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William Shepherd.

Systematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) online

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classed with adverbs, seem to have no commou link of union
with the genuine adverb ; such dire yes, aye, yea, and no : indeed
Mr. H. Tooke speaks of this class of words as the common
sink and repository of all heterogeneous, unknown corruptions.
Aye, or yea, is the imperative of a verb of northern extrac-
tion, and means have it ; and yes is ay-es, have that. Not
(a genuine adverb) and no, its derivative, have their origin in
the word from which arise the Dutch noode, node, no, mean-
ing averse, unwilling.

VII. Op the Connective. ^The precise nature of the
words usually denominated Conjunctions and Prepositions,
was very little known, and not generally even suspected, till
the publication of tlie " Diversions of Purley:" since that
time, though philologists do not seem willing to admit, in all
cases, the correctness of Mr. Tooke's derivations, yet his
general principle is, we suppose, universally considered as
completely established. Before his discoveries, it was the
common opinion respecting the conjunction, that it is ** a
part of speech void of signification itself, but so formed as to
help signification, by making two or more significant sentences
to be one significant sentence ;" and respecting the preposition,
that it is " a part of speech, devoid itself of signification, but
so formed as to unite two words that are significant, and that
refuse to coalesce or unite of themselves." We cannot enter
here into the arguments against these definitions, and the
doctrine on which they are founded ; nor indeed is it necessary ;
for, like the doctrine of instincts in mental philosophy, this
solely depends on an appeal to ignorance, and falls to the



GRAMMAR. 95

ground when a probable account is given of those procedures
which it is invented to explain. The distinction between pre-
positions and conjunctions we consider as merely technical, re-
ferring to the grammatical usage of employing the objective
form of pronouns after the former, and not after the latter,
unless there be some word understood which requires it ; for
it will be obvious to any one, that some conjunctions are still
used " to unite words" as well as sentences ; and that some
prepositions are still used to unite sentences. The general
principle before referred to is, " that all those words which
are usually termed conjunctions or prepositions, are the ab-
breviations or corruptions of nouns or verbs, and are still em-
ployed with a sense (directly) referable to that which they bore
when in the acknowledged form of nouns or verbs." We
believe this to be a correct statement of Mr. Tooke's theory ;
to adapt it to our own arrangements, we must include our
adjectives under the term nouns, and our participles under the
term verbs : and in addition to this remark, which is merely
verbal, we must add, that in some instances this great philolo-
gist appears to have too much overlooked a procedure which
meets us in various stages of language, viz. that among the
ideas connected with a word, that which was originally of
primary importance, becomes by accidental circumstances in
the mode of application, secondary only, and sometimes by
degrees is altogether lost from the view of the mind, giving
place to others with which, from some cause or other, the
word has been associated.

We now proceed to lay before our readers some specimens
of the derivations and explanations given by Mr. H. Tooke.
That is frequently termed a conjunction; it is sometimes
termed a pronoun ; we class it with the restrictives : but under
whatever name it is known, its use and signification is the same.
The differences supposed to be perceived in them, arise sim-
ply from unnoticed ellipses or abbreviations of construction.
If it be remembered that that was originally applicable to
nouns of both numbers, no difficulty will be found by any



9^ BELLES LETTRES.

intelligent reader in anal} zing sentences in which it occurs as a
pronoun : in cases where it is used as a conjunction, the fol-
lowing analyses will serve as a sufficient clue. " I wish you
to believe that 1 would not hurt a fly." Resolution ; I would
not hurt a fly, I wish you to believe that (assertion.) " Thieves
rise by night that they may cut men's throats." Resolution ;
Thieves may cut men's throats, (for) that (purpose) they rise
by night. 7/ (formerly written gif) is merely the imperative
of the Gothic and Anglo Saxon verb gifan, to give. In Scot-
land and the northern counties of England, gin is used in
place of if; and gin is merely the past participle given abbrevi-
ated. Hence " I will read, if {or gin) you will listen," means,
give (or this given) that you will listen, I will read : and it
cannot be unknown to the classical reader that the imperative
da is used in exactly the same manner. An, now nearly ob-
solete, is the imperative of unan, to grant. Unless (formerly
sometimes written onles) is the imperative of onlesan, to send
away. From alesan comes the imperative else; and froiB
lesan the past participle lest ; both verbs meaning the same
with onlesan. From the same source come less and least, the
privative termination less, the verbs loosen, lose, lessen, &c.
Yet is the imperative of getan, to get; and still, of stillan,
to put. Though (in some counties still pronounced thaf,
thof,) is the imperative of thofian, to allow or grant. But
is now corruptly employed for two words, hot and but : hot is
the imperative of botan, to boot, to add, in order to supply a
deficiency ; but, of beon-utan, to be-out, and has the same
sigailication as without, hut properly requires a negative in
construction with it, as I saw none but him ; but it is often
omitted, as, I saw but two plants. Without is the imperative of
wyilhan-ufan, to be-out. y^(/ is the imperative of anan-ad,
to heap, or add. Formerly four different sets of words were
used where now since is used, and it is now taken four
ways: 1. For stththan, sithence, or seen and thenceforwurds ;
as, It has not been done since the reign of John. 2. For
lyMC; sene, or seen; as, Did (jieorge IL. hve belure or >ince



GRAMMAR. 97

lliat example. 3. For seand, seeing^ seeing as, or seeing that ;
as, I should labour for truth, since no effort is lost. 4. For
siththe, sitlif seen-as, or seen 'that ; as, Since death in the end
takes from all. Sithence and sith were in good use till (he
time of the Stuarts. So and as are articles meaning the same
as it, that or which. As he sows, so he will reap, with the
ellipses supplied is, (In) what (manner) he sows, (in) that he
will reap, or even without supplj'ing them, What he sows,
that he will reap.

Prepositions, to use the ideas of Mr. Tooke, are necessary
in language, because it is impossible to have a distinct com-
plex term for each different collection of ideas which wehave
occasion to put together in discourse. By the aid of pre-
positions, complex terms are prevented from being indefinitely
numerous ; and are used only for those collections of ideas
which we have most occasion to use. This end is thus
answered : we either take that complex term which includes
the greatest number, though not all of the ideas we would
communicate, or else that which includes all and the fewest
more ; and then by the help of the preposition, we either make
up tlie deficiency in the one case, or retrench the superfluity
in the other : so, a house with a party-wall ; a house without a
roof. Other relations are declared by prepositions ; but they
have all meanings of their own, and are constantly used accord-
ing to those meanings. With is the imperative of withan, to
join-: sometimes of wyrthan, to be ; in which case it is exactly
the same with by. Through or thorough is the Gothic sub-
stantive dauro, or the Teutonic thuruh, and like them means
door, gate, passage : so, through the air, is, 'passage thfe air, or
the air being the passage or medium. From is the Anglo-
Saxon noun frum, beginning, source, author. Of this word,
Harris produces three examples, which he considers as proving
that it is used in three different relations, viz. detached rela-
tion, quiescence, and motion, the last two being contradictor)' :
these figs come from Turkey ; the lamp hangs from the ceil-

VOL. I. BK



98 BELLES LETTRES.

iiig ; the lamp falls from the ceiling. Now came is a com-^
plex term for one species of motion ; fallsy for another ; hang$,
for a species of attachment. Have we occasion to mention
tBe beginning or commencement of these motions and this at-
tachment, and the place where they begin or commence?
What more natural or more simple than to add the signs of
these ideas, viz. the word beginning (which always remains the
same,) and the name of the place (which will perpetually vary)?

Figs came beginning Turkey; lamp ] r n r beginning ceil-
ing : i. e. Turkey, the place of beginning to come ; ceiling the
place of beginning to ] ^ ii c ^"^ is the Gothic substantive

taui, act, eflFect, end, or result, which is itself the past partici-
ple of taugan, to do. While is an Anglo-Saxon substantive,
signifying time ; till, is to-zchile, to the time ; until, is on to
the time. Of is probably a fragment of the Anglo-Saxon
substantive afora, oflFspring, &c. and always means conse-
quence, offspring, succession, follower, &c. In all the instan-
ces produced in the dictioimries, cause may be substituted for
for, without injury to the sense, though sometimes awkwardly.
It is probably the Gothic substantive fairina, cause. By is
the imperative of beon, to be ; frequently, but not always,
used with an abbreviation of construction, instrument, came,
agent, &c. being understood. Among is thfe past participle
of gamangan, to mingle. After is the comparative of aft.
About is from boda, the first outward boundary or extremity
of any thing ; hence onboda, onbuta, abuta, about. In, out,
on, off, and at, Mr. Tooke does not profess to trace to an
origin ; we feel little doubt that on is simply one of the several
forms of the numeral one ; and the same process of thought
has occurred in the Greek, where ik and (and perhaps also
) are almost indisputably the corresponding numeral. We
should have thought it probable that the English in has the
same origin, as on, if Mr. H. Tooke had not produced the



GRAMMAR. 99

Gothic substantive inna, the interior part of the body (used
also for cave or cell). Out, he thinks, not improbably, origi-
nally meant skin.

Of the Interjection. ^Wehaveverylittle to say in ad-
dition to what we have said respecting this small and insignificant
class of words. OA, or O, is almost the only word for which
it is necessary. A few other words may be mentioned as be-
ing usually classed with it. Farewell. is the imperative of faran,
to go, and the adverb well. Halt is the imperative of healderiy
to hold. 1,0 is the imperative of look. Fie is the imperative
oijian, to hate. Welcome means, it is ?iye// that you are come.
Adieu, used so often without a moment's thought as to its se-
rious import, is the French a Dieu, to God, meaning, I com-
mend you to God,

We shall now conclude with some directions for the study
of Grammar. Though, in all probability, most of our read-
ers will have learnt the art of grammar, as usually taught at
schools, yet our remarks may be of service to them, either in
their farther attention to the subject with a view to their own
improvement, or in communicating instruction to others.

We know no better elementary woiif on grammar, than
Lindley Murray's. He has, in some instances, burdened the
learner with unnecessary additions to the simplicity of the
English language ; and, in our opinion, there is still room for
improvement in his practical directions, and more especially
in his arrangement or classification. We would have the
English language taught as it is, not fettered with restraints
derived from languages in which there is a great variety of
flexion : and we wish to see practical grammars constructed
upon correct scientific principles ; though it may not be expe-
dient to bring those principles too early in view. The young
should have as little as possible to unlearn.* Nevertheless,

The writer of this article has for some years had by him, a brief Intro-
ductory Grammar, founded on what he regards as the real principles of our
language. He has it in contemplation to print it, when his engagements
afford him the opportunity of a revisal.

H 2



100 , BELLES LETTRES.

as a practical guide to the actual usages of our language, Mi'.
Murray's Grammar seems to stand unrivalled ; and without
paying too much attention to those parts which he classes under
Elymologj/, his Sj/ntax will afford a variety of very important
artd valuable observations, directing to the proper niode of writ-
ing and speaking. It will be found of the greatest advantage
to those who may have neglected this branch of instruction, to
Mrite his Exercises on Syntax, carefully attending, as they go
ak>ng, to th^ rules and observations on which they are founded :
and if they have no competent assistance to enable them to
ascertain the propriety of their corrections, the Key will ge-
nerally prove an excellent guide. We ^ould recommend
them, however, never to consult the key, till they have them-
selves done their best, by the aid of the Grammar merely:
they will thus make the employment very serviceable in the
culture of the judgment, as well as more efficacious in acquiring
a correct acquaintance with the rules of the language.- At
the end of the exercises on syntax, are some, which are very
useful, on punctuation and the qualities of style. These may,
with great benefit, be emploj ed in tlie same way ; but we
can by no means recommend the use of his exercises on
orthography. Their- direct, and, we tliink, necessary ten-
dency, is to confuse the recollection of tlie visible appearance
of words ; and thereby to lessen, instead of increasing, the
facility and accuracy of our spelling. To acquire correctness
in orthography, the best way is to write, frequently from me-
mory or from dictation, or to write translations from other
languages; to employ a good dictionary (Walker's, for instance,)
in all cases of doubt ; and, which will be found very beneficial,
to keep a register of ail words wherein a difficulty is felt, and
often to review those which have been entered. The mere
transcribing of passages from manuscript or printed books, will
also be found of great advantage ; and it is assuredly much
better to write from correctly spelt copies, than to correct what
is spelt wrong. However, Mr. Murray's Grammar will fur-
nish some useful directions in orthography.



GRAMMAR. 101

To those who wish to study the rules of our language, with
the greatest benefit to themselves, we also strongly recom-
mend Dr. Crombie's work, on " Etymology and Syntax."
Numerous very valuable observations will be found in it, cal-
culated to aid the researches of the student in the department
of scientific grammar ; and the practical remarks it affords, are,
in many places, excellent. We are not acquainted with any
other work of the kind ; and though we do not agre^ with the
learned author, in all his philosophical or practical principles,
we regard his book as a very useful one, and shall be glad if
these remarks contribute to make it more known among those
for whose use our volumes are primarily intended.

If the reader is desirous of pursuing the study of scientific
grammar, he will scarcely need any directions from us ; but
he may find the following hints of use. Some valuable re-
marks occur in the general grammar of Messrs. de Port Royal,
and in Mr. Dalton's English grammar. Harris's Hermes,
which, in many respects, deserves the, sometimes unmerciful,
ridicule of Home Tooke, is, notwithstanding, entitled to a
careful perusal. It is almost unnecessary to add, that Mr.
Tooke's Epea Pteroenta, or Diversions of Purley, claim the
very attentive examination of the student. He need not be
alarmed at the size of the volumes, for the substance might
be easily compressed into a moderate octavo ; and, however
much he may occasionally be wearied with the illustrative ex-
amples, he will find himself recompensed by the scintillations
of wit and genius, which present themselves in every part ;
and from those examples, he may often derive great fight as
to the principles of language in general, and especially the
progress and phenomena of our own. We cannot avoid men-
tioning, by way of caution, that he ought not to trust implicitly
to the author's representations, respecting mental or njoral
philosophy. If Mr. Tooke had known more respecting the
operations of the associative power, he Would himself, in all
probability, have gone farther than he has, and been a safer
guide to others. To those who have access to the Encyclo-



102 BELLES LETTRES.

pedia Biuannica, we recommend the perusal of the article
grammar, in thut work, as one from which we derived much
benefit when we first attended to the subject. In the great
French work, Encyciopedie Melhodique, are many very valu-
able observations, in the portion on grammar, which will well
repay the perusal of the student. He will, of course, if he
have an opportunity, consult the article grammar, in Dr.
Rees's Cyclopedia.



CHAP V.



ON THE STRUCTURE OF SENTENCES.



Of what a sentence is to consist Rules for the construction of sentences
Properties of a good sentence Precision exemplified in the use of ad<
verbs, &c. ^The Unity of sentences considered and exemplified.

A SENTENCE always implies at least one complete pro-
position, or enunciation of thought ; but every sentence is not
necessarily confined to a single proposition. It usually con-
sists of component parts, which are called members; these
may be few or many, and may be connected in different ways,
so that the same thought or mental proposition, may frequent-
ly be compressed into one sentence, or distributed into two or
three.

A proper construction of sentences is of great importance
in every species of composition : it is ^e foundation of good
writing, so that we cannot be too strict in our attention to it.
In any subject, if the sentences be perplexed, clumsy, or
feebly expressed, it will not only disgust the reader, but
frequently destroy the effect which the writer intended to
produce.

It is impossible to lay down rules, with regard to the pre-
cise length of sentences : a short period is lively and familiar,
and likely to be remembered : but a long period, if clearly
expressed, requiring more attention, is calculated to make
more grave and solemn impression. Without much atten-



104 BELLES LETTRES.

t'ton, wiiters and speakers are liable to err in both these re-
spects. By means of too many short sentences, the sense is
divided and broken, th^ connexion of thought weakened, and
the memory burdened. On the other hand, long sentences
fatigue the reader's or liearer's attention. If a writer is fully
master of his subject, he ought, and he will study a due mix-
ture of long and short periods, which prevents an irksome
uniformity, and entertains the mind with a variety of impres-
sion. Long sentences should never be placed at the begin-
ning of discourses of any description : the reader's attention,
and, if possible, his interest must be excited, before a person
venture upon long sentences.

Lord Kames has given rules for the arrangeqjent of words
in a sentence, which are deserving of attention. His object
is, that the arrangement of words in succession, should be
such as to afford the greatest pleasure to the ear, a circum-
stance which, he says, depends on principles remote from
view, and, therefore, he premises some general observations
upon the appearance that objects make when placed in an
increasing or decreasing scries, which we shall transcribe.

" Where," says our author, " the objects vary by small
differences, so as to have a mutual resemblance, we, in as-
cending, conceive the second object of no greater size than
the first, the third of no greater size than the second, and so
of the rest ; which diminisheth in appearance, the size of
every object except the^iirst ; but when beginning at the great-
est object, we proceed gradually to the least, resemblance
makes us imagine the second as great as the first, and the
third as great as the second ; ivhich in appearance magnifies
everj' object except the first. On tlie other hand, in a serie
varying by large differences, when contrast prevails, the effects
are directly opposite ; a great object succeeding a small one of
the same kind, appears greater than usual ; and a little ob-
ject succeeding one that is great, appears less than usual.
Hence a remarkable pleasure in viewing a series ascending by
laige differences, directly opposite to what we feel vyhen the



STRUCTURE OF SENTENCES. 105

differences are small. The least object of a series, ascending
hy large differences, has the same effect upon the mind as if
it stood singly without making part of the series : but the
second object, by means of contrast, appears greater than
when viewed singly and apart, and the same effect is per-
ceived in ascending progressively, till we arrive at the last
object. The opposite effect is produced in descending ; for
in this direction every object, except the first, appears less
than when viewed separately and independeat of the series.
W'e may then assume, as a maxim, which will hold in the
composition of language, as well as of other subjects, that a
strong impulse succeeding a weak one, makes a double im-
pression on the mind, and that a weak impulse succeeding a
strong, makes scarcely any impression."

After establishing this maxim, he says, we can be at no
loss about its application to the subject, and that in the
arrangement of words in a sentence, we should not, in general,
descend from the greater to the Jess, but, on the contrary,
ascend from the less to the greater : thus, in the Latin, " Vjr
est optimus," reads much better than " Vir optimus est."
This rule is also applicable to entire members of a period,
which ought also to proceed from the less to the greater:
and this arrangement of words, or members of a sentence, gra-
dually increasing in length, may, as far as concerns the
pleasure of sound, be denominated a climax in sound. To
shew the importance of attending to this subject, Lord Karnes
says, by no other human means is it possible to present to
the mind, such a number of objects, and in so swift suc-
cession, as by speaking or writing; and for that reason,
variety ought to be more studied in these, than in any sort of
composition. Hence the rule for arranging the members of
different periods with relation to each other, is to avoid a
tedious uniformity of sound and cadence : the cadence, and
the length of the iembers, ought to be diversified as much as
possible ; and if the members of different periods be suffi-
ciently diversified, the periods themselves will be equally so.



106 BELLES LETTRES.

The properties, according to Blair, most essential to a
perfect sentence, seem to be the four following: clearness
and precision: uuity : strength; and harmony.

Every degree of ambiguity, arising from the want of
clearness and precision, ought to be avoided with the greatest
care : hence the necessity of observing exactly the rules of
grammar, and in the arrangement of sentences, those words
and members most nearly related should be placed in the
sentence, as near each other as possible, so as to make their
mutual relation clearly manifest.

1. In the position of adverbs, which are used to qualify the
signification of something that precedes or follows them,
there is often much nicety. This part of speech, as its name
implies, is generally placed near the verb, which it afifects or
modifies :

Examples : " Theism can only be opposed to polytheism,
or atheism." Lord Shaftsbury. By this arrangement of the
word only, it should seem, the noble author meant that,
theism is capable of nothing else, except being opposed to
polytheism or atheism. He intended, no doubt, to say, it
could be opposed to nothing but atheism and polytheism, and
to express this, he should have written, " Theism can be
opposed only to atheism," 8cc. Here the adverb stands, as it
often ought, close to flie verb.

Swift, in his Project for the advancement of religiojif
says, " The Romans tmderstood liberty, at least, as well as
We." That is, the Romans, in \vhatever else they were de-
ficient, understood the nature of liberty as well as we ; or it
may mean, according as the emphasis is laid, The Romans
understood the nature of liberty as well or better than our-



Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 44)