their lyre; and in
it the musician is called Τιμόθεορ, instead of Τιμόθεος; Μελησιορ,
instead of Μελησιος, and we have τὰρ ἀκοάρ, in place of τὰς
; and through the whole decree, in place of the final
ς, which was used in later times, there is a ρ.

185 In the cases of nouns this is evident: as, for example
of ἄνεμος, or animus, the Ionic genitive is ἀνεμοιο,
(afterwards contracted into ἀνέμου), which very probably
was of old ἀνέμοι, and, leaving out the first vowel of
the diphthong, ἀνεμι, as in Latin. And accordingly in
the dative plural it is ἀνέμοις, in Latin animis; and in
the accusative the Latins use the lowing letter m for the
termination, and say animum, which it is very probable
the antient Greeks did likewise; but they afterwards
softened the m into n, and said ἄνεμον. And with respect to
the verbs, whoever compares the present of the indicative
of the Latin verb lego, with the same tense of the
Greek verb λέγω in the Doric dialect, will find hardly any
difference, except that the Latins, in place of the diphthong
αι, use the simple vowel i, throwing aside, as in
the former instance, the first vowel of the diphthong.
Then the Greeks terminate the third person singular with
a vowel, whereas the Latins terminate it with the consonant
t. And, lastly, the Greeks in like manner terminate
their third per son plural with a vowel, for they
say λέγοντι, afterwards softened into λέγουσι, whereas the
Latins say legunt; which we can hardly doubt was likewise
the antient Greek termination.

186* Herodotus tells us, that the Pelasgi were the first
people in Greece who sacrificed and prayed to the gods;
and it was from them, says he, that the Greeks or Hellens
learned the names of the several gods. They also
instituted the Samothracian mysteries, the most antient in
Greece, lib. 2. c. 51. & 52. In short, it is evident, that
the Greeks got from the Pelasgi, religion, government,
and, in general, all the arts of life.

187* Lib. 1. c. 57. It is true Herodotus in this passage
says, that the Athenians, after they had driven out the
Pelasgi, unlearned their language, and learned in the
place of it the Greek or Hellenic. But how a whole nation
could change its language, without other conquerors
coming among them in the place of the Pelasgi,
and teaching them their language, (which was not the
case), he has not explained; nor do I think it is possible
to explain it. But Herodotus here proceeds upon the
supposition that the Hellenic and Pelasgic languages
were different, and that the Pelasgic was a barbarous
language; of which the only proof he gives is, that two
Pelasgic cities which he names, one in Italy, and the other
near the Hellespont, spoke a barbarous language,
that is, a language different from the Greek of his time.
But this does not prove, that their language may not
have been the original language of Greece, if we consider
how much the Greeks had at that improved and polished
their language; whilst those two cities, living in
the midst of barbarous nations, though they preserved
their language, cannot be supposed to have made any
improvement upon it. I am persuaded, if Herodotus
had heard the Latin of those days spoken, he would likewise
have pronounced it a barbarous language, though
it certainly be a dialect of the Greek, but a very antient
one. But what evidently shews that Herodotus is mistaken
in this hypothesis of his concerning the difference
of the two languages, is what he tells us himself, that
one half of the Greek nation, viz. the Dorians, were a
Pelasgic nation. Now though the Athenians may have
changed their language after the Pelasgi left them, it is
impossible to suppose that the Pelasgi would also change
theirs; and yet it is a thing that cannot be doubted,
that the Doric is the same language with the Ionic or Attic,
only a different dialect. And if any further proof
were necessary, Herodotus himself has also furnished it;
for he tells us, that the Pelasgi not only taught the
Greeks the names of their particular deities, but first
gave them the general name of Θεοί, lib. 2. c. 52; and he
informs us for what reason they gave them that name.
Now θεός is certainly as much a Greek word as any, tho'
it be likely that the old Pelasgic word was deus, as it is
in Latin; but the later Greeks thought that the change
of the δ, that is, the middle letter betwixt the τ and the
θ, into the aspirate, made the sound fuller and better.
In short, it appears, that though Herodotus was in other
respects much above the vulgar prejudices of his
countrymen, he could not part with that favourite notion
or theirs, That the Ionians, of which race he was
himself, and whom he considers as the genuine Hellens
or Greeks, were aborigines in Greece, and that their
language, as well as themselves, was of the growth of the

188* It is published at Venice in the year 1764; the author's name

189 Vid. Bochart. Geograph. Sacr.Selden. de diis Syriis.
Vossius de Idololatr.Huetii Demon. Evangelic.

190* The common derivation of the word θεός, and it it
given, if I am not mistaken, even by Plato in the Cratylus,
is from θέω, curro, importing, that the first gods among
the Greeks were the celestial bodies, from whose
motion the general name of gods was derived. But I am
persuaded Herodotus's etymology is the true one. For
there is no evidence that the religion which the Pelasgi
taught the Greeks was of that kind: but, on the contrary,
if we can believe Herodotus, it was the religion of
Egypt that the Pelasgi imported into Greece, which was
very different, at least at that time, from the religion of
the antient Germans and Persians, who worshipped only
the celestial bodies and the elements. For Jupiter, whose
worship the Pelasgi introduced into Greece, from whence
he is called by Homer, Ζεῦς Πελασγικός was certainly neither
sun nor moon, nor any of the stars or elements, but
a human personage, whose birth the Greeks, with their
usual vanity, ascribed to their own country, and particularly
to Crete, from whence, it is likely, that the Pelasgi
brought the worship of him to Greece; though it
cannot be doubted, but that he was originally of Egypt,
the parent-country of the religion of the Greeks. And
what I have said of the human extraction of Jupiter, applies
equally to all the gods of Greece: for, as Herodotus
tells us, they were all ἀνθρωποφυεῖς.

191* Herodotus's words are, Θεοὺς προσωνόμασάν σφεας ἀπὸ τοῦ
τοιούτου ὅτι κόσμῳ θέντες τὰ πάντα πραγματα καὶ πάσας νομὰς εἶχον;

that is, they disposed, assigned, and distributed every
thing. As to the meaning of the Hebrew word, I refer
the reader to a very learned and ingenious work published
at Cambridge by one Samuel Squire, in the year 1741,
intitled, An Inquiry into the Origin of the Greek Language,
p. 148

192 See the above-mentioned Inquiry into the Origin of
the Greek Language, p. 144. & 151.

193* One of the most distinguishing marks of difference
betwixt the dialects of the Teutonic, and the Greek or
Latin, is, that those dialects terminate a great many of
their words with asperated consonants; whereas the
Greek and Latin terminate none in that way.

194* The radical words to be found in the Bible do not
exceed fifteen hundred; whereas the combination of the
several consonants in triads will produce above ten thousand.
See the book above quoted, De Græcæ et Latinæ
linguæ cum Hebraica affinitate, p. 53

195* Poëtic, c. 21.

196* See Ogerius De linguæ Græcæ et Latinæ cum Hebraica

197* See with respect to these tables the Museum Hetruscum
of Gorius, and the Collection of Hetruscan Antiquities,
lately published in so splendid a form by Mr Hamilton, vol. 1. p. 48.

198* Lib. 2. c. 143. et seqq. They were colossal statues of
wood; every high priest having set up one for himself during
his life. They had been shewn before to Hecatæus the
historian, when he was bragging of the antiquity of his family,
and reckoning up fifteen ancestors, and the sixteenth
a god: for the Greeks were vain of the antiquity of
their families, as well as of their nation. The computation
here of the 11.000 years by generations, three of which
Herodotus reckons make 100 years: but from what he
says a little below it appears, that they had the years of
the reigns of their several kings exactly set down in their
sacred books; for he says, they reckoned from Bacchus,
who was one of the youngest of their gods, fifteen thousand
years, down to Amasis, the last of their kings before
the Persian conquest; and this they said they were
sure of, ἀιοι τε λογιζομενοι και ἀιοιαπγραφομενοι τα ετια; the meaning
of which words, I think, clearly is, that they always
computed and set down in their books the years of every
king's reign at the time of his death. There are other
curious things to be gathered from this passage, which
is one of the most remarkable in the book, but they are
not to our present purpose.

199* Lib. 2. De Legibus, p. 657.

200* Acts of the Apostles, chap. 7. v. 22. The word in
the original is σοφία; which I do not understand to mean
prudence in the common affairs of life, for which the proper
Greek word is φρόνησις; but knowledge in the most
hidden secrets of nature, and the highest philosophy.

201 Lib. 2. c. 104.

202* Lib. 3. c. 37.

203* Lib. 2. c. 104. et seqq.

204* Herodot. lib. 2. c. 51.

205 Ibid, lib. 3, c. 37.

206* Herodot. lib. 6. cap. 53.

207* See this argument very well handled by Squire, in
his Inquiry, which I quoted before, into the origin of the
Greek language, sect. 3. p. 173.

208* Lib. 1. cap. 28. edit. Wesseling.

209 Tom. 3. p. 21. edit. Serrani.

210* Ubi supra.

211 Herodot. lib. 8. cap. 55. Ἔστι ἐν τῇ ἀκροπόλι ταύτῃ Ἐρεχθέος
τοῦ γηγενέος λεγομένου εἶναι νηός.

212* Dionys. Halicarn. Epistol. ad Pomp. de Historicis,
p. 131

213 At this work of Proclus is not in the hands of every
body, I have excerpted the passage, which runs thus; —
τοὺς δὲ Ἀθηναίους Καλλισθένης μὲν καὶ Φανόδημος πατέρας τῶν Σαϊτικῶν ἱστοροῦσι
γενέσθαι. Θεόπομπος δὲ ἀνάπαλιν ἀποίκους αὐτῶν εἶναί φησιν.
Ἀττικὸς ὁ Πλατωνικὸς διὰ βασκανίαν, φησὶ, μεταποιῆσαι τὴν ἱστορίαν τὸν
Θεόπομπον· ἐπ’ αὐτοῦ γὰρ ἀφικέσθαι τινὰς ἐκ τῆς Σάεως ἀνανεουμένους τὴν πρὸς
Ἀθηναίους συγγένειαν.

214* See Plato in Timæo, tom. 3. p. 21. Serrani.

215 See Johannes Tzetzes, Iliad. 5. cap. 18. — Suidas in
Cecrops. — Scholiast. in Plutum Aristophanis. — Isaacus
Tzetzes ad Lycophron
. — And Cedrenus Compend. Historiarum.

216 Apollodor. Bibliothec. lib. 3. This was a common
fable among the Greeks, invented either to conceal their
ignorance, or to disguise the true origin of their nation,
and to make the world believe that they were the produce
of the country which they inhabited. This, we
know, was in particular the vanity of the Athenians
who considered all the other inhabitants of Greece as foreigners
in the country where they lived, and themselves
only as indigenæ, and truly natives. Upon this topic their
orators never failed to expatiate in the funeral orations
which they pronounced upon those of the Athenians who
fell in war. See what Plato has said upon this subject in
his λόγος ἐπiσοφιος in the Menexenus.

217* Job. Tzetz. loco supra citato.

218 Euseb. Chron. et præp. Evangel.

219 Johannes Tzetz. Iliad. 5. cap. 18.; where he tells
us, that before Cecrops, the mothers of children were
only known; so that the children were μονοφυοις: whereas,
after the institution of marriage, both parents being
known, they became διφυοις. And in this account of the
name, Athenæus, lib. 13. and Justin the historian, lib. 2.
cap. 6.
agree with Tzetzes.

220* Diodor. lib. 1. cap. 98. edit. Wesseling.

221* The words of Diodorus are, καὶ τοὺς Ἀθηναίους φασιν (Αιγυπτιοι)
ἀποίκους εἶναι Σαϊτῶν τῶν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου, καὶ πειρῶνται τῆς οἰκειότητος
ταύτης φέρειν ἀποδείξεις· παρὰ μόνοις γὰρ τῶν Ἑλλήνων τὴν πόλιν
Ἄστυ καλεῖσθαι, μετενηνεγμένης τῆς προσηγορίας ἀπὸ τοῦ παρ’ αὐτοῖς Ἄστεος
lib. 1. cap. 28. Of these last words, it may be thought
the meaning is, that ἄστυ was another name for the city
of Saïs. But though that interpretation would equally
serve my purpose, I hold the proper meaning of the words
to be, that the name of ἄστυ given to Athens was transferred
from the
ἄστυ among them, as it may be litterally
rendered: an expression which so clear a writer as Diodorus
would not have used, if he had meant to say,
either that ἄστυ was a general name for a city in the Egyptian
language, or that this city of Saïs, besides that
name, was likewise called ἄστυ. The meaning therefore
of the passage clearly is, that as there was a district of
the name of Saïs, as well as a city, (see Plato in Timæo),
ἄστυ was the name of some other city or village in that
district, from which this Athenian colony came.

222 Not only the Athenians themselves called their city
by that name, but also the Latin writers. See Corn.
Nepos, Temistocl. cap. 4. & Terent. Eunuch, &c.

223* Aristot. Poëtic. cap. 21. in fine.

224 Diodor. Sicul. lib. I. cap. 31. edit. Wesseling.

225 Lib. 2. cap. 60.

226* Herodot. lib. 2. cap. 165. seqq. Diodor. lib. 1.
cap. 73. & 74. p. 84

227 Diodor. Sicul. lib. I. c. 80. p. 91.

228* Diodor. Sicul. lib. 1. cap. 28. p. 32.

229 He says, that in the temple of Jupiter Belus at
Babylon, whose priests the Chaldeans were, none was
permitted to pass the night, except a woman, who was
chosen for that purpose, and had no intercourse with
man. The same, he says, was practised in the temple
of Jupiter in the Egyptian Thebes; and in both temples,
there vas a couch for the god, upon which they said he
reposed during the night: ἐμοι οὐ πιστα λεγοντες, says our author,
lib. 1. cap. 182.

230* See Strabo, lib. 15, p. 1008 & 1038. — Arrian.
Indica, cap. 5.
— and Expedit. Alexandri, lib. 5. c. 1.

231* Diodor. Sicul. lib. 1. cap. 19. p. 23.

232 See, upon this subject, La Croze, lib. 6. Histor.
Christ. Indor. p. 430

233 See Du Pons's account of the language, philosophy,
and sciences of the Bramins of India, in 26th vol. of the
Lettres edifiantes et curieuses.

234* Herodot. lib. 8. cap. 44.

235* Exodus, ch. ii. v. 10.

236 Genes. ch. xli. v. 45.

237 See Squire's Inquiry, p. 171.

238* Squire's Inquiry, p. 175.

239* Diodor. Sicul. lib. 1. cap. 15. p. 19. His words are,
Ὑπὸ γὰρ τούτου (Ἐρμου) πρῶτον μὲν τήν τε κοινὴν διάλεκτον διαρθρωθῆναι
καὶ πολλὰ τῶν ἀνωνύμων τυχεῖν προσηγορίας
From which it appears,
that there was a language used in Egypt before
Teuth; but he first distinguished it properly by articulation,
and gave names to things. For before him, it
would seem, that the Egyptians used only verba quibus
voces sensusque notarent
, but had not invented nomina,
or names; at least not names for every thing. See also,
concerning this Teuth, Plato in Phileba, p. 18., et in
Phædro, p. 274.
; Plutarch, tom. 2. p. 738.

240* These examples are furnished me by Ogerius, the Italian
author above mentioned, who writes upon the affinity
of the Greek and Latin with the Hebrew, p. 84.

241* β and μ are consonants of different kinds, the one
being a mute, the other a liquid; yet as they are both
of the same organ, being both labial, though the β be
pronounced by the opening and explosion of the lips,
the other, by closing them with a beat or chop, they too
are interchanged. Thus μόρος is a Geeek word, which signifies
fatum, from whence the Latin mors and morior,
and the Greek word μορτός, signifying homo, or mortalis,
as in that passage of Callimachus, εδειμαμεν ἄστεα μορτοι.
Now, the μ being changed into β, (which was the custom
of the Eolians; for, in place of μύρμηξ, they said
βύρμαξ from whence the Latin formica), and the ο and
ρ transposed, which is also very common, it becomes βροτός,
which is the common Greek word for homo, or mortalis.

This observation, I see, is made in one of the philological
letters of Dr Baxter, published by the society of antiquarians
in London. It shews how much words in the
same language, spoken by the same people, will change.
But how much greater mud the change be in the passage
of a language from one people to another? We ought
not therefore rashly to reject those derivation which
learned men have discovered of Greek and Latin words
from Hebrew, Celtic, or Teutonic roots, though the
words do not agree in their consonants any more than in
their vowels.