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writers in prose and verse, and the arts and sciences have been cultivated, yet our English grammar was not among the first things attended to; nor has it yet been reduced to a regular system, founded on just and stable principles, and consistent throughout; by means of which our language is anomalous and defective; and, with one thousand bards, who have lived in the course of this period, ou prosody has received but little attention, and remains in a crude and defective state.
The writer of this has taken upon himself the task of writing a system of English Grammar, of which the following treatise on Prosody is a part. The whole work may perhaps be offered to the public at some future time; but, for the benefit of those who wish to study Prosody separately, this is published in a separate volume.
This part of grammar has not been much studied in our schools, high or low; and one reason for which may be a full and correct system of Prosody has not been written. And probably it may never be deemed proper to introduce this branch into our primary schools, as a general study; nor do I deem it proper. There are some, however, in many of our primary schools, who have competent genius, and who may study it with pleasure and benefit.
Orthography, with its appendages, is the fundamental part of grammar, and the most useful part to be studied by all classes. And, to a class one grade above the dead level, etymology and syntax may be useful. And I may here remark, not every one who engages in the study of these attains enough to be much benefited by it. But Prosody is a higher branch, and may not be studied so generally as those last mentioned. But to those who have a competent genius, and to such as compose the higher classes in literature, this may be a useful study. To every professed scholar, and to those who are teachers of grammar, some knowledge of Prosody may be useful and necessary, as Prosody is one part of grammar, which stands connected with the foregoing parts, and completes the system.
The study of Prosody is a pleasant study, and not so dry as that
of the foregoing parts of grammar; and some young persons with whom I have conversed have expressed a wish to engage in it. I think that it may be proper to be introduced into some of our high schools and seminaries, and for which I have aimed to have this work adapted. In the body of the work I have cited examples in verse, exemplifying all the rules of versification and scansion, and which may serve also for examples adapted to the several rules of reading; the rules of versification, scansion, and reading, being founded on the same general principles. And as this work is designed for schools, if any of our teachers see fit to adopt it; and as some more examples, for exercises in reading and scansion, may be thought necessary, a few select pieces, adapted to this purpose, are appended.
This work is in a great degree original; in composing which, I have followed no author implicitly, antient or modern; but have deduced rules and principles from the genius and idioms of our language, from the examples of the poets, and from nature. These are
the general principles adopted by our English bards, and the only just principles of English Prosody.
This work contains all which pertains to the composition of verse, in distinction from prose, and all which pertains to Prosody. Some writers on grammar have made Prosody include accentuation, orthoepy, punctuation, and rhetoric, and this has tended to involve the subject in obscurity. Those branches pertain not to Prosody, therefore I have not treated of them under this head. Orthoepy and accentuation pertain to orthography, punctuation to syntax, and rhetoric is a distinct branch, which has some connection with grammar, but is not included in it. I have made these digressive remarks that these things may be distinctly understood, without which none of those branches of science can be taught or studied systematically, or with perspicuity and success.
That our grammar needs systematizing is apparent; and here we may see one advantage in studying Prosody: after having studied the foregoing parts, orthography with its appendages, and ety
mology and syntax, with theirs, prosody comes next and completes the system. Having thus gone through, we may then review the system in all its parts, and be able to trace a series of minor parts and branches, which compose the system, in their regular order; we may review them in their distinct capacities, and also in their connections and bearings.
This work now comes before the public, not in the usual way of publications of this kind; not having been reviewed and recommended by any literary characters. It is not pretended that the work is free from defects. Of its merits or demerits the public may judge, and on this basis it may stand or fall.
Carver, near Plymouth, March 4, 1847.