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from some common source. The Hebrew is a very simple language, and hath not that variety either of moods or of conjunctions that is requisite for forming a complicated style. Here, therefore, if any where, one would expect to find an arrangement purely natural. Yet, in this language, the most usual, and what would with them therefore be termed the grammatical disposition of the words, is not the disposition above mentioned. In the historic style, or when past events are related, they commonly place the verb first, then the nominative, afterwards the regimen, predicate, or attendant circumstances *. The freedom
* Thus the very first words of Genesis, a book even among the books of scripture remarkable for simplicity of style, are an evi
השמים ואת הארץ כראשית ברא : dence of this in the active verb
nxx. The order is preserved exactly in the Vulgat. "In principio creavit Deus cœlum et terram." That the same order is observed in disposing the substantive verb, appears from the fifth
The arrangement here is .בקר יום אחד ויהי ערב ויהי ,verse
perfectly exhibited in the Latin version of Junius and Tremellius, which is generally very literal. Sic fuit vespera et fuit mane diei primi." Yet in Englih we should be apt to call the order in both passages, especially the last, rather unnatural. "In the be66 ginning created God the heavens and the earth." "And was evening and was morning day first." The same thing might be illustrated in the passive verbs, in the neuter, and in the reciprocal, if necessary. Nothing therefore can we more evident, than that it is custom only which makes us Britons prefer one order of words, and others another, as the natural order. I am surprised that a critic of so much taste and discernment as Bouhours (see his Entretiens d'Ariste et d'Eugene. 2. la langue Françoise) should represent this
Of vivacity as depending on the arrangement of the words.
which Greek and Latin allow on this article, renders it improper to denominate one order grammatical ex
as one of the excellencies of the French tongue, that it follows the natural order of the words. It is manifest, from what has been said, that its common arrangement has no more title to be denominated natural, than that of any other language. Nay, we may raise an argument for confuting this silly pretence, from the very laws that obtain in this language. Thus, if the natural order require that the regimen should follow the active verb, their way of arranging the oblique cases of the pronouns is unnatural, as they always place them before the verb; if, on the contrary, the natural order require that the regimen should precede the governing verb, their way of arranging nouns governed by verbs is unnatural, since they always place them after the verb; so that, whichever be the natural way, they depart from it in the disposition of one or other of these parts of speech. And even in placing their adjectives, wherever use hath made exceptions from the general rule, it has carried the notion of what is natural along with it. They would call it as unnatural to say homme jeune, as to say gardien ange. All therefore that can be affirmed with truth is, that the French adhere more inviolably than other nations to the ordinary arrangment established in the language. But this, as I hope to evince in the sequel, is one of the greatest imperfections of that tongue. The ease with which the Italian admits either order in the personal pronouns, especially in poetry, adds often to the harmony and the elegance, as well as the vivacity of the expression, as in these lines of Metastasio's Arta
Sallo amor, lo sanno i numi;
Il mio core,
Bouhours, in the dialogue above mentioned, has dropt the character of critic and philosopher, for that of encomiast. He talks like a lover about his mistress. He sees neither blemish nor defect. All is beauty and excellence. For my part, if I were to prove the in
clusively of others. I imagine, therefore, that perhaps the only principle on which, on this subject, we can safely rest, as being founded in nature, is, that whatever most strongly fixes the attention, or operates on the passion of the speaker, will first seek utterance by the lips. This is agreeable to a common proverb, which perhaps, to speak in Shakespeare's phrase *, is something musty, but significant enough," Nearest the heart, nearest the mouth." In these transpositions, therefore, I maintain, that the order will be found, on examination, to be more strictly natural, than when the more general practice in the tongue is followed.
As an irrefragable argument in support of this doctrine, it may be pleaded, that, though the most usual, which is properly the artificial order, be different in different languages, the manner of arranging, or (if you like the term better) transposing above specified, which is always an effect of vivacity in the speaker, and a cause of producing a livelier conception in the hearer, is the same in all languages. It is for this reason amongst others, that I have chosen to take most of my examples on this topic, not from any original performance in English, but from the common transla
feriority of French to Italian and Spanish, the two languages with which he compares it, I should not desire other or better topics for evincing the point, than the greater part of those which he has em. ployed, in my judgment very unsuccessfully, for the contrary pur
Of vivacity as depending on the arrangement of the words.
tion of the Bible, and shall here observe, once for all, that both in the quotation, already made, and in those hereafter to be made, our translators have exactly followed the order of the original. And indeed, all translators of any taste, unless when cramped by the genius of the tongue in which they wrote, have in such cases done the same *. It may be proper also to remark, that there are some modern tongues, which, in this respect, are much more inflexible than ours.
THE next example I shall produce is very similar to the former, as in it the substantive verb is preceded by the participle passive, and followed by the nominative. In the acclamations of the people on our Saviour's public entry into Jerusalem, the historian informs us, that they cried out, "Blessed is he that "cometh in the name of the Lord +." Instead of this, say, "He that cometh in the name of the Lord
* Gr. Mayaan ʼn Agris Epi. Lat. Vulg. Erasm. “ Μεγάλη ή Αρτεμις Εφεσίων. "Magna Diana Ephesiorum." Castal. Beza, "Magna est Diana E. "phesiorum." Ital. Diodati, "Grande e la Diana degli Efesii." How weak in comparison is the French version of Le Clerc!" La "Diane des Ephesiens est une grande deesse." How deficient that of Beausobre ! "La grande Diane des Ephesiens." How ridiculous that of Saci! "Vive la grande Diane des Ephesiens.”
+ Mati. xxi. 9. Gr. Ευλογημεν ο ερχόμενος εν ονόματι Κύριε, Lat. Vulg. Eras. Bez. "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.” Cast." Bené sit ei qui venit," &c. Ital. Diod. "Benedetto colui “che viene nel nome del Signiore." Fr. Le Clerc, Beaus. Saci, "Beni soit celui qui vient au nom du Seigneur."
"is blessed;" and by this alteration in the order of the words, apparently trifling, you convert a fervid exclamation into a cold aphorism.
THE third example shall be of an active verb, preceded by the accusative, and followed by the nominative. It may be proper to observe by the way, that unless one of these is a pronoun, such an arrangement is scarce admissible in our language. These cases in our nouns, not being distinguished by inflection, as they are in our pronouns, are solely ascertained by place. But to come to the proposed example, we are informed by the sacred historian, that when Peter and John ordered the cripple, who sat begging at the beautiful gate of the temple, to look on them, he looked at them very earnestly, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver and gold "have I none, but such as I have, give I thee; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk *"
*Acts iii. 6. Gr. Αργυριον και χρυσιον εχ ὑπάρχει μοι ό δε εχπ, τέτο σοι δίδωμι. Εν ονομαί. Ιησε Χρις8 τε Ναζωραίς έγειραι και περιπατεί Lat. Vul. Eras. Bez. " Argentum et aurum non est mihi; quod "autem habeo, hoc tibi do. In nomine Jesu Christi Nazareni, surge et ambula." Castaglio hath not adhered so closely to the order of the words in the original, but hath in this and some other places, for the sake of latinity, weakened the expression. “Nec 66 argentum mihi nec aurum est; sed quod habeo, hoc tibi do. In "nomine," &c. It would seem that neither the Italian language nor the French can admit so great a latitude in arranging the words; for in these the vivacity resulting from the order is not only weaked but destroyed. Diod. “Io non ho ne argento ne oro; ma quel