Language And Thought
( Originally Published 1912 )
IF we were given what purported to be a transcript of a medieval manuscript, and should find in it words like enlightenment or scepticism, we should not hesitate to pronounce it a glaring and absurd forgery; and we should reject with equal promptness a pretended Elizabethan play in which we came upon such phrases as an exciting event, an interesting personality, or found the characters speaking of their feelings. Or when we read in the famous cryptogram, supposed to have been inserted by Bacon in Shakespeare's and his own writings, of secret interviews, tragedies of great interest, and disagreeable insinuations, we begin to doubt Bacon's authorship of these phrases; a doubt which is considerably strengthened when we find him speaking of his affaires de coeur and the lone garden of his heart. These are extreme instances; but there are thousands of other words and phrases which we feel belong to definite periods, and would never have been used at an earlier date. The reason for our feeling is only to a slight extent philological; as far as their form is concerned, the greater part of these words would have been perfectly possible—it is in their meanings, the thoughts they express, that they are such obvious anachronisms.
This curious sense of the dates of words, or rather of the ideas that they express, comes to us from our knowledge, grown half-instinctive, of the ways of thought dominant in different epochs, the "mental atmosphere" as we call it, which made certain thoughts current and possible, and others impossible at this time or that. This study of the social consciousness of past ages is perhaps the most important part of history; changes of government, crusades, religious reforms, revolutions—all these are half-meaningless events to us unless we understand the ideas, the passions, the ways of looking at the world, of which they are the outcome. It is also the most elusive thing in history; we gain enough of it, indeed, from literature to make us aware of any glaring anachronism; but we are too apt to read back modern conceptions into old words, and it is one of the most difficult of mental feats to place ourselves in the minds of our ancestors, and to see life and the world as they saw it. It is here that language can give the most important aid to history; if we know what words were current and popular at a given period, what new terms were made or borrowed, and the new meanings that were attached to old ones, we become aware, in a curiously intimate way, of interests of that period. We cannot, it is true, always trace by means of language the ultimate source of all new ideas; they may have been inherited from Greece or Rome, they may have been discovered by some pioneer long before they became current; but the date at which they are absorbed into the common consciousness is shown fairly accurately by the new words to which they give birth, or the change in meaning which they produce in old ones. One of the best tests of the importance and popularity of words is the number of compounds and derivatives which in a given period are formed from them. We find, for instance, that many compounds from the word church (church-bell; church-door, church-book, etc.) were formed in the Anglo-Saxon period, that many derivatives were formed from court and crown (courtier, courteous, courtesy, crowning, crownment), in the XIIIth Century, and that religious words like bless and damn also produce many new terms in the early Middle Ages. On the other hand, an old word like rational, which dates from the XIVth Century, forms no derivatives until the XVIIth, when we find rationalist, rationality, and several others; while rationalism, rationalize, rationalistic, belong to the XlXth Century.
Taking, then, this test of language, and relying in particular on those words that take root and multiply at various periods, let us start with the Middle Ages and see what light we can get on the growth, through the intervening centuries, of our modern view of ourselves and the universe.
It is a commonplace to say that the dominant conception of modern times is that of science, of immutable law and order in the material universe. This great and fruitful conception so permeates our thought, and so deeply influences even those who most oppose it, that it is difficult to realize the mental consciousness of a time when it hardly existed. But if we study the vocabulary of science, the words by which its fundamental thoughts are expressed, we shall find that the greater part of them are not to be found in the English language a few centuries ago; or if they did exist, that they were used of religious institutions or human affairs; and that their transference to natural phenomena has been very gradual and late. Order is, indeed, a very old word in English, and appears in the XIIIth Century in reference to monastic orders, and the heavenly hierarchy, Thrones, Dominations, Powers, etc., of Christian theology. It acquires some notion of fixed arrangement in the XIVth Century, but it is not till the XVIth Century that its derivatives orderliness and orderly are found. Ordered meant "in holy orders till this period, when we also find the noun disorder. Regular is a XIVth Century word, but was also used of monastic orders (being the opposite of secular) until 1584; while regularity, regulation, and the verb to regulate belong to the following century. Method and system are also modern words, with the adjectives methodical, systematic, and uniform. The verb to arrange is an old word, and was used like array in a military sense; but it does not appear in Shakespeare or the Bible, and did not acquire its present meaning until the XVIIIth Century, at which time arrangement is also found. The verb to classify, with classification, belongs to the XVIIIth Century, organism to the XVIIth, at which time the slightly earlier organize and organization acquired their present meanings.
If we take the great word law, we do not find it applied in English to natural phenomena before the Restoration, although its Latin equivalent lex was employed in this sense by Bacon earlier in the XVIIth Century. The Roman and medieval phrase natural law (lex naturae or naturalis) meant the law of God implanted in the human reason for the guidance of human conduct; and even the laws of nature, by those who first used the phrase in our modern sense were, as the Oxford Dictionary tells us, regarded as commands which were imposed by the Deity upon matter, and which, as we still say, were "obeyed" by phenomena.
Many other instances could be given, but the above will suffice to show how the notion of law and order in nature and visible phenomena spread in the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries, replacing the older notions of magic or divine interference. Partly produced by this sense of law and order in nature, and probably still more the cause of it, we notice also, at this time, a great increase in the vocabulary of observation. Speaking generally, the names of the abstract reasoning processes—reason, cogitation, intuition, etc., belong to the Middle Ages, while those which describe the investigation of natural phenomena belong to the modern epoch, or only acquire, at that time, their present meaning and their popular use. To observe meant to obey a rule, or to inspect auguries for the purpose of divination, until the XVIth Century, when it acquired the meaning of examination of phenomena; observant and observation were old religious words meaning the obedience to religious laws, until the same time; perception meant the collection of rents until the XVIIth Century, and scrutiny was only used of votes until that period. Experiment and experimental are old words used in alchemy, but experiment as a process (as in the phrase to try by experiment) is modern, and experimental had hardly more than the vague meaning of "observed" until the XVIth Century. The verbs to analyse, to distinguish, to investigate, appear in the same period, and in the next hundred years to remark, to inspect, to scrutinize; to notice is an old verb meaning "to notify," but it fell out of use, and was only revived and given its present meaning in America at about the middle of the XVIIIth Century. We may also note that while words expressing belief certainty, assurance, credence, etc., are generally old in the language, those that suggest doubt, questioning, and criticism, almost all belong to the modern period. Doubt is, of course, an old theological word, and doubtful appears in the XIVth Century; but doubt-fulness, dubious, dubiousness, dubitable, with sceptic, sceptical, scepticism, are of modern formation; and in this period, too, the old verbs to dissent and disagree became applied to, matters of opinion or conviction.
This conception of order in the material universe, and the spirit of investigation and inquiry, resulted of course in a great increase of knowledge about natural phenomena. This increase of knowledge, and its popular diffusion, shows itself very clearly in the large number of words that now come into use to describe the qualities of matter, We note in the XVIth Century a new use of words like tenacity and texture, while in the following century we find cohesion, tension, elasticity, and temperature. At this time, too, the word force acquired its physical meaning; and energy, a word of Aristotle's creation, which was first employed in English as a term of literary criticism, was applied to the material world, although its precise modern use was not defined before the XIXth Century.
But it would be outside our scope to trace in detail the formation of the vocabulary of modern science; we can only note that the experimental study of nature began, in modern Europe, in the XVIth Century, and that many observations were made, and much material collected; and that then, after the check caused by the Civil War, when men's minds were turned at the Restoration from theological controversies to the affairs of this world, an immense and unprecedented advance was suddenly made in scientific knowledge. All the somewhat disconnected observations collected by previous generations were now ordered and systematized, and modern science sprang into existence and began to extend its domain over the whole universe.
But this conception of science was not so much a new discovery as the revival of ancient thought which found, at the Renaissance, an atmosphere favorable to its fruitful development. The order, however, which the ancients found in the universe was a fixed and unchangeable one; the belief in progressive change, in evolution, is modern, and forms, perhaps, the most essential difference between our view of the world and that of the Greeks and Romans. We do not, perhaps, always realize how very modern the conception is, but if we take the words by which it is expressed advance, amelioration, development, improvement, progress, evolution, we shall find that none of them can be found in English with their present meaning before the XVIth Century. Advance and advancement are old words in English, with the meaning of pro-motion from a lower to a higher office; and only acquire the sense of progress after the Middle Ages. Improve and improvement were terms of Law French, originally employed to describe the process of enclosing waste land and bringing it into cultivation; they acquire the sense of "making better" in the XVIIth Century, and one of the earliest uses of "improve," with this modern meaning, is found, appropriately enough, in the title of "the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge," founded about 1660.
Evolution is, of course, a modern word in English; it appeared first in a military sense in the XVIIth Century, and acquired its present meaning and its immense development from the work of Darwin and Herbert Spencer in the XIXth Century. Indeed, it is not too much to say that although the Middle Ages had words like regeneration and amendment, with reference to the notion of personal conduct and its reform, there were at that time no general terms to express the ideas of continuous improvement, of advance to better and better conditions. The reason that there were no such terms is, of course, that they were not needed. The idea of progress may have visited the thoughts of a few lonely philosophers, but it obtained no general acceptance, and found no expression in the language. The social consciousness was not favorable to it, being dominated as it was by the religious belief in the degeneracy of a world fallen from grace, and fated to worse deterioration before its sudden end, which might come at any time. Even at the Reformation the ideal, as the word Reformation shows, was that of a return to the purity of primitive and uncorrupted times; and the conception of continuous evolution, of an advance beyond the limits set by the past, is one which has appeared at a late period in the history of thought. Indeed, the application of this thought to human society, the belief in human progress, hardly became diffused and popular before the middle of the XVIIIth Century. Progress is an old word for a journey, a "royal progress"; it began to acquire the meaning of continuous improvement in the time of Shakespeare, at which time the verb to progress appeared, and the adjective progressive, which was used by Bacon in his Essays. The verb, however, became obsolete in English, and was introduced again from America after the notion of progress, taken into their systems and popularized by the XVIIIth Century philosophers had found its way into the popular imagination, and had given birth to the great new hope of modern times, the modern belief that human society is advancing, or can advance, to better and better conditions.
We have given a summary account, in the previous chapter, of the deposits left by various historical events in the English language of words as historical documents.
Still more interesting is the evidence of language about the growth of the sense of history itself, the change that the modern conceptions of order and progress have produced in our way of regarding past ages. If we examine our historical vocabulary, the words and phrases by which we express our sense that the past was not the same, but something different from the present, we shall find that they are all of them modern, and most of them, indeed, of very recent introduction. Men in the Middle Ages were fully conscious of antiquity; but, save for the sense of in-creasing deterioration, no clear distinction existed in the popular mind between the life of the present and the past; feudal institutions and medieval ways of thought were attributed to the Greeks and Romans, who were always pictured as dressed in medieval costumes. Probably the first word in which our modern historical sense finds expression is the word primitive, as applied by the Reformers to the early Church. Indeed, the effect of the Reformation, in turning men's thoughts, not only to past events, but to the customs and institutions of earlier ages, did increased by the revival of learning, and a truer understanding of classical times the distinction between ancient and modern appears in Bacon's writings; and the word classical, with something, though by no means all, of the meaning we give it, is found not much later. The Puritans, by adopting from the Church Fathers the distinction between the Old and the New Testament dispensations, increased the sense of historical perspective, and the words epoch, century, decade, with the adjectives antiquated, primeval, Gothic, old-fashioned, out-of-date, show its growth and spread in the XVIIth Century. It is not, however, till the XVIIIth Century that the sense of the past embodies itself in phrases like the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, the Revival of Learning, while medieval, feudal-ism, Elizabethan, the Renaissance, belong to the XIXth Century. Anachronism was used in the XVIIth Century for an error in computing time; its modern meaning, first found in Coleridge, is very significant, and conveying as it does the idea of a thing which is appropriate to one age, but out of harmony with another, it expresses a thought, a way of feeling, which is very modern, and which would not have needed expression at an earlier period. The latest addition to our historical vocabulary is the word prehistoric, which is first found in 1851, and which represents the opening up of an immense new field of investigation, the history of mankind before the existence of written records.
With this growing sense of the past, and its difference from the present, we find, as we might expect, the growth of a romantic and sentimental attitude towards bygone ages of English history. The earlier attitude of the XVIIIth Century toward the Middle Ages, which is expressed in phrases like the Dark Ages, and barbarous or Gothic, to describe everything medieval, was not long after succeeded by the Romantic movement, and its revival, which we have already mentioned, of old and half-forgotten words. But these words of the Romantic revival-chivalry, chivalrous, minstrel, bard, etc., have now taken on a romantic glamour they by no means originally possessed. Minstrel was a name for a buffoon or juggler, as well as a musician in early times; while bard, as a name for a Gaelic singer, was used, with "beggar" and "vagabond," as a term of contempt, until it became associated with the classical use of the same word, and was idealized by Sir Walter Scott. Our modern use of chivalry as an ideal of conduct dates no further back than Burke's famous phrase, "The age of chivalry is gone."
The above instances of modern ways of thought and feeling will give us some slight notion of the words we must delete from our vocabulary, the ideas we must dismiss from our mind, should we wish to enter into the spirit and popular consciousness of the Middle Ages. Should we succeed in our attempt, we should find ourselves in a world strangely different from the world which modern thought has created for us— a world not governed by impersonal law, but expressing supernatural purpose, and subject to constant supernatural intervention. The sense of past and future, the looking before and after of modern times, the historical sense, which makes the past so different from the present, and fills our minds with speculations and ideals for the future, would drop from us. The present would be for us the same as the past, and our future prospect would be that of a more or less swift destruction of the world and human society. Our modern universe is a vast process of ordered change and regular development; theirs was a definite and almost unchanging creation, formed in a moment out of nothing, and destined to end as suddenly as it began. But perhaps what would impress us most would be the absorption of thought in immediate practical considerations, the absence of curiosity about natural objects, save in so far as they ministered to man's service. We should find that the movements of heavenly bodies were mainly of interest for their supposed effect on the destinies of human beings; the plants that were useful, or supposed to be useful in medicine and magic, were the ones that were known and named; zoology was important for the moral lessons to be drawn from the ways of animals, mineralogy consisted largely in a knowledge of the magical powers of jewels, chemistry was pursued for the purpose of transmuting metals into gold; and even the philosophy of the Middle Ages was an effort not so much to arrive at truth as to reconcile reason and revealed religion. We should find plenty of speculation about the practical uses of things, and many words to describe their nature from this point of view; but words to describe their qualities, apart from their uses, would be al-most entirely wanting. Even the vocabulary of another side of disinterested observation, the sense of beauty, would be scanty, for words like admiration and beautiful belong to the XVIth Century and not to the Middle Ages.
It is this practical or utilitarian spirit which would probably most oppress us; and our minds would feel imprisoned in the small box of the medieval universe, with its confining spheres, its near, monitory stars, and didactic animals. And yet, should we thoroughly enter into the atmosphere of that time, and find mankind and ourselves, not the temporary and accidental inhabitants of a remote planet, but standing at the centre of a universe whose unifying principle was not mechanical law, but justice and divine grace, and whose end and purpose were the fulfilment of human destiny, we might feel that our life had gained a dignity and gravity which modern science has taken from it, and that in the spiritual, and not in the natural world, was to be found, after all, the true home of the human soul.
There is another change in our vocabulary pointing to a change in thought and feeling quite as profound as that produced by science, and the sense of law and order in the material universe. The great pioneers of the Renaissance discovered not only the world of natural phenomena, but another world, equally vast and varied and new-the world of man. Man had indeed been placed by medieval thought at the centre of the universe, and nature made subservient to his needs, but it was not man as he is in himself that was regarded, but man in his relation to society or the Church. The natural man, with his individual variation from the inherited type, was hardly considered; he was subordinated to the great and dominant scheme of theology, and he was thought of not so much as a person as of a soul to be saved or lost.
Probably to each of us the sense of his own personality, the knowledge that he exists and thinks and feels, is the ultimate and fundamental fact of life. But this sense of personality, of the existence of men as separate individuals, is one of the latest developments of human thought. Man in early societies is not thought of as an individual, and there are savage languages that possess no word for "I" or for the conception of "myself." An examination of those words by which we express this notion of personality, and their history, will show that this simple fundamental conception, like most other simple conceptions, was a late fruit of daring thought, and was only reached by devious ways, and after much abstract speculation. The word individual (literally "inseparable") was a word formed in scholastic Latin from the earlier individuum, which meant an indivisible particle or .atom. Individual was used in medieval logic for a member of a class or species, and also as a theological term with reference to the Trinity, and did not acquire its present meaning in English before the time of Shakespeare. The great classical and medieval word person has an even more curious history. It is, in its origin, one of those many words (scene, scenery, landscape, attitude, contrast, character, expression, costume, etc.) which have come to us from the arts, and show how conceptions and distinctions, first achieved by art, are found, like those thought out by philosophy, to be of useful application to life and natural phenomena.
For person was originally a dramatic term, the Latin persona (derived, it is believed, from the verb personare, "to sound through ") Meaning an actor's mask. From this it acquired the meaning of actor's part, or of one who performs or acts any part, and especially a "personage," one who plays an important part on the stage of life. Its next meaning was legal, a man's personal rights and duties which depend upon his position in life, and it did not acquire the meaning of an individual human being till late in Roman times, This was probably helped by the use of the word in Christian theology for a Person of the Trinity; and we may say in general that the notion of personality, though of Stoic origin, was greatly developed by Christian thought, with its sense of the infinite worth of the individual human soul. This conception, then, had already been achieved by medieval thought, and the words person, personal, personality, belong to this period. They have, however, received in modern times an immense extension of meaning, and another whole group of words has been created or adopted to express the various new conceptions to which the idea of personality has given birth.
The ego, with egoism, are terms introduced by French philosophers in the XVIIth Century, and egotism is another French term. These were borrowed at various periods; egotism, which is used by Addison, being the first to appear in English, while egotistical belongs to the XIXth Century. But before this the old word self, like a germ that finds a soil and atmosphere favourable to its multiplication, began to form compounds in enormous quantities. Self-liking, self self-love, self-conceit, self-assurance, self-regard, self-destruction, self-murder, belong to the later part of the XVIth Century, and these are followed in the next hundred years by self-contempt, self-applause, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-defence, self command, and many others. The multiplication of these words has gone on steadily ever since; self-help and self-assertion are characteristic of the XIXth Century, and self-culture has come to us from the strenuous climate of New England. Selfish and selfishness are Puritan words, formed by the Presbyterians about 1640, to express a notion for which the older self-love was too vague, and philauty from the Greek, and suicism from the Latin too pedantic for popular acceptance, though both of them were tried.
The self, or ego, is not, however, a simple object, but possesses many aspects and attributes. The more abstract qualities of human reason found their names as, we have seen, in scholastic philosophy, but fancy and instinct belong to the time of Shakespeare, and impulse to the XVIIth Century. The distinction between talent and genius is a modern one, and the evidence of language throws considerable light upon its origin. The word genius appears first in English, early in the XVIth Century, in the classical sense of a tutelary god or attendant spirit; it then acquired the meaning of the "spirit" or distinctive character of an age or institution, and then of the natural ability or capacity of a man. Its modern use for extraordinary and mysterious creative power was slowly developed in England in the XVIIIth Century, and was, perhaps, helped by the use of genius to translate the Arabian Jinn, the supernatural beings of the Arabian Nights. Our modern use was not, however, recognized in Johnson's Dictionary, and was only received in its full definition in the Romantic period of Sturm und Drang in Germany, where the distinction between genius and talent was strongly emphasized, and whence it was brought back, by students of German literature, to England in the XIXth Century. The Germans, on the other hand, imported, in the XVIIIth Century, our word original, which in the phrase original composition had recently acquired in England a new meaning, and had given birth to the modern word originality. Our use of the old words temperament and personality, in phrases such as artistic temperament, or a strong personality, are still more modern, and the subconscious or subliminal self are very recent additions to our vocabulary.
But before this conception of personality found its full development, the human mind had awakened to a vivid sense of the multitudes of individuals, with their various characters and passions, who go, as we say, to make up the world. The human vocabulary of the Middle Ages is somewhat poor and meagre, and it is only now and then in the works of a great writer like Chaucer, that we get glimpses of the rich and varied secular life of this period. We have names for religious or military characters, terms descriptive of noble or base condition, pride or humility, courage or cowardice; and, in addition to the oldest feelings of human nature, hate, fear, love, and joy, we find a large vocabulary of the emotions sanctioned by religion, remorse, repentance, anguish, delight, despair, compunction. But when men freed themselves from the bonds of theology, at the same time that they broke through the confining spheres of the Aristotelian heavens, they saw the whole universe of varied human nature spread before them. The human intelligence, like Adam naming the animals in the Garden of Paradise, found terms for the secular characters, with their passions and peculiarities, which passed before it in motley procession. This process of observation and naming has continued ever since; and a list of these words, arranged according to the dates of their appearance, would help us to enter into the feelings of the different generations, and to understand their likes and dislikes, and what they thought worthy of praise or condemnation. Such a study would, however, expand this book to undue proportions, and we will confine ourselves to a short account of the terms of abuse or depreciation, as these are the ones in which the spirit of an age mirrors itself most vividly, and in these, too,the genius of the language is most completely manifested. Medieval terms of abuse villain, churl, boor, knave—are very largely derived from the names of people in a humble condition, and form a striking opposition to kind, free, gentle, gentle-man, etc., which signify noble birth. There is, however, one word, dangerous, which, like the adjective proud, we may contrast with these. For dangerous is derived ultimately from the Latin dominus, "lord" or "master," and its earliest meaning in English was that of "haughty," "arrogant," "difficult." In Chaucer's time it was used to express another aspect of lordly character, coming to mean "fastidious," "delicate," "dainty," and it is not found with the meaning of "perilous" or "risky" before the XVth Century.
Among later terms, we have already mentioned those of Protestant controversy, and to these may be added the characteristic adjectives, credulous and superstitious, words that, if they had existed, would have had no abusive sense before the Reformation. Of words describing secular characteristics, cold-hearted, affected, indiscreet, bold-faced, and moody, as we use them now, are first found in Shakespeare, and revengeful, cynical, absurd, also belong to this period. In the XVIIth Century words, fanciful, fatuous, callous, disingenuous, countrified, we find a somewhat nicer if more superficial observation; and, omitting the Restoration terms of abuse (which have already been mentioned), we notice in the XVIIIth Century adjectives, prim, demure, prudish, gawky, bearish, and impolite, all of which refer to qualitites objettionable in the intercourse of society, which was so highly developed in this period. There are two other words that are very characteristic of the XVIIIth Century, enthusiastic and intolerant. Enthusiastic and the noun enthusiasm were first used at the English Renaissance, with the historical and pagan meaning of possession by a god or divine frenzy; but they came in the XVIIIth Century to be abusive terms for religious fanatics and religious fanaticism, and enthusiastic only recovered a good meaning at the more romantic end of the century. If enthusiasm was repellent to this "enlightened" age, intolerance, which is apt to accompany it, was equally repellent; and we find that intolerant and intolerance both make their appearance now-indeed, there would have been no need for them before the Restoration, nor would they have been abusive words at an earlier period. These XVIllth Century words form a curious contrast to the earlier terms of abuse miscreant, renegade, libertine—in which wrong or liberal views on religious subjects were taken to imply moral delinquency.
But the study of human nature can be pursued from two points of view; we may observe our fellow-men and their ways and characters; or we may turn within and study our own selves. "Know thyself " was an exhortation inherited from antiquity, but its complete realization has only been accomplished in modern times. Speaking generally, we may say that the men of the Renaissance devoted their minds to observing their fellow human beings; and that men did not turn to the study of themselves, the second great chapter in the book of life, until more than a century had passed. This great revolution in thought-this discovery of the inner life and feelings-was due to many influences. Protestantism, by making the experience of each individual the foundation of religion, was one of its causes;' and it was no doubt helped by the writings of a man like Montaigne, who was the first in modern times to devote himself to the study of his own moods and thoughts. This change in point of view gained also impetus from the great revolution in philosophy when, in. the XVIIth Century, Descartes turned the world inside out, and defined the activity of consciousness, the certainty of the thinking self, as the most immediate fact of existence. But all these and many other influences were partly the cause, partly the symptoms, of this shifting of thought to a new centre. Our object is to consider it for a moment, not in its ultimate sources, but in its growth and diffusion in English life, as shown by the English language. This can be well seen in the history of the word conscious and its derivatives. Conscious was borrowed from the Latin poets in the time of Shakespeare, with the sense of sharing knowledge with another, and was used of inanimate things, as Milton's conscious night. The word is first found in Ben Jonson's Poetaster, who ridicules it as a modern and affected term. It was used by Locke of thoughts and feelings, and finds its full extension and definition early in the XVIIIth Century, when we read of "conscious beings." Consciousness, first found in 1632, attained its philosophical definition late in the XVIIth Century, when it was described by Locke as "perception of what passes in a man's own mind." To Locke also we owe the use of the compound self-consciousness (then recently formed) in its modern sense; and at about this time the old word subjective shifted its meaning from the scholastic sense of "existing in itself" and took on the meaning of "existing in consciousness or thought." Self-knowledge, self-examination, self-pity, and self-contempt belong to the "self" words of the XVllth Century, and with them appear a swarm of what we may call "introspective" words words that describe moods and feelings, as seen from within, as part of our own inner experience. The older kind of names for human passions and feelings we may call "objective," that is to say, they are observed from outside, and named by their effects and moral consequences. These names are apt to be moral labels, stuck on dangerous tendencies, to warn us of their ultimate results. Most people must have felt at one time or another the grotesque incongruity of ugly names like greed or malice for feelings delightful at the moment; and a non-human observer from another planet might be puzzled to find that the passions and propensities that were called by the least attractive terms were the ones that mankind most persistently indulged.
The more modern and "sympathetic" names for human feelings, derived from introspection and self-analysis, only begin to appear in large numbers about the middle of the XVIIth Century. Loneliness, indeed, and disgust and lassitude are a little earlier; but at this time words like aversion, day-dream, dissatisfaction, discomposure, make their appearance depression is transferred from material objects to a state of mind, and the old word reverie, which had first meant "joy" and then "anger," acquires its modern and introspective meaning. This vocabulary of moods and feelings was increased in the XVIIIth Century by ennui, chagrin, home-sickness, diffidence, apathy, while the older words, excitement, agitation, constraint, embarrassment, disappointment, come to be applied to inner experiences. With these words we find a curious class of verbs and adjectives which describe not so much the objective qualities and activities of things as the effects they produce on us, our own feelings and sensations. To divert, to enliven, to entertain, to amuse, to entrance, to fascinate, to disgust, to dissatisfy, with the adjectives entertaining, exhilarating, perplexing, refreshing, and many others, are all modern words, or old words given a new and modern meaning. Some of them, indeed, are very recent, and our use of the common adjectives amusing and exciting is not found before the XIXth Century.
Perhaps the most characteristic of all these modern adjectives is the word interesting, which is put to so many uses that we can hardly imagine how life or conversation could be carried on without it. And yet interesting is not found before the XVIllth Century, when it first meant "important," and its first use with its present meaning appears, characteristically enough, in Stern's Sentimental Journey, published in 1768. About the same time the verb to bore appeared; and we who are so often bored, or interested, must, if we wish to enter into the state of mind of past ages, try to imagine a time when people thought more of objects than of their own emotions, and when, if they were bored or interested, would not name their feeling, but mention the quality or object that produced it. This change is a subtle and yet an important one; it is due to our increased self consciousness, and our greater sense of the importance of the inner world of feeling. One of the latest products or by-products of this change is the modern habit of taking a conscious pleasure in our own emotions. This "sentimental" attitude is well dated for us by the appearance of the word sentimental itself about the middle of the XVIIIth Century. It soon became fashionable; and, carried abroad by Stern's Sentimental Journey, it was borrowed by the French, and translated by the Germans; thus showing, as many other instances would show (had we the space to give them), that these changes of language, thought, and feeling were not confined to England, but belonged to a general movement in which the whole of civilized Europe took part-one nation borrowing from the other as new developments arose. The contributions of England to European civilization, as tested by the English words in Continental languages, bifteck, pudding, grog, jockey, tourist, comfort, sport, etc., are not, generally, of a kind to cause much national self-congratulation. We may be justly proud, however, of our political terms parliament, bill, budget, meeting, speech, and we can at any rate claim the "sentimentality" of modern Europe as a product of this age of XVIIIth Century "sensibility" in England, when the words affecting and pathetic acquired their present meanings, and when our ancestors began to speak of their feelings and emotions.
Our account of these developments of modern thought, the growing sense of individuality and self-consciousness, has been necessarily somewhat hurried. n any study of this kind we must be on our guard against hasty generalizations; and we should test, moreover, the changes in one country with those in the languages of other countries which share with us in the general civilization of Europe. We must also guard against the notion that men, at any period, did not possesscertain thoughts and feelings because they had no words to express them. The investigation of the character of different ages by the study of the words used in them is apt, unless it be pursued with caution, to lead to strange and often absurd conclusions. It has ever been seriously argued, from the vagueness and insufficiency of his colour-words, that Homer, as well as all his contemporaries, was colour-blind. But, as it has been well pointed out, "the fact that the Homeric Greeks have no expression for `green' does not prove that they did not see the colour, but that they did not want the word"; and so, if the Elizabethans had no word for disappointment and home-sickness, we cannot assume that they did not experience these feelings, but only that they were not interested in expressing them.
But this difference, this change of value and interest, is a very real and very important one. Vague feelings and thoughts that lurk, dim and unexpressed, in the background of the mind become very different and much more important when our attention is directed to them and they appear sharply defined in consciousness. The change of thought from one generation to another does not depend so much on new discoveries as the gradual shifting, into the centre of vision, of ideas and feelings that had been but dimly realized before. And it is just this shifting from the background to the centre of thought, that is so important and yet so elusive, which is marked and dated in the history of language. When anything becomes important to us it finds its name; and in the history of these names in the English language can be traced many changes in English life, many developments of thought, which would yield a rich reward to patient and careful study.