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is nothing which demands attention. Hence L ECT. arises the habit of writing in a loose and inaccurate manner..

IX.

I ADMIT, that no grammatical rules have fufficient authority to controul the firm and established usage of Language. Established custom, in speaking and writing, is the standard to which we must at last resort for determining every controverted point in Language and Style. But it will not follow from this, that grammatical rules are superseded as useless. In every Language, which has been in any degree cultivated, there prevails a certain structure and analogy of parts, which is un: derstood to give foundation to the most reputable usage of Speech; and which, in all cases, when usage is loose or dubious, possesses confiderable authority. In every Language, there are rules of syntax which must be inviolably observed by all who would either write or speak with any propriety. For syntax is no other than that arrangement of words, in a sentence, which renders the meaning of each word, and the relation of all the words to one another, most clear and intelligible.

All the rules of Latin syntax, it is true, cannot be applied to our Language. Many of these rules arose from the particular form of their Language, which occasioned verbs or

prepot

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1

IX.

LECT. prepositions to govern, some the genitive, fome

the dative, some the accusative or ablative
case. But, abstracting from these peculiari-
ties, it is to be always remembered, that
the chief and fundamental rules of syntax are
common to the English as well as the Latin
Tongue; and, indeed, belong equally to all
Languages. For, in all Languages, the parts
which compofe Speech are essentially the same;
substantives, adjectives, verbs, and connecting
particles: And wherever these parts of Speech
are found, there are certain necessary relations
among them, which regulate their syntax, or
the place which they ought to poffess in a fen-
tence. Thus, in English, just as much as in
Latin, the adjective must, by position, be
made to agree with its substantive; and the
verb must agree with its nominative in person
and number ; because, from the nature of
things, a word, which expresses either a qua-
lity or an action, must correspond as closely
as possible with the name of that thing whose
quality, or whose action, it expreffes. Two
or more substantives, joined by a copulative,
must always require the verbs or pronouns,
to which they refer, to be placed in the plural
number; otherwise, their common relation to
these verbs or pronouns is not pointed out.
An active verb muft, in every Language, go-
vern the accusative; that is, clearly point out
fome substantive noun, as the object to which

IX.

its action is directed. A relative pronoun LECT. must, in every form of Speech, agree with its antecedent in gender, number, and person; and conjunctions, or connecting particles, ought always to couple like cases and moods; that is, ought to join together words which are of the same form and state with each other. I mention these, as a few exemplifications of that fundamental regard to syntax, which, even in such a Language as ours, is absolutely requisite for writing or speaking with any propriety.

WHATEVER the advantages, or defects of the English Language be, as it is our own Language, it deserves a high degree of our study and attention, both with regard to the choice of words which we employ, and with regard to the syntax, or the arrangement of these words in a sentence. We know how much the Greeks and the Romans, in their most polifhed and flourishing times, cultivated their own Tongues. We know how much study both the French, and the Italians, have bestowed upon theirs. Whatever knowledge may be acquired by the study of other Languages, it can never be communicated with advantage, unless by such as can write and speak their own Language well. Let the matter of an author be ever so good and useful, bis compositions will always suffer in the pubR3

lic

IX.

LE c T. lic esteem, if his expression be deficient in pu.

rity and propriety. At the same time, the at-
tainment of a correct and elegant style, is an
object which demands application and labour.
If any imagine they can catch it merely by the
ear, or acquire it by a slight perusal of some of
our good authors, they will find themselves
much disappointed. The many errors, even
in point of grammar,

the
many

offences against purity of Language, which are committed by writers who are far from being contemptible, demonstrate, that a careful study of the Language is previously requisite, in all who aim at writing it properly *.

* On this subject, the Reader ought to peruse Dr. Lowth's Short Introduction to English Grammar, with Critical Notes; which is the grammatical performance of highest authority that has appeared in our time, and in which he will see, what I have faid concerning the inaccuracies in Language of some of our best writers, fully verified. In Dr. Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric, he will likewise find many acute and ingenious observations, both on the English Language, and on Style in general. And Dr. Priestley's Rudiments of English Grammar, will al.o þe useful, by pointing out several of the errors into which writers are apt to fall.

L E C T U R E X.

STYLE-PERSPICUITY AND

PRECISION.

HAY

X.

AVING finished the subject of Lan- LECT.

guage, I now enter on the consideration of Style, and the rules that relate to it,

Iğ is not easy to give a precise idea of what is meant by Style. The best definition I can give of it, is, the peculiar manner in which a man expresses his conceptions, by means of Language. It is different from mere Language or words. The words, which an author employs, may be proper and faultless ; and his Style may, nevertheless, have great faults; it may be dry, or stiff, or feeble, or affected. Style has

Style has always some reference to an author's manner of thinking. It is a picture of the ideas which rise in his mind, and of the manner in which they rise there; and, hence, when we are examining an author's composition, it is, in many cases, extremely

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difficult

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