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Structure of Language....English Tongue.

from it that complete analogy in structure, which may be found in those simpler languages, which were formed within themselves, and built on one foundation. Hence our syntax is short, since there are few marks in the words themselves which show their relation to each other, or point out either their concordance or their government in a sentence. But if these be disadvantages in a compound language, they are balanced by the advantages which attend it; particularly by the number and variety of words by which such a language is commonly enriched. Few languages are more copious than the English. In all grave subjects especially, historical, critieal, political, and moral, no complaint can justly be made of the barrenness of our tongue.

We are rich too in the language of poetry ; our poetical style differs widely from prose, not with respect to numbers only, but in the very words themselves; which proves what a compass and variety of words we can select and employ, suited to different occasions. Herein we are infinitely superior to the French, whose poetical language, if it were not distinguished by rhyme, would not be known to differ from their ordinary prose. Their language, however, surpasses ours, in expressing whatever is delicate, gay, and amusing. It is, perhaps, the happiest language for conversation in the known world; but for the higher subjects of composition, the English is justly considered as far superior to it.

The flexibility of language, or its power of becoming either grave and strong, or easy and flow ang, or tender and gentle, or pompous and magnificent, as occasions require, is a quality of great

Structure of Language....English Tongue.

importance in speaking and writing. This depends on the copiousness of a language; the different arrangements of which its words are susceptible; and the variety and beauty of the sounds of its words. The Greek possessed these requisites in a higher degree than any other language. I sliperadded the graceful variety of its different ilialects; and thereby readily assumed every kind of character, an author could wish, from the most simple and familiar, to the most majestic. The Latin, though very beautiful, is inferior in this respect to the Greek. It has more of a fixed character of stateliness and gravity; and is supported by a certain senatorial dignity, of which it is difficult for a writer to divest it. Among modern tongues, the Italian possesses much more flexibility than the French ; and seems to be on the whole the most perfect of all the modern dialects which have arisen out of the ruins of the ancient. Our language, though unequal to the Italian in flexibility, is not destitute of a considerable degree of this quality. Whoever considers the diversity of style in some of our best writers, will discover in our tongue such a circle of expression, such a power of accommodation to the various tastes of men, as redounds much to its honour.

Our language has been thought to be very deficient in harmony of sound; yet the melody of its versification, its power of supporting poetical numbers, without the assistance of rhyme, is a sufficient proof, that it is far from being 'unharmonious. Even the hissing sound, of which it has been accused, obtains less frequently, than has been suspected. For in many words, and in the

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Structure of Language....English Tongue.


final syllables especially, the letter s has the sound of z, which is one of the sounds on which the ear rests with pleasure ; as in has, these, loves, hears, &c.

It must however be admitted, that smoothness is not the distinguishing property of the English tongue. Strength and expressiveness, rather than grace and melody, constitute its character. It possesses also the property of being the most simple of all the European dialects in its form and construction. It is free from the intricacy of cases, declensions, moods, and tenses. Its words are subject to fewer variations from their original form, than those of any other language. Its noues have no distinction of gender, except what is made by nature; and but one variation in

Its adjectives admit no change, except what expresses the degree of comparison. Its verbs, instead of the varieties of ancient conjugation, admit only four or five changes in termination. A few propositions and auxiliary verbs effect all the purposes of significancy; while the principal words for the most part preserve their form unaltered. Hence our language acquires a simplicity and facility, which are the cause of its being frequently written and spoken with inaccuracy. We imagine that a competent skill in it may be acquired without any study; and that in a syntax so narrow and limited as ours, there is nothing which requires attention. But the fundamental rules of syntax are common to the English and to the ancient tongues ; and regard to them is absolutely requisite for writing or speaking with propriety.

Style, Perspicuity, and Precision.

Whatever be the advantages or defects of our language, it certainly deserves, in the highest degree our study and attention. The Greeks and Romans in the meridian of their glory, bestowed the highest cultivation on their respective languages. The French and Italians have employcd much study upon theirs ; and their example is worthy of imitation. For, whatever knowledge may be gained by the study of other languages, it can never be communicated with advantage, unless by those who can write and speak their own language with propriety. Let the matter of an author be ever so good and useful, his compositions will always suffer in the public esteem, if his expression be deficient in purity or propriety. At the same time, the attainment of a correct and elegant style is an object which demands application and labour. If any one suppose he can catch it merely by the ear, or acquire it by a perusal of some of our good authors, he will be much disappointed. The many grammatical error's, the many impure expressions, which are found in authors who are far from being contemptible, demonstrate that a careful study of our language is previously requisite for writing it with propriety, purity, and elegance.


STYLE is the peculiar manner in which a man expresses his thoughts by words. It is a picture of the ideas in his mind, and of the order in which they there exist.

Style, Perspicuity, and Precision.

The qualities of a good style may be ranged under two heads, perspicuity and ornament. It will readily be admitted, that perspicuity is the fundamental quality of a good style. Without this, the brightest ornaments only glimmer through the dark, and perplex, instead of pleasing the reader. If we be forced to follow a writer with much care; to pause, and to read over his sentences a second time, in order to understand them fully, he will not please us long.-Men are too indolent to relish so much labour. Though they may pretend to admire an author's depth, after they have discovered his meaning, they will seldom be inclined to look a second time into his book.

Perspicuity requires attention first to single words and phrases, and then to the construction of sentences. When considered with respect to words and phrases, it requires these three qualities, purity, propriety, and precision.

Purity and propriety of language are often used indiscriminately for each other; and indeed they are very nearly allied. A distinction, however, obtains between them. Purity is the use of such words and constructions as belong to the idiom of a particular language, in opposition to words and phrases which are imported from other languages, or which are obsolete, or newly coined, or employed without proper authority. Propriety is the choice of such words as the best and most established usage has appropriated to those ideas which we intend to express by them. It implies a correct and happy application of them, in opposition to vulgar or low expressions, and to words and phrases less significant of the ideas we

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