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oceans.

pointed out again and again, that there is scarcely a Scotch writer, not even among those of the highest name, who is not chargeable with the frequent commission of this error.

“On the east and west sides, it (America) is washed by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans."- Robertson. This mode of expression is incorrect; and, though to the geographer intelligible, it strictly conveys a conception not intended by the author. The copulative joins the two sides, which ought to be separated; and combines the two seas, instead of the two facts, implying, that both sides are washed by the same two

It should be rather, “ On the east side it is washed by the Atlantic, and on the west (is washed) by the Pacific ocean."

“ Will it be believed, that the four Gospels are as old, or even older than tradition ?”- Bolingbroke. Here there is a faulty omission of the particle corresponding to as; for the positive and comparative cannot be followed by the same conjunction. It ought to be, "as old as, or even older than tradition;" or, perhaps, better, "as old as tradition, or even older."

“ The books were to have been sold as this day.” This is a most offensive vulgarism. The conjunction as can have no regimen; nor can it be properly used as equivalent to on, It ought to be," sold this day,” or “on this day.”

“It is supposed, that he must have arrived at Paris as yesterday.” This sentence is chargeable with the same error. Construed strictly, it is, “he must have arrived at Paris as, or in like manner as, he arrived yesterday.”

“ The duke had not behaved with that loyalty, as he ought to have done." Propriety of correspondence here requires with that to be followed by with which, instead of as. The sentence, even thus corrected, would be still inelegant and clumsy. “ The duke had not behaved with becoming loyalty,” would be much better.

“In the order as they lie in his preface.” This involves a similar impropriety. It should be,“ in order as,” or “ in the order, in which they lie in his preface.”

“No; this is not always the case neither.”—Beattie. “ Men come not to the knowledge of ideas which are thought innate, till they come to the use of reason; nor then neither.Locke.

In old English two negatives denied ; hence, perhaps, this phraseology originated. Johnson remarks, that the use of neither, after a negative, and at the end of a sentence, though. not grammatical, renders the expression more emphatic. Analogy, however, is decidedly in favour of the affirmative term; I, therefore, prefer the word “either.” Were Johnson's argument admitted, such expressions as these, “I forbade you not to go; " "I won't suffer no such thing;” “He would not have none of my assistance," might, I apprehend, be justified on the same principle. Those who employ them, doubtless, believe them to be more emphatic, than if they included a single negative.

“ This I am the rather disposed to do, that it will serve to illustrate the principles above laid down.”—Campbell on Rhetoric. This sentence involves an error, on which I have already animadverted. The rather" should be followed by

as, not that.

“This is another use, that in my opinion contributes rather to make a man learned than wise : and is neither capable of pleasing the understanding, or imagination.”. Lowth justly. observes, that or is here improperly used for nor, the correlative words being neither, nor. In addition to this observation, I remark, that the word neither is erroneously placed. To render this collocation of the conjunction correct, there should be another attributive opposed to the word "capable," as, “neither capable of pleasing the understanding, nor calculated to gratify the imagination.” But, as the author intended to exclude two subjects, these should have been contrasted by the exclusive conjunctions, thus, “is capable of pleasing neither the understanding, nor the imagination.”

A similar error occurs in the following sentence: “Adversity both taught you to think and reason.”-Steele. The conjunction, which is, in truth, the adjective both, is improperly placed. It should be,“ taught you both,” i. e. the two things,“ to think and reason.”

It has been already observed, that the conjunction or is used disjunctively, and subdisjunctively, sometimes denoting

a diversity of things, and sometimes merely a difference of names. Hence often arises ambiguity, where the utmost precision of expression is necessary. When Ruddiman delivers it as a rule, that“ verbal adjectives, or such as signify an affection of the mind, require the genitive,” I have known the scholar at a loss to understand, whether there be two distinct classes of adjectives, here intended, or one class under two designations. The ambiguity might here be avoided, by using and or with instead of or. It may also be prevented in many cases, by more forcibly marking the distinction by the use of either. Thus, if we say,

“ whosoever shall cause, or occasion a disturbance,” it may be doubtful, whether the latter of the two verbs be not designed as explanatory of the former, they, though their meanings be distinct, being often used as synonymous terms. If we say, “shall either cause or occasion," all doubt is removed. Sometimes ambiguity may be precluded either by the insertion, or the omission, of the article. Thus, if we say, “a peer, or lord of parliament,” + meaning to designate only one individual, or one order, the expression is correct. But if it be intended to signify two individuals, every peer not being a lord of parliament, and every lord of parliament not being a peer, we should say, “a peer, or a lord of parliament,” or “either a peer, or lord of parliament.”

Having now endeavoured to explain and illustrate the etymology and syntax of the English language, I cannot dismiss the subject without earnestly recommending to the classical student to cultivate a critical acquaintance with his native tongue. It is an egregious, but common error, to imagine, that a perfect knowledge of Greek and Latin precludes the necessity of studying the principles of English grammar. The structure of the ancient, and that of modern languages, are very dissimilar. Nay, the peculiar idioms of any lan

a In our penal-statutes, which should be precisely worded, because they are literally interpreted, much ambiguity frequently arises from the loose and incorrect manner in which this conjunction is used.

• The issue of a question, respecting a contested election at Rochester in 1820, depended on the construction of this designation, a peer, or lord of parliament."

guage, how like soever in its general principles to any other, must be learned by study, and an attentive perusal of the best writers in that language. Nor can any imputation be more reproachful to the proficient in classical literature, than, with a critical knowledge of Greek and Latin, which are now dead languages, to be superficially acquainted with his native tongue, in which he must think, and speak, and write.

The superiority of Greek and Latin over the English language in respect of harmony, graceful dignity, conciseness, and fluency, will be readily admitted. Our language is, comparatively, harsh and abrupt. It possesses strength, indeed; but unaccompanied with softness, with elegance, or with majesty. It must be granted also, that the Greek is, perhaps, a more copious, and is certainly a more ductile and tractable language. But though, in these respects, the English be inferior to the languages of Greece and Rome, yet in preciseness of expression, diversity of sound, facility of communication, and variety of phrase, it may claim the pre-eminence. It would be easy to evince the truth of this assertion, did the limits, which I have prescribed to myself permit. The fact is, that analogous languages almost necessarily possess a superiority in these respects over those, which are transpositive.

It is to be remembered, also, that our language is susceptible of high improvement; and though its abrupt and rugged nature cannot be entirely changed, much may be done to smooth its asperities and soften its harshness.

As a further inducement to the study of the English language, I would assure the young reader, that a due attention to accuracy of diction is highly conducive to correctness of thought. For, as it is generally true, that he, whose conceptions are clear, and who is master of his subject, delivers his

a The superior ductility of the Greek, above every other language, must appear from its singular aptitude to form new words by composition or derivation, so as immediately to communicate any new idea. Hence the names of most of our modern discoveries and inventions are of Greek extraction. Thus we have the terms “ microscope,” “telegraph,” “panorama," "odometer,” and many others.

302

CRITICAL REMARKS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

sentiments with ease and perspicuity a; so it is equally certain, that, as language is not only the vehicle of thought, but also an instrument of invention, if we desire to attain a habit of conceiving clearly and thinking correctly, we must learn to speak and write with accuracy and precision.

It must, at the same time, be remembered, that to give our chief attention to mere phraseology, or to be more solicitous about the accuracy of the diction than the value of the sentiment, is a sure indication of a nerveless and vacant mind. As we estimate a man, not by his garb, but by his intellectual and moral worth, so it is the sentiment itself, not the dress in which it is exhibited, that determines its character, and our opinion of its author.

“ True expression, like th' unchanging sun,

Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon;

It gilds all objects, but it alters none."-Pope. In short, the precept of Quintilian should be studiously observed : curam ergo

verborum, rerum volo esse solicitudinem."- Inst. Orat. lib. viii.

a “ Cui lecta potenter erit res,
Nec facundia deseret hunc, nec lucidus ordo.

Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur.”

Hor. de Art. Poet.

THE END.

G. Woodfall and Son, Printers, Angel Court, Skinner Street, London,

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