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SECTION 2.-A sketch of the steps by which the En
glish Language has risen to its present state of refinement.
BEFORE We conclude the subject of derivation, it will probably be gratifying to the curious scholar, to be informed of some particulars respecting the origin of the English language, and the various nations to which it is indebted for the copiousness, elegance, and refinement, which it has now attained.
“ When the ancient Britons were so harassed and oppressed by the invasions of their northern neighbours, the Scots and Picts, that their situation was truly miserable, they sent an embassy (about the middle of the fifth century) to the Saxons, a warlike people inhabiting the north of Germany, with solicitations for speedy relief. The Saxons accordingly came over to Britain, and were suceessful in repelling the incursions of the Scots and Picts, but seeing the weak and defericeless state of the Britons, they resolved to take advantage of it; and at length estab. lished themselves in the greater part of South-Britain, af. ter having dispossessed the original inhabitants.
“ From these barbarians, who founded several petty kingdoms in this island, and introduced their own laws, language and manners, is derived the groundwork of the English language; which, even in its present state of cul. tivation, and notwithstanding the successive augmentations and improvements, which it has received through various channels, displays very conspicuous traces of its Saxon original
« The Saxons did not long remain in quiet possession of the kingdom ; for before the middle of the ninth century, the Danes, a hardy and adventurous nation, who had long infested the northern seas with their piracies, began to ravage the English coasts. There first attempts were, in general, attended with such success, that they were encouraged to a renewal of their ravages; till, at length, in the beginning of the eleventh century, they made themselves masters of the greater part of England.
“ Though the period during which these invaders occupied the English throne, was very short, not greatly ex. ceeding half a century, it is highly probable that some whange was introduced by them into the language spoken
by those whom they had subdued : but this change cannot be supposed to have been very considerable, as the Danish and Saxon languages arose from one common source, the Gothic being the parent of both.
“ The next conquerors of this kingdom, after the Danes, were the Normans, who, in the year 1066, introduced their leader William to the possession of the English throne. This prince, soon after his accession, endeavoured to bring his own language (the Norman French) into use among his new subjects; but his efforts were not very successful, as the Saxons entertained a great antipathy to these haughty foreigners. In process of time, however, many Nor. man words and phrases were incorporated into tho Saxon language: but its general form and construction still remained the same.
" From the Conquest to the Reformation, the language continued to receive occasional accessions of foreign words, till it acquired such a degree of copiousness and strength, as to render it susceptible of that polish, which it has received from writers of taste and genius, in the last and present centuries. During this period the learned have enriched it with many significant expressions, drawn from the treasures of Greek and Roman literature ; the ingenious and the fashionable have imported occasional supplies of French, Spanish, Italian, and German words, gleaned during their foreign excursions; and the connexions which we maintain, through the medium of government and commerce, with many remote nations, have made some additions to our native vocabulary.
" In this manner did the ancient language of the AngloSaxons proceed, through the various stages of innovation, and the several gradations of refinement, to the formation of the present English tongue."*
* Coote's Elements of English Grammar.
THE third part of grammar is SYNTAX, which shows the agreement and right disposition of words in a sentence.
A sentence is an assemblage of words, expressed in proper form, ranged in proper order, and concurring to make a complete sense.
Sentences are of two kinds, simple and compound
A simple sentence has in it but one subject, and one finite* verb : ascen“ Life is short.”
A compound sentence contains two or more simple sentences, joined together by one or more connective words: as, “Life is short, and art is long."
As sentences themselves are divided into simple and compound, so the members of sentences may be divided likewise into simple and compound members : for whole sentences, whether simple or compounded, may become members of other sentences, by means of some additional connexion; as in the following example: “ The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider. This sen. tence consists of two compounded members, each of which is subdivided into two simple members, which are properly called clauses.
There are three sort of simple sentences; the explicative, or explaining; the interrogative, or asking; the imperative, or commanding
An explicative sentence is when a thing is said to be os not to be, to do or not to do, to suffer or not to suffer, in a direct manner : as, “I am ; thou writest; Thomas is lov.
* Finite verbs are those to which number and person appertain. Verbs in the infinitive mood have no respect to number or person
ed.” If the sentence be negative, the adverb not is placed after the auxiliary, or after the verb itself when it has no auxiliary : as, " I did not touch him ;' or,
" I touched him not.”
In an interrogative sentence, or when a question is asked, the nominative case follows the principal verb or the auxiliary: as,
“ Was it he?"' “ Did Alexander conquer the Persians.”
In an impérative sentence, when a thing is commanded to be, to do, to suffer, or not, the nominative case likewise follows the verb or the auxiliary: as, “Go, thou traitor !" « Do thou
go :”... Haste ye away :" unless the verb let be used; as, “Let us be gone."
A phrase is two or more words rightly put toge
A ther, making sometimes part of a sentence, and sometimes a whole sentence.
The principal parts of a simple sentence are, the şubject, the attribute, and the object.
The subject is the thing chiefly spoken of; the attribute is the thing or action affirmed or denied of it; and the object is the thing affected by such action.
The nominative denotes the subject, and usually goes before the verb or attribute“; and the word or phrase, denoting the object, follows the verb ; as, " A wise man governs his passions.” Here, a wise man is the subject; governs, the attribute, or thing affirmed; and his passions, the object.
Syntax principally consists of two parts, Concord and Government.
Concord is the agreement which one word has with another, in gender, number, case, or person.
Government is that power which one part of speech has over another, in directing its mood, tense, or Case.
To produce the agreement and right disposition of words in a sentence, many rules are necessary. The following, with the annexed observations, comprise the chief of them.
RULE I. A verb must agree with its nominative case, in number and person : as, “ I learn ;” “Thou art im- 1 proved ;” “The birds sing.'
The following are a few examples of the violation of this rule, “What signifies good opinions, when our practice is bad?” “ what signify." " The Normans, under which general term is comprehended the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, were accustomed to slaughter and rapine;" ko are comprehended. " If thou would be easy and happy in thy family, be careful to observe discipline :) " if thou wouldst." "Gold, whence came thou? whither goes thou? when will thou come again ?" “ camest, goest, wilt." “ But thou, false promiser, never shall obtain thy purpose :" it ought to be “shalt.” " And wheresoe'er thou turns thy view ;" “ turnest.' 46. There's two or three of us have seen the work ;" “ there are."
“Great pains has been taken;" “ have been." “ I have considered what have been said on both sides in this controversy ; " " what has been said? " One would think there was more sophists than one;" " there were more.” “ The number of the names together were about one hundred and twenty ;" was about,
* 1. The infinitive mood, or part of a sentence, is some. times put as the nominative case to the verb: as, the sun is pleasant ;" “ To be good is to be happy;","A desire to excel others in learning and virtue is commendable ;”
;" “ That warm climates should accelerate the growth of the human body, and shorten its duration, is very rea, sonable to believe ;" “ To be temperate in eating and drinking, to use exercise in the open air, and to preserve the mind free from tumultuous emotions, are the best preservatives of health."
66 To see
* The chief practical notes under each Rule, are regularly numbered, in order to make them correspond to the examples in the volume of Exercises.