Book I
Chapter VIII


A description of his childhood
NONNE ab infantia huc pergens veni in pueritiam? vel potius ipsa in me venit et successit infantiae? nec discessit illa: quo enim abiit? et tamen iam non erat. non enim eram infans, qui non farer, sed iam puer loquens eram. et memini hoc, et unde loqui didiceram, post adverti. non enim docebant me maiores homines, praebentes mihi verba certo aliquo ordine doctrinae sicut paulo post litteras, sed ego ipse mente, quam dedisti mihi, deus meus, cum gemitibus et vocibus variis et variis membrorum motibus edere vellem sensa cordis mei, ut voluntati pareretur, nec valerem quae volebam omnia nec quibus volebam omnibus. pensabam memoria: cum ipsi appellabant rem aliquam et cum secundum eam vocem corpus ad aliquid movebant, videbam et tenebam hoc ab eis vocari rem illam quod sonabant, cum eam vellent ostendere. hoc autem eos velle, ex motu corporis aperiebatur, tamquam verbis naturalibus omnium gentium, quae fiunt vultu et nutu oculorum ceterorumque membrorum actu et sonitu vocis indicante affectionem animi in petendis, habendis reiciendis fugiendisve rebus. ita verba in variis sententiis locis suis posita et crebro audita quarum rerum signa essent paulatim colligebam measque iam voluntates, edomito in eis signis ore, per haec enuntiabam. sic cum his, inter quos eram, voluntatum enuntiandarum signa conmunicavi; et vitae humanae procellosam societatem altius ingressus sum, pendens ex parentum auctoritate nutuque majorum hominum. GROWING on from the state of infancy, came I not into my childhood? Or rather came not that into me, and succeeded unto my infancy? Nor yet did my infancy depart; for whither went it? yet now it was no more. For an infant I was no longer, that could not speak; seeing now I began to prove a pretty prating boy. And this I well remember, and I afterwards observed how I first learned to speak. For my elders did not teach me this ability, by giving me words in any certain order of teaching, (as they did letters afterwards), but by that mind which thou, my God, gayest me, I myself with gruntings, varieties of voices, and various motions of my body, strove to express the conceits of mine own heart, that my desire might be obeyed; but could not bring it out, either all I would have, or with all the signs I would. Then, I pondered in my memory: when they named anything, and when at that name they moved their bodies toward that thing, I observed it, and gathered thereby, that that word which they then pronounced, was the very name of the thing which they showed me. And that they meant this or that thing, was discovered to me by the motion of their bodies, even by .that natural language, as it were, of all nations; which expressed by the countenance and cast of the eye, by the action of other parts, and the sound of the voice, discovers the affections of the mind, either to desire, enjoy, refuse, or to avoid anything. And thus words in divers sentences, set in their due places, and heard often over, I by little and little collected, of what things they were the signs, aiid having broken my mouth to the pronunciation of them, I by them expressed mine own purposes. Thus, with those whom I conversed withal, did I communicate the expressions of mine own desires; and ventured thereby upon the troublesome society of human
businesses, depending all this while upon the authority of my parents, and being at the beck of my elders.