« AnteriorContinua »
INVESTIGATIONS OF THE ANALOGIES OF LANGUAGE,
AUTHORITIES OF GRAMMARIANS,
A GENERAL GRAMMATICAL CRITICISM
ILLUSTRATION OF THE INGLISH TONGUE:
TO WHICH IS PREFIXT
A DISCOURSE ON THE STUDY OF LANGUAGES IN
By SAMUEL OLIVER JUN. Esq.
Speak the speech, I pray ye, as I pronounced it to ye.-SHAKESPEARE:
PUBLISHED, FOR THE AUTHOR,
For considerably more than half of a century the cultívation of their language has been in the national literature of the Inglish * an object of increasing importance: it has become the elegant study of the polite, and the luminous labor of the learned : yet, however this may have happened, the success of the undertaking has not been proportionate to its greatness and to its necessities, to the length of time and to the number of agents which it has occupied. Very much has been done; yet something remains undone ; and much already done needs to be redone.
On these heads we shall at-once proceed to details.
Our language possesses in the dictionary of Dr. Johnson edited by Mr. Todd an elaborate and a stupendous lexicon, which, if imperfect, is wholely unrivalled in any other tongue. The labors of Mr. Todd, equally erudite, and ingenious, while they have not done all which might be done, have given additional extent, correctness, and ornament to one of the most utile, most arduous, most learned, and most judicious productions which ever emblazoned the annals of literature, and do honor both to the able glossator and to the incomparable lexicographer, to the British nation and to the present age. This not unqualified yet unequaled eulogium being justly pronounced on the great vaunt of Inglish philology, the bounds of pane gyrick are restricted: in the long list of grammatical writers remaining, a diffusion of excellence is obseryable, but excellence so scattered, and so opplete with imperfection that not a single work of sterling, popular, and durable merit appears in our whole philological catalogue, except the lexicon; and even in this valuable compilation all is not valuable : its annexed
* Mr. Elphinstone's spelling, adopted as accommodating spelling to sound, without outraging derivation.
gram mar is one of the most imperfect: various orthographies, and accentuations which have been clearly demonstrated contradictory, are continued by the reviser: with glaring impropriety accentual marks are invariably placed on vowels, and not on syllables, as accent really falls, a position which obscures rather than illustrates, which vails pronunciation: derivatives are frequently omitted: esome few gentile nouns, and adjectives are inserted while most are overlookt; these gentilisms not being confined to sects, but preposterously extended to countries: some words which are added seem too antique or too provincial, and some wholely unauthorised, because wholely Unanglicised French words o various words in good usage are not inserted, and, which is the worst fault of revisal, what was right is sometimes made wrong. The editor appears, like a certain detractor of Johnson's*, Acade
habenfrohe Fogorretno! looburi nas 15* Horne Tooke.
2o PASM NOMUIS
more of a curious etymologist than of a general gram marian. We thus venture freely to express our opinion of the great revisal of a great work, and in the progress of our grammatical labors shall take the liberty specifically to object to numerous articles to which objection has now been barely hinted : we may seek our apology with the candid annotator in this remark of his sublime author's; “In a search like this, many felicities of expression will be casually overlooked, many convenient parallels will be forgotten, and many particulars will admit improvement from a mind utterly unequal to the whole performance," and in the declaration that we believe the reviser of Johnson to have done more towards a perfect Inglish dictionary than any future philologiat will do, or, which is an easier task, will undo. : The student of Inglish will need much more information than that which our dictionary affords; and where shall he find it? in our host of grammatical works he should find it, but will he? will he indeed find it in the metaphysical puzzles of Harris or the Gothick virtu of Horne Tooke, in the scienced reveries of Priestley or the critical schediasms of Lowth, in the jargonised sounds of Walker or the inerudite positions of Murray? These grammarians, as they have reputation, have merit: Harris to the few who possess learning, ingenuity, and patience enough to discover it, presents a good example of analysis : Horne Tooke is an erudite, and ingenious etymologist: Priestley has shadowed out imposing visions in his airy pictures of language: Lowth has demonstrated with abundant acumen many of the almost innumerable grammatical