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There appears to be something assuming in the act of writing, and thrusting into publick notice, a new work on a subject which has already employed many able pens; for who would presume to do this, unless he believed his production to be, in some respects, superiour to every one of the kind which had preceded it? Hence, in presenting to the publick this system of English Grammar, the author is aware that an apology will be looked for, and that the arguments on which that apology is grounded, must inevitably undergo a rigid scrutiny. Apprehensive, however, that no explanatory effort, on his part, would shield him from the imputation of arrogance by such as are blinded by self-interest, or by those who are wedded to the doctrines and opinions of his predecessors, with them he will not attempt a compromise, being, in a great measure, indifferent either to their praise or their censure. But with the candid, he is willing to ncgotiate an amicable treaty, knowing that they are always ready to enter into it on honourable terms. In this negotiation he asks nothing more than merely to rest the merits of his work on its practical utility, believing that, if it prove uncommonly successful in facilitating the progress of youth in the march of mental improvement, that will be its best apology.
When we bring into consideration the numerous productions of those learned philologists who have laboured so long, and, as many suppose, so successfully, in establishing the principles of our language; and, more especially, when we view the labours of some of our modern compilers, who have displayed so much ingenuity and acuteness in attempting to arrange those principles in such a manner as to form a correct and an easy medium of mental conference; it does, indeed, appear a little like presumption for a young man to enter upon a subject which has so frequently engaged the attention and talents of men distinguished for their erudition. The author ventures forward, however, under the conviction, that most of his predecessors are very deficient, at least, in manner, if not in matter; and this conviction, he believes, will be corroborated by a majority of the best judges in community. It is admitted, that many valuable improvements have been made by some of our late writers, who have endeavoured to simplify and render this subject intelligible to the young learner, but they have all overlooked what the author considers a very important object, namely, a systematick order of parsing; and nearly all have neglected to develope and explain the principles in such a manner as to enable the learner, without great difficulty, to comprehend their nature and use.
By some this system will, no doubt, be discarded on account of its simplicity; whilst to others its simplicity will prove its principal recommendation. Its design is an humble one. It proffers no great advantages to the recondite grammarian; it professes not to instruct the literary connoisseur; it presents no attractive graces of style to charm, no daring flights to astonish, no deep researches to gratify him; but in the humblest simplicity of diction, it attempts to accelerate the march of the juvenile mind in its advances in the path of science, by dispersing those clouds that so often bewilder it, and removing those obstacles that generally retard its progress. In this way it endeavours to render interesting and delightful a study which has hitherto been considered tedious, dry, and irksome. Its leading object is to adopt a correct and an easy method, in which pleasure is blended with the labours of the learner, and which is calculated to excite in him a spirit of inquiry, that shall call forth into vigorous and useful exercise, every latent energy of his mind; and thus enable him soon to become thoroughly acquainted with the nature of the principles, and with their practical utility and application.
Content to be useful, instead of being brilliant, the writer of these pages has endeavoured to shun the path of those whose aim appears to have been
to dazzle, rather than to instruct. As he has aimed not so much at originality as utility, he has adopted the thoughts of his predecessors whose labours have become publick stock, whenever he could not, in his opinion, furnish better and brighter of his own. Aware that there is, in the publick mind, a strong predilection for the doctrines contained in Mr. Murray's grammar, he has thought proper, not merely from motives of policy, but from choice, to select his principles chiefly from that work; and, moreover, to adopt, as far as consistent with his own views, the language of that eminent philologist. In no instance has he varied from him, unless he conceived that, in so doing, some practical advantage would be gained. He hopes, therefore, to escape the censure so frequently and so justly awarded to those unfortunate innovators who have not scrupled to alter, mutilate, and torture the text of that able writer, merely to gratify an itching propensity to figure in the world as authors, and gain an ephemeral popularity by arrogating to themselves the credit due to another.
The author is not disposed, however, to disclaim all pretensions to originality; for, although his principles are chiefly selected, (and who would presume to make new ones?) the manner of arranging, illustrating, and applying them, is principally his own. Let no one, therefore, if he hap. pen to find in other works, ideas and illustrations similar to some contained in the following lectures, too hastily accuse him of plagiarism. It is well known that similar investigations and pursuits often elicit corresponding ideas in different minds: and hence it is not uncommon for the same thought to be strictly original with many writers. The author is not here attempting to manufacture a garment to shield him from rebuke, should he unjustly claim the property of another; but he wishes it to be understood, that a long course of teaching and investigation, has often produced in his mind ideas and arguments on the subject of grammar, exactly or nearly corresponding with those which he afterwards found, had, under similar circumstances, been produced in the minds of others. He hopes, therefore, to be pardoned by the critick, even though he should not be willing to reject a good idea of his own, merely because some one else has, at some time or other, been blessed with the same thought.
As the plan of this treatise is far more comprehensive than those of ordinary grammars, the writer could not, without making his work unrea sonably voluminous, treat some topicks as extensively as was desirable. Its design is to embrace, not only all the most aportant principles of the science, but also exercises in parsing, false syntax, and punctuation, suffi ciently extensive for all ordinary, practical purposes, and a key to the ex ercises, and, moreover, a series of illustrations so full and intelligible, as com pletely to adapt the principles to the capacities of common learners. Whether this design has been successfully or unsuccessfully executed, is left for the publick to decide. The general adoption of the work into schools, wherever it has become known, and the ready sale of forty thousand copies, (though without hitherto affording the author any pecuniary profit,) are favourable omens.
In the selection and arrangement of principles for his work, the author has endeavoured to pursue a course between the extremes, of taking olindly on trust whatever has been sanctioned by prejudice and the authority of venerable names, and of that arrogant, innovating spirit, which sets at defiance all authority, and attempts to overthrow all former systems, and convince the world that all true knowledge and science are wrapped up in a crude system of vagaries of its own invention. Notwithstanding the author is aware that publick prejudice is powerful, that he who ventures much by way of innovation, will be liable to defeat his own purpose by falling into neglect; yet he has taken the liberty to think for himself, to investigate the subject critically and dispassionately, and to adopt such principles only as he deemed the least objectionable, and best calculated to effect the object he had in view. But what his system claims as improvements on
others, consists not so much in bettering the principles themselves, as in the method adopted of communicating a knowledge of them to the mind of the learner. That the work is defective, the author is fully sensible: and he is free to acknowledge, that its defects arise, in part, from his own want of judgment and skill. But there is another and a more serious cause of them, namely, the anomalies and imperfections with which the language abounds. This latter circumstance is also the cause of the existence of so widely different opinions on many important points; and,moreover, the reason that the grammatical principles of our language can never be indisputably settled. But principles ought not to be rejected because they admit of exceptions. He who is thoroughly acquainted with the genius and structure of our language, can duly appreciate the truth, of these remarks.
To conform, in our orthography and orthoepy, to some admitted standard, the author deems a consideration of sufficient importance to justify him in introducing into his work an article on each of these subjects, in which many words that are often misspelled or mispronounced, are corrected according to a work,* which, in his estimation, justly claims a decisive preference, in point of accuracy, to any other Dictionary of the English language. **Should parents object to the Compendium, fearing it will soon be destroyed by their children, they are informed that the pupil will not have occasion to use it one-tenth part as much as he will the book which it accompanies and besides, if it be destroyed, he will find all the definitions and rules which it contains, recapitulated in the series of Lectures.
HINTS TO TEACHERS AND PRIVATE LEARNERS.
As this work proposes a new mode of parsing, and pursues an arrangement essentially different from that generally adopted, it may not be deemed improper for the author to give some directions to those who may be disposed to use it. Perhaps they who take only a slight view of the order of parsing, will not consider it new, but blend it with those long since adopted. Some writers have, indeed, attempted plans somewhat similar; but in no instance have they reduced them to what the author considers a regular systematick order.
The methods which they have generally suggested, require the teacher to interrogate the pupil as he proceeds; or else he is permitted to parse without giving any explanations at all. Others hint that the learner ought to apply definitions in a general way, but they lay down no systematick arrangement of questions as his guide. The systematick order laid down in this work, if pursued by the pupil, compels him to apply every definition and every rule that appertains to each word he parses, without having a question put to him by the teacher; and, in so doing, he explains every word fully as he goes along. This course enables the learner to proceed independently; and proves, at the same time, a great relief to the instructer. The conve nience and advantage of this method, are far greater than can be easily conceived by one who is unacquainted with it. The author is, therefore, anxious to have the absurd practice, wherever it has been established, of causing learners to commit and recite definitions and rules without any si multaneous application of them to practical examples, immediately abolished. This system obviates the necessity of pursuing such a stupid course of drudgery; for the young beginner who pursues it, will have, in a few weeks, all the most important definitions and rules perfectly committed, simply by applying them in parsing.
If this plan be once adopted, it is confidently believed that every teacher who is desirous to consult, either his own convenience, or the advantage of his pupils, will readily pursue it in preference to any former method. This
The work alluded to, is "Walker's Dictionary." revised and corrected by Ms Lyman Lut
belief is founded on the advantages which the author himself as expe rienced from it in the course of several years, devoted to the instruction of youth and adults. By pursuing this system, he can, with less labour, advance a pupil farther in a practical knowledge of this abstruse science, in two months, than he could in one year when he taught in the "old way." It is presumed that no instructer, who once gives this system a fair trial, will doubt the truth of this assertion.
Perhaps some will, on a first view of the work, disapprove of the transposition of many parts; but whoever examines it attentively, will find that, although the author has not followed the common "artificial and unnatural arrangement adopted by most of his predecessors," yet he has endeavoured to pursue a more judicious one, namely, "the order of the understanding."
The learner should commence, not by comrnitting and rehearsing, but by reading attentively the first two lectures several times over. He ought then to parse, according to the systematick order, the examples given for that purpose; in doing which, as previously stated, he has an opportunity of committing all the definitions and rules belonging to the parts of speech included in the examples.
The COMPENDIUM, as it presents to the eye of the learner a condensed but comprehensive view of the whole science, may be properly considered an "Ocular Analysis of the English language." By referring to it, the young student is enabled to apply all his definitions and rules from the very commencement of his parsing. To some, this mode of procedure may seem rather tedious; but it must appear obvious to every person of discernment, that a pupil will learn more by parsing five words critically, and explaining them fully, than he would by parsing fifty words superficially, and without understanding their various properties. The teacher who pursues this plan, is not under the necessity of hearing his pupils recite a single lesson of definitions committed to memory, for he has a fair opportunity of discovering their knowledge of these as they evince it in parsing. All other directions necessary for the learner in school, as well as for the private learner, will be given in the succeeding pages of the work. Should these feeble efforts prove a saving of much time and expense to those young persons who may be disposed to pursue this science with avidity, by enabling them easily to acquire a critical knowledge of a branch of education so important and desirable, the author's fondest anticipations will be fully realized; but should his work fall into the hands of any who are expecting, by the acquisition, to become grammarians, and yet, have not sufficient ambition and perseverance to make themselves acquainted with its contents, it is hoped, that the blame for their nonimprovement, will not be thrown upon him.
To those enterprising and intelligent gentlemen who may be disposed to lecture op this plan, the author takes the liberty to offer a few hints by way of encourage
Any judicious instructer of grammar, if he take the trouble to make himself familiar with the contents of the following pages, will find it an easy matter to pursue this system. One remark only to the lecturer, is sufficient. Instead of causing his pupils to acquire a knowledge of the nature and use of the principles by intense application, let him communicate it verbally; that is, let him first take up one part of speech, and, in an oral lecture, unfold and explain all its properties, not only by adopting the illustrations given in the book, but also by giving others that may occur to his mind as he proceeds. After a part of speech has been thus elucidated, the class should be interrogated on it, and then taught to parse it, and correct errours in composition under the rules that apply to it. In the same manner he may proceed with the other parts of speech, observing, however, to recapitulate occasionally, until the learners become thoroughly acquainted with whatever principles may have been presented. If this plan be faithfully pursued, rapid progress, on the part of the learner, will be the inevitable result; and that teacher who pursues it, cannot fail of acquiring distinction, and an enviable popularity in his profession.