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“ Our Mutual Friend. This is, so to speak, one of
“the approved vulgarisms of the day; and, not
withstanding the numberless exposures of its "vulgarity, in newspapers, reviews, and elsewhere, “it continues to flourish.”
Do the italicized words refer to what precedes them, or what follows them? Is the vulgarity of the vulgarism (I quote Mr. Gould's own words) exposed " in newspapers, reviews, and elsewhere”; or does he say of the vulgarism, that, “in news
papers, reviews, and elsewhere, it continues to "flourish”? I challenge the reader to come to any definite conclusion on the subject.
One cannot but smile at some of Mr. Gould's errors; they are so ingeniously droll. on page 105;
“There is no short single English word that performs
"the duty of lying'."
Again; observe the strange meaning given to the following passage by the use of the pronoun " them”, instead of the noun to which it is intended to refer. Mr. Gould says, on page 11;
“Reference was made, in the introductory chapter, to
"words fabricated by ignorant people, and after. "ward adopted by people of education. There
“are not many of them [P people of education'], “speaking comparatively; but their number is "every day increasing, and if their increase
cannot be checked, they will soon be 'like the “stars for multitude'"!
Ambiguity in the use of pronouns cannot always be avoided, and Dr. Campbell justly says in his 'Philosophy of Rhetoric', Vol. II, page 64;—“Some have imagined, that the pronoun ought always regularly to refer to the nearest
preceding noun of the same gender and number. “But this notion is founded in a mistake, and “ doth not suit the idiom of any language, « ancient or modern." With equal propriety, however, the learned Doctor says, on page 55;“As the signification of the pronouns is ascer“tained merely by the antecedent to which they refer, the greatest care must be taken, if we would
express ourselves perspicuously, that the reference “be unquestionable.”
There are, in Mr. Gould's work, many other passages which might be critically examined, with advantage to the English student, but I trust that I have said enough to show how extremely difficult it is for even professors of the English language to write it correctly. Possibly there are, even in these criticisms, some errors of my own; if so, they, too, will serve to teach the same lesson, and make this fact more impressive, namely,—that to exercise the utmost care and vigilance is imperative on every person who would acquire the honorable distinction of being a graceful and powerful writer.
ONE of your correspondents, “H. S. D.", asks how I justify my use of the expression,—“I differ with Mr. Gould."
“ Custom”, he says,
seems to have established the use of with in such connection, e.g., a member “of Parliament says without hesitation, 'I differ “ with the honourable gentleman on that point
as widely as the east differs from the west.' “So, commonly, where opinions are concerned it “is differ with’, in all other cases it is differ from'. It would interest some of us to hear “ from Mr. Moon on this matter, if he thinks the "point worthy a moment's attention. How will “ he justify our employing with to denote the "relation of separation, when its proper use seems to be to express that of nearness, con“tiguity ?”
Before replying to this inquiry, I would say that the member of Parliament is blamable for
darkening counsel by words without know
“ ledge”, in attempting to illustrate a difference of opinion by instituting a comparison between it and something to which it cannot possibly bear any resemblance—the difference between east and west.
The objects to be gained by the use of comparisons are various: the elucidation of that which is obscure, the enhancement of that which we wish to exalt, and the depreciation of that which we wish to abase. The full power of this form of speech is seen when moral qualities are compared with moral, and physical with physical. But, in the instance under consideration, the honourable member differed with his friend in opinion; whereas, the east does not differ from the west in opinion. Hence, the incongruity. We might as well say of a man's sympathies; that they are as broad as the Mississippi: or of a woman's affections, that they are as deep as the Atlantic, as speak of a difference of opinion as being comparable to the difference between certain points of the compass. The fault of such expressions consists in this:-"width”, “breadth”, and “depth”, of opinions, sympathies, and affections, are spoken of as if they were things palpable,—which could be defined, if not actually