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these, was finished before terms were invented. Man was silent till he had
formed some ideas to communicate; and association of his perceptions soon
led him to think and reason in ordinary matters." - _Hist. of European
Languages_, Vol. I, p. 94. And, in a note upon this passage, he adds: "This
is to be understood of primitive or radical terms. By the assertion that
man was silent till he had formed ideas to communicate, is not meant, that
any of our species were originally destitute of the natural expressions of
feeling or thought. All that it implies, is, that man had been subjected,
during an uncertain period of time, to the impressions made on his senses
by the material world, before he began to express the natural varieties of
these by articulated sounds. * * * * * * Though the abstraction which
formed such classes, might be greatly aided or supported by the signs; yet
it were absurd to suppose that the sign was invented, till the sense
demanded it." - _Ib._, p. 399.

[38] Dr. Alexander Murray too, In accounting for the frequent abbreviation
of words, seems to suggest the possibility of giving them the celerity of
thought: "Contraction is a change which results from a propensity to make
the signs _as rapid as the thoughts_ which they express. Harsh combinations
soon suffer contraction. Very long words preserve only the principal, that
is, the accented part. If a nation accents its words on the last syllable,
the preceding ones will often be short, and liable to contraction. If it
follow a contrary practice, the terminations are apt to decay." - History of
European Languages, Vol. I, p. 172.

[39] "We cannot form a distinct idea of any moral or intellectual quality,
unless we find some trace of it in ourselves." - _Beattie's Moral Science,
Part Second, Natural Theology_, Chap. II, No. 424.

[40] "Aristotle tells us that the world is a copy or transcript of those
ideas which are in the mind of the first Being, and that those ideas which
are in the mind of man, are a transcript of the world. To this we may add,
that words are the transcripts of those ideas which are in the mind of man,
and that writing or printing _are_ [is] the transcript of
words." - _Addison, Spect._, No. 166.

[41] Bolingbroke on Retirement and Study, Letters on History, p. 364.

[42] See this passage in "The Economy of Human Life," p. 105 - a work
feigned to be a compend of Chinese maxims, but now generally understood to
have been written or compiled by _Robert Dodsley_, an eminent and ingenious
bookseller in London.

[43] "Those philosophers whose ideas of _being_ and _knowledge_ are derived
from body and sensation, have a short method to explain the nature of
_Truth_. - It is a _factitious_ thing, made by every man for himself; which
comes and goes, just as it is remembered and forgot; which in the order of
things makes its appearance _the last_ of all, being not only subsequent to
sensible objects, but even to our sensations of them! According to this
hypothesis, there are many truths, which have been, and are no longer;
others, that will be, and have not been yet; and multitudes, that possibly
may never exist at all. But there are other reasoners, who must surely have
had very different notions; those, I mean, who represent Truth not as _the
last_, but as _the first_ of beings; who call it _immutable, eternal,
omnipresent_; attributes that all indicate something more than
human." - _Harris's Hermes_, p. 403.

[44] Of the best method of teaching grammar, I shall discourse in an other
chapter. That methods radically different must lend to different results,
is no more than every intelligent person will suppose. The formation of
just methods of instruction, or true systems of science, is work for those
minds which are capable of the most accurate and comprehensive views of the
things to be taught. He that is capable of "originating and producing"
truth, or true "ideas," if any but the Divine Being is so, has surely no
need to be trained into such truth by any factitious scheme of education.
In all that he thus originates, he is himself a _Novum Organon_ of
knowledge, and capable of teaching others, especially those officious men
who would help him with their second-hand authorship, and their paltry
catechisms of common-places. I allude here to the fundamental principle of
what in some books is called "_The Productive System of Instruction_," and
to those schemes of grammar which are professedly founded on it. We are
told that, "The _leading principle_ of this system, is that which its name
indicates - that the child should be regarded not as a mere recipient of the
ideas of others, but as an agent _capable of collecting, and originating,
and producing_ most of the ideas which are necessary for its education,
when presented with the objects or the facts from which they may be
derived." - _Smith's New Gram., Pref., p. 5: Amer. Journal of Education, New
Series_, Vol. I, No. 6, Art. 1. It ought to be enough for any teacher, or
for any writer, if he finds his readers or his pupils ready _recipients_ of
the ideas which he aims to convey. What more they know, they can never owe
to him, unless they learn it from him against his will; and what they
happen to lack, of understanding or believing him, may very possibly be
more his fault than theirs.

[45] Lindley Murray, anonymously copying somebody, I know not whom, says:
"Words derive their meaning from the consent and practice of those who use
them. _There is no necessary connexion between words and ideas_. The
association between the sign and the thing signified, is purely
arbitrary." - _Octavo Gram._, Vol. i, p. 139. The second assertion here
made, is very far from being literally true. However arbitrary may be the
use or application of words, their connexion with ideas is so necessary,
that they cannot be words without it. Signification, as I shall hereafter
prove, is a part of the very essence of a word, the most important element
of its nature. And Murray himself says, "The understanding and language
have a strict connexion." - _Ib._, Vol. i, p. 356. In this, he changes
without amendment the words of Blair: "Logic and rhetoric have here, as in
many other cases, a strict connexion." - _Blair's Rhet._, p. 120.

[46] "The language which is, at present, spoken throughout Great Britain,
is neither the ancient primitive speech of the island, nor derived from it;
but is altogether of foreign origin. The language of the first inhabitants
of our island, beyond doubt, was the Celtic, or Gælic, common to them with
Gaul; from which country, it appears, by many circumstances, that Great
Britain was peopled. This Celtic tongue, which is said to be very
expressive and copious, and is, probably, one of the most ancient languages
in the world, obtained once in most of the western regions of Europe. It
was the language of Gaul, of Great Britain, of Ireland, and very probably,
of Spain also; till, in the course of those revolutions which by means of
the conquests, first, of the Romans, and afterwards, of the northern
nations, changed the government, speech, and, in a manner, the whole face
of Europe, _this tongue was gradually obliterated_; and now subsists only
in the mountains of Wales, in the Highlands of Scotland, and among the wild
Irish. For the Irish, the Welsh, and the Erse, are no other than different
dialects of the same tongue, the ancient Celtic." - _Blair's Rhetoric_,
Lect. IX, p. 85.

[47] With some writers, the _Celtic_ language is _the Welsh_; as may be
seen by the following extract: "By this he requires an Impossibility, since
much the greater Part of Mankind can by no means spare 10 or 11 Years of
their Lives in learning those dead Languages, to arrive at a perfect
Knowledge of their own. But by this Gentleman's way of Arguing, we ought
not only to be Masters of _Latin_ and _Greek_, but of _Spanish, Italian,
High- Dutch, Low-Dutch, French_, the _Old Saxon, Welsh, Runic, Gothic_, and
_Islandic_; since much the greater number of Words of common and general
Use are derived from _those Tongues_. Nay, by the same way of Reasoning we
may prove, that the _Romans_ and _Greeks_ did not understand their own
Tongues, because they were not acquainted with _the Welsh, or ancient
Celtic_, there being above 620 radical _Greek_ Words derived from _the
Celtic_, and of the Latin a much greater Number." - _Preface to Brightland's
Grammar_, p. 5.

[48] The author of this specimen, through a solemn and sublime poem in ten
books, _generally_ simplified the preterit verb of the second person
singular, by omitting the termination _st_ or _est_, whenever his measure
did not require the additional syllable. But his tuneless editors have, in
many instances, taken the rude liberty both to spoil his versification, and
to publish under his name what he did not write. They have given him _bad
prosody_, or unutterable _harshness of phraseology_, for the sake of what
they conceived to be _grammar_. So _Kirkham_, in copying the foregoing
passage, alters it as he will; and alters it _differently_, when he happens
to write some part of it twice: as,

"That morning, thou, that _slumberedst_ not before,
Nor _slept_, great Ocean! _laidst_ thy waves at rest,
And _hushed_ thy mighty minstrelsy." - _Kirkham's Elocution_, p. 203.


"That morning, thou, that _slumberedst_ not before,
Nor _sleptst_, great Ocean, _laidst_ thy waves at rest,
And _hush'dst_ thy mighty minstrelsy." - _Kirkham's Elocution_, p. 44.

[49] _Camenes_, the _Muses_, whom Horace called _Camænæ_. The former is an
English plural from the latter, or from the Latin word _camena_, a muse or
song. These lines are copied from Dr. Johnson's History of the English
Language; their _orthography_ is, in some respects, _too modern_ for the
age to which they are assigned.

[50] The Saxon characters being known nowadays to but very few readers, I
have thought proper to substitute for them, in the latter specimens of this
chapter, the Roman; and, as the old use of colons and periods for the
smallest pauses, is liable to mislead a common observer, the punctuation
too has here been modernized.

[51] Essay on Language, by William S. Cardell, New York, 1825, p. 2. This
writer was a great admirer of Horne Tooke, from whom he borrowed many of
his notions of grammar, but not this extravagance. Speaking of the words
_right_ and _just_, the latter says, "They are applicable only to _man; to
whom alone language belongs_, and of whose sensations only words are the
representatives." - _Diversions of Purley_, Vol. ii, p. 9.

[52] CARDELL: _Both Grammars_, p. 4.

[53] "_Quoties dicimus, toties de nobis judicatur_." - Cicero. "As often as
we speak, so often are we judged."

[54] "Nor had he far to seek for the source of our impropriety in the use
of words, when he should reflect that the study of our own language, has
never been made a part of the education of our youth. Consequently, the use
of words is got wholly by chance, according to the company that we keep, or
the books that we read." SHERIDAN'S ELOCUTION, _Introd._, p. viii, dated
"July 10, 1762," 2d Amer. Ed.

[55] "To Write and Speak correctly, gives a Grace, and gains a favourable
Attention to what one has to say: And since 'tis _English_, that an English
Gentleman will have constant use of, that is the Language he should chiefly
Cultivate, and wherein most care should be taken to polish and perfect his
Stile. To speak or write better _Latin_ than _English_, may make a Man be
talk'd of, but he would find it more to his purpose to Express himself well
in his own Tongue, that he uses every moment, than to have the vain
Commendation of others for a very insignificant quality. This I find
universally neglected, and no care taken any where to improve Young Men in
their own Language, that they may thoroughly understand and be Masters of
it. If any one among us have a facility or purity more than ordinary in his
Mother Tongue, it is owing to Chance, or his Genius, or any thing, rather
than to his Education or any care of his Teacher. To Mind what _English_
his Pupil speaks or writes is below the Dignity of one bred up amongst
_Greek_ and _Latin_, though he have but little of them himself. These are
the learned Languages fit only for learned Men to meddle with and teach:
_English_ is the Language of the illiterate Vulgar." - _Locke, on
Education_, p. 339; _Fourth Ed., London_, 1699.

[56] A late author, in apologizing for his choice in publishing a grammar
without forms of praxis, (that is, without any provision for a stated
application of its principles by the learner,) describes the whole business
of _Parsing_ as a "dry and uninteresting recapitulation of the disposal of
a few parts of speech, and their _often times told_ positions and
influence;" urges "the _unimportance_ of parsing, _generally_;" and
represents it to be only "a finical and ostentatious parade of practical
pedantry." - _Wright's Philosophical Gram._, pp. 224 and 226. It would be no
great mistake to imagine, that _this gentleman's system_ of grammar,
applied in any way to practice, could not fail to come under this
unflattering description; but, to entertain this notion of parsing in
general, is as great an error, as that which some writers have adopted on
the other hand, of making this exercise their sole process of inculcation,
and supposing it may profitably supersede both the usual arrangement of the
principles of grammar and the practice of explaining them by definitions.
It is asserted in Parkhurst's "English Grammar for Beginners, on the
Inductive Method of Instruction," that, "to teach the child a definition at
the outset, is beginning at the _wrong end_;" that, "with respect to all
that goes under the name of etymology in grammar, it is learned chiefly by
practice in parsing, and scarcely at all by the aid of definitions." -
_Preface_, pp. 5 and 6.

[57] Hesitation in speech may arise from very different causes. If we do
not consider this, our efforts to remove it may make it worse. In most
instances, however, it may be overcome by proper treatment, "Stammering,"
says a late author, "is occasioned by an _over-effort to articulate_; for
when the mind of the speaker is so occupied with his subject as not to
allow him to reflect upon his defect, he will talk without difficulty. All
stammerers can sing, owing to the continuous sound, and the slight manner
in which the consonants are touched in singing; so a drunken man can run,
though he cannot walk or stand still." - _Gardiner's Music of Nature_, p.

"To think rightly, is of knowledge; to speak fluently, is of nature;
To read with profit, is of care; but to write aptly, is of practice."
_Book of Thoughts_, p. 140.

[58] "There is nothing more becoming [to] a _Gentleman_, or more useful in
all the occurrences of life, than to be able, on any occasion, to speak
well, and to the purpose." - _Locke, on Education_, §171. "But yet, I think
I may ask my reader, whether he doth not know a great many, who live upon
their estates, and so, with the name, should have the qualities of
Gentlemen, who cannot so much as tell a story as they should; much less
speak clearly and persuasively in any business. This I think not to be so
much their fault, as the fault of their education. - They have been taught
_Rhetoric_, but yet never taught how to express themselves handsomely with
their tongues or pens in the language they are always to use; as if the
names of the figures that embellish the discourses of those who understood
the art of speaking, were the very art and skill of speaking well. _This,
as all other things of practice, is to be learned, not by a few, or a great
many rules given; but by_ EXERCISE _and_ APPLICATION _according to_ GOOD
RULES, _or rather_ PATTERNS, _till habits are got, and a facility of doing
it well_." - _Ib._, §189. The forms of parsing and correcting which the
following work supplies, are "_patterns_," for the performance of these
practical "_exercises_;" and _such patterns_ as ought to be implicitly
followed, by every one who means to be a ready and correct speaker on these

[59] The principal claimants of "the Inductive Method" of Grammar, are
Richard W. Green, Roswell C. Smith, John L. Parkhurst, Dyor H. Sanborn,
Bradford Frazee, and, Solomon Barrett, Jr.; a set of writers, differing
indeed in their qualifications, but in general not a little deficient in
what constitutes an accurate grammarian.

[60] William C. Woodbridge edited the Journal, and probably wrote the
article, from which the author of "English Grammar on the Productive
System" took his "_Preface_."

[61] Many other grammars, later than Murray's, have been published, some in
England, some in America, and some in both countries; and among these there
are, I think, a few in which a little improvement has been made, in the
methods prescribed for the exercises of parsing and correcting. In most,
however, _nothing of the kind has been attempted_. And, of the formularies
which have been given, the best that I have seen, are still miserably
defective, and worthy of all the censure that is expressed in the paragraph
above; while others, that appear in works not entirely destitute of merit,
are absolutely _much worse_ than Murray's, and worthy to condemn to a
speedy oblivion the books in which they are printed. In lieu of forms of
expression, clear, orderly, accurate, and full; such as a young parser
might profitably imitate; such as an experienced one would be sure to
approve; what have we? A chaos of half-formed sentences, for the ignorant
pupil to flounder in; an infinite abyss of blunders, which a world of
criticism could not fully expose! See, for example, the seven pages of
parsing, in the neat little book entitled, "A Practical Grammar of the
English Language, by the Rev. David Blair: Seventh Edition: London, 1815:"
pp. 49 to 57. I cannot consent to quote more than one short paragraph of
the miserable jumble which these pages contain. Yet the author is evidently
a man of learning, and capable of writing well on some subjects, if not on
this. "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" Form: "_Bless_, a verb, (repeat 97);
active (repeat 99); active voice (102); _infinitive mood_ (107); _third
person, soul being the nominative_ (118); present tense (111); conjugate
the verb after the pattern (129); its object is Lord (99)." - _Blair's
Gram._, p. 50. Of the paragraphs referred to, I must take some notice:
"107. The _imperative_ mood commands or orders or intreats." - _Ib._, p. 19.
"118. The _second person_ is always the pronoun _thou_ or _you_ in the
singular, and _ye_ or _you_ in the plural." - _Ib._, p. 21. "111. The
_imperative_ mood has no distinction of tense: and the _infinitive_ has no
distinction of persons." - _Ib._, p. 20. Now the author should have said:
"_Bless_ is a redundant active-transitive verb, from _bless, blessed_ or
_blest, blessing, blessed_ or _blest_; found in the _imperative_ mood,
present tense, _second_ person, and singular number:" and, if he meant to
parse the word _syntactically_, he should have added: "and agrees with its
nominative _thou_ understood; according to the rule which says, 'Every
finite verb must agree with its subject or nominative, in person and
number.' Because the meaning is - _Bless thou_ the Lord." This is the whole
story. But, in the form above, several things are false; many,
superfluous; some, deficient; several, misplaced; nothing, right. Not much
better are the models furnished by _Kirkham, Smith, Lennie, Bullions_, and
other late authors.

[62] Of Dr. Bullions's forms of parsing, as exhibited in his English
Grammar, which is a modification of Lennie's Grammar, it is difficult to
say, whether they are most remarkable for their deficiencies, their
redundancies, or their contrariety to other teachings of the same author or
authors. Both Lennie and Bullions adopt the rule, that, "An _ellipsis_ is
_not allowable_ when it would obscure the sentence, weaken its force, or be
attended with an impropriety." - _L._, p. 91; _B._, p. 130. And the latter
strengthens this doctrine with several additional observations, the first
of which reads thus: "In general, _no word should be omitted_ that is
necessary to the _full and correct construction_, or even _harmony_ of a
sentence." - _Bullions, E. Gr._, 130. Now the parsing above alluded to, has
been thought particularly commendable for its _brevity_ - a quality
certainly desirable, so far as it consists with the end of parsing, or with
the more needful properties of a good style, clearness, accuracy, ease, and
elegance. But, if the foregoing rule and observation are true, the models
furnished by these writers are not commendably brief, but miserably
defective. Their brevity is, in fact, such as renders them all _bad
English_; and not only so, it makes them obviously inadequate to their
purpose, as bringing into use but a part of the principles which the
learner had studied. It consists only in the omission of what ought to have
been inserted. For example, this short line, "_I lean upon the Lord_," is
parsed by both of these gentlemen thus: "_I, the first personal_ pronoun,
masculine, or feminine, singular, _the_ nominative - _lean_, a verb,
_neuter_, first person singular, present, indicative - _upon_, a
preposition - _the_, an article, the definite - _Lord_, a noun, masculine,
singular, the objective, (governed by _upon_.)" - _Lennie's Principles of
English Gram._, p. 51; _Bullions's_, 74. This is a little sample of their
etymological parsing, in which exercise they generally omit not only all
the definitions or "reasons" of the various terms applied, but also all the
following particulars: first, the verb _is_, and certain _definitives_ and
_connectives_, which are "necessary to the full and correct construction"
of their sentences; secondly, the distinction of nouns as _proper_ or
_common_; thirdly, the _person_ of nouns, _first, second_, or _third_;
fourthly, the words, _number, gender_, and _case_, which are necessary to
the sense and construction of certain words used; fifthly, the distinction
of adjectives as belonging to _different classes_; sixthly, the division of
verbs as being _regular_ or _irregular, redundant_ or _defective_;
seventhly, sometimes, (Lennie excepted,) the division of verbs as _active,
passive_, or _neuter_; eighthly, the words _mood_ and _tense_, which
Bullions, on page 131, pronounces "quite unnecessary," and inserts in his
own formule on page 132; ninthly, the distinction of adverbs as expressing
_time, place, degree_, or _manner_; tenthly, the distinction of
conjunctions as _copulative_ or disjunctive; lastly, the distinction of
interjections as indicating _different emotions_. All these things does
their completest specimen of etymological parsing lack, while it is grossly
encumbered with parentheses of syntax, which "_must be omitted_ till the
pupil get the _rules_ of syntax." - Lennie, p. 51. It is also vitiated with
several absurdities, contradictions, and improper changes of expression:
as, "_His, the third personal pronoun_;" (B., p. 23;) - "_me, the first
personal pronoun_;" (_Id._, 74;) - "_A_, The indefinite article;" (_Id._,
73;) - "_a_, an article, the indefinite;" (_Id._, 74;) - "When the _verb is
passive_, parse thus: '_A verb active_, in the passive voice, _regular,
irregular_,' &c." - _Bullions_, p. 131. In stead of teaching sufficiently,
as elements of etymological parsing, the definitions which belong to this
exercise, and then dismissing them for the principles of syntax, Dr.
Bullions encumbers his method of syntactical parsing with such a series of
etymological questions and answers as cannot but make it one of the
slowest, longest, and most tiresome ever invented. He thinks that the
pupil, after parsing any word syntactically, "_should be requested to
assign a reason for every thing contained in his statement!_" - _Principles
of E. Grammar_, p. 131. And the teacher is to ask questions as numerous as
the reasons! Such is the parsing of a text-book which has been pronounced
"superior to any other, for use in our common schools" - "a _complete_
grammar of the language, and _available for every purpose_ for which Mr.
Brown's can possibly be used." - _Ralph K. Finch's Report_, p, 12.

[63] There are many other critics, besides Murray and Alger, who seem not
to have observed the import of _after_ and _before_ in connexion with the
tenses. Dr. Bullions, on page 139th of his English Grammar, copied the
foregoing example from Lennie, who took it from Murray. Even Richard Hiley,
and William Harvey Wells, grammarians of more than ordinary tact, have been

Online LibraryGoold BrownThe Grammar of English Grammars → online text (page 235 of 254)