Page images
PDF
EPUB

modes of expression is the first—the simplest and the most fundamental_work of the student of English, it is also, in its highest development, his last work, the final polishing touch of the finished composition. ·

The new-found zeal for the study of English has naturally developed great variety both of methods and of material. Evidently, however, the whole ground cannot be covered, except perhaps by a very few students; the vast majority must confine themselves to such parts of the subject as may be considered most suitable to their individual wants. The ungracious task of selection must be performed. In deference to the practical needs of the average pupil, large departments of English study, interesting and valuable in the eyes of the scholar, must, if not wholly, at all events in great part, be regretfully set aside. In our present circumstances, and for a long time to come, teachers and students ought, I conceive, to direct their best energies to the attainment of high practical facility and excellence. This difficult end is to be reached only by earnest labour in the direction generally indicated in these words of Dryden: “to understand the purity of English, and critically to discern, not only good writers from bad, and a proper style from a corrupt, but also to distinguish that which is pure in a good author from that which is vicious and corrupt in him.” And the

purpose of the present work is to lay down a method and to furnish materials whereby the first steps towards this end may be taken, as indeed in my own classes they have been taken, with increased facility and with encouraging success.

Any one that desires to be a thoroughly competent writer, will seek to gain complete command over all the parts and all the devices of his craft, over the higher and the lower resources alike. Not content to proceed solely upon his own ideas, or upon the general notions that may have spontaneously occurred to him in random practice, he will diligently gather and test, for bis own

guidance, the experience of his predecessors and fellows. Neither will he rashly despise any individual part of his composition, lest he should thereby endanger the effect of the whole. Hence he will attentively consider the single words, the combinations of such in phrases and clauses, and of these again in sentences, as well as the higher forms—paragraphs, sections, chapters, books. It should seem, then, that the elementary parts of such work claim the first attention of beginners; and, accordingly, in the present volume, pupils are asked to mould the raw material into the widest variety of forms, till it shall become perfectly plastic under their hands. After a long course of practice, the better students may be able to select the fittest forms, not indeed spontaneously, but almost as rapidly as if spontaneously. They must not, however, allow themselves to be misled into the seductive and dangerous belief that the art of composition cannot be taught, but really “comes by nature. Let no student for one moment entertain the delusion that he may with impunity exempt himself from humble apprentice-work; the finest artist does not restrict his labour to the broad lines alone, in contempt of the resources of detail.

The present volume may almost be described as a series of Exercises connected on a framework of Headings and Explanation. Introductory to the Exercises, typical Examples are fully worked out as specimens of what the pupil is intended to do with the further similar examples constituting the exercises. Different forms for identical meanings are taken together in couples for mutual illustration : one form is set forth, and then a second is declared to be a practical equivalent. Occasionally short explanations are appended. The pupil, having studied the preparatory equivalents and explanations, proceeds to the accompanying exercise. This consists of a number of examples typified by the first of the preliminary equivalents; and the task of the pupil is to express the same meaning in the form of the second equivalent. He is expected to do with each example in the exercise precisely what he has seen done with similar examples in the matter pre

ceding the exercise. In the Exercises, I have endeavoured to place systematically before the pupil examples of all the common modes of expression in all their variety. The interchange of forms in the statement of the same meaning is carried out at length from both points of view; it is given first on one side and then on the other, each side being fully illustrated in its proper place. As the pupil works out these interchanges, he is gradually and insensibly furnished with illustrations of all forms disclosed in the “ Analysis of Sentences” and in the more important parts of “Parsing." By thorough study of the whole course, he should become familiar with the effective use of every mode of expression, and indeed of the limits of the use of every mode in every situation.

I do not undertake to decide in each case which of two or more equivalent forms is the most eligible—I could not possibly do so without changing the nature of the work, and greatly extending it: I assume that the teacher is competent to do this. As a result of the constant comparison of a number of similar instances, accompanied with guiding remarks, there will soon spring up in the pupil's mind a ready feeling of merit and demerit as regards the special forms under consideration. The following opinion of Professor Bain underlies every page of this work : “ The pupils are thus accustomed to weigh every expression that comes before them, and this I take to be the beginning of the art of composition."

The practical nature of the volume is sufficiently apparent. Particular instances are held in the foreground as the basis of study; as far as possible, the concrete examples are to be allowed to tell their own tale. Generalization is mainly to be left as an effect of these on the mind of the pupil

. At the same time, all the important forms of Parsing and Analysis may be put under the command of the pupil, for practical purposes, without his hearing of a classification or of a tabulated arrangement.

Many pupils, however, will desire to learn not merely the practical equivalence of forms, but the names that these are known by in technical Grammar. For this reason, as well as for more convenient and intelligible arrangement, the Technical Names are given as headings. Thus they may be studied or neglected at discretion ; the book is technical or untechnical according to the will of teacher or of pupil.

The received Nonienclature of Grammar is not disturbed. I am well aware that many of the designations have often been assailed with varying success; they have been denounced as inconvenient, inadequate, improper, absurd. Yet, for one thing, it is to be remembered that not a few of these names may very reasonably claim to be no longer criticized on their derivation or primary meaning ; they are now conventional terms, and we have nothing to do with them as conveying any sense but the conventional sense in common use. Further, judging from some names recently invented to supersede older designations, one is rather inclined to wait for more discussion and more agreement among competent grammarians. Very nearly the same line of remark is applicable to some other changes also quite recently advocated—for instance, as regards the classification of certain adjuncts in Analysis. Such changes are apt to be rather hastily assumed as obviously proper. And, above all, a book like the present, professing to be illustrative of grammars in general use, must not make itself unintelligible or unworkable by newness of nomenclature.

The volume is divided into three parts. The FIRST PART deals, in the manner above described, with the PARTS OF SPEECH as members of Sentences, and with the PHRASE and the CLAUSE forms doing duty for them. These three classes of forms are exhibited in their various uses, and the multiplicity of mutual interchange among them receives full illustration. The Co-ORDINATE SENTENCE also is shown in similar interchange. The many important and frequently recurring words of REFERENCEespecially as pronouns and as adverbs (or conjunetions) are always treated with careful attention. The general remarks already made apply most fully to this part, which is the main division of the subject.

The SECOND PART, treating of ELLIPSIS and PLEONASM, is in the closest connection with the First. Very many of the forms interchanged in the First Part are in various degrees elliptical. The full illustration of them has necessarily led to systematic exemplification of the ellipses of the language. The supplying of omissions, combined with the practice of formal resolving, has been turned to account in testing complex and compound sentences for irregularity or impropriety of contraction. Pleonasm is mainly a matter of Rhetoric ; yet the purely grammatical points involved are of considerable importance. It forms the antithesis to Ellipsis.

The THIRD PART is concerned with THE SIMPLE and THE ABSTRUSE in language. It takes us over the ground of “ Derivation.” It examines the respective merits of the words that have come to us from various sources (especially Teutonic and Classical), and it compares the advantages and disadvantages of Prefixes and Suffixes and other modes of composition of vocables. Several incidental matters are noted. Detailed exemplification has not been considered desirable : but the points to be taken up with pupils and the general direction of study are succinctly indicated, while continuous Illustrative: Extracts are furnished as suitable matter to work upon. In this department also, the teacher will find much to do, in continuation, expansion, and utilisation of the universal practice of giving equivalents.

With unimportant exceptions, the EXAMPLES throughout this book have been slowly selected in a long course of varied reading. They are taken, in most part, from the best writers on all subjects in all periods of the language ; but I have never hesitated to accept a good example whoever offered it. I have not been ambitious to follow the learned practice of minutely naming author and work and chapter and verse after each example. I am not sure, however, but there

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »