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such as hear, that, having the written characters before their eyes, they can arrest the sense of the writer. They can pause, and revolve, and compare at their leisure, one passage with another; whereas, the voice is fugitive and passing; you must catch the words the moment they are uttered, or you lose them for ever.

But, although these be so great advantages of written language, that speech without writing would have been very inadequate for the instruction of mankind; yet we must not forget to observe, that spoken language has a great superiority over written language, in point of energy or force. The voice of the living speaker makes an impression on the mind much stronger than can be made by the perusal of any writing. The tones of voice, the looks and gesture which accompany discourse, and which no writing can convey, render discourse, when it is well managed, infinitely more clear, and more expressive, than the most accurate writing. For tones, looks, and gestures, are natural interpreters of the sentiments of the mind. They remove ambiguities; they enforce impressions, they operate upon us by means of sympathy, which is one of the most powerful instruments of persuasion. Our sympathy is always awakened more by hearing the speaker, than by reading his works in our closet. Hence, though writing may answer the purposes of mere instruction, yet all the great and high efforts of eloquence must be made by means of spoken, not of written, language.


OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND GRAMMAR. The English language hath been much cultivated during the last two hundred years. It hath been considerably polished and retined; its bounds have been greatly enlarged; its energy, variety, richness, and elegance, have been abundantly proved, by numberless trials, in verse and in prose, upon all subjects, and in every kind of style: but, whatever other improvements it may have received, it hath made no advances in grammatical accuracy. Hooker is one of the earliest. writers, of considerable note, within the period above mentioned: let his writings be compared with the best of those of modern date; and, I believe, it will be found, thạt, in correctness, propriety, and purity of English style, he hath hardly been surpassed, or even equalled, by any of his successors.

It is now about fifty years, since doctor Swift made a public remonstrance, addressed to the earl of Oxford, then lord tre er, concerning the imperfect state of our language; alleging in particular, “ that in many instances it offended against every part of grammar Swift must be allowed to have been a good judge of this matter; to which he was himself very attentive, both in his own writings, and in his remarks upon those of his friends : he is one of the most correct, and perhaps the best, of our prose writers. Indeed the justness of this complaint, as far as I can find, hath never been questioned; and yet no effectual method hath hitherto been taken to redress the grievance, which was the object of it.

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Bat let us consider, how, and in what extent, we are to understand this charge brought against the English language: for the author seems not to have explained himself with sufficient clear. ness and precision on this head. Does it mean, that the English language, as it is spoken by the politest part of the nation, and as it stands in the writings of our most approved authors, often offends against every part of grammar? Thus far, I am afraid, the charge is trne. Or does it further imply, that our language is in its nature irregular and capricious; not hitherto subject, nor easily reducible, to a system of rules? In this respect, I am persuaded, the charge is wholly without foundation.

The English language is perhaps of all the present European languages by much the most simple in its form and construction. Of all the ancient languages extant, that is the most simple, which is undoubtedly the most ancient; but even that language itself does not equal the English in simplicity.

The words of the English language are perhaps subject to fewer variations from their original form, than those of any other. Its substantives have but one variation of case ; nor have they any distiuction of gender, beside that which nature hath made. Its adjectives admit of no change at all, except that which expresses the degrees of comparison. All the possible variations of the original form of the verb are not above six or seven; whereas in many languages they amount to some hundreds : and almost the whole business of modes, times, and voices, is manage with great ease by the assistance of eight or nine commodious little verbs, called from their use auxiliaries. The construction of this language is so easy and obvious, that our grammarians have thought it hardly worth while to give us any thiug like a regular and systematical syntax. The English grammar, which hath been last presented to the public, and by the person best qualified to have given us a perfect one, comprises the whole syntax in ten lines : for this reason; 'because our language has so little inflexion, that its construction neither requires nor admits many rules.' In truth, the easier any subject is in its own nature, the harder is it to make it more easy by explanation; and nothing is more unnecessary, and at the same time commonly more difficult, than to give a demonstration in form of a proposition almost self-evident.

It doth not then proceed from any peculiar irregularity or difficulty of our language, that the general practice both of speaking and writing it is chargeable with inaccuracy. It is not the language, but the practice, that is in fault. The truth is, grammar is very much neglected among us : and it is not the difficulty of the language, but on the contrary the simplicity and facility of it, that occasions this neglect. Were the language less easy and simple, we should find ourselves under a necessity of studying it with more care and attention. But as it is, we take it for granted, that we have a competent knowledge and skill, and are able to acquit ourselves properly, in our own native tongue : a faculty, solely acquired by use, conducted by habit, and tried by the ear, carries us on without reflection; we meet with no rubs or difficulties in our way, or we do not perceive them ; we find ourselves able to go on without rules, and we do not so much as suspect, that we stand in need of them.

A grammatical study of our own language makes no part of the ordinary method of instruction, which we pass through in our childhood; and it is very seldom that we apply ourselves to it afterwards. Yet the wapt of it will not be effectually supplied by any other advantages whatsoever. Much practice in the polite world, and a general acquaintance with the best authors, are good helps; but alone will hardly be sufficient : we have writers, who have enjoyed these advantages in their full extent, and yet cannot be recommended as models of an accurate style. Much less then will what is commonly called learning serve the purpose; that is, a.critical knowledge of ancient languages, and much reading of ancient authors; the greatest critic and most able grammarian of the last age, when he came to apply his learning and his criticism to an English author, was frequently at a loss in matters of ordinary use and common construction in his own vernacular idiom.

The principal design of a grammar of any language is to teach us to express ourselves with propriety in that language; and to enable us to judge of every phrase and form of construction, whether it be right or not.

Beside this principal design of grammar in our own language, there is a secondary use to which it may be applied ; and which, I think, is not

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