There is another Particular in our Language which is a great Instance of our Frugality of Words, and that is the suppressing of several Particles which must be produced in other Tongues to make a Sentence intelligible. This often perplexes the best Writers, when they find the Relatives whom, which, or they at their Mercy whether they may have Admission or not; and will never be decided till we have something like an Academy, that by the best Authorities and Rules drawn from the Analogy of Languages shall settle all Controversies between Grammar and Idiom.
I have only considered our Language as it shows the Genius and natural Temper of the English, which is modest, thoughtful and sincere, and which perhaps may recommend the People, though it has spoiled the Tongue. We might perhaps carry the same Thought into other Languages, and deduce a greater Part of what is peculiar to them from the Genius of the People who speak them. It is certain, the light talkative Humour of the French has not a little infected their Tongue, which might be shown by many Instances; as the Genius of the Italians, which is so much addicted to Musick and Ceremony, has moulded all their Words and Phrases to those particular Uses. The Stateliness and Gravity of the Spaniards shews itself to Perfection in the Solemnity of their Language, and the blunt honest Humour of the Germans sounds better in the Roughness of the High Dutch, than it would in a politer Tongue.
[Footnote 1: that]
[Footnote 2: that]
[Footnote 3: Swift.]
* * * * *
No. 136. Monday, August 6, 1711. Steele.
‘... Parthis mendacior ...’
According to the Request of this strange Fellow, I shall Print the following Letter.
I shall without any manner of Preface or Apology acquaint you, that I am, and ever have been from my Youth upward, one of the greatest Liars this Island has produced. I have read all the Moralists upon the Subject, but could never find any Effect their Discourses had upon me, but to add to my Misfortune by new Thoughts and Ideas, and making me more ready in my Language, and capable of sometimes mixing seeming Truths with my Improbabilities. With this strong Passion towards Falshood in this kind, there does not live an honester Man or a sincerer Friend; but my Imagination runs away with me, and whatever is started I have such a Scene of Adventures appears in an Instant before me, that I cannot help uttering them, tho’, to my immediate Confusion, I cannot but know I am liable to be detected by the first Man I meet.
Upon occasion of the mention of the Battel of Pultowa, I could not forbear giving an Account of a Kinsman of mine, a young Merchant who