« PreviousContinue »
ducive to that gradual and regular procedure, which is so favouraDle to the business of instruction. The more important rules, definitions, and observations, and which are therefore the most proper to be committed to memory, are printed with a larger type ; whilst rules and remarks that are of less consequence, that extend or diversify the general ideá, or that serve as explanations, are contained in the smaller letter : these, or the chief of thein, will be perused by the student to the greatest advantage, if postponed till the general system be completed. The use of notes and observations, in the common and detached manner, at the bottom of the page, would not, it is imagined, be so likely tu attract the perusal of youth, or admit of so ample and regular an illustration, as a cuntinued and uniform order of tlie several subjects. In adopting this mode, care has been taken to adjust it so that the whole may be perused in a conHected progress, or the part contained in the larger character reaa in order by itself. Many of the notes and observations are intended, not only to explain the subjects, and to illustrate them, by comparative views of the grammar of other languages, and of the various sentiments of English grammarians; but also to invite the ingenious student to inquiry and reflection, and to prompt to a more enlarged, critical, and philosophical research.
Wiru respect to the definitions and rules, it may not be im. proper more particularly to observe, that in selecting and forming them, it has been the author's aim to render them as exact and comprehensive, and, at the same time, as intelligible to young minds, as the nature of the subject, and the difficulties attending it, would admit. He presumes that they are also calculated to be readily committed to memory, and casily retained. For this purpose, he has been solicitous to select terms that are smooth and voluble ; to proportion the members of the sentences to one another ; to avoid protracted pea riods; and to give the whole definition or rule, as much harmony of expression as he could devise.
From the sentiment generally admitted, that a proper selection of faulty composition is more instructive to the young grammarian, than any rules and exainples of propriety that
can be given, the Compiler has been induced to pay peculiar attention to this part of the subject; and though the instances of false grammar, under the rules of Syntax, are numerous, it is hoped they will not be found too many, when their variety and usefulness are considered.
In a work, which professes itself to be a compilation, and which, from the nature and design of it, must consist chiefly of materials selected from the writings of others, it is scarcely necessary to apologize for the use which the Compiler has made of his predecessors' labours; or for omitting to insert their names. From the alterations which have been frequently made in the sentiments and the language, to suit the connexion, and to adapt them to the particular purposes for which they are intro duced; and, in many instances, from the uncertainty to whom the passages originally belonged, the insertion of names could seldom be made with propriety. But if this could have been generally done, a work of this nature would derive no advantage from it, equal to the inconvenience of crowding the pages with a repetition of names and references. It is, however, proper to acknowledge, in general terms, that the authors to whom the grammatical part of this compilation is principally indebted for its materials, are Harris, Johnson, Lowth, Priestley, Beattié, Sheridan, Walker, and Coote.
The Rules and Observations respecting Perspicuity, &c. contained in the Appendix, and which are, chiefly, extracted from the writings of Blair and Campbell, will, it is presumed, form a proper addition to the Grammar. The subjects are very nearly related; and the study of perspicuity and accuracy in writing, appears naturally. to follow that of Grammar. A competent acquaintance with the principles of both, will prepare and qualify the students, for prosecuting those additional improve ments in language, to which they may be properly directed.
On the utility and importance of the study of Grammar, and the principles of Composition, much might be advanced, for the encouragement of persons in early life to apply themselves to this branch of learning; but as the limits of this Introduction. will not allow of many observations on the subject, a
few leading sentiments are all that can be admitted here with propriety. As words are the signs of our ideas, and the medium by which we perceive the sentiments of others, and communicate our own ; and as signs exhibit the things which they are intended to represent, more or less accurately, according as their real or established.conformity to those things is more or less exact; it is evident, that in proportion to our knowledge of the nature and properties of words, of their relation to each other, and of their established connexion with the ideas to which they are applied, will be the certainty and ease, with which we transfuse our sentiments into the minds of one another; and that, without a competent knowledge of this kind, we shall frequently be in hazard of misunderstanding. others, and of being misunderstood ourselves. It may indeed be justly asserted, that many of the differences in opinion amongst men, with the disputes, contentions, and, alienations of heart, which have too often proceeded from such differences, have been occasioned by a want of proper skill in the connexionand meaning of words, and by a tenacious misapplication of language.
One of the best supports, which the recommendation of this study can receive, in small compass, may be derived from the following sentiments of an eminent and candid writer* on language and composition. “ All, that regards the study of com
position, merits the higher attention upon this account, that is it is intimately connected with the improvement of our intel$6 lectual powers. For I must be allowed to say, that when we
are employed, after a proper manner, in the study of compo“sition, we are cultivating the understanding itself. The study " of arranging and expressing our thoughts with propriety, “ teaches to think, as well as to speak, accurately."
BEFORE the close of this Introduction, it may not be superHuous to observe, that the author of the following work has no interest in it, but that which arises from the hope, that it wilt prove of some advantage to young persons, and relieve the la bours of those who are employed in their education. He wishes
to promote, in some degree, the cause of virtue, as well as of learning; and, with this view, he has been studious, through the whole of the work, not only to avoid every example and illus-tration, which might have an improper effect on the minds of youth ; but also to introduce, on many occasions, such as have a moral and religious tendency. His attention to objects of so much importance will, he trusts, meet the approbation of every well-disposed reader. If they were faithfully regarded in all books of education, they would doubtless contribute very materially to the order and happiness of society, by guarding the innocence, and cherishing the virtue of the rising generation.
Holdgate, near York. 1795..
TO THE NINTA EDITION.
The eighth edition of this grammar received considerable ało terations and additions : but works of this nature admit of repeated improvements; and are, perhaps, never complete. The author, solicitous to render his book more worthy of the encouraging approbation bestowed op it by the public, has again revised the work with care and attention. The new edition, he hopes will be found much improved. The additions, which are very considerable, are, chiefly, such as are calculated to expand the learner's views of the subject; to obviate objections; and to render the study of grammar both easy and interesting. This edition contains also a new and enlarged system of parsing ; copious lists of nouns arranged according to their gender and nuinþer; and many notes and observations, which serve to extend, or to explain, particular rules and positions.*
* The author conceives that the occasional strictures, dispersed through the book, and intended to illustrate and support a number of important grammatical points, will not, to young persons of ingenuity, appear to be dry and useless discussions. He is persuaded that, by such persons, they will be read with attention. And he presumes that these strictures will gratify their curiosity, stimulate application, and give solidity and permanence to their grammatical knowledge.-In tbe. Octavo edin tion of the grammar, the reader will find many additional discussions of this nature.
Haldgate, near York, 1804.
The writer is sensible that, after all his endeavours to elucidate the principles of the work, there are few of the divisions, arrangements, definitions, or rules, against which critical ingenuity cannot devise plausible objections. The subject is attended with so much intricacy, and admits of views 60 various, that it was not possible to render every part of it unexceptionable ; or to accommodate the work, in all respects, to the opinions and prepossessions of every grammarian and teacher. If the author has adopted that system which, on the whole, is best suited to the nature of the subject, and conformable to the sentiments of the most judicious grammarians ; if his reasonings and illustrations, respecting particular points, are founded on just principles, and the peculiarities of the English language; he has, perhaps, done all that could reasonably be expected in a work of this nature ; and he may warrantably indulge a hope, that the book will be still more extensively approved and circulated.