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father has son, husband has wife, uncle has nephew, teacher has disciple or scholar, master has servant.
s 2. I ADMIT, however, that in the most simple times, and the most ancient usages with which we are acquainted, things did not remain so entirely on the priginal footing, as that none should be called father, but by his son or his daughter ; none should be saluted master, but by his servant, or styled teacher, but by his scholar.
There is a progression in every thing relating to language, as, indeed, in all human sciences and arts. Necessity, first, and ornament, afterwards, lead to the extension of words beyond their primitive signification. All languages are scanty in the beginning, not having been fabricated beforehand, to suit the occasions which might arise. Now, when a person, in speaking, is sensible of the want of a proper sign for expressing his thought, he, much more naturally, recurs to a word which is the known name of something that has an affinity to what he means, than to a sound which, being entirely new to the hearers, cannot, by any law of association in our ideas, suggest his meaning to them. Whereas, by availing himself of the name of something related, by resemblance, or otherwise, to the sentiment he wants to convey,
he touches some principle, in the minds of those whom he addresses, which (if they be persons of any sagacity) will quickly lead them to the discovery of his meaning. Thus, for expressing the reverence which I feel for a respectable character, in one who is also
my senior, I shall naturally be led to style him father, though I be not literally his son ; to express my submission to a man of greater merit and dignity, I shall call him master, though I be not his servant ; and to express my respect for one of more extensive knowledge and erudition, I shall denominate him teacher, though I be not his disciple. Indeed, these consequences arise so directly from those essential principles of the imagination, uniformly to be found in human nature, that deviations, in some degree similar, from the earliest meanings of words, are to be found in all tongues, ancient and modern. This is the first step from pure simplicity.
§ 3. Yet, that the differences in laws, sentiments, and manners, which obtain in different na. tions, will occasion in this, as well as in other things, . considerable variety, is not to be denied. In Asia, a common sign of respect to superiors was prostration. In Europe, that ceremony was held in abhor. rence. What I have remarked above, suits entirely the progress of civilization in the Asiatic regions.
The high-spirited republicans of Greece and Rome, appear, on the contrary, long to have considered the title kyrios, or dominus, given to a man, as proper only in the mouth of a slave. Octavius, the emperor, when master of the world, and absolute in Rome, seems not to have thought it prudent to accept it. He very justly marked the precise import of the term, according to the usage which then ob. tained, in that noted saying ascribed to him, Impet
rator militum, Princeps reipublicæ, Dominüs servo
To assume this title, therefore, he considered as what could not fail to be interpreted by his people, as an indirect, yet sufficiently evident, manner of calling them his slaves ; for such was then the common import of the word servus. But, in des. potic countries, and countries long accustomed to kingly government, it did not hurt the delicacy of the greatest subject to give the title Dominus to the prince.
4. That such honorary applications of words were quite common among the Jews, was evident to every body, who has read the Bible with attention. In such applications, however, it must be noted, that the titles are not considered as strictly due from those who give them. They are considered rather as voluntary expressions of respect, in him who gives the title, being a sort of tribute, either to civi. lity, or to the personal merit of him on whom it is bestowed. But, to affix titles to places and offices, to be given by all who shall address those possessed of such places and offices, whether they that give them stand in the relation correspondent to the title or not, or whether they posses the respect or esteem implied or not, is comparatively a modern refinement in the civil intercourse of mankind, at least in the degree to which it is carried in Eu. rope. This is the second remove from the earliest and simplest state of society.
Ø 5. THERE remains a third, still more remarkable, to which I find nothing similar in ancient times.
We have gotten a number of honorary titles, such as duke, marquis, earl, viscount, baron, baronet, &c. which it would be very difficult, or rather impossible to define; as they express, at present, neither office, nor relation, but which, nevertheless, descend from father to son, are regarded as part of a man's inheritance, and, without any consideration of merit, or station, or wealth, secure to him cer. tain titular honours and ceremonial respect, and which are of a more unalienable nature than any other property (if they may be called property,) real or personal, that he possesses. I am sensible, that those modern titles were all originally names of offices, as well as the ancient. Thus, duke was equivalent to commander; marquis, or margrave (for they differed in different countries), to guardian of the marches; count, landgrave, alderman, or earl, to sheriff; whence the shire is still denominated county ; viscount, to deputy-sheriff. Vicecomes, accordingly, is the Latin word in law-writs for the officiating sheriff'. When the principal, in any kind of office, becomes too rich, and too lazy, for the service, the burden naturally devolves upon the sub. stitute ; and the power of the constituent, through disuse, comes at last to be antiquated. But, so much was the title once connected with the office, that when the king intended to create a new earl, he had no other expedient, than to erect a certain territory
1 Blackstone's Commentary, Introduc. Sect. 4. and B. I. ch. xii. § 3, 4.
into a county, earldom, or sheriffdom, (for these words were then synonymous,) and to bestow the jurisdiction of it on the person honoured with the title. The baron, though his name was anciently common to all the nobility, was judge or lord of a smaller and subordinate jurisdiction, called a barony." In process of time, through the vicissitudes that necessarily happen in the manners of the people, and in their methods of government, the offices came gradually to be superseded, or at least to subsist no longer, on the same footing of hereditary possession. But, when these had given place to other political arrangements, the titles, as a badge of ancestry, and of the right to certain privileges which accompanied the name, were, as we may naturally suppose, still suffered to remain. 'It hardly now answers the first end, as a badge of ancestry, in those countries where there are often new creations : but it answers the second, and besides, ennobles their posterity. In consequence of these differences, the titles are regarded as due to him who succeeds to them, alike from all men, and that without any consideration of either personal or official dignity, or even of territorial possessions. Thus, one who is entitled to be called my lord is, in this manner, addressed not only by his inferiors, but by his equals, nay, even his superiors. The king himself, in addressing his nobles, says My Lords.
2 See Spelman's Glossary on the different names.