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of life, i. e. as body and as bare, isolated matter. Not only so, but the vital principle is properly said to create, to organize, and to mould the body in which it dwells. Now just this is what we wish to assert with respect to language. There is an organic and vital relation between thoughts and words, just as there is between soul and body. It is not an arbitrary matter what words shall be used to express a certain thought, but to every thought is assigned a certain form or body, we may say by a natural necessity, as truly as to the planted and germinating seed ; and to every thought its own body, which, if it be true to itself, it must assume.!
Again, it is implied in this organic relation, that language or the outward form of thought, is determined, produced, organized by the thought itself; in other words, the individual form or body which any thought assumes must grow out of the inward life and laws of the individual thought, and not be imposed upon it from without.
Lastly, when thus organized and embodied, language and thought are vitally joined together; they are no more twain, but one substance.
In transferring thus the laws and relations of nature to things of the mind, we proceed, let it be understood, upon no mere fanciful analogy. We simply recognize certain fundamental principles, which underlie and pervade both nature and mind. We apply to one department what indeed is common to both, but is seen in more clear and palpable operation in the other.
But while the same laws or principles are found in both, viz., what we have indicated by the words life, growth, organization, etc., yet operating through and upon subjects so diverse as mind and matter, the mode of working or development in each must, of course, be different. The one is an unconscious process, proceeding according to necessary physical laws; the other a process going on in our own consciousness, and therefore in some sense voluntary, or at least free, like all which takes place in the realm of spirit. We therefore have it in our power to violate the law of development and disturb this organic relation, by arbitrarily imposing upon the thought a body which does not belong to it. To this, as we conceive, is to be traced all that is false and perverse in the world of letters. For we hold to original sin in literature as well as in theology; an obliquity of lan
? We do not deny that there is something arbitrary in the original construction of language. What we affirm is the existence of a law extending from the thought to the word in which it is expressed, first apprehending, then uniting and assimi. lating it to itself, so that when once joined together the relation between them becomes organic and vital, as we shall see more distinctly hereafter.
275 guage, which, originating like the former in the will, has with it descended upon all, and from which it should be the aim of all true literary culture to redeem and recover the race.
Every thought, truly such, is a fact, a spiritual fact indeed, but not the less real, not the less possessing its own laws and principles. Leaving its origin out of view as a mystery we cannot solve, before which, as before every other spiritual phenomenon, we can only bow in wonder,—we approach and study this fact. We distinguish certain general laws, which belong to it as to every created thing, serving to mark its genus or kind, and distinguish it from everything else which is not thought. Of this nature are what are called the laws of logic, which relate to its internal form and structure. Logic is the anatomy of thought ; its province is reached by stripping off the flesh from the body of the living creature, and laying bare its bones. Logic merely shows what is the essential structure of all thought which is thought, that law or order to which it necessarily conforms, and without which it cannot be. Its rules can never be propounded as rules for thinking or writing; as well might one set up a skeleton before him, and study it daily in order to grow
Beyond these general laws, common to all thought, are certain specific and individual laws, often overlooked, which distinguish each individual thought from every other. For every thought, so far as it is a living thing, like every individual person and mind, differs from
Even what we call the same thought in different minds, is not wholly the same; since if it be of the mind, and not simply attached to it, it must partake of the mind's individuality, must be shaped, or in some degree modified by the mental character of the individual. Hence we may infer that its outward form or expression in words, will be no less distinct and peculiar to itself. Accordingly, if we examine the great original thoughts interspersed throughout the literature of the world, and which constitute its treasures, those which stand out most conspicuous above the common level of thought in the race, we shall find the language marked by the same individuality that belongs to the thought. The words present the same bold outlines, the same massive and compact solidity, which constitute the strength and grandeur of the latter. The language fits closely and perfectly the frame of the thought, like the well knit flesh and sinews of an athlete; and for the reason, that it grew out of the thought and is vitally joined to it, bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh. Take, for example, any passage of Milton or Shakspeare, and try the experiment of unclothing the thought or
sentiment, and of substituting other words. You might with equal success attempt to impose a new form on the lily or the swan, or to realize the fable of antiquity by a voluntary transmigration of souls. It is easy to disembody the thought, by analyzing, i. e., killing it; but to inclose it in other words brought from without, to make it inhabit another body at your will, is an intrusion on the prerogatives of nature, or rather a violation of the laws of nature and mind, which neither will submit to. There is an organic relation, as we have said, subsisting between every individual thought and the expression of it in words. We may say that the thought expresses itself in its own language, and will not have another form imposed upon it by the will. It may even be taken as a criterion of the true expression of a thought, that it cannot be otherwise expressed; that whenever a thought can be expressed equally well in two forms of language, so as to admit of choice or arbitration in the writer, it indicates a want of individuality, and hence of vitality in the thought itself.
Again, every thought, truly such, is a creation; a coming into existence of what before was not. Hence, in coming into the world, it must find or fashion for itself a body or vehicle, perfectly adapted to contain and manifest its spiritual nature. This organization of language, or the embodiment of thought, is not distinct from the evolution of the thought itself, but is coincident or identical with it; the process, whatever it be, is one and the same. Thinking, says Plato, is the talking of the soul with itself. Thinking, as an act of the mind, is here to be distinguished from a thought or idea in the mind, which we have said may exist without language. The same difference is here apparent, as when we speak of a principle latent in nature or in man, and the acting out of that principle in natural or human life. Thinking, which is the development of latent thoughts or ideas, involves language, just as the vital principle in the plant developes itself only in and through its organization. Hence the labor of thought and composition. True thinking, and all true reading which involves thinking, differs from that superficial and passive operation, which often passes under the name, as the idle gazing upon a scene in nature differs from the deep, genial, plastic activity of nature itself; elaborating out of its own life the manifold forms we behold; putting forth privately, and with tender care, the blades of grass, secretly enamelling the violet and the rose, and building up the oak and the cedar by the slow toil of centuries.
The relation we have found to subsist between thought and language implies, moreover, that language is not merely the embodiment, but the proper production and creation of the thought. To 1849.]
Language created by Thought.
make this evident, let us consider for a moment what we really mean by language. This is not, as many seem to suppose, the mere aggregate of the individual words and letters into which it may be resolved. What meets the eye, and can be analyzed by the grammarian, is the least part of language. Words are indeed the materials out of which it seems to be constructed; but words alone, in the popular sense, will not account for, do not really constitute language, any more than the physical or chemical elements into which a rose may be resolved, constitute a rose. The essential nature of a rose does not lie in the materials which appear to the eye, or which the chemist can detect, since these same materials may exist in any other body, but in that invisible power or principle, whatever it may be, which acts and manifests itself through them; which penetrates, informs, in a word organizes these elements into the body of a rose and not of a crocus ; which remains the same, and thus gives it identity, through all the changes and stages of its growth. So of language. Who knows not that words as used by Milton, fused, spiritualized and transfigured by his genius into the form of a Paradise Lost, are different things from the words found in the dictionary. There they are no longer words, but the living radiant creatures of his immortal thought, at once vehicle and spirit, like the wheels seen by Ezekiel at the river of Chebar; here, they are the dry and scattered bones seen by the same prophet, waiting for the breath of life to organize and animate them. It is only when thus organized and vitalized by the power of genius, that we come to understand what language is. The language which such a writer employs is as truly his own creation as the thought which animates it; it grows out of the thought, partakes of its essence, and is linked to it by a vital and indissoluble law. The popular impression, that language is a common and universal property, which thought finds ready existing for its use, is true only in a very superficial sense. Whence, we may ask, did the first writer or speaker derive his language? There was no common stock then which he could draw upon, save only the world of nature without, and the world of mind within him. The hypothesis of a revelation or Divine communication of language is improbable, except perhaps in the sense of a Divine mental illumination, and withal unnecessary, as we conceive. His thought, or reason created for itself a language through its own natural and spontaneous working or development. Being an inherent and necessary want of the mind, without which the mind could not unfold itself, it came or was supplied partly from without, but more and chiefly from within. Thought unfolded into language spontaneously, as the plastic principle in the germ unVOL. VI. No. 22.
folds itself into the tree; and this process, call it creation, developinent or growth, is substantially repeated whenever a new thought is born into the world. The elements of language lie around us everywhere, in books, literature and common speech, but more especially as we shall see, in nature; just as the elements of the organic growths of nature are everywhere. But a vital and creative power is needed distinct from and sovereign over these, to appropriate, assimilate, organize and quicken them before they can become language in the highest sense; and this power is thought.
It is the distinction and prerogative of genius, to subordinate every. thing to itself; to transform all it touches into its own essence. This is especially true in regard to language, which is the nearest to its sov. ereign agency, being the very incarnation of its might. It is not so much subject to it, as of it, and incorporated with it. Hence the individuality of which we have spoken, always impressed upon it, which sets it far apart from all vulgar reach or imitation. Hence too the absurdity, not to say sacrilege, of attempting to interpret such language by a mere logical or grammatical analysis.
We are able to see from these observations, wherein the vitality of language consists. This is the vitality of thought, which lives in it, organizes, quickens and new creates it continually. Language may lose its vitality and become dead, by being divorced from the living thought which created it. All mere isolated words are so. They are the disorganized and disintegrated parts of language, which, like the elements of a decayed and crumbled tree, must be reörganized into new forms, must be taken up and combined anew by the creative power of a fresh and living thought, before they can live. And even as in nature, the organic form and structure of the tree may be entire and perfect and yet the life be extinct, so in literature. Much that is written and preserved in books, and is called fine or elegant reading, is of just this description. It is the outward form without the life ; all style and no thought. It is truly amazing to see how much of this dead material is accumulated at the present day; whole books filled to repletion with words without thoughts, standing like dead forests, upriglit, indeed, and "regular" in form and structure, but presenting no fruit nor verdure, sheltering no life, monuments only of past vitality, and soon to crumble into oblivion ; to say nothing of what is called the lighter literature of the day, masses of verbiage heaped together with scarcely thought enough interspersed to give it consistence. Wandering through these catacombs of the mind, one meets everywhere with the most admirable "styles," which doubtless when first constructed, were the vehicles of as admirable thought, the fit language