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FAMILIAR LECTURES

ON

ENGLISH GRAMMAR.

LECTURE I.

DIVISIONS OF GRAMMAR.-ORTHOGRAPHY.

TO THE YOUNG LEARNER.

YOU are about to enter upon one of the most useful, and, when rightly pursued, one of the most interesting studies in the whole circle of science. If, however, you, like many a misguided youth, are under the impression that the study of grammar is dry and irksome, and a matter of little consequence, I trust I shall succeed in removing from your mind, all such false notions and ungrounded prejudices; for I will endeavour to convince you, before I close these lectures, that this is not only a pleasing study, but one of real and substantial utility; a study that directly tends to adorn and dignify human nature, and meliorate the condition of man. Grammar is a leading branch of that learning which alone is capable of unfolding and maturing the mental powers, and of elevating man to his proper rank in the scale of intellectual existence ;—of that learning which lifts the soul from earth, and enables it to hold converse with a thousand worlds. In pursuing any and every other path of science, you will discover the truth of these remarks, and feel its force; for you will find, that, as grammar opens the door to every department of learning, a knowledge of it is indispensable and should you not aspire at distinction in the republick of letters, this knowledge cannot fail of being serviceable to you, even if you are destined to pass through the humblest walks of life. I think it is clear, that, in one point of view, grammatical knowledge possesses a decided advantage over every other branch of learning. Penmanship, arithmetick, geography, astronomy, botany, chymistry, and so on, are highly useful in their respectivo places; but not one of them is so universally applicable to practical purposes, as this. In every situation, under all cir

cumstances, on all occasions ;-when you speak, read, write, or think, a knowledge of graminar is of essential utility.

Doubtless you have heard some persons assert, that they could detect and correct any errour in language by the ear, and speak and write accurately without a knowledge of grammai Now your own observation will soon convince you, that this assertion is incorrect. A man of refined taste, may, by perusing good authors, and conversing with the learned, acquire that knowledge of language which will enable him to avoid those glaring errours that offend the ear; but there are other errours equally gross, which have not a harsh sound, and, consequently, which cannot be detected without a knowledge of the rules that are violated. Believe me, therefore, when I say, that without the knowledge and application of grammar rules, it is impossible for any one to think, speak, read, or write with accuracy. From a want of such knowledge, many often express their ideas in a manner so improper and obscure as to render it impossible for any one to understand them: their language frequently amounts, not only to bad sense, but non-sense. In other instances several different meanings may be affixed to the words they employ; and what is still worse, is, that not unfrequently their sentences are so constructed, as to convey a meaning quite the reverse of that which they intended. Nothing of a secular nature can be more worthy of your attention, then, than the acquisition of grammatical knowledge.

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The path which leads to grammatical excellence, is not all the way smooth and flowery, but in it you will find some thorns interspersed, and some obstacles to be surmounted; or, in simple language, you will find, in the pursuit of this science, many intricacies ich is rather difficult for the juvenile min pletely to unravel. I shall, therefore, as I proceed, address you in plain language, and endeavour to illustrate every principle in a manner so clear and simple, that you will be able, if you exeryour mind, to understand its nature, and apply it to practice as you go along; for I would rather give you one useful idea, than fifty high-sounding words, the meaning of which you would probably be unable to comprehend.

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Should you ever have any doubts concerning the meaning of a word, or the sense of a sentence, you must not be discouraged, but persevere, either by studying my explanations, or by asking some person competent to inform you, till you obtain a clear conception of it, and till all doubts are removed. By carefully examining, and frequently reviewing, the following lectures, you will soon be able to discern the grammatical construction of our language, and fix in your mind the principles by which

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it is governed. Nothing delights youth so much, as a clear and distinct knowledge of any branch of science which they are pursuing; and, on the other hand, I know they are apt to be discouraged with any branch of learning which requires much time and attention to be understood. It is the evidence of a weak mind, however, to be discouraged by the obstacles with which the young learner must expect to meet; and the best means that you can adopt, in order to enable you to overcome the difficulties that arise in the incipient stage of your studies, is to cultivate the habit of thinking methodically and soundly on all subjects of importance which may engage your attention. Nothing will be more effectual in enabling you to think, as well as to speak and write, correctly, than the study of English grammar, according to the method of pursuing it as prescribed in the following pages. This system is designed, and, I trust, well calculated, to expand and strengthen the intellectual faculties, in as much as it involves a process by which the mind is addressed, and a knowledge of grammar communicated in an interesting and familiar manner.

You are aware, my young friend, that you live in an age of light and knowledge;—an age in which science and the arts are marching onward with gigantick strides. You live, too, in a land of liberty;—a land on which the smiles of Heaven beam with uncommon refulgence. The trump of the warriour and the clangour of arms no longer echo on our mountains, or in our valleys; "the garments died in blood have passed away;" the mighty struggle for independence is over; and you live to enjoy the rich boon of freedom and prosperity which was purchased with the blood of our fathers. These considerations forbid that you should ever be so unmindful of your duty to your country, to your Creator, to yourself, and to succeeding generations, as to be content to grovel in ignorance. Remember that "knowledge is power;" that an enlightened and a virtuous people can never be enslaved; and that, on the intelligence of our youth, rest the future liberty, the prosperity, the happiness, the grandeur, and the glory of our beloved country. Go on, then, with a laudable ambition, and an unyielding perseverance, in the path which leads to honour and renown. Press forward. Go, and gather laurels on the hill of science; linger among her unfading beauties; "drink deep" of her crystal fountain; and then join in " the march of fame." Become learned and virtuous, and you will be great. Love God and serve him, and you will be happy.

LANGUAGE.

LANGUAGE, in its most extensive sense, implies those signs by which men and brutes communicate to each other their thoughts, affections, and desires.

Language may be divided, 1. into natural and artificial 2. into spoken and written.

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NATURAL LANGUAGE consists in the use of those natural signs which different animals employ in communicating their feelings one to another. The meaning of these signs all perfectly understand by the principles of their nature. This language is common both to man and brute. The elements of natural language in man, may be reduced to three kinds; modulations of the voice, gestures, and features. By means of these, two savages who have no common, artificial language, can communicate their thoughts in a manner quite intelligible: they can ask and refuse, affirm and deny, threaten and supplicate; they can traffick, enter into contracts, and plight their faith. The language of brutes consists in the use of those inarticulate sounds by which they express their thoughts and affections. Thus, the chirping of a bird, the bleating of a lamb, the neighing of a horse, and the growling, whining, and barking of a dog, are the language of those animals, respectively.

ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGE consists in the use of words, by means of which mankind are enabled to communicate their thoughts to one another.-In order to assist you in comprehending what is meant by the term word, I will endeavour to illustrate the meaning of the term

Idea. The notices which we gain by sensation and perception, and which are treasured up in the mind to be the materials of thinking and knowledge, are denominated ideas. For example, when you place your hand upon a piece of ice, a sensation is excited which we call coldness. That faculty which notices this sensation or change produced in the mind, is called perception; and the abstract notice itself, or notion you form of this sensation, is denominated an idea. This being premised, we will now proceed to the consideration of words.

Words are articulate sounds, used by common consent, not as natural, but as artificial, signs of our ideas. Words have no meaning in themselves. They are merely the artificial representatives of those ideas affixed to them by compact or agreement among those who use them. In English, for instance, to a particular kind of metal we assign the nanie gold; not because there is, in that sound, any peculiar aptness which

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suggests the idea we wish to convey, but the application of that sound to the idea signified, is an act altogether arbitrary. Were there any natural connexion between the sound and the thing signified, the word gold would convey the same idea to the people of other countries as it does to ourselves. But such is not the fact. Other nations make use of different. sounds to signify the same thing. Thus, aurum denotes the same idea in Latin, and or in French. Hence it follows, that it is by custom only we learn to annex particular ideas to particular sounds.

SPOKEN LANGUAGE or speech is made up of articulate sounds uttered by the human voice.

The voice is formed by air which, after it passes through the glottis, (a small aperture in the upper part of the wind-pipe,) is modulated by the action of the throat, palate, teeth, tongue, lips, and nostrils.

WRITTEN LANGUAGE. The elements of written language consist of letters or characters, which, by common consent and general usage, are combined into words, and thus made the ocular representatives of the articulate sounds uttered by the veice.

GRAMMAR.

GRAMMAR is the science of language.

Grammar may be divided into two species, universal and particular.

UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR explains the principles which are common to all languages.

PARTICULAR GRAMMAR applies those general principles to a particular language, modifying them according to its genius. and the established practice of the best speakers and writers by whom it is used. Hence,

The established practice of the best speakers and writers of any language, is the standard of grammatical accuracy in the use of that language.

By the phrase, established practice, is implied reputable, nntional, and present usage. A usage becomes good and egal, when it has been long and generally adopted.

The best speakers and writers, or such as may be ecrsKerea good authority in the use of language, are those o servedly in high estimation; speakers, distinguishe

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