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37. Few writers on grammar have been more noted than Lily and Murray. A law was made in England by Henry the Eighth, commanding Lily's grammar “only everywhere to be taught, for the use of learners and for the hurt in changing of schoolemaisters."-Pref. to Lily, p. xiv. Being long kept in force by means of a special inquiry directed to be made by the bishops at their stated visitations, this law, for three hundred years, imposed the book on all the established schools of the realm Yet it is certain, that about one half of what has thus gone under the name of Lily, (“because," says one of the patentees," he had so considerable a hand in the composition,") was written by Dr. Colet, by Erasmus, or by others who improved the work after Lily's death. (See Ward's Preface to the book, 1793.) And of the other half, history incidentally tells, that neither the scheme nor the text was original.
The Printer's Grammar, London, 1787, speaking of the art of type-foundery, says: “The Italians in a short time brought it to that perfection, that in the beginning of the year 1474, they cast a letter not much inferior to the best types of the present age; as may be seen in a Latin Grammar written by Omnibonus Leonicenus, and printed at Padua on the 14th of January, 1474; from whom our grammarian, Lily, has taken the entire scheme of his grammar, and transcribed the greatest part thereof, without paying any regard to the memory of this author." The historian then proceeds to speak about types. See also the History of Printing, 8vo, London, 1770. This is the grammar which bears upon its titlepage: “Quam solam Regia Majestas in omnibus scholia docendam præcipit."
el Murray was an intelligent and very worthy man, to whose various labours in the cot Wilation of books our schools are under many obligations. But in original thought sin critical skill he fell far below most of the authors to whom,” he confesses, “ the 29, mmatical part of his compilation is principally indebted for its materials, namely, id Irris, Johnson, Lowth, Priestley, Beattie, Sheridan, Walker, Coote, Blair, and holmpbell."'-Introd. to Gram., p. 1. It is certain and evident that he entered upon elfis task with a very insufficient preparation. His biography informs us, that, “ GramVaar did not particularly engage his attention, until a short time before the publication of his first work on that subject;" that, “ His grammar, as it appeared in the first edition, was completed in rather less than a year—though he had an intervening illness, which for several weeks stopped the progress of the work;" and that, “the Exercises and Key were also composed in about a year."-Life of L. Murray, p. 188. From the very first sentence of his book, it appears that he entertained but a low and most erroneous idea of the duties of that sort of character in which he was about to come before the public. He improperly imagined, as many others have done, that "little can be expected" from a modern grammarian, or (as he chose to express it) “from a new compilation, besides a careful selection of the most useful matter, and some degree of improvement in the mode of adapting it to the understanding, and the gradual progress of learners."— Introd. to Gram., 8vo, p. 5; 12mo, p. 3. As if, to be master of his own art—to think and write well himself, were no part of a grammarian's business! And again, as if the jewels of scholarship, thus carefully selected, could need a burnish or a foil from other hands than those which fashioned them!
39. Murray's general idea of the doctrines of grammar was judicious. He attempted no broad innovation on what had been previously taught; for he had neither the vanity to suppose he could give currency to novelties, nor the folly to waste his time in labours utterly nugatory. By turning his own abilities to their best account, he seems to have done much to promote and facilitate the study of our language. But his notion of grammatical authorship, cuts off from it all pretence to literary merit, for the sake of doing good; and, taken in any other sense than as a forced apology for his own assumptions, his language on this point is highly injurious towards the very authors whom he copied. To justify himself, he angenerously places them, in common with others, under a degrading necessity which no able grammarian ever felt, and which every man of genius or learning must repudiate. If none of our older grammars disprove his assertion, it is time to have a new one that will; for, to expect the perfection of grammar from him who cannot treat the subject in a style at once original and pure, is absurd. He says, “ The greater part of an English grammar must necessarily be a compilation;" and adds, with reference to his own, “originality belongs to but å small portion of it. This I have acknowledged; and I trust this acknowledgement will protect me from all attacks, grounded on any supposed unjust and irregular as. sumptions." -Letter, 1811. The acknowledgement on which he thus relies does not appear to have been made, till his grammar had gone through several editions. It was then inserted as follows: “In a work which professes to be a compilation, and which, from the nature and design of it, must consist chiefly of materials selected from the writings of others, it is scarcely necessary to apologize for the use which the compiler has made of his predecessors' labours, or for omitting to insert their names,' --Introd. to Gram., 8vo, p. 7; 12mo, p. 4.
40. For the nature and design of a book, whatever they may be, the author alone is answerable; but the nature and design of grammar, are no less repugnant to the strain of this apology, than to the vast number of errors and defects which were overlooked by Murray in his work of compilation. There is no part of the volume more accurate, than that which he literally copied from Lowth. To the Short Introduction alone ho was indebted for more than a hundred and twenty paragraphs; and even in these
there are many things obviously erroneous. Many of the best practical notes were taken from Priestley; yet it was he, at whose doctrines were pointed most of those “positions and discussions," which alone the author claims as original. To some, however, his own alterations may have given rise ; for, where he “persuades himself he is not destitute of originality," he is often arguing against the text of his own earlier editions. Webster's well-known complaints of Murray's unfairness, had a far better cance than requital; for there was no generosity in ascribing them to peevishness, though the passages in question were not worth copying. On perspicuity and accuracy, about sixty pages were extracted from Blair, and it requires no great critical acumen to discover, that they are miserably deficient in both. On the law of language, there are fifteen pages from Campbell; which, with a few exceptions, are well written. The rules for spelling are the same as Walker's: the third one, however, is a gross blun. der; and the fourth, a needless repetition. Were this a place for minute criticism, blemishes almost innumerable might be pointed out. It might easily be shown that almost every rule laid down in the book for the observance of the learner, was repeatedly violated by the hand of the master. Nor is there among all those who have since abridged or modified the work, an abler grammarian than he who compiled it. Who will pretend that Flint, Alden, Comly, Jaudon, Russell, Bacon, Lyon, Miller, Alger, Maltby, Ingersoll, Fisk, Greenleaf, Merchant, Kirkham, Cooper, R. G. Greene, Woodworth, Smith, or Frost, has exhibited greater skill? It is curious to observe, how frequently a grammatical blunder committed by Murray, or some one of his predecessors, has escaped the notice of all these, as well as of many others who have found it easier to copy him than to write for themselves.
41. But Murray's grammatical works, being at once extolled in the reviews, and made common stock in trade,-being published, both in England and in America, by booksellers of the most extensive correspondence, and highly commended even by those who were most interested in the sale of them,-have been eminently successful with the public; and, in the opinion of the world, success is the strongest proof of merit. Nor has the force of this argument been overlooked by those who have written in aid of his popularity. It is the strong point in most of the commendations which have been bestowed upon Murray as a grammarian. A recent eulogist computes, that, " at least five millions of copies of his various school-books have been printed :" particularly commends him for his “candour and liberality towards rival authors;" avers that, “he went on, examining and correcting his grammar, through all its forty edi. tions, till he brought it to a degree of perfection which will render it as permanent as the English language itself;" censures (and not without reason) the presumption" of those "superficial critics' who have attempted to amend the work, and usurp his honours; and, regarding the compiler's confession of his indebtedness to others, but as a mark of “his exemplary diftidence of his own merits," adds, (in very bad English,) “Perhaps there never was an author whose success and fame were more unexpected by himself, than Lindley Murray.—The Friend, Vol. iii, p. 33.
42. In a New-York edition of Murray's Grammar, printed in 1812, there was inserted a “Caution to the Public," by Collins & Co., his American correspondents and publishers, in which are set forth the unparalleled success and merit of the work," as it came in purity from the pen of the author;" with an earnest remonstrance against the several revised editions which had appeared at Boston, Philadelphia, and other places, and against the unwarrantable liberties taken by American teachers, in altering the work, under pretence of improving it. In this article it is stated, “ that the whole of these mutilated editions have been seen and examined by Lindley Murray himself, and that they have met with his decided disapprobation. Every rational mind," "continue these gentlemen, “will agree with him, that, “the rights of living authors, and the interests of science and literature, demand the abolition of this ungenerous practice." Here, then, we have the opinion and feeling of Murray himself upon this tender point of right. Here we see the tables turned, and other men judging it “scarcely necessary to apologize for the use which they have made of their predecessors' labours."
43. It is not intended by the introduction of these notices, to impute to Murray any thing more or less than what his own words plainly in ply; except those inaccuracies and deficiencies which still disgrace his work as a literary performance, and which of course he did not discover. He himself knew that he had not brought the book to such perfection as bas been ascribed to it; for, by way of apology for his frequent alterations, he says, “Works of this nature admit of repeated improvements; and are, perhaps, never complete." But it is due to truth to correct erroneous impressions; and, in order to obtain from some an impartial examination of the following pages, it seems necessary first to convince them that it is possible, to compose a better grammar than Murray's, without being particularly indebted to him. If this treatise is not such, a great deal of time has been thrown away upon a useless project; and if it is, the achievement is no fit subject for either pride or envy. It differs from his, and from every grammar based upon his, as a new map, drawn from actual and minuto surveys, differs from an old one, compiled chiefly from others still older and confessa edly still more imperfect. The region and the scope are essentially the same; the tracing and the colouring are more original; and (it the reader can pardou the sugo gestion) perhaps more accurate and vivid,
44. He who makes a new grammar, does nothing for the advancement of learning, unless his performance excel all earlier ones designed for the same purpose; and no. thing for his own honour, unless such excellence result from the exercise of his own ingenuity and taste. A good style naturally commends itself to every reader-even to him who cannot tell why it is worthy of preference. Hence there is reason to believe, that the true principles of practical grammar, deduced from custom and sanctioned by time, will never be generally superseded by any thing which individual caprice may substitute. In the republic of letters, there will always be some who can distinguish merit; and it is impossible that these should ever be converted to any whimsical theory of language, which goes to make void the learning of past ages. There will always be some who can discern the difference between originality of style, and innovation in doctrine-between a due regard to the opinions of others, and an actual usurpation of their text; and it is incredible that these should ever be satisfied with any mere compilation of grammar, or with any such authorship as either confesses or betrays the writer's own incompetence. For it is not true, that “an English grammar must necessarily be," in any considerable degree, if at all, “a compilation;" nay, on such a theme, and in “the grammatical part of the work, all compilation, beyond a fair use of authorities regularly quoted, or of materials either voluntarily furnished or free to all, most unavoidably implies—not conscious "ability," generously doing honour to rival merit—nor “exemplary diffidence," modestly veiling its own-but inadequate skill and inferior talents, bribing the public by the spoils of genius, and seeking precedence by such means as not even the purest desire of doing good can justify.
45. All praise of excellence must needs be comparative, because the thing itself is so. To excel in grammar, is but to know better than others wherein grammatical excellence consists. Hence there is no fixed point of perfection beyond which such learning may not be carried. The limit to improvement is not so much in the nature of the subject, as in the powers of the mind, and in the inducements to exert them upon a theme so humble and so uninviting. Dr. Johnson suggests in his master reface, “that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient." Who then will suppose, in the face of such facts and confessions as have been exhibited, that either in the faulty publications of Murray, or among the various modifications of them by other hands, we have any such work as deserves to be made a permanent standard of instruction in English grammar?The author of this treatise will not pretend that it is perfect; though he has bestowed upon it no inconsiderable pains, that the narrow limits to which it must needs be confined, might be filled up to the utmost advantage of the learner, as well as to the best direction and greatest relief of the teacher.
46. A Key to the Oral Exercises in False Syntax, is inserted in the Grammar, that the pupil may be enabled fully to prepare himself for that kind of class recitations. Being acquainted with the rule, and having seen the correction, he may be expected to state the error and the reason for the change, without embarrassment or delay. It is the opinion of some teachers, that no Key in aid of the student should be given. Accordingly many grammars, not destitute of exercises in false syntax, are published without either formules of correction, or a Key to show the right reading. But English grammar, in any extensive exhibition of it, is a study dry and difficult enough for the young, when we have used our best endeavours to free it from all obscurities and doubts. The author thinks he has learned from experience, that, with explicit help of this sort, most pupils will not only gain more knowledge of the art in a given time, but in the end find their acquisitions more satisfactory and more permanent.
47. A separate Key to the Exercises for Writing, is published for the convenience of teachers and private learners. For an obvious reason this Key should not be put into the hands of the school-boy. Being a distinct volume, it may be had, bound by itself or with the Grammar. Those teachers who desire to exercise their pupils orally in correcting false grammar without a Key, can at any time make use of this series of examples for such purpose.
48. From the first edition of the following treatise, there was made by the author, for the use of young learners, a brief abstract, entitled, “The First Lines of English Grammar;" in which are embraced all the leading doctrines of the original work, with a new series of examples for their application in parsing. Much that is important in the grammar of the language, was necessarily excluded from this epitome; nor was it designed for those who can learn a larger book without wearing it out. But economy, as well as convenience, demands small and cheap treatises for children; and those teachers who approve of this system of grammatical instruction, will find many reasons for preferring the First Lines to any other compend, as an introduction to the study of these Institutes.
40. Having undertaken and prosecuted this work, with the hope of facilitating the study of the English Language, and thus promoting the improvement of the young, the author now presents his finished labours to the candour and discernment of those to whom is committed the important business of instruction. How far he has suc. ceeded in the execution of his design, is willingly left to the just decision of those who are qualified to judge.
GOOLD BROWN. Revised, Lynn, Mass., 1854.
POSTSCRIPT TO THE PREFACE.
T12 school-book now pretty well-known as “Brown's Institutes of English Grams mar, was my first attempt at authorship in the character of a grammarian; and, satisfactory as it has been to the many thousands who have used it, it has never. theless, like all other not incorrigible attempts in this line, been found susceptible of sundry important emendations. So that I must believe with Murray, that, “Works of this nature admit of repeated improvements; and are, perhaps, never complete." It cannot, however, be said in my favour, as it has been in commendation of this author, that; “ He went on examining and correcting his grammar through all its forty editions, till he brought it to the utmost degree of perfection;" but something has been done in this way, three or four of the early editions of the Institutes having been severally retouched and improved by the author's hand; and now, an undiminished demand for the work having continued to spread its reputation, I have at length the satisfaction to have endeavoured yet once again to render it still more worthy of the public favour.
The time which has elapsed since the author first published this work, has been mainly spent in labours and studies tending very directly to enlarge and mature his knowledge of English Grammar; and, especially, to better his acquaintance with the great variety of books and essays which have been written upon it. The principal result of these labours and studies has been given to the world in his large work entitled “The Grammar of English Grammars." To conform the future editions of these Institutes more nearly to the text of this large Grammar, to supply some deficiences which have been thought to lessen the comparative value of the former work, to divide the book more systematically into chapters and subdivisions, and to correct a few typographical errors which had crept in, were the objects contemplated in the revision which has now been effected.
In making these improvements, I have not forgotten that alterations in a popular class-book are, on some accounts, exceedingly undesirable. The writer who ventures at all upon them, is ever liable to subject his patrons and best friends to more or less inconvenience; and for this he should be very sure of having presented, in every instance, an ample compensation. It is believed that the changes which the present revision exhibits, though they are neither few nor unimportant, need not prevent, in schools, a concurrent use of old editions with the new, till the former may be sufficiently worn out. What has been added or changed, will therefore lack no justifica. tion; and the author will rest, with sufficient assurance, in the hope that the intelligent patronage which has hitherto been giving more and more publicity to his earliest teachings, will find, decidedly, and without mistake, in this improved form of tha work, the best common school Grammar now extant.
GOOLD BROWN, Lynn, Mass., 1885.
TABLE OF CONTENTS,
Preface to the Institutes ;
Rules for Syllabication;