Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Charleston Book: A Miscellany in Prose and Verse >> The Greek Language >> Page 291

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Page 291

Miscellany | The Reprint Company; Samuel Hart, Sen. | 1845, 1983
Transcription ( 291 )
c ompass and flexibility, its riches and its powers, are
altogether unlimited. It not only expresses with preci-
sion, all that is thought or known at any given period, but
it enlarges itself naturally, with the progress of science,
and affords, as if without an effort, a new phrase, or a
systematic nomenclature whenever one is called for. It
is equally adapted to every variety of style and subject
to the most shadowy subtlety of distinction, and the utmost
exactness of definition, as well as to the energy and
pathos of popular eloquence—to the majesty, the eleva-
tion, the variety of the Epic, and the boldest license of
the Dithyrambic, no less than to the sweetness of the
Elegy, the simplicity of the Pastoral, or the heedless
gaiety and delicate characterization of Comedy. Above
all, what is an unspeakable charm—a sort of naivete is
peculiar to it, and appears in all these various styles, and
is quite as becoming and agreeable in a historian or a
philosopher Xenophon, for instance as in the light and
jocund numbers of Anacreon. Indeed, were there no
other object in the learning Greek, but to see to what per-
fection language is capable of being carried, not only as a
medium of communication, but as an instrument of
thought, we see not why the time of a young man would
not be just as well bestowed in acquiring a knowledge of
it—for all the purposes, at least, of a liberal or elemen-
tary education as in learning Algebra, another specimen
of a language or arrangement of signs, perfect in its
kind. But this wonderful idiom happens to have been
spoken, as was hinted in the preceding paragraph, by a
race as wonderful. The very first monument of their
genius, the most ancient relic of letters in the Western
world, stands to this day altogether unrivalled in the