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WHEN, more than four years ago, I published my book on the Origin of Language, it was, I believe, the only book distinctly devoted to that subject which had appeared in England since the end of the last century. Since that time Philology has been daily gaining ground as a study of infinite importance, and I believe that the stimulus it has received has been mainly due to the eloquence and genius of Professor Max Müller, whose first series of Lectures was published in 1861. The views however which it was the object of my Essay to explain and illustrate, although they were propounded by philologists of the most unquestioned eminence, have found in Professor Müller a strong opponent, and therefore have met in England with but few converts and fewer supporters.
Nevertheless after constant study, and the most candid consideration of the objections urged against them, I believe that those views, in spite of the vehement assaults directed against them, remain absolutely unshaken. Now, if they are true, they furnish to Etymologists so simple and luminous a principle whereby
to guide their researches, and they throw so strong a light on one of the most interesting problems that can be presented for our solution, that it is most desirable that they should not be dismissed unexamined and with a
I have therefore devoted some portion of this book to a careful, detailed, and respectful review of all that has been urged against them, and I have thought it due to the high authority deservedly attributed to Professor Müller's opinion, to state those objections in his own language. The answer may not be convincing to every one, but at least it will be admitted that the objections have been fairly met. I hope that I have never used a single expression inconsistent with the high respect which is due to the courtesy, learning, and ability of so eminent an opponent.
The controversial part of the book however only occupies a few chapters, and even in these I have steadily kept in view the object of bringing the theory into clearer and fuller relief,—of placing it as far as possible on a scientific basis,-of removing the misrepresentations which have clustered round it, and of supplying linguistic facts and illustrations which might be valuable to the student without any reference to his particular views. And, besides this, there are whole chapters of the book which have no controversial aspect whatever, and which may, I hope, contain suggestions not wholly unworthy of consideration by scholars of every shade of opinion.
I should not for a moment venture to speak of my work in these terms if it contained nothing beyond the