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entitled to respect, if not exceptionable in a moral point of view.
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uSermo constat ratione, vetustate, auctoritate, consuetudine. "Consuetudo veroo certissima loquendi magistra."
"Si volet usus
"Quern penes arbitrium est, et jus, et norma loquendi."
On this principle, many forms of expression, not less deviating from the general analogy of the language, than those before mentioned, are to be considered as strictly proper and justifiable. Of this kind are the following: "None of them are varied to express the gender;" and yet none originally signified no one. "He himself shall do the work:" here, what was at first appropriated to the objective, is now properly used as the nominative case. "You have behaved yourselves well:" in this example, the word you is put in the nominative case plural, with propriety; though formerly it was confined to the objective case, and ye exclusively used for the nominative.
With respect to anomalies and variations of language, thus established, it is the grammarian's business to submit, not to remonstrate. In pertinaciously opposing the decision of proper authority, and contending for obsolete modes of expression, he may, indeed, display learning and critical sagacity; and, in some degree, obscure points that are sufficiently clear and decided: but he cannot reasonably hope, either to succeed in his aims, or to assist the learner, in discovering and respecting the true standard and principles of language.
Cases which custom has left dubious, are certainly within the grammarian's province. Here, he may reason and remonstrate on the ground of derivation, analogy, and propriety; and his reasonings may refine and improve the language: but when authority speaks out and decides the point, it were perpetually to unsettle the language, to admit of cavil and debate. Anomalies then, under the limitation mentioned, become the law, as clearly as the plainest analogies.
The reader will perceive that in the following sentences, the use of the word mean, in the old form, has a very uncouth appearance: "By the mean of adversity, we are often instructed." "He preserved his health, by mean of exercise." "Frugality is one mean of acquiring a competency." They should be, "By means of adversity," &c. "By means of exercise," 8ic. "Frugality is one means" &c.
Good writers do indeed make use of the substantive mean in the singular number, audin that number only, to signify mediocrity, middle rate, &ic.: as, "This is a mean between the two extremes." But in the sense of instrumentality, it has been long disused by the best authors, and by almost every writer.
This means and that means should be used only when they refer to what is singular; these meuns and those means, when they respect plurals: as, "He lived temperately, and by this means preserved his health;" "The scholars were attentive, industrious, and obedient to their tutors; and by these means acquired knowledge."
We have enlarged on this article, that the young student may be led to reflect on a point so important, as that of ascertaining the standard of propriety in the use of language.
2. When two persons or things are spoken of in a sentence, and there is occasion to mention them again for the sake of distinction, that is used in reference to the former, and this in reference to the latter: as, "Self-love, which is the spring of action in the soul, is ruled by reason: but for that, man would be inactive; and but for this, he would be active to no end."
3. The distributive adjective pronouns, each, every, either, agree with the nouns, pronouns, and verbs, of the singularnumber only: as, "The king of Israel, and Jehosophat, the king of Judah, sat each on his throne;" "Every tree is known by its fruit:" unless the plural noun convey a collective idea: as, "Every six months:" "Every hundred years."—The following phrases are exceptionable: "Let each esteem others better than themselves:" it ought to be " himstlf." "It is requite that the language should be both perspicuous and correct: in proportion as either of these two qualities are wanting, the language is imperfect:" it should be, "is wanting." "Every one of the letters bear regular dates, and contain proofs of attachment:" "bears a regular date, and contains." "Every town and village were burned; every grove and every tree were cut down:" "was burned, aml was cut down." "Every freeman, and every citizen, have a right to give their votes:" "has a right to give his vote."—See vol. 2. pages 24, 190. The Note.
Either is often used improperly, instead of each: as, "The king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, sat either of them on his throne;" "Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, tooketf/ter of them his censer." Each signifies both of them taken distinctly or separately; either properly signifies only the one or the other of them, taken disjunctively.
In the course of this work, some examples will appear, of erroneous translations from the Holy Scriptures, with respect to grammatical construction: but it maybe proper to remark. that notwithstanding these verbal mistakes, the Bible, for the size of it, is the most accurate grammatical composition that we have in the English language. The authority of several eminent grammarians might be adduced in support of this assertion; but it may be sufficient to mention only that of Dr. Lowth, who says, "The present translation of the Bible, is the best standard of the English language."
4. Adjectives are sometimes improperly applied as adverbs: as, "Indifferent honest; excellent well; miserable poor." instead of" Indifferently honest; excellently well; miserably poor." "He behaved himself conformable to that great example;" "conformably." "Endeavour to live hereafter suitable to persons in your station;" "suitably." "I can never think so very mean of him;" "meanly." "He describes this river agreeable to the common reading;" "agreeably." "Agreeable to my promise, I now write;" M agreeably." "Thy exceeding great reward." When united to an adjective, or adverb not ending in ly, the word exceeding has ly added to it: as, "exceedingly dreadful, exceedingly great;" "exceedingly well, exceedingly more active:" but when it is joined to an adverb or adjective, having that termination, the ly is omitted: as, "Some men think exceeding clearly, and reason exceeding forcibly:" "She appeared on this occasion, exceeding lovely:" "He acted in this business bolder than was expected:" "They behaved the noblest, because they were disinterested." They should have been, "more boldly; most nobly."—The adjective pronoun such is often misapplied: as, "He was such an extravagant young man, that he spent his whole patrimony in a few years:" it should be, "so extravagant a young man." "I never before saw such large trees:" "saw trees so large." When we refer to the species or nature of a thing, the word such is properly applied: as, "Such a temper is seldom found:" but when degree is signified; we use the word so: as, "So bad a temper is seldom found."
Adverbs are likewise improperly used as adjectives: as, "The tutor addressed him in terms rather warm, but suitably to his offence;" "suitable." "They were seen wandering about solitarily and distressed;" "solitary." "He lived in a manner agreeably to the dictates of reason and religion;" "agreeable. "The study of syntax should be previously to that of punctuation;" "previous."*
, • Forthe rule to determine, whether an adjective or an adverb is to be toed, see Vonime ll. The f/ott at the end of the promiscuous Exercises on Syntax.
5. Double comparatives and superlatives should be avoided: such as, "A worser conduct:" " On lesser hopes;" "A more serener temper ;" " 1 he most straitest sect;" " A more superior work." They should be, "worse conduct;" "less hopes;" "a more serene temper;" "the straitest sect ;'** "a superior work."
6. Adjectives that have in themselves a superlative signification, do not properly admit of the superlative or comparative form superadded: such as, "Chief, extreme, perfect, right, universal, supreme," &c.; which are sometimes improperly written, "Chiefest, extremest, perfectest, rightest, most universal, most supreme," &.c. The following expressions are therefore improper. "He sometimes claims admission to the c/iiefest offices;" "The quarrel became so universal, and national;" "A method of attaining the rightest and greatest happiness." The phrases, so perfect, so right, so extreme, so universal, &c. are incorrect; because they imply that one thing is less perfect, less extreme, inc. than another, which is not possible.
7. Inaccuracies are often found in the way in which the degrees of comparison are applied and construed. The following are examples of wrong construction in this respect: "This noble nation hath, of all others, admitted fewer corruptions." The word fewer is here construed precisely as if it were the superlative. It should be, "This noble nation hath admitted fewer corruptions than any other." We commonly say, "This is the weaker of the two ;" or, "The weakest of the two:" but the former is the regular mode of expression, because there are only two things compared. "The vice of covetousness is whatenters deepest into the soul of any other." "He celebrates the church of England as the most perfect of all others." Both these modes of expression are faulty: we should not say, "The best of any man," or, "The best of any other man," for "the best of men." The sentences may be corrected by substituting the comparative in the room of the superlative. "The vice, he. is what enters deeper into the soul than any other." "He celebrates, &c. as more perfect, or less imperfect, than any other." It is also possible to retain the superlative, and render the expression grammatical. '' Covetousness, of all vices, enters the deepest into the soul" "He celebrates, &c. as the most perfect of all churches." These sentences contain other errors, against which it is proper to caution the learner. The words deeper and deepest, being intended for adverbs, should have been more deeply, most
deeply. The phrases more perfect and most perfect, are improper; because perfection admits of no degrees of comparison. We may say nearer or nearest to perfection, or more or less imperfect.
8. In some cases, adjectives should not be separated from their substantives, even by words which modify their meaning, and make but one sense with them: as, "A large enough number surely." It should be, "a number large enough." '- The lower sort of people are good enough judges of one not very distant from them."
The adjective is usually placed before its substantive: as, "A generous man ;" " How amiable a woman!" The instances in which it comes after the substantive, are the following:
1st, When something depends upon the adjective; and when it gives a better sound, especially in poetry: as, " A man generous to his enemies;" "Feed me with food convenient for me;" "A tree three feet thick;" "A body of troops fifty thousand strong;" "The torrent tumbling through iooks abrupt."
2d, When the adjective is cruphatical: as, " Alexander the Great;" "Lewis the Bold;" " Goodness infinite ;" " Wisdom unsearchable."
3d, When several adjectives belong to one substantive: as, "A man just, wise, and charitable;" "A woman modest, sensible, and virtuous"
4th, When the adjective is preceded by an adverb: as, "A boy regularly studious," "A girl unaffectedly modest."
5th, When the verb to be, in any of its variations, comes between a substantive and an adjective, the adjective may frequently either precede or follow it: as, "The man is happy;" or, " happy is the man who makes virtue his choice:" "The interview was delightful;" or, "delightful was the interview."
6th, When the adjective expresses some circumstance of a substantive placed after an active verb: as, "Vanity often renders its possessor despicable." In an exclamatory sentence, the adjective generally precedes the substantive: as, " How despicable does vanity often render its possessor?"
There is sometimes great beauty, as well as force, in placing the adjective before the verb, and the substantive immediately after it: as, if Great is the Lord! just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!"
Sometimes the word all is emphatically put after a number of particulars comprehended under it. "Ambition, interest, honour, all concurred." Sometimes a substantive, which likewise comprehends the preceding particulars, is used in