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ESSAYS

England but in France and Germany, a good many men of letters, as anxious as our Pandits are to fix their language and save it from destruction. Says Prof. Lounsbury:—[1]"There was one aim in particular held before the eyes of the men of the past. This was to render the language what they called. fixed. If that were once accomplished, the speech would undergo no further change, save on an extremely limited scale and in certain well defined directions. The tide of corruptions, real or fancied, would thus be permanently stayed. A belief of this sort has been widely cherished in every age and in every, country possessed of a literature. That men of letters should indulge in it is not particularly surprising. However much they may deal with language as an instrument of expression, they have in general little konwledge of its history or of the diverse influences that are always operating upon it and modifying its character. But it shows how thoroughly this idea had permeated the minds of all that we find it proclaimed by a scholar of the intellectual stature of Bentley. 'It would be no difficult contrivance,' he wrote, if the public had any regard to it, to make the English tongue immutable, unless hereafter some foreign nation overrun and invade us."


  1. This passage and some others are taken from his Standard of Usage.