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A Busy Year at the Old Squire's by C. A. Stephens

Master Pierson hit on the best


The

want of a common means of communication therefore has long been recognized; and about that time some one had invented a somewhat imperfect method of universal speech, with the idea of having everybody learn it, and so be able to converse with the inhabitants of all lands without the well-nigh impossible task of learning five, or ten, or fifty different languages.

The idea impressed everybody as a good one, and enjoyed a considerable popularity for a time. But practically this was soon found to be a clumsy and inadequate form of speech, also that many other drawbacks attended its adoption.

But the main idea held good; and since that time Volapuk, Bolak, Esperanto and Ido have appeared, but without meeting with great success. The same disadvantages attend them, each and all.

In thinking the matter over and talking of it, one night at the old Squire's, that winter, Master Pierson hit on the best, most practical plan for a universal language which I have ever heard put forward. "Latin is the foundation of all the modern languages of Christendom," he said. "Or if not the foundation, it enters largely into all of them. Law, theology, medicine and philosophy are dependent on Latin for their descriptive terms. Without Latin words, modern science would be a jargon which couldn't be taught at all. Without Latin, the English language, itself, would relapse to the crude, primitive Saxon

speech of our ancestors. No one can claim to be well educated till he has studied Latin.

"Now as we have need to learn Latin anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone, and make Latin our universal language? Why not have a colloquial, every-day Latin, such as the Romans used to speak in Italy? In point of fact, Latin was the universal language with travelers and educated people all through the Middle Ages. We need to learn it anyhow, so why not make it our needed form of common speech?"

I remember just how earnest old Joel became as he set forth his new idea of his. He jumped up and tore round the old sitting-room. He rubbed my ears again, rumpled Tom's hair, caught Catherine by both her hands and went ring-round-the-rosy with her, nearly knocking down the table, lamp and all! "The greatest idea yet!" he shouted. "Just what's wanted for a Universal Language!" He went and drew in the old Squire to hear about it; and the old Squire admitted that it sounded reasonable. "For I can see," he said, "that it would keep Latin, and the derivation of words from it, fresh in our minds. It would prove a constant review of the words from which our language has been formed.

"But Latin always looked to me rather heavy and perhaps too clumsy for every-day talk," the old gentleman remarked. "Think you could talk it?"

"Sure!" Master Pierson cried. "The old Romans spoke it. So can we. And that's just what I will do. I will get up a book of conversational Latin--enough to make a Common Language for every-day use." And in point of fact that was what old Joel was doing, for four or five weeks afterwards. He had Theodora and Catherine copy out page after page of it--as many as twenty pages. He wanted us each to have a copy of it; and for a time at least, he intended to have it printed.

A few days ago I came upon some of those faded, yellow pages, folded up in an old text book of AEsop's Latin Fables--the one Tom and I were then using; and I will set down a few of the sentences here, to illustrate what Master Pierson thought might be done with Latin as a universal language.

Master Pierson's Universal Language in Latin, which he named _Dic_ from _dico_, meaning to speak.


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