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now it is exclusively established in the plural form. If, therefore, it be alleged that mean should be applied in the singular, because it is derived from the French moyen, the same kind of argument may be advanced in favour of the singular amende: and the general analogy of the language may also be pleaded in support of it.

Campbell, in his “ Philsophy of Rhetoric,” has the following remark on the subject before us: “No persons of taste will, I presume, venture so far to violate the present usage, and consequently to shock the ears of the generality of readers, as to say, · By this mean, by that mean.?

Lowth and Johnson seem to be against the use of means in the singular number. They do not, however, speak decisively on the point; but rather dubiously, and as if they knew that they were questioning eminent authorities, as well as general practice. That they were not decidedly against the application of this word to the singular number, appears from their own language: "Whole sentences, whether simple or compound, may become members of other sentences, by means of some additional connexion.”—Dr. Lowth's Introduction to English Grammar.

“ There is no other method of teaching that of which any one is ignorant, but by means of something already known.'' “ Neither grace of person nor vigour of understanding, is to be regarded otherwise than as a means of happiness.”—Dr. Johnson.

It is remarkable that our present version of the Scriptures makes no use, as far as the Compiler can discover, of the word

mean ; though there are several instances to be found in it of the use of means, in the sense and connexion contended for. "By this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river." Ezra iv. 16.' “ That by means of death,&c. Heb. ix. 15. It will scarcely be pretended, that the translators of the sacred volumes did not accurately understand the English language ; or that they would have admitted one form of this word, and rejected the other, had not their determination been conformable to the best usage. An attempt therefore to recover an old word, so long since disused by the most correct writers, seems not likely to be successful; especially as the rejection of it is not attended with any inconvenience.

The practice of the best and most correct writers, or a great majority of them, corroborated by general usage, forms, during its continuance, the standard of language; especially, if, in particular instances, this practice continue, after objection and due consideration. Every connexion and application of words and phrases, thus supported, must therefore be

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proper, and entitled to respect, if not exceptionable in a mo

ral point of view.

- Sermo constat ratione, vetustate, auctoritate, consuetudine. “ Consuetudo veroò certissima loquendi magistra."


66 Si volet usus
“Quem penes arbitrium est, et jus, et norma loquendi.”


On this principle, many forms of expression, not less deviating from the general analogy of the language, than those before mentioned, are to be considered as strictly proper and justifiable. Of this kind are the following: “None of them are varied to express the gender;" and yet none originally signified no one. “He himself shall do the work :" here, what was at first appropriated to the objective, is now properly used as the nominative case.

6 You have behaved yourselves well :" in this example, the word you is put in the nominative case plural, with strict propriety; though formerly it was contined to the objective case, and ye exclusively used ·

, for the nominative.

With respect to anomalies and variations of language, thus established, it is the grammarian's business to submit, not to remonstrate. In pertinaciously opposing the decision of proper authority, and contending for obsolete modes of expression, he may, indeed, display learning and critical sagacity; and, in some degree, obscure points that are sufficiently clear and decided : but he cannot reasonably hope, either to succeed in his aims, or to assist the learner, in discovering and respecting the true standard and principles of language.

Cases which custom has left dubious, are certainly within the grammarian's province. Here, he may reason and remoustrate on the ground of derivation, analogy, and propriety; and his reasonings may refine and improve the language: but when authority speaks out and decides the point, it were perpetually to unsettle the language, to admit of cavil and debate. Anomalies then, under the limitation mentioned, become the law, as clearly as the plainest analogies.

The reader will perceive that in the following sentences, the use of the word mean, in the old form, has a very uncouth appearance: "By the mean of adversity, we are often instructed.” “He preserved his health, by mean of exercise." “Frugality is one mean of acquiring a competency.” They should be, “By means of adversity," &c. · By means of exercise," &c. “Frugality is one means," &c.


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Good writers do indeed make use of the substantive mean in the singular number, and in that number only, to signify mediocrity, middle rate, &c.; as, “ This is a mean between the two extremes.” But in the sense of instrumentality, it has been long disused by the best authors, and by almost every writer.

This means and that means should be used only when they refer to what is singular ; these means and those means, when they respect plurals: as, “ He lived temperately, and by this means preserved his health ;" “ The scholars were attentive, industrious, and obedient to their tutors; and by these means acquired knowledge."

We have enlarged on this article, that the young student may be led to reflect on a point so important, as that of ascertaining the standard of propriety in the use of language.

2. When two persons or things are spoken of in a sentence, and there is occasion to mention them again for the sake of distinction, that is used in reference to the former, and this in reference to the latter: as, “Self-love, which is the spring of action in the soul, is ruled by reason : but for that, man would be inactive; and but for this, he would be active to no end."

3. The distributive adjective pronouns, each, every, either, agree with the nouns pronouns and verbs, of the singular number only: as, “ The king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, sat each on his throne;" “ Every tree is known by its fruit:" unless the plural noun convey a collective idea : as, “Every six months :"-" Every hundred years."— The following phrases are exceptionable: “Let each esteem others better than themselves :'' it ought to be" himself.“ It is requite that the language should be both perspicuous and correct: in proportion as either of these two qualities are wanting, the language is imperfect :” it should be,“ is wanting.” “ Every one of the letters bear regular dates, and contain proofs of attachment:" bears a regular date, and contains." " Every town and village were burned; every grove and every tree were cut down :" was burned, and was cut down." - Every freeman, and every citizen, bave a right to give their votes :” has a right to give his vote.See vol. 2. pages 24, 190, The Note.

Eilher is often used improperly, instead of each : as, “ The king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, sat either of them on his throne;" “ Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer." Each signifies both of them taken distinctly or separately; either properly signifies only the one or the other of them, taken disjunctively.

In the course of this work, some examples will appear, of erroneous translations from the Holy Scriptures, with respect to grammatical construction : but it may be proper to remark,


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that notwithstanding these verbal mistakes, the Bible, for the size of it, is the most accurate grammatical composition that we have in the English language. The authority of several eminent grammarians might be adduced in support of this assertion ; but it may be sufficient to mention only that of Dr. Lowth, who says, “ The present translation of the Bible, is the best standard of the English language.”








4. Adjectives are sometimes improperly applied as adverbs : as, “Indifferent honest ; excellent well; miserable poor.” instead of “ Indifferently honest; excellently well; miserably

“ He behaved himself conformable to that great example ;" conformably.“ Endeavour to live hereafter suitable to persons in your station ;”> “ suitably.“I can never think so very mean of him;" meanly." · He describes this river agreeable to the common reading ;" "agreeably.

66 “ Agreeable to my promise, I now write;" agreeably." “ Thy exceeding great reward.” When united to an adjective, or adverb not ending in ly, the word exceeding has ly added to it: as, “ exceedingly dreadful, exceedingly great;" “ exceedingly well, exceedingly more active:; but when it is joined to an adverb or adjective, having that termination, the ly is omitted : as, “Some men think exceeding clearly, and reason exceeding forcibly :" "She appeared on this occasion, exceeding lovely:" “ He acted in this business bolder than was expected:” “ They behaved the noblest, because they were disinterested.” They should have been, “more boldly; most nobly.--The adjective pronoun such is often misapplied: as, ** He was such an extravagant young man, that he spent his whole patrimony in a few years :" it should

so extravagant a young man.“ I never before saw such large trees :" “ saw trees so large.” When we refer to the species or nature of a thing, the word such is properly applied: as, “ Such a temper is seldom found :” but when degree is signified; we use the word so : as, “ So bad a temper is seldom found."

Adverbs are likewise improperly used as adjectives : as, “ The tutor addressed him in terms rather warm, but suitably. to his offence;" .. suntable." " They were seen wandering about solitarily and distressed ;" “ solitary.- He lived in a manner agreeably to the dictates of reason and religion ;'! “ agreeable.“ The study of syntax should be previously to that of punctuation ;' " prerious."





* For the rule to determine, whether an adjective or an adverb is to be used, see lo. lume II. The Note at the end of the promiscuous Exercises on. Syntax.

5. Double comparatives and superlatives should be avoided : such as, “A worser conduct; “On lesser hopes;" “A more serener temper;" “ The most straitest sect;"166 A more superior work." They should be, “ worse conduct;" “less hopes ;"! “ a more serene temper;" 6 the straitest sect ;' "a superior work."

6. Adjectives that have in themselves a superlative signification, do not properly admit of the superlative or comparative form superadded : such as, “Chief, extreme, perfect,

• right, universal, supreme," &c. ; which are sometimes improperly written, “Chiefest, extremest, perfectest, rightest, most universal, most supreme," &c. The following expressions are therefore improper. “He sometimes claims admission to the chiefest offices;" “ The quarrel became so universal, and national ;” “ A method of attaining the rightest

, " and greatest happiness." The phrases, so perfect, so right, so extreme, so universal, &c. are incorrect; because they imply that one thing is less perfect, less extreme, &c. than another, which is not possible.

7. Inaccuracies are often found in the way in which the degrees of comparison are applied and construed. The following are examples of wrong construction in this respect; “ This noble nation bath, of all others, admitted fewer corruptions.” The word fewer is here construed precisely as if it were the superlative. It should be, “ This noble nation hath admitted fewer corruptions than any other." We commonly say,

66 This is the weaker of the two;" or, The weakest of the two:" but the former is the regular mode of expression, because there are only two things compared. “ The vice of covetousness is what enters deepest into the soul of any other." “ He celebrates the church of England as the most perfect of all others." Both these modes of expression are faulty : we should not say, “ The best of any man,” or, “ The best of

" any other man,” for “the best of men.” The sentences may be corrected by substituting the comparative in the room of the superlative. “ The vice, &c. is what enters deeper into the soul than any other." “ He celebrates, &c. as more perfect, or less imperfect, than any other." It is also possible to retain the superlative, and render the expression grammatical. “Covetousness, of all vices, enters the deepest into the soul," - He celebrates, &c. as the most perfect of all churches." These sentences contain other errors, against which it is proper to caution the learner. The words deeper and deepest, being intended for adverbs, should have been more deeply, most

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