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against the common, but altogether gratuitous supposition, that the principle of genealogical classification must be applicable to all. Genealogical classification is no doubt the most perfect of all classifications, but there are but few branches of physical science in which it can be carried out, except very partially. In the science of language, genealogical classification must rest chiefly on the formal or grammatical elements, which, after they have been affected by phonetic change, can be kept up only by a continuous tradition. We know that French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese must be derived from a source, because they share grammatical forms in common, which none of these dialects could have supplied from their own resources, and which have no meaning, or, so to say, no life, in any one of them. The termination of the imperfect ba in Spanish, va in Italian, by which canto, I sing, is changed into cantaba and cantava, has no separate existence, and no independent meaning in either of these modern dialects. It could not have been formed with the materials supplied by Spanish and Italian. It must have been handed down from an earlier generation in which this ba had a meaning. We trace it back to Latin bam, in cantabam, and here it can be proved that bam was originally an independent auxiliary verb, the same which exists in Sanskrit bhavami, and in the Anglo-Saxon beom, I am. Genealogical classification, therefore, applies properly only to decaying languages, to languages in which grammatical growth has been arrested, through the influence of literary cultivation ; in which little new is added, everything old is retained as long as possible, and where what we call growth
or history is nothing but the progress of phonetic corruption. But before languages decay, they have passed through a period of growth ; and it seems to have been completely overlooked, that dialects which diverged during that early period, would naturally resist every attempt at genealogical classification. If you remember the manner in which, for instance, the plural was formed in Chinese and other languages examined by us in a former Lecture, you will see that where each dialect may choose its own term expressive of plurality, such as heap, class, kind, flock, cloud, &c., it would be unreasonable to expect similarity in grammatical terminations, after these terms have been ground down by phonetic corruption to mere exponents of plurality. But, on the other hand, it would by no means follow that therefore these languages had no common origin. Languages may have a common origin, and yet the words which they originally employed for marking case, number, person, tense, and mood, having been totally different, the grammatical terminations to which these words would gradually dwindle down could not possibly yield any results if submitted to the analysis of comparative grammar. A genealogical classification of such languages is, therefore, from the nature of the case, simply impossible, at least, if such classification is chiefly to be based on grammatical or formal evidence.
It might be supposed, however, that such languages, though differing in their grammatical articulation, would yet evince their common origin by the identity of their radicals or roots. No doubt, they will in many instances. They will probably have retained their numerals in common, some of their pronouns, and some of the commonest words of every-day life. But even here we
must not expect too much, nor be surprised if we find even less than we expected. You remember how the names for father varied in the numerous Friesian dialects. Instead of frater, the Latin word for brother, you find hermano in Spanish. Instead of ignis, the Latin word for fire, you have in French feu, in Italian, fuoco. Nobody would doubt the common origin of German and English ; yet the English numeral “ the first,” though preserved in Fürst, princeps, prince, is quite different from the German “ Der Erste;” “the second ” is quite different from “ Der Zweite; ” and there is no connection between the possessive pronoun its, and the German sein. This dialectical freedom works on a much larger scale in ancient and illiterate languages ; and those who have most carefully watched the natural growth of dialects will be the least surprised that dialects which had the same origin should differ, not only in their grammatical framework, but likewise in many of those test-words which are very properly used for discovering the relationship of literary languages. How it is possible to say anything about the relationship of such dialects we shall see hereafter. For the present, it is sufficient if I have made it clear why the principle of genealogical classification is not of necessity applicable to all languages ; and secondly, why languages, though they cannot be classified genealogically, need not therefore be supposed to have been different from the beginning. The assertion so frequently repeated that the impossibility of classing all languages genealogically proves the impossibility of a common origin of language, is nothing but a kind of scientific dogmatism, which, more than anything else, has impeded the free progress of independent research.
But let us see now how far the genealogical classification of languages has advanced, how many families of human speech have been satisfactorily established. Let us remember what suggested to us the necessity of a genealogical classification. We wished to know the original intention of certain words and grammatical forms in English, and we saw that before we could attempt to fathom the origin of such words as' " I love,” and “I loved,” we should have to trace them back to their most primitive state. We likewise found, by a reference to the history of the Romance dialects, that words existing in one dialect had frequently been preserved in a more primitive form in another, and that, therefore, it was of the highest importance to bring ancient languages into the same genealogical connection by which French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese are held together as the members of one family.
Beginning, therefore, with the living language of England, we traced it, without difficulty, to AngloSaxon. This carries us back to the seventh century after Christ, for it is to that date that Kemble and Thorpe refer the ancient English epic, the Beowulf. Beyond this we cannot go on English soil. But we know that the Saxons, the Angles, and Jutes came from the continent, and there their descendants, along the northern coast of Germany, still speak Low-German, or Nieder-Deutsch, which in the harbors of Antwerp, Bremen, and Hamburg, has been mistaken by many an English sailor for a corrupt English dialect.
The Low-German comprehends many dialects in the north or the lowlands of Germany; but in Germany proper they are hardly ever used for literary purposes. The Friesian dialects are Low-German, so are the
Dutch and Flemish. The Friesian had a literature of its own as early at least as the twelfth century, if not earlier. The Dutch, which is still a national and literary language, though confined to a small area, can be traced back to literary documents of the sixteenth century. The Flemish, too, was at that time the language of the court of Flanders and Brabant, but has since been considerably encroached upon, though not yet extinguished, by the official languages of the kingdoms of Holland and Belgium. The oldest literary document of Low-German on the Continent is the Christian epic, the Heljand (Heljand= Heiland, the Healer or Saviour), which is preserved to us in two MSS. of the ninth century, and was written at that time for the benefit of the newly converted Saxons. We have traces of a certain amount of litera- . ture in Saxon or Low-German from that time onward through the Middle Ages up to the seventeenth century.
But little only of that literature has been preserved ; and, after the translation of the Bible by Luther into High-German, the fate of Low-German literature was sealed.
The literary language of Germany is, and has been ever since the days of Charlemagne, the High-German. It is spoken in various dialects all over Germany.?
1 " Although the Old Friesian documents rank, according to their dates, with Middle rather than with Old German, the Friesian language appears there in a much more ancient stage, which very nearly approaches the Old High-German. The political isolation of the Friesians, and their noble attachment to their traditional manners and rights, have imparted to their language also a more conservative spirit. After the fourteenth century the old inflections of the Friesian decay most rapidly, whereas in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries they rival the Anglo-Saxon of the ninth and tenth centuries." — Grimm, German Grammar (1st ed.), vol. i. p. lxviii.
2 The dialects of Swabia (the Allemannish), of Bavaria and Austria, of Franconia along the Main, and of Saxony, &c.