Page images


tyrant;—"He is a Howard”, meaning, a philanthropist;—“He is a Washington”, or He is a “Cincinnatus”, meaning, a patriot.

There is a misuse of the article "a", which is very common :the employing it before the word “most”. The words are incongruous; a” means one of several which are supposed to be equal in certain respects; whereas, “mostis indicative of that which is above all.

An" should always be used when the following word begins with the unaspirated “h, or with any of the vowels, except

1st, "u" when long, as if preceded by the letter "y". e.g.: we say ;-a U, a Unitarian, a usurer, a usurious rate of interest, a usurper, a use, a unicorn, a utopian theory, a unit, a union, a uniform, a university, a united family, a unanimous decision, a unanimity, a utilitarian, a upas tree, etc.

2nd, "eu" having the sound of"u" long; e.g.: we say ;-a eunuch, a eulogy, a euphemism, a euphony, a European, etc.

3rd, “ewhaving the sound of ulong; e.g.:we say ; a ewe, a ewer,

etc. 4th, "0" when pronounced as if preceded by ow"; e.g.:


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

we say ;-a one-pound note, a oneness, such a one, a once-beloved friend, etc.

We use "an", likewise before consonants which are pronounced as if they begin with a vowel; e.g.:—we say an F, an L, an M, an N, an R, an S, an X. Many grammarians say, also ;-an H; and, in naming that letter, call it aitch"; although it would, clearly, be more in accordance with its most frequent use, to call it haitch".



THE Hon. George P. Marsh is singularly unfortunate in having such a champion as Mr. S., of Trinity College, to do battle on his behalf. When will men learn that the maintaining a dignified silence respecting the faults of a friend, is a truer kindness to him, than the entering the lists in his defence, otherwise than fully armed for the overthrow of his opponent? Mr. Marsh suffers nothing from my criticisms. I freely concede that the errors in his “Notes' are not those of ignorance, but of inadvertence.

The great scholar has, doubtless, been more intent upon pointing out the derivation of words, than upon arranging them in their proper order in his sentences. But he does suffer from the officiousness of his friends ; because the world, whether justly or unjustly I need not stop to inquire, generally associates a man, for good or for evil, with those who make common cause with him.

Mr. S. thus writes to "The Nation':



“Mr. Moon has written to The Round Table', 'to


those errors such teaching as may be “« useful to students of the English language.'

I do not often find writers acknowledging that " their teaching is based on errors. When Mr.

Moon, therefore, avows that it is his 'purpose' "thus to base his teaching, I gladly call attention “to his honesty.”


Would that I could return the compliment, and “call attention” to Mr. S.'s honesty; but, unfortunately, he has deprived me of the power of doing that, and I am reluctantly compelled to “call attention" to his dishonesty. He begins his letter by quoting a part of one of my sentences; and, with an ingenuity which does him but little credit, he wrests out of the quotation, a meaning which the entire sentence would never convey. Mr. Marsh's advocate sacrifices his dignity as a scholar, and his truthfulness as a man, in a vain attempt to be witty.

Mr. S.'s next sentence is as follows :


“And after reading his article, I am ready to admit

that he accomplishes his purpose. His criticism is upon the proper use of the articles “[P article] “a” and “an'."

Upon this passage I remark that it is not scholarly to begin a sentence with the copulative conjunction " and"; nor is it in good taste to use one word in two different senses in two consecutive lines, as Mr. S. does when he speaks of “reading his article...... upon the proper use of “the article".

But there is an other error in the sentence preceding that which I have just noticed. Mr. S. says ;-"I do not often find...... When Mr. “Moon, therefore, avows", etc. The reader will observe that Mr. S., by putting the adverb “therefore" after my name, makes my avowal consequent upon his not finding, etc! He ought to have said;—“Therefore, when Mr. Moon avows”; not,-“When Mr. Moon, therefore, avows". Adverbs should be placed as near as possible to the words with which they are the most closely connected in meaning.

Mr. S.'s letter is continued thus :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“He has spread over two columns of The Round

Table' that which, so far as his statements are

correct, might have been as clearly expressed “in one half the space.”


As this is a comparative clause of equality,

« PreviousContinue »