Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/507

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This statement, although true to a limited extent, is applicable only to a small minority of mankind. The overwhelming majority is so much under the sway of tradition and possessed of so few new ideas that their vocabulary is entirely sufficient to afford them utterance. Much more to the point is the following:

Everywhere as the ultimate end of change we find two intellectual coexisting elements, the one principal, the other accessory. After a long while and by an unconscious path, the mind loses sight of the first, and only considers the second, which either drives out the first or restricts its value. Under cover of the same physiological fact—the word—the mind passes from one idea to another. Now this unconscious process carrying the dominant fact from the principal to the accessory detail is the very law of transformation which obtains in the moral world. The history of religions, of social institutions, of politics, jurisprudence and moral ideas, may be reduced to that slow process which causes the unconscious habits of mind to forget the primary fact, to see the secondary fact alone which is derived from it, and to make of it a primary fact which in its turn will disappear before its insensibly increasing successor.

While the origin of the ultimate constituents of words is rarely discoverable, we can often trace their descendants up to our own time. Typical terms are "derive," "rival," "derivation," "rivulet," and many more that on the surface do not appear to have the most remote connection with one another. The ancient Romans called a stream rivus. To draw water from a stream was called derivare, the act derivatio. Rivalis was one who lived on the banks of the same stream. The idea of competition or rivalry is probably latent in the term. The insight we get from other sources into primitive conditions makes it plain that every man's hand was against every other man's. We have by no means outgrown this stage. Thucydides testifies that in his time in some parts of Greece the peasants went to work in their fields with arms in their hands in order to be prepared to fight for what they considered their rights at all times.

The Roman soldiers received no pay for their services while in the field, but the state gave them a small allowance for the purchase of salt, an indispensable but costly article of diet, in many places hard to get. This allowance was called salarium, whence our familiar word salary. So likewise emolumentum was the money paid for grinding the grain. Lira means a "furrow," lirare to make a furrow, deliro to get out of the furrow, deliratio a getting out of the furrow; hence, folly, madness. The connection of these words with delirium and deliramentum is plain. They were evidently formed when the ancient Romans were an agricultural people. That the conclusion follows from the facts is as clear as the law of deduction can make it. A current German phrase to designate mental aberration is "to be out of one's hut." A word that exhibits this gradual change, or rather, extension of meaning almost under our eyes, as it were, is our familiar