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Language is made up of words, and words are the smallest divisions of speech that have signification. Syllables, as such, have no meaning; for a significant syllable is a word. Every word means something, either of itself or as joined to other words; and words derive their meaning from the consent and practice of those who use them.
Long words are said to give dignity to language, and short ones to be detrimental to harmony. There is some truth in the remark, but it must not be admitted without limitation. Many long words render language heavy and unwieldy : and short ones are not harsh, unless where by beginning and ending with hard consonants, they refuse to coalesce with the letters which go before or follow them. When that is not the case, a passage may be very musical or harmonious, even though consisting altogether of short words; as in the following passage from the Song of Solomon :
“ My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair “ one, and come away: for lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and “ gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of “ birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land : the “ fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender “ grape give a good smell : Arise, my love, my fair one, and come
In this remarkably smooth and melodious passage, in which there are eighty-two words, sixty-nine of them are monosyllables. The truth is, that a mixture of long and short words may be necessary to harmony in languages generally; but in our language, a better sound is heard from many short words of Saxon original, if their initial and final articulations admit of an easy coalescence, than from a multiplicity of long words derived from the Greek and Latin. For in English, though there is much Latin and some Greek, yet the Sax, on predominates, and its sounds are most acceptable to an English ear, because most familiar; and hence, with all its ease and apparent carelessness, the prose of Dryden, of Addison, of Swift, and of Pope, is incomparably more melodious than that of the elaborate and learned Sir Thomas Brown, Lord Shaftesbury, or even than that of the profound and acute Dr. Samuel Johnson. For the former adhere, where they can, to plain words of English or Saxon growth ; while the others are continually dragging in gigantick terms of Greek or Latin etymology.
The great variety of derivative words in our language renders à correct pronunciation of it, particularly to foreigners, extremely difficult. It is therefore a point of the most essential importance, that the elementary sounds of our language should be perfectly understood and known, in order to command that accuracy and distinctness of VOL. I.
articulation, without which all expectations of being an elegant or even pleasing reader or speaker will be vain and nugatory.
To this important branch of our subject permit me again to direct your attention. Various and elaborate treatises have been written upon it by Dr. Nares, Dr. Johnson, Sheridan, Walker, and others; but the plainest and most concise statement with which I am acquainted, is that contained in the Orthography of Murray's Grammar. The elementary sounds are there exhibited in so brief and at the same time in so plain a manner, as to require but little time and attention to commit them to memory, and when acquired, will form a sure and permanent principle for the attainment of correct, melodious, and graceful Elocution.
ON FEMALE EDUCATION FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
At a recent examination of the pupils of that respectable Seminary, the Philadelphia Academy for the instruction of young Ladies, * the following appropriate address, on the importance and utility of female education, and the cardinal points to which it should be directed, was delivered by James Milnor, Esq. one of the Trustees. This elegant oration, in which the author has introduced a discussion upon a favourite topic, has led him to those salutary conclusions, which harmonize with Reason, Truth, and Experience. We subscribe to the author's opinion, we respect his principles, and commend his style. The ingenious speaker is right in toto.
* The Seminary above noticed was incorporated by charter, on the 2d February, 1792; it is under the immediate care of the Principal, and the superintendence of a Board of Trustees, consisting of the following gentlemen, viz.
Doctor Benjamin Say, President; Doctor Henry Helmuth, VicePresident; Asa Bassett, Principal Secretary; Rev. Frederick Schmidt, Rev. Samuel Helfenstine, Doctor Anthony Fothergill, Doctor Benjamin S. Barton, Doctor James Mease, Rev. Doctor James Gray, Rev. Philip F. Mayer, Peter S. Duponceau, Esquire, James Milnor, Esquire, Laurence Seckel, Esq. Mr. Joseph B. Eves, Mr. Benjamin Tucker, and Mr. William Ashbridge.
It is but justice to the institution to mention, that all the examinatius and performances of the pupils, afford abundant evidence of their di-igence and application, and of the capacity and attention of the Principal in conducting and regulating their studies.
One of the first, who broached the false, the absurd, and pernicious doctrine, which Mr. Milnor has so successfully assailed, was the eloquent, but eccentric ROUSSEAU, whom men now generally agree in pronouncing an absolute'madman. His fantastic theories and his wild paradoxes are certainly worthy of an inhabitant of Moorfields. They are specious, brilliant, and flighty. They shine, like the gay motes that dance in the sunbeam. They dazzle, and they confound us too, like the meteor of the meadows. But all the light, that this comet of Geneva has shed upon the nations, is but a baieful and portentous ray. It is false, and with all its glare, leads darkling mortals only to the pit of perdition.
In his Emile, a celebrated Tract on Education, and which was most justly reprobated by the Archbishop of Paris, he has introduced a certain Sophia, whom he wishes that his pupils should worship as an idol. Such a woman might shine in the Palais Royale and figure in the Boudoirs of Paris, but if such a character should appear among the correct females of this country, who are imbued with other principles, and are adorned by purer Graces, we are confident that she would be deliberately excluded from what is called good company. Yet it is this sort of Sophia, whom the philosophic Rousseau recommends as one, after whose examples young females should be educated. We do not say that the creator of this ideal personage has made her quite a courtezan, although Rousseau was sufficiently profligate for the attempt. But we aver that his mode of educating her could terminate in nothing less, than the formation of a character so full of levity, coquetry, and fine feelings, as to be constantly on the giddy verge of ruin. We should be perpetually anxious for such a daughter, or such a sister. We would not trust, no, not for a moment, to the loyalty of such a wife. We believe that Sophias are so numerous in Europe that the idea of Rousseau, which, perhaps, he hazarded as a mere sally of imagination, is now fully embodied. But in America, from a variety of causes, resulting in the most fortunate effects, the women, with few, very few exceptions, are modest, prudent, and well informed. They have all the vivacity, all the spirit, all the talents, and genius of Sophia, without one particle of her infidelity, on the one hand, and of her levity on the other. In our principal cities and great towns, the systems of education, judiciously adopted by wise and prudent teachers, are admirably calculated to form accomplished daughters, and good wives. The mode of instruction may be old-fashioned, may be rigid, may be even austere, but it is perfectly right, and the good fruits of such a culture are every where visible. Philadelphia and Boston have been for many years distinguished for the most sedulous care in the moulding of the minds, manners, and habits of women. Their education is most carefully conducted ; and in all the useful and in many of the ornamental branches of instruction, the ladies, particularly of the upper and more opulent classes, need not shrink from any comparison.
We are delighted to perceive that upon this important subject the opinions of Mr. Milnor are perfectly orthodox. His remarks upon the use and abuse of novel-reading; his lines of discrimination between the different walks of poesy; his summary recommendation of the various branches of Literature, in which females are generally initiated, are entitled to the attention of preceptors and pupils. Many of the more youthful of our female readers will peruse this address with advantage; and it is entitled to particular attention as proceeding from the desk of a professional gentleman and a man of the world, and therefore untainted by the pedantry of the cloister.
ADDRESS, &c. Among the endless variety of subjects that have furnished grounds of contemplation to the human mind, few have been more fully canvassed and elucidated, than the one involving the important inquiry, Whether a state of nature or a state of civil society is most propitious to the end and aim of our being—happiness.
By a state of nature I do not mean that solitary unconnected mode of existence imagined by some visionary writers to have once obtained, because every sentiment of reason, and the irrefragable evidence of divine revelation, should lead us to reject such notions.
Man was evidently formed by his Maker for social intercourse; and whether he be found rude and uncultivated, in the wilds of Africa, or the wildernesses of America, or polished and polite in the circles of European fashion and parade, still his desire is to mix in the society and to enjoy the converse of his fellow men.
By a state of nature, I would understand the savage state; in which men associate together for mutual defence, and for obtaining the first necessaries of life, but where the forms of regular government, the enaction and observance of systems of laws, the culture and improvement of the mind by education, and all the refinements and delights of civilization are unknown.
Eccentricity of opinion in some, disappointment of over-sanguine expectations, and consequent discontent and dissatisfaction with the world in others, and a love of disputation in still more, have induced them to contend, that savages, with all their difficulties and privations, are happier than civilized men.
The controversy has always ended in an overthrow of sentiments so absurd, and the judicious are left to wonder that it should ever have commenced. Strange indeed it is, that it should ever have been suppo'sed, that independent of the want of most of the various comforts of life with which we are surrounded, and the precarious nature of the
few they do possess, the habitual torpor of mind, and complete destitution of literary enjoyment, of which savages are the victims, should not of themselves afford conclusive grounds of preference for the civilized state. If we advert to what we know of the uncultivated aborigines of our own country, or recur to history for a knowledge of the inhabitants of other countries in former ages, and particularly if we pursue the latter through the several gradations of civilization from the time of their first emerging out of barbarism, to the present highly elevated character of many of them, we shall be led still more and more to prize the time, the place, and the manner of our own existence. There is abundant cause for gratitude to the giver of every good and perfect gift that he has cast our lot in a well ordered society, under a free government, where we may enjoy, without restraint, the pleasures of polished conversation and refined manners, the courtesies of mutual kindness and beneficence, the inestim ible benefits of a religion founded on charity and love, and the unlim ted improvement of the natural endowments of our minds. The female part of the community, whose happiness the directors of this institution have so much at heart, may well unite in grateful acknowledgments for the share allotted to them in the blessings of such a state.
In the early stages of society, the degradation of the female character is one of the most disgusting features presented to our view, and its elevation has been usually proportioned to the advances made in civilization and refinement.
In the unimproved condition of man, if the personal charms of women excite the attachment of the other sex, there is an entire want of those mental recommendations that can alone render it permanent and durable. Neither does the affection excited by external appearance afford an exemption from the most laborious and servile employments. While her athletic companion is reclining in ease and indolence, or walking with cruel unconcern by her side, the female savage is seen tottering under the weight of oppressive burthens, or ministering her ill-requited endeavours, to promote his happiness. Her fading beauties soon cease to enchain the affections of a brutal husband, and the severities of a comfortless and miserable lot are rendered doubly painful by the want of sympathy and commiseration.
If such be the condition of females in the state I have described, and if it be, as I consider it, the worst that can exist, so also have there been periods of the world, when mankind had made some progress out of barbarism, in which their character has been estimated far below its value.
Among the Egyptians, who were distinguished by their attainments in various branches of knowledge, we have reason to believe the female part of society partook but slightly of their advantages; although