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nies of Literature,' speaks of this treatise as « the excellent Latin Grammar of the English language, so useful to every student in Europe, of which work that singular patriot, Thomas Hollis, printed an edition to present to all the learned institutions of Europe.” * Wallis justly complains of Jonson and other grammarians having employed methods of analysis not conformable to the genius and structure of our language;
-“ For they all,” says he, “ developing our speech according to the pattern of the Latin tongue, have delivered such instructions concerning the cases, genders, and declensions of nouns, the tenses, modes, and conjugations of verbs, the regimen of nouns and verbs, &c., as are quite alien to our language, and tend rather to confusion and obscurity than to explanation."
From the date of Wallis's publication, 1653, to the year 1711, the subject of English Grammar appears to have obtained little attention as a branch of school instruction. Bishop Wilkins, in 1662, had produced his · Essay towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language;' and Locke, in 1687, his · Essay on the Human Understanding,' the Third Book of which contains a masterly exposition of the signification and use of words t; but the principles of English Grammar, so far as they were recognised in the education of the young, were thought to be sufficiently understood from Lilly's Royal Grammar of the Latin Tongue.
* Quarrels of Dr. Wallis and Hobbes.
+ Perhaps it was for mankind a lucky mistake (for it was a mistake) which Mr. Locke made, when he called his book • An Essay on Human Understanding. For some part of the inestimable benefit of that book has, merely on account of its title, reached to many thousands more than I fear it would have done, had he called it (what it is merely) a Grammatical Essay, or a Treatise on Words, or on Language.” Tooke's Diversions, Pt. I. Ch. 2.
“ Nor is any thing wanting to make the third book of Locke's Essay a nearly perfect treatise on the connotation of names, except to free its language from the assumption of what are called Abstract Ideas, which unfortunately is involved in the phraseology, although not necessarily connected with the thoughts, contained in that immortal Third Book. The always acute and often profound author of An Outline of Sematology (Mr. B. H. Smart) justly says, • Locke will be much more intelligible if, in the majority of places, we substitute the knowledge of for what he calls the idea of.' (p. 10.) Among the many criticisms upon Locke's use of the word Idea, this is the only one which, as it appears to me, precisely hits the mark.” Mill's Logic, Bk. I. Ch. 6.
The defects and other imperfections of that renowned school-book called forth, in 1706, the admirable · Grammatical Commentaries' of Richard Johnson ; a work which, though designed as • An Apparatus to a New National Grammar' of the Latin Tongue, contains much judicious and valuable criticism applicable to the grammar of our own language.
Towards the close of the year 1710, Sir Richard Steele called public attention to the necessity of something being done for the better diffusion of a knowledge of English Grammar. This was in No. 234. of the Tatler, a work which he edited under the assumed name of Isaac Bickerstaff, and in the assumed capacity of Censor of Great Britain. In that paper he intimated the forthcoming of a Treatise, in the authorship of which he himself is generally thought to have participated. This was the famous treatise published by John Brightland, at the beginning of the year 1711, and dedicated to Queen Anne. In the original preface, Brightland complains of a publication, which he calls · Lane's Grammar,' having “extended and tortured our Tongue to confess the Latin Declensions, Conjugations, and even Construction ; whereas," he adds, “ there is nothing so different.” Of Brightland's Grammar Dr. Beattie says, “ The first attempt that was made in this nation, so far as I know, towards a philosophical analysis of the tenses, may be seen in a Grammar (published in Queen Anne's time, and recommended by the Tatler) which is commonly called Steele's Grammar. It discovers a precision and an acuteness not to be found in the other writings of Sir Richard Steele; whence I am inclined to think it is not his. From the variety of style and matter, it would seem to have been the work of several hands."* It appears probable that Steele wrote some part of the additional matter introduced in the Second Edition; hut I cannot trace his hand in the First. In a small prospectus which Brightland published in 1711, entitled • Reasons for an English Education,' I find the following confirmation of Dr. Beattie's opinion : .“ J. B., upon the great encouragement to the First impression of his Grammar, has with indefatigable industry consulted all the polite and learned men that he and his friends could engage, in order to obtain such improvements as might make it approach nearer to perfection in the Second Edition; and, to render his System of an English Education complete, he has procured an addition of the Arts of Poetry, Rhetoric, and Logic.”
At this time, however, the zeal for providing schools with an nglish Grammar, was not confined to Brightland and his friends. In the preface to the Second Edition of his book (1712), we find J. B. dealing
* Theory of Language, Pt. II. Ch. 2.
out no stinted measure of rebuke against two gentlemen, whose emulation the success of the First Edition of this Grammar had “stirred up to give the town their performances in this kind.” These competitors were Greenwood and the celebrated classical scholar Maittaire. The Essay' of the former, as Horne Tooke asserts, “met with very great and extraordinary encouragement, and went through several editions speedily during the author's life.” Of • The English Grammar' by the latter, I have never seen any but the original edition. Brightland and Greenwood appear to have kept possession of the schools, with very little interference, for about fifty years.
White, in his · Essay on the English Verb’ (1761) observes that, since the first appearance of Brightland, Greenwood, and Maittaire's Grammars, nothing had come to his knowledge, “ deserving to be taken any notice of, as tending to illustrate our language by ascertaining the grammar of it, except Anselm Bayly's • Introduction to Languages,' Johnson's • Grammar' prefixed to the Abridgment of his Dictionary, and the late Dr. Ward's • Essays upon the English Language." It is strange that, among the works that had come to his knowledge, Mr. White should have failed to include Harris's Hermes, which appeared in 1751, and which, though its merits have been sometimes over-rated, yet certainly deserves to be taken notice of' for what it has done to illus. trate our language by ascertaining the grammar of it.' White adds, “ All our efforts of this kind seem to have been rendered ineffectual hitherto, chiefly by the prevalency of two false notions; one of which is, that our verbs have no Moods; and the other, that our language hath no Syntax.” With respect to English Syntax, Dr. Johnson says, “ - Our language has so little inflexion, or variety of terminations, that its construction neither requires nor admits many Rules. Wallis therefore has totally omitted it, and Jonson, whose desire of following the writers upon the learned languages made him think a Syntax indispensably necessary, has published such petty observations as were better omitted.” This judgment of the Doctor, however, has not made succeeding grammarians blind to the utility of assigning syntactical Rules to the various grammatical relations that subsist in the structure of an English
In the year of White's publication, came forth the excellent • Rudi. ments of English Grammar' by Dr. Priestley, but without the • Notes and Observations' which are appended in the later editions. “ Priestley's criticisms," said Webster, “ are exceedingly judicious, and are entitled to the consideration of the student in preference to those of any other grammarian. No grammatical treatise, except Dr. Priestley's, has ex
plained the real idioms of the language.” This comparison applies, of course, to a much earlier period than the present; but Priestley's Grammar is still a very useful treatise. In the year following, appeared Bishop Lowth's • Introduction, which both merited and obtained very considerable reputation; although it was severely criticised by Horne Tooke, by Dr. Webster, and by the ingenious but eccentric Dr. Withers, as having reprobated much good English. Lowth has, at all events, the merit of having first developed the syntax of our language in any thing like adequate extent.
Wallis, Brightland, Priestley, and Lowth, are the fathers of our grammatical literature. During twenty years from the publication of Lowth's • Introduction, several works on English Grammar made their appearance; but none of them possessing much merit, excepting · The British Grammar,' (Buchanan's,) and Baker's · Remarks on the English Language;' to which may be added Dr. Adam Smith's · Considerations on the Formation of Languages, an ingenious and instructive, though chiefly conjectural, dissertation, originally added to the 2nd edition of the • Theory of Moral Sentiments,' and published almost concurrently with Lowth's Grammar; James Burnet's (Lord Monboddo) • Origin and Progress of Language, in six volumes, published at intervals betweer 1773 and 1792 ; and Campbell's · Philosophy of Rhetoric,' many pages of which are occupied in discussing the principles of our grammar. This work of Dr. Campbell's first appeared in 1776, and is one of standard excellence.
In 1783 were published Beattie's · Theory of Language,' an excellent work, and Blair's • Lectures on Rhetoric,' a great part of which is well worthy of an attentive perusal by the grammatical student. In the same year, the distinguished American philologist, Noah Webster, published the first part of a treatise called the • Grammatical Institute,' which, after passing through several editions, he was led, by farther investigation, to consider so imperfect an exhibition of the principles of our language, that he suppressed it. This appears to have been mainly owing to the new light in which Mr. John Horne (Tooke) † exhibited
* Fourth Dissertation, pp. 206 and 290. Boston, 1789.
† Mr. Horne was in 1756 ordained a clergyman, but was habitually more interested in politics than in theology. In 1773 he resigned his clerical gown that he might study for the bar, for which, however, he was pronounced ineligible on the ground of being once a priest, always a priest.' It was by the successful result of certain legal advice the etymological principles of our language, in the well-known philological performance entitled . Diversions of Purley ;' the first part of which came out in 1786, and the second in 1805. This work exhibits more of ingenuity than of profound scholarship, and is, like Cobbett's, disfigured by its designed subserviency to political purposes, and by its satirical strictures on eminent literary characters. The author maintains the Noun and Verb to be the only essential Parts of Speech, - a doctrine which had been advocated by Plato, Aristotle, and Quinctilian. All other words he considers to be mere abbreviates or contractions, for the purpose of facility and despatch, Epea Pteroenta, (Winged Words,) as he calls them,-a phrase ingeniously enough adapted from Homer's descriptions of fluent oratory, but perhaps immediately suggested by the figurative signification which Harris attaches to the winged cap of Hermes, or Mercury, the god of eloquence.*
If we except Coote's • Grammar' and Pickbourn's · Dissertation on the English Verb,” no grammatical publication of any excellence followed that of Horne Tooke till the year 1795, when Lindley Murray presented the public with an English Grammar which has obtained greater popularity than any other in this country. “ Lowth's Grammar,” says Webster, “ constitutes the body of Murray's;" and it appears that in the 8vo edition of Murray, published in 1808, a liberal but unacknowledged use was made of a treatise which Webster himself had published in the preceding year. Viewing, however, the treatises of Murray as chiefly compilations, they are in themselves not unworthy of the popularity they have acquired. Plainness of exposition, and copious variety of illustration characterise them. But he has committed many mistakes, and incurred much animadversion, by having rejected the guidance of those earlier grammarians who exhibited the most rational analysis of the structure of our speech. The best corrective of the inaccuracies of Murray will be found in the work of an acute and accomplished critic — The Etymology and Syntax of the English Language,' by Dr. Crombie, which was published in 1802. No work on English Philology contains a more luminous exposition of the grammatical features of our language.
We have thus given a brief sketch of the history of publication in the department of English Grammar, to the commencement of the nineteenth century. To specify all the useful treatises which have since issued from
with which he assisted Mr. Tooke of Purley, that he secured the goodwill, and eventually shared in the property, and acquired the name of that gentleman.
* Hermes, Bk. III. Ch. 2.